Oregon school rampage leaves 1
slain, 23 hurt
Boy's home yields 2 dead
The Arizona Republic
May 22, 1998
In a bloody and disturbingly
familiar tragedy, a 15-year-old freshman suspended for having a gun
returned Thursday and opened fire in a crowded school cafeteria, killing
a classmate and critically wounding several others.
Two bodies believed to be those of
his parents were later found in his home just north of Springfield, a
working-class town of 51,000 people about 110 miles south of Portland.
Teen from good family had troubled
The Commercial Appeal
May 22, 1998
His parents were popular teachers at
Springfield's two high schools. His older sister is a college
cheerleader who has won honors in national cheerleading competitions.
But Kipland Kinkel, known as "Kip,''
had a reputation of a different kind in the community where his family
was so well-regarded. In his middle school yearbook, the freckle-faced
boy was named "Most Likely to Start World War III.''
Boy, 15, fires wildly; student dies,
San Jose Mercury News
May 22, 1998
''God please save our children,''
read the makeshift sign posted outside Bob's Hamburgers, a popular
hangout just down the street from Thurston High School, where a 15-year-old
boy armed with three guns turned the school's crowded cafeteria into a
shooting arcade Thursday morning.
One student was killed and 18
wounded before three older boys tackled freshman Kipland Kinkel and
wrestled his guns away, police said. Four others were injured in the
rush to flee.
Teen held in school shootings that
killed 1, hurt 19 in Ore.
The assailant opened fire in the
The Philadelphia Inquirer
May 22, 1998
A freckle-faced freshman, suspended
Wednesday for having a gun at school, returned yesterday and allegedly
opened fire in a high school cafeteria, killing one boy and wounding 19
Kipland "Kip'' Kinkel, 15, was
captured by classmates - at least one of them wounded - who wrestled him
to the ground. Police, at his suggestion, checked his home, where they
found the bodies of two adults. Officials did not identify them, but
they were believed to be his parents, who were teachers.
Recurring tragedy: Oregon teen
shoots up school, kills one
Wounds 19; parents found dead
The Commercial Appeal
May 22, 1998
In a bloody and disturbingly
familiar tragedy, a 15-year-old student opened fire in a high school
cafeteria Thursday, killing one person and wounding 19 a day after being
suspended for bringing a gun to school.
About an hour after the shooting,
police found two adults dead from gunfire at the boy's home. The dead,
both teachers, were said by neighbors to be the boy's parents. Police
would not confirm the identities, but the boy's grandmother did.
5 bombs found in boy's home
Parent's bodies removed; second
The Miami Herald
May 23, 1998
A second student wounded in the
shooting rampage at a Springfield high school died Friday. Police found
at least five bombs at the home of Kipland Kinkel, the accused -- the
last device as they were removing his mother's body.
Kinkel was charged Friday with four
counts of murder -- his parents and the two students shot at the school
School shooting claims 2nd life;
bombs found in Ore. boy's home
The Commercial Appeal
May 23, 1998
A second student shot in Thursday's
school rampage died Friday as police found at least five bombs at the
teenage suspect's home, the last as they were removing his mother's body.
Kipland 'Kip' Kinkel, 15, appeared
in court on four charges of aggravated murder in the killing of two high
school students and his parents, William Kinkel, 59, and Faith Kinkel,
Kip Kinkel, who had been suspended
from Thurston High School the day before for having a gun in his locker,
fired off 51 rounds.
A child leaves us in mourning
The Miami Herald
May 23, 1998
Kipland Kinkel, the only son of two
schoolteachers, lived in a woodsy patch of America, in a three-story, A-frame
house on a hill above a trout stream in Springfield, Oregon.
He dwelled far from the trenches of
urban warfare, from the supposed front lines of America's killing fields,
far from the gang wars, the drive-by shootings of the inner cities, the
drug holes and their random violence. At 15, he is a citizen of that
America where violent youth crime happens to someone else, someplace
Detained teenager reportedly
attacked officer with hidden knife
The Boston Globe
May 24, 1998
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- After he was
arrested in a school shooting rampage that left two classmates dead,
Kipland P. Kinkel lunged at an officer with a knife that he smuggled
into the police station, authorities said yesterday.
Kinkel, who is also charged in the
shooting deaths of his parents, had a hunting knife taped to his leg
that escaped notice when he was arrested following Thursday's cafeteria
shooting at Thurston High School.
Father bought guns to channel boy's
obsession, friends say
The Boston Globe
May 25, 1998
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The guns that a
boy allegedly used to kill his parents and two classmates were bought by
his father in an attempt to redirect the teen's fascination with weapons
into a supervised hobby, family friends said yesterday.
Kipland Kinkel's parents knew of his
bomb-making fetish for at least a year before Thursday's shooting in a
school cafeteria, they said. The 9mm Glock pistol and .22-caliber rifle
Kinkel allegedly used were bought by his father, Bill Kinkel.
