Lane admitted his crime but didn't offer a reason
He was slow to open up about his personal life
His father was arrested several times for violent crimes against women
His behavior at his sentencing hearing shocked and outraged
T.J. Lane didn’t belong to any particular clique in the schools he attended, fellow students said. Those who knew him described him as quiet, someone who was guarded and rarely spoke about his tumultuous family life.
But they never would have thought that he’d be described as a killer – until Monday, when students say they saw Lane walk up to a table in the cafeteria of Ohio’s Chardon High School with a gun.
Three students – Demetrius Hewlin, 16; Daniel Parmertor, 16; and Russell King Jr., 17 – died.
That was on February 27, 2012, when he was a 17-year-old sophomore.
Lane admitted his crime, didn’t offer a reason, and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences at the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima. Three life sentences with no possibility of parole.
On Friday, he was back in the news after he escaped from the facility, triggering an intense manhunt.
He was captured about six hours later, enough time for him to reopen the wounds that his victims’ families are trying to salve.
Lane made an initial juvenile court appearance Tuesday afternoon, during which he was ordered to remain in custody. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday that the suspect would likely be tried as an adult.
Schools will remain closed but counselors and other support services will be provided.
Teresa Hunt said her niece rode the school bus each day with Lane, and he displayed no warning signs of the violence allegedly to come.
“He was a really nice kid to her,” Hunt said. “He wouldn’t start up a conversation, but if she talked to him, he would hold the conversation with her.
She said her niece noted no personality changes in Lane in the weeks leading up to Monday’s shooting.
Haley Kovacik, a friend who talked with Lane a few times a week, said the violence left her and others who knew him in “complete shock.”
“He seemed like a very normal, just teenage boy,” Kovacik said of Lane. “He did have a sad look in his eyes a lot of the time, but he talked normally, he never said anything strange.”
Yet for all their talks, Kovacik noted there was a lot she didn’t know about Lane.
Lane lived with his grandparents and was slow to open up about his personal life, according to friends. While he was known by many around Chardon High School, located 30 miles east of Cleveland, at the time of the shooting he was there to be transported to Lake Academy Alternative School in nearby Willoughby.
The school describes itself as a place for “at risk” students who are “reluctant learners” struggling with problems such as “substance abuse /chemical dependency, anger issues, mental health issues, truancy, delinquency, difficulties with attention/organization, and academic deficiencies.”
Lane may have been dealing with his own family problems, according to reports by The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland.
Lane’s father, Thomas Lane Jr., has been arrested several times for violent crimes against female acquaintances, including Lane’s mother, the newspaper reported citing court documents. Between 1995 and 1997, the first two years of Lane’s life, his father and his mother were both arrested for domestic violence against each other, the paper reported.
Between 1995 and 1997, the first two years of Lane’s life, his father and his mother were both arrested for domestic violence against each other, the paper reported.
His father also served prison time for assaulting a police officer and he also was charged with holding a different woman under running water and bashing her head into a wall, the newspaper reported.
It was unclear how much contact Lane had with his father. He rarely opened up about his family, some said.
“I’ve asked him once or twice, but he never would go into detail. He just said he had family trouble,” Kovacik said
Recent posts on Lane’s Facebook page show him sharing links to music videos from groups like Grimes and Blood on the Dance Floor, listing his sister in his profile and uploading photos of himself.
Yet one long, poetic rant, from December 30, appears to be darker.
The post refers to “a quaint lonely town, (where there) sits a man with a frown (who) longed for only one thing, the world to bow at his feet.”
“He was better than the rest, all those ones he detests, within their castles, so vain,” he wrote.
Lane then writes about going through “the castle … like an ominous breeze through the trees,” past guards – all leading up to the post’s dramatic conclusion.
“Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you,” he writes. “Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.”
After getting three positive reviews, Lane wrote: “much obliged to all who ‘liked’ this. Wrote it myself in class one day …”
At his trial
At his sentencing, Lane’s behavior shocked and outraged spectators. He unbuttoned his blue dress shirt to reveal a white T-shirt on which he had scrawled the word “KILLER” across the front. He had on a similar shirt during his shooting rampage.
Before the sentencing, he addressed the victims’ families using profane imagery and ending with the expletive,”F— all of you.”
He then held up his middle finger.
“For everyone in that courtroom – the victims, their families, the prosecutors, defense – everyone in that courtroom was just absolutely taken aback,” said Ian Friedman, who represented him at his trial, said late Thursday. Friedman, hasn’t talked to Lane in about a year.
At the proceeding, prosecutor James Flaiz said Lane never said why he carried out the attack.
“The only explanation I can offer the court is he is an evil person,” Flaiz said.
At the prison
In the 18 months Lane was housed at the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, he was disciplined seven times, according to The Plain Dealer newspaper.
The infractions ranged from urinating on a wall to giving himself a tattoo, the paper said. He also refused to carry out assignments, losing recreation time as punishment.
Authorities said Lane scaled a fence and broke out of the facility, about 90 miles northwest of Columbus. He escaped, along with two other men, about 7:40 p.m. Thursday.
All three have been captured.
When police took him into custody, Lane didn’t offer an explanation.
CNN’s Lateef Mungin, Moni Basu, Martin Savidge and Lisa Sylvester contributed to this report.