Yesterday's New York Times had a long story about misogynist spree killer Elliot Rodger, with the main takeaway being this: many people who knew Rodger as a kid were not in the least bit shocked that he ended up murdering six people.
There is this passage, for instance:
Cathleen Bloeser, whose son knew Elliot from elementary school, described him as an "emotionally troubled" boy who would come over to their house and just hide. "If I could have picked anyone who would have done this, it would have been Elliot," she said. "My husband and I didn't want our son to stay with Elliot."
There is also this, referring to an old principal of Rodger's, who regarded the news of his crime like an aunt would after her nephew scored a few goals in a soccer game.
Ms. Smith, the principal at Independence Continuation High School in Van Nuys, a small public school with intensive individual attention from which Mr. Rodger eventually graduated, awoke May 24 to the reports of the massacre and, later that Saturday, a text message from a teacher: "Did you see the news?" it asked. "That's our Elliot."
More recently, a poster on a bodybuilding forum told Rodger to his face that he came off like a serial killer.
As Mr. Rodger's "Day of Retribution," as he called it, approached, there were signs of what he was plotting. One poster on Bodybuilding.com, another website where he shared his views, noted that Mr. Rodger had taken down a video titled "Why Do Girls Hate Me So Much?" This person said the video had made him look like a serial killer. "I'm not trying to be mean, but the creepy vibe that you give off in those videos is likely the major reason that you can't get girls," he wrote.
Though not all people quoted in the piece put their interactions with Rodger in such stark terms, it's clear that he was seen as particularly troubled throughout his childhood.
Simon Astaire, an author and agent who has been a family friend for over 10 years and has been acting as the family's spokesman, described attending a Christmas party at Peter Rodger's hillside home in Woodland Hills and wandering out into the cool night to come across Elliot, then 12, staring into the black sky. He said Elliot had lowered his head and started sharing his loneliness before turning back wordlessly toward the heavens.
"He wasn't just a little withdrawn," Mr. Astaire said. "He was as withdrawn as any person I ever met in my life."
By all accounts, Rodger's parents were attuned to his mental state and attempted at all stages throughout his life to get him professional help. A number of people who came into contact with Rodger saw something like the shooting in his future, but no one was able to stop it, and no one seems to be at fault.
As one expert put it to the Times:
"Most people who go through these steps never act out in a violent way, never go beyond contemplation of it," said J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist in San Diego and an editor of the International Handbook of Threat Assessment. "You can't predict who will and who won't."
[Image via YouTube]