During pause in gunfir, wounded
teen became a hero
The Boston Globe
May 25, 1998
EUGENE, Ore. -- With a bullet in his
chest and his girlfriend bleeding at his feet, Jake Ryker stood up
against a classmate who was spraying the high school cafeteria with
gunfire and said: "That's enough.''
Ryker, a burly wrestler, said his
chance to end Thursday's rampage came when the young shooter tried to
fire his .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle with an empty clip.
Suspended student kills one in high school
cafeteria; two dead at his home
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- In a rampage that has become
frighteningly familiar, a student suspended for having a gun allegedly
returned Thursday and opened fire on a crowded school cafeteria, killing
a classmate and critically wounding several others.
Two bodies believed to be those of his parents were
later found in his home just north of Springfield, a working-class town
of 51,000 people about 110 miles south of Portland.
Shots rang out about 8 a.m. in the Thurston High
School cafeteria, where up to 400 people were milling around before
class. Witnesses said the 15-year-old suspect, dressed in a trench coat,
ran through the cafeteria firing his rifle from the hip. Twenty-three
students were injured, 19 hit by gunfire.
"He was swiveling back and forth, firing at everyone,"
said 16-year -old Jonathan Crawford.
"He just mowed 'em down," said another student,
Michelle Calhoun. "It was just sort of happening in slow motion."
Around the gunman, bullets shattered the huge plate-glass
windows and terrified students ran for cover and dived under tables, but
the boy remained calm as the staccato gunfire was reduced to the click,
click of empty chambers. One of those misfires came with the barrel
point-blank at a student's head.
Finally, as he was trying to reload, 17-year-old
wrestler Jake Ryker, despite gunshot wounds to his hand and chest,
tackled the boy. Several others quickly piled on to end the terror.
"Just shoot me, shoot me now," one of the students,
Ryker's brother Josh, quoted the boy as saying.
After the suspect was arrested, police said they
followed up on his suggestion to check his house. There, they found the
bodies of a man and a woman. Sheriff Jan Clements refused to confirm
that they were the parents of the boy -- but said "there is no reason to
believe they are not."
The parents, William P. Kinkel, 59, and Faith M.
Kinkel, 57, were teachers. The father was retired from teaching Spanish
at Thurston High. The mother taught Spanish at a nearby high school.
The dead student was identified as Mikael Nickolauson,
17, a junior who had just enlisted Monday in the Oregon National Guard.
Police identified the suspect as Kipland P. Kinkel,
who had been arrested, suspended and released to his parents' custody a
day earlier on a charge of possession of a stolen firearm. Police said
he had been in trouble before for throwing rocks at cars from a highway
"He always said that it would be fun to kill someone
and do stuff like that," said student Robbie Johnson. "Yesterday, he
told a couple of people he was probably going to do something stupid
today and get back at the people who had expelled him."
Thursday evening, police wary of the suspect's
fascination with bombs, evacuated nearby homes as demolitions experts
searched the Kinkel home for explosives, said Lane County sheriff's
spokeswoman Sharon Biser.
Some students said the suspect once gave a talk in
speech class about how to build a bomb and in middle school was voted "Most
Likely to Start World War III."
Friend Tony McCowan told the CBS Evening News that
Kinkel felt that his arrest brought shame to his parents.
"He was mad at himself," McCowan said. "He knew he
got himself in a bad situation and he was kind of worried it would shame
Another friend, Chrystie Cooper, 15, said Kinkel had
recently been grounded for the upcoming summer for toilet-papering a
house two weeks ago.
"He was a country boy -- he liked to blow things up,"
Cooper said. "But nothing like this."
Police said Kinkel parked a few blocks away, walked
inside the cafeteria carrying a .22-caliber rifle, a .22-caliber handgun
and a Glock handgun.
"We spoke to him afterward -- he was very calm," said
police Capt. Jerry Smith. "His motive, what he was thinking about, what
caused him to go there -- we've still got a long ways to go there."
Fourteen-year-old Aaron Keeney, also a friend, said
Kinkel was taking the anti-depressant Prozac.
District Attorney Doug Harcleroad said the boy will
be charged as an adult with murder. But because of his age, he cannot be
given the death penalty if convicted.
Kinkel was first arrested Wednesday after the school
got a tip that he was trying to buy a stolen handgun on campus. He and
another boy were arrested and released to the custody of their parents.
School Superintendent Jamon Kent said that at the time of suspended and
officials were looking at whether he should be expelled.
"You don't make sense out of this. There is no sense
to it," said wrestling coach Gary Bowden. "I think we ought to disarm.
If this isn't a reason to, what is? I can flunk a kid and he can walk in
and blow me away."
Several students said they thought the shooting was a
gag related to student-body election day.
