A young womanizer who went on a shooting spree in a bustling Southern California college town on May 23, 2014, was a depressed sociopath who had interests in Nazis and torture, according to a law enforcement report released on Thursday.
Elliot Rodger, 22, planned his deadly rampage on college students in the California community of Isla Vista for more than a year, but cancelled the mass attack at least twice, according to journal entries cited by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
The journal entries were among a trove of evidence seized from Rodger’s apartment shortly after the college dropout murdered six people and wounded more than a dozen others in a killing spree that shook the community.
The lengthy report concludes that Rodger carried out his assault — first on his roommates, and then on “victims who just happened to be in the area” — because of his frustrations with women, specifically his seeming inability to lose his virginity and attract a girlfriend.
According to evidence cited in the report, Rodger was known to express his frustration on web forums, including one called PUAHate.com, a website that once featured thousands of posts purportedly written by disgruntled, jealous men about their problems attracting women. According to police, Rodger’s last entry on PUAHate was three days before the shooting rampage in Isla Vista; the website was shut down the day after the attack.
Forensic analysis of Rodger’s laptop computer also found several web searches from 2012 on topics of mass murder, racism, Nazism and torture. Some of Rodger’s online searches included “Racism against Asian,” “Holocaust of black people,” “Spanish inquisition torture devices” and “Nazi anime.” Other searches, such as “Roommate takes very long showers” and “Are there any knives so sharp that if you touched it you bleed,” led police to believe Rodger’s mass murder spree had been long planned.
Before shooting three people, injuring many others and then killing himself, investigators say Rodger first stabbed his two roommates and a friend inside his apartment. According to the report, Rodger fatally stabbed his roommates between 15 and 25 times, and stabbed their friend more than 95 times.
The three stabbing victims were found inside Rodger’s apartment hours after the shooting attack. Police also discovered an open laptop Rodger used to upload several video manifestos to YouTube and to craft a 130-page written journal that served as one part autobiography, one part manifesto.
The manifesto, titled “My Twisted World,” was distributed to more than 30 family members, friends, acquaintances and medical professionals, police said. A copy of the manifesto was made public by a local television station the day after the attack.
Police say the sheer volume of digital evidence — some distributed online before the attack, others collected afterward from Rodger’s electronic devices — pointed to a suspect who “clearly suffered from significant mental illness that ultimately resulted in homicidal rage.”
“All of these actions must be taken with great care not to stigmatize the mentally ill and thereby discourage them from seeking treatment,” the report says. “We must understand the vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent, and that mental illness — like physical illness — can usually be effectively treated if properly diagnosed.”
But there were signs that Rodger had been diagnosed, and was even at one point receiving treatment, for various mental conditions. According to the report, Rodger had received special education after showing signs of Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. The report also says Rodger had been medicated as a teenager for anxiety and depression, and had been in and out of therapy for much of his young adult life.
There were also indications that Rodger might have been a threat to himself or others, signs that were eventually dismissed as needless worry. One month before the attack, Rodger’s life coach asked for a welfare check after Rodger’s mother discovered a handful of “disturbing videos that the suspect had posted on YouTube,” the report said. Rodger told police that his mother was a “worry wart,” and that the videos were part of his artistic outlet. Police accepted Rodger’s explanation and left.
By the time the welfare call had been made, Rodger had already purchased several weapons that would later be used in the attack. Days after the attack, it was reported that police failed to conduct a weapons check against Rodger, which could have potentially raised red flags and perhaps even prevented the massacre. Since the attack, a law has been passed that allows California courts to issue a firearms restraining order against those whom police believe could be a harm to themselves and others, and encourages police to search federal firearms databases when conducting welfare checks.