Stephani Quimby, 16, who was sitting one table away,
said the shooter apparently focused on one table and drew his rifle from
"I thought it was fake. I had never heard a gun go
off," she said. "It was like a movie and you were there. I felt so calm.
I knew it was real when I saw him point the gun at someone and heard a
girl yell, `Tressa!' I knew she wouldn't joke."
Stacy Compton, 15, said she was sitting at a table
when the boy came in and "started going bananas" with the gun. She said
she ducked under the table and her best friend got hit in the center of
"It was like, I can't believe this is happening at my
school," Stacy said.
The school of 1,350 students was shut down
immediately after the shooting. Parents, many of them weeping and
screaming, waited outside.
Five-hundred people filled the Springfield Lutheran
Church for a Thursday evening vigil service where Pastor Zane Wilson lit
candles and speakers read off the list of those who had been shot and
"We pray that instead of crying ... we will create a
world where our children can go to school and not be concerned about
coming home again," Wilson said.
Because of a teacher work day, classes were not
scheduled Friday, but 70 counselors will be on hand to help grieving
students. Bob's Hamburger's down the street put up a sign: "God, please
help us save our children."
Of the 23 people injured, 19 were hit by gunfire and
the rest were hurt in the panic to flee the cafeteria. Five students
were listed in critical condition Thursday night, with six in serious
Several hours after the shooting, McKenzie-Willamette
Hospital marketing director Lottie Duey said that one of those
critically wounded had died at Sacred Heart Hospital. But later she said
she was referring only to the initial fatality, and Sacred Heart
officials confirmed that the report of two dead was unfounded.
May 21, 1998
after being expelled from school for bringing a gun to class -- 15-year-old
Kipland Kinkel returned to Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon,
and opened fire in the cafeteria, killing two students and wounding 22
The attack was brought to a halt by 17-year-old wrestling
student, Jake Ryker, who despite being shot in the chest, tackled
Kipland as he was reloading. Several others quickly piled on to pin the
freckled-face rampager to the ground until police arrived.
The heroic Ryker was shot in the
hand while trying to subdue the killer and is presently listed in
guarded condition in a local hospital with another gunshot wound to the
chest. When it was all over, 17-year-old Mikael Nickolauson was dead on
the scene, and 16-year-old Ben Walker died in the hospital early the
next day from wounds to the head.
The day before the rampage, Kip
-- who was jokingly voted "Most Likely to Start World War III"
in middle-school -- had been arrested, expelled from school and released
to his parents' custody on a charge of possession of a stolen firearm.
Following the rampage, investigators found the parents dead in separate
rooms of their suburban home. The parents, William P. Kinkel, 59, and
Faith M. Kinkel, 57, were both teachers. The father was retired from
teaching Spanish at Thurston High. The mother taught Spanish at a nearby
high school. Investigators think Kip might have killed them separately
the day before the rampage.
Bomb squad officials were called
in after police searching the Kinkel home found five "sophisticated"
bombs, 15 other inactive explosive devices, detailed bomb-making
instructions, and various chemicals that could be used to make
explosives. When the demolition experts where removing some of the
explosives, one of the homemade devices was accidentally detonated. A
fifth bomb was found by investigators when they tried to remove his
mother's body. Authorities also found two Howitzer shell casings and a
The school shooting occurred just
before 8 a.m. when up to 400 people were gathered in the cafeteria for a
farewell ceremony for graduating seniors. Witnesses said they saw
Kipland, dressed in a cream-colored trench coat, running through the
cafeteria firing from the hip 51 rounds from his .22-caliber Ruger
He was also packing a .22-caliber Ruger
semiautomatic handgun and a 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol. In his
backpack police found several fully loaded ammunition clips and an
assortment of loose ammunition.
In retrospect Kip was nothing
other than a budding psychopath. "He always said that it would be
fun to kill someone and do stuff like that," said student Robbie
Johnson. "Yesterday, he told a couple of people he was probably
going to do something stupid today and get back at the people who had
Kinkel allegedly gave a talk in
speech class about how to build a bomb and bragged about torturing
animals. According to Nissa Lund, 14, Kip told her he once stuffed lit
firecrackers in a cat's mouth. Rachel Dawson, Kip's former girlfriend in
middle school, said he boasted about shooting little cats. Clearly a
serial-killer-in-the-making, Kip also talked about blowing up a cow. In
a recent literature class Kip stood in the front of the room and read
from his journal his plans of to "kill everybody." On the
other hand, friends said when he was not busy with revenge fantasies,
bombmaking and killing animals, Kip was a normal, boisterous, high
school freshman who was into alternative rock bands like Nirvana and
enjoyed playing guitar and football.
About a year ago, the Kinkels
discovered Kip was downloading bomb-making instructions from the
Internet and building bombs, said Kim Scott, a best friend of Kip's
sister, Kristin. "They tried to discipline him and they tried to
keep him from making more bombs, but at some point, Kristin said, they
just pretty much had given up on being able to control him."
Friends of the family said the parents knew of the son's penchant for
making bombs. Bill -- his father -- bought the guns used in the killings
as a way to divert his son's obsession with weapons into a supervised
hobby. They even hired an anger-management counselor who clearly had no
success with the junior Charlie Manson.
Two days after the rampage,
police disclosed that Kip had lunged at an officer in the police station
with a hunting knife he had taped to his leg. When he arrived at the
station the handcuffed freckle-faced killer was briefly placed in an
interviewing room while his accompanying officer left to secure his
weapon. When he returned, Kinkel attacked the officer with the knife and
the officer pepper sprayed him.
With six instances of rampaging
students in schools logged into the Archives, experts and psychologist
are trying to explain this emerging phenomenon. In fact, they have
coined a new term to classify this kind of schoolyard behavior:
Intermittent Explosive Disorder. All occurences of IED seem to have
taken place in predominantly white, semi-rural, middle-class school
districts with no prior history of violent crime coupled with easy
access to high-powered weapons.
On November 2000 national elections
Kinkel emerged as a central figure in the debate over an Oregon ballot
measure that could reduce the sentences of thousands of inmates. "If
Kip Kinkel is resentenced, I will be living in fear every day, along
with my family and fellow victims, that if he is released he will hunt
us all down," Jennifer Alldredge, a student wounded by Kinkel,
wrote in the state's official voter guide.
The Republican candidate for
attorney general is also featuring Kinkel in TV ads that accuse the
incumbent of supporting the earlier guidelines, which theoretically
could reduce Kinkel's 112-year prison sentence to one that frees him at
State Representative Jo Ann Bowman, a
leading repeal supporter, argued that opponents are using Kinkel as a
scare tactic. Even if the ballot measure passes, she said, no judge
would resentence Kinkel as a juvenile. "There's no way that anyone
could kill four people and wound 25 without spending an extremely long
time in prison," the Portland Democrat said.
School Killing Survivor Dies
Oct. 12, 1999
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - A teen-ager who survived a
shooting spree last year at Thurston High School died in a hunting
accident after being shot in the head by his 17-year-old brother, police
Richard Peek Jr., who was wounded during the May 1998
shootings that left two classmates dead, was killed Tuesday when Robert
Peek's gun accidentally discharged, Lane County Sheriff Sgt. Byron Trapp
The brothers were deer hunting about 25 miles east of
Eugene. Robert phoned for help, but his 19-year-old brother was
pronounced dead at the scene. Robert was not injured.
The incident is under investigation, Trapp said.
Both brothers were in the Thurston High cafeteria in
Springfield when gunman Kip Kinkel entered on May 21, 1998, and began
firing a semiautomatic rifle.
Schools now face the unthinkable
November 11, 1998
By Lisa Popyk, Special to The Post
PEARL, Miss. - In this Bible-belt community, the only
thing that runs deeper than the pain is the guilt.
The day one of its students walked into school,
shooting to kill, a small- town tragedy unwittingly became a na tional
''This tears at the very heart and soul of every one
of us,'' said Mississippi's Rankin County Sheriff Detective Greg Eklund.
''We don't want anyone else to go through what we have endured - and are
enduring - here.''
Pearl's sense of responsibility is heightened because
its shooting, which left two students dead and seven wounded, was the
first of five consecu tive school tragedies to receive wide spread media
attention - and spread a wave of fear across the country.
''It started here. We'd like the coun try to know we
want it to stop here,'' Eklund said.
And so, Pearl residents have been try ing to turn
their nightmare into a lesson learned for others.
When news broke that two young sters had opened fire
hundreds of miles away in the small city of Jonesboro, Ark., activity
stopped in Mississippi. Pearl officials immediately organized and hit
the phones, offering an outpour ing of quick advice, support and com
And when Springfield, Ore., followed on May 21,
officials in Jonesboro also put their lives on hold and picked up the
In between and ongoing, leaders from Pearl have been
traveling to schools and communities across the country sharing their
story and offering ideas on prevention.
They have banded with their counterparts in the other
school shooting cities to try and answer the questions ''why'' and ''what
can we do now?''
They've met in all-day sessions with the FBI,
presidential panels and leading criminologists, sharing ideas, programs
Pearl Mayor Jimmy Foster, who met with President
Clinton as part of a fed eral study of the tragedies, put it sim ply: ''We're
all in this together. These are all our kids.''
Their message of preparation, cau tion and quick
action is not falling on deaf ears. ''These incidents have provid ed a
significant wake-up call for schools all across the country,'' said
Ronald Ste phens, executive director of National School Safety Center.
''School officials from all over are calling us and saying: "we need to
change the way we do busi ness.'''
In the last couple of years, Stephens has seen
attendance at his national safe ty workshops grow from an average of 50
to 75 people per session to more than 1,200. Each of his 50 annual
workshops has a waiting list that continues to grow.
''No one wants to turn their school into an armed
camp, but they also want to make sure they're not sitting on tick ing
time bombs,'' Stephens said.
Several districts already are adopting heightened
security measures. In San Diego, county school officials have banned the
use of school lockers, seeing them as key areas for students to hide
contraband, such as weapons. Money set aside for locker repair and
vandalism cleanup has been used to purchase more school books.
Other districts now allow only clear book bags.
Meanwhile, schools in Mar shall County, Ky. - near Paducah where three
students died in a 1997 shooting - have forbidden all book bags and
backpacks, eliminating the need for teachers to search each satch el,
said Superintendent Kenneth Sha dowen.
In Springfield, Mo., any kindergart ner through high
school student heard making threats will be turned over to juvenile
authorities and kept out of the classroom until evaluated by counsel ors.
Many other schools are trying to re vise budgets so
they can hire police offi cers to patrol their hallways.
Dozens of school districts, Stephens said, are
looking into or already setting up anonymous tip lines for students to
phone in concerns to school authorities, similar to the one adopted by
Cincin nati Public Schools five years ago.
Cincinnati added its tip line when of ficials began
seeing a rise in gun sei zures on school property. The district also
added a search team in 1994 that randomly checks lockers, students and
classrooms for contraband.
''We're giving them the mind set that if you're going
to bring something to school, we are going to find it. And you are going
to jail and will be expelled from school,'' said district Security Chief
The year before the program was created, 15 guns were
found on the grounds of district schools. Since then, officials have
confiscated an average of two guns a year.
Several other schools are looking at yet another key
recommendation from Pearl, Jonesboro and other cities: add classes on
conflict resolution to the curriculum.
''We need to start in elementary school teaching
children about crisis management. None of these kids had the emotional
or mental brakes to stop themselves and each wanted to be stopped,''
said William Reisman, a crime consultant in Iowa who helped lead one of
the meetings involving Pearl and other cities.
Several schools also are following the lead of
Springfield, Ore., where high school officials have updated their
security policy to include taking a closer look at the students
themselves. Teachers now are required to report any paper, drawing or
project that appears to focus on death and murder.
''We've always had a plan to try and identify
suicidal kids. Now we're revamping that to look for signs of violence,''
said Don Stone, student services coordinator for Thurston High School.
''Our awareness is way up.''
In an effort to reassure parents and students in
Pearl, school officials have sealed all but two key entrance and exit
doors at the high school. Within the glass entries, a pair of teachers
has been posted. They welcome everyone with a smile and a hello, but
they are there to screen visitors.
A police cruiser is posted in the parking lot and
circles the grounds periodically, checking for anything unusual.
Mississippi legislators also passed a law making it a
capital crime to kill on school property. Dubbed ''Christy's Law'' for
Christina Menefee, the first student killed in the shooting at Pearl
High School, it was enacted three months after Luke Woodham opened fire.
And on Oct. 13, a national anti-crime group meeting
in Washington, D.C. - Fight Crime: Invest in Kids - recommended after-school
programs to supervise lonely, unattended youngsters.
''We have to begin the fight against violence in the
high chair, because by the time we're watching the electric chair, it's
too little, too late,'' said Sanford A. Newman, president of the group
which includes 415 police officers, prosecutors and crime victims.
But some parents, like Melissa Hulett, remain uneasy.
She is so shaken by the shooting in her hometown of Pearl that she plans
to home-school her son Cory.
''It's just not safe anymore,'' she said. ''There's
no telling what these kids will do. I don't want my son to have that
kind of outside influence on him.''
She's not alone. From coast to coast, news of a gun
found at school has been sending parents to their campuses in droves,
pulling children out of class in mass panic. Even schools that already
have survived the pain continue to worry.
''Will it happen again? Probably not,'' said Foster,
mayor of Pearl. ''But everyone is thinking about it. The start of every
new school year is always going to bother us to death. We're more
careful, but we'll continue to live in fear.''
Tuesday, Woodham's friend Grant Boyette pleaded
innocent in a Brandon, Miss., courtroom to a charge of being an
accessory in the death of Mary Woodham, Luke's mother. Police believe
Boyette masterminded the Oct. 1, 1977, school assault carried out by
Woodham and was the head of a cult-like group to which Woodham belonged.
Woodham is serving life for his mother's murder and the killings of two
students. Boyette and Justin Sledge will separately face charges of
being accessories in the school shootings.
'Zero guilt, zero remorse'
November 11, 1999
By Lisa Popyk, Special to The Post
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Kip Kinkel left his father's body
on the cold tile of the bathroom floor, then reloaded his .22-caliber
rifle. His mother would be home soon.
Watching out the front window for her Ford Explorer
to pull into the long, winding driveway, Kip called up two friends to
chat about the day's events.
Even from early childhood, Bill and Faith
Kinkel knew there was something wrong with their son.
Raised in a warm, caring family, Kip's attention was
pulled, almost from the start, to the dark and brutal. Even as a toddler,
his unrelenting defiance challenged his parents' years of experience as
teachers. Faith once confided in friends at a dinner party that when it
suited his purposes, Kip would give in and follow the rules. He knew
he'd be rewarded with positive attention, and he liked that. But when
his mind was set, the word ''no'' had no meaning for Kip.
In a hushed whisper, Faith said she worried that her
son had no conscience. On May 21, Kip surpassed even her darkest fears.
Armed with four weapons and a backpack full of
ammunition, Kip finally had the last word.
That afternoon, the slight 15-year-old had been
arrested for buying a gun at school. When the police sent him home, his
father laid down the law.
Guns, bomb building, death talk and animal torture
were not normal. Enough was enough. He called the Oregon National Guard,
and asked about enrolling Kip in their youth boot camp. He was too late.
Upstairs, in his loft bedroom, Kip overheard his
father's conversation and began loading his semiautomatic Ruger rifle.
When he'd finished, Kip crept downstairs and behind his father. Silently,
he took aim. A single, fatal bullet struck Bill Kinkel in the back of
Kip dragged the body to the bathroom, then sat and
waited for his mother to come home.
Police say he met her in the garage, looked his
mother in the eyes and said: ''I love you.'' And then he fired, again.
Faith Kinkel, the patient Spanish teacher who
lovingly referred to her son as ''lil angel,'' was found crumpled on the
garage floor, her body riddled with multiple shots.
With his parents dead downstairs, Kip flipped on his
favorite TV show, ''South Park.'' Later, police said, he wired his
family's tidy, wood-nestled A-frame with a series of self-made
explosives. And then he went to bed.
In the morning, he got dressed, reloaded the .22 he
used to kill his father and the .22-caliber semiautomatic he'd used on
his mother and grabbed his 9mm Glock. He taped a military hunting knife
to his ankle, filled his backpack with ammunition and headed off in his
mother's Ford Explorer for Thurston High School.
It had been there, in the hallway of his school, that
Kip had been arrested the day before. His classmates had directed police,
searching for a stolen .32 Beretta, to locker No. 781 - Kip's locker. As
he was led away by police, Kip reportedly whispered, ''They'll get
Less than 24 hours later, he returned to make good on
Kip entered the building, pulled the rifle from under
his long coat and fired. Two students fell. Kip methodically continued
down the hall to the cafeteria, where students gathered to study, talk
or goof off before the first bell.
Reaching the entrance of the crowded room, Kip began
firing. Children screamed and bodies fell, and Kip reloaded. Police say
Kip fired 50 rounds from his rifle and then one more from his Glock
before being wrestled down by other students.
Two were killed and 24 injured.
Later, police had to subdue Kip again at the police
station when he pulled his knife on authorities.
As chilling and horrific as Kip's actions are, family
friends and teachers say the most terrible knowledge is how hard his
''They did everything right - tried everything. And
it wasn't easy,'' said Berry Kessinger, a close family friend for nearly
20 years. ''He was an obnoxious kid. I knew right away that they were
going to have a hard time with him.''
In a family of outgoing, overachievers who loved life,
Kip was woefully out of place.
His father was the life of every party, ''everyone
loved'' his mother and his sister was a high school valedictorian and
cheerleader. Kip was timid and shy. Family friends describe him as
overly sensitive, immature for his age and high strung.
Despite his parents' efforts to help Kip find his own
niche, he never did. Instead, friends said, he seemed to decide that if
he couldn't fit in, he really wouldn't fit in.
His academic struggles began immediately, in the
first grade. Knowing he was a bright child, the Kinkels had him tested
for dyslexia and then Attention Deficit Disorder. When tests for both
proved negative, they tried helping him with his schoolwork and spending
more time with him. They took him camping, hiking, mountain biking and
''They tried to get him involved in anything he
showed an interest in,'' said Dennie Sperry, also a friend of 20 years
to whom the Kinkels confided.
To help boost his self-confidence, the Kinkels signed
Kip up for karate and football and tried to interest him in tennis, the
sport his father loved. Bill even retired from full-time teaching in
1991 to spend more time with his son.
Nothing seemed to make a lasting impression.
''He constantly challenged everything,'' Kessinger
said. ''I even wanted to take a swat at him.'' But the Kinkels never did.
Instead, they just tried harder.
When he got in trouble at school for fighting, his
parents had the school counselors work with him, plus enrolled the help
of a private therapist who prescribed Ritalin and Prozac at various
points in their sessions.
Throughout it all, Faith and Bill believed that if
they kept trying, something would finally click. Be firm, keep him busy
and keep his life structured, they thought. ''But Kip's interests (were)
in other areas,'' Sperry said.
Specifically, violence, guns and bombs.
It began with television. The Kinkels confided in
Sperry that they were becoming increasingly concerned about Kip's morbid
fascination with excessively violent and bloody movies.
When a neighbor complained that Kip had been
torturing her cat, Bill confronted his son. ''He denied it and, of
course, there wasn't any proof. But, yes, Bill believed he did it,''
In school, Kip talked of killing animals, blowing up
people and building bombs.
In English class, when he had to give a ''How To''
speech, Kip built a bomb for the class. At a classmate's birthday party,
he used whipped cream to write ''Kill'' all over the driveway and
presented, as his gift, a tool to break into cars.
By now, the family's concern was intensifying. An
extremely private family that kept its problems behind closed doors,
both Bill and Faith began turning to friends - even strangers - to share
bits and pieces of their despair.
Bill ran into an Oregon State University professor at
the airport. Dan Close was carrying a book on his field of specialty,
violent and destructive behavior, and so Bill struck up a conversation.
Tentatively, Bill began hinting at his personal torture at home. The
conversation lasted more than two hours.
''He said if Kip wanted something, he would throw a
tantrum and persist with unyielding, constant pressure until he got what
he wanted,'' Close said.
One of Kip's recent pursuits had been a gun, and Bill
obviously had been torn.
Bill gave in to the gun obsession, buying a .22-caliber
semiautomatic rifle for Kip. ''Bill thought he'd be a kid with a new toy.
Obsessed at first, but then he'd grow tired of it and move on to
something else,'' Sperry said.
But Kip wasn't satisfied with one gun, now he wanted
another one. A few months later, Bill gave in again, buying Kip a $400 9
mm Glock. This time, Bill set strict guidelines, allowing Kip to use the
guns only in his father's presence and demanding that both take gun
safety classes. Faith watched, and disapproved passionately.
When neighbors complained that Kip was shooting a gun
in the backyard, Bill knew he'd made a mistake. Furious, he took the
Ten days before the shootings, Bill and Sperry played
their usual game of tennis, followed by the usual ''get caught up''
session. ''I asked him how things were going. He smiled and said, "You
know, things are getting better and I'm really happy about that. But,
you know, we've still got some problems.'
''I took that to mean that things were improving,''
Sperry said. So did Bill and Faith Kinkel.
Five months after the killings, Kip awaits trial as
an adult on four counts of aggravated murder, 26 counts of attempted
aggravated murder and 24 counts of assault. To date, he still has shown
no sign of remorse. According to a close family friend who knows Kip's
counselor at Skipworth Juvenile Facility, the youth has ''shown zero
guilt, zero remorse.''
Kipland Philip Kinkel
(born August 30, 1982) is an American mass murderer who killed his
parents and soon afterward perpetrated a school shooting at a
Springfield, Oregon secondary school, killing two people and wounding
twenty-five. He is currently serving a 111-year prison sentence,
ineligible for parole until 2110.
Kinkel had two of his own guns which
he acquired illegally without his parents' knowledge: an old sawed-off
shotgun and a .22 pistol. He had bought the guns years before the
shootings, and he had kept them hidden in his room. His parents never
On May 20, 1998, the day before the
shooting, Kinkel was expelled from Thurston High School for being in
possession of a handgun. Korey Ewert stole a gun from Scott Keeney, the
father of one of his friends, and arranged to sell it to Kinkel the
night before. The next day, Kinkel bought it from him for $110, a
Beretta .32 pistol loaded with a 9 round magazine. Kinkel put the
handgun in a paper bag and left it in his locker.
Scott Keeney soon discovered he was
missing a handgun, and called the police to report it, and gave them a
list of names of students he believed might have stolen the firearm.
Kinkel's name was not on the list. When he was later pulled out of study
hall and checked for weapons on his person, he reportedly looked one of
the officers in the eye and said "Look, I'm gonna be square with you
guys; the gun's in my locker". Kinkel was then arrested along with Korey
Ewert, expelled, then released from police custody and driven home by
his father Bill.
Later that day at about 4:00 p.m.,
Kinkel got his father's Ruger semi-automatic pistol from his parents'
room, loaded it, and proceeded into the kitchen where he shot his dad
once in the back of the head as he was drinking coffee, killing him
He then waited for his mother to come
home from work. When she did at about 6:00 p.m., Kinkel told her that he
loved her then shot her repeatedly through the head and heart. Kinkel
left his mother's body in the garage and dragged his father into the
bathroom, where he locked the door. He also put a white sheet over both
of the bodies.
His sister Kristen did not know of
any of the events until after they had unfolded, as she was in Hawaii at
the time for college. She would later provide insight into the lives of
the Kinkels at home.
Shooting at Thurston High
On May 21, Kinkel drove his mother's
Ford Explorer to his former high school. He wore a trenchcoat to hide
the two pistols, hunting knife, and rifle;
Hunting Knife, strapped to his leg
9MM Glock 19 pistol
Ruger .22 Semi-Automatic Rifle(Before
Ruger .22 pistol
He left his mother's car outside the
school and carried a backpack for his ammunition. He entered the hallway
and fired two shots, one killing Ben Walker and the other wounding Ryan
Atteberry. Kinkel then entered the cafeteria and fired the remaining 48
rounds from the 50-round clip in his rifle. He fired from the hip,
walking across the cafeteria, wounding 24 students and killing Mikeal
When his rifle ran out of ammunition
and Kinkel began to reload, wounded student Jake Ryker tackled Kinkel,
who attempted to kill Ryker with the Glock. He only managed to fire one
shot before Ryker knocked the gun out of his hand. More students,
including Jake's brother Josh, helped restrain Kinkel until the police
arrived and arrested him.
Nicholauson died at the scene, and
Walker died after being transported to the hospital and kept on life
support until both of his parents arrived. The other students, including
Jake Ryker (who was in critical condition), were also taken to the
hospital with a variety of wounds
Kinkel was arrested. When brought to
the police station, he lunged at Al Warthen, a police officer, with his
knife, screaming "Shoot me, kill me!". The officer sprayed Kinkel with
pepper spray, thwarting his attack. Kinkel later said that he wanted to
trick the officer into shooting him. When interviewed by Warthen, Kinkel
repeated at least seven times that he had "no other choice" but to kill
his parents, and at one point exclaimed "God damn it...these voices
inside my head".
At his sentencing hearing the defense
presented a number of experts in mental health in an effort to prove
that Kinkel was mentally ill. The only psychologist who had seen Kinkel
before the shootings maintained that he was in satisfactory mental
health. However, he had only seen the psychologist for a total of 9
sessions, after which his parents felt that he had made satisfactory
In any event, on September 24, 1999,
three days before jury selection was set to begin, Kip pleaded guilty to
murder and attempted murder, foregoing the possibility of being
acquitted by reason of insanity.
In November, 1999 Kinkel was
sentenced to more than 111 years in prison, without the possibility of
parole. Kinkel serves his sentence at MacLaren Youth Correctional
Facility, a correctional facility for boys, which is located in
Bill Kinkel, by a single .22 shot to the back of the head
Faith Kinkel, by 6 .22 rounds to the head and chest
Thurston High School
Ben Walker, by a single .22 round to the head
Mikeal Nicholauson, injured by shots to the chest and
thigh, and killed by a point blank bullet to the head.
Kinkel was not taking any psychiatric medications at the
time of the shooting. In fact he had previously been taking Prozac,
which helped his depression, but stopped it after three months because
his depression had improved.
Jake Ryker has been cited by the National Rifle
Association and conservative media groups as "an example of NRA training
put to good use."
In January 2004 a request for a new trial was filed based
on claims that Kip's lawyers failed to properly pursue an insanity
defense. A judge was expected to rule on that appeal within the year,
but as of 2006, no motion has been given on the appeal.
Kip Kinkel is referenced in the Bizzy Bone song "Social
Studies" where Bizzy admonishes him to "put these headphones on and let
me murder you like you murdered your mom."
In Thurston High School, Kinkel fired 51 rounds, 50 being
.22 bullets from the rifle, and one being from the 9mm Glock.
Kinkel was apparently a very big fan of the 1996 film
William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, and had the soundtrack on repeat
when police entered the house after the shooting.
According to police, .22 bullets were strewn all over the
According to Kinkel, he wanted to commit suicide after
killing his parents, but couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger.
Kinkel never used the .22 pistol in the shootings.
Kinkel is referenced in the controversial Super Columbine
Massacre RPG! when the shooters are about to commit suicide, the main
character says something to the effect of "We're not going to surrender
- we won't let them do to us what they did to Kip Kinkel," referencing
Kinkel's 111-year sentence.
The Killer at
In 2000, PBS aired a documentary
called "Frontline: The Killer at Thurston High". The documentary looks
into the life of Kinkel, including his depression and fascination with
Losing Hope: Kinkel's rampage ends in 112 year
By Laura Barandes - CourtTV.com
November 11, 1999
When did he
finally lose hope?
An Oregon judge sentenced 17-year-old Kip Kinkel
Wednesday to nearly 112 years in prison, the equivalent of life without
parole, for the Thurston High School shootings he carried out 18 months
ago. With a final rap of the gavel, the fate of a young killer was put
to rest even as the grisly scene of murder continues to play in the
minds of his surviving victims.
Yet, as the sound of the gavel died in the courtroom,
many questions still live on. Why did he do it?
Kip Kinkel, a 15-year-old high school freshman in the
spring of 1998, felt alone and angry. Like so many young people his age,
Kip was experiencing the dread of high school rejection — from a girl he
liked, and from other students in general.
"Hate drives me," Kip began in his journal. "I wish I
was dead ... I am repulsive and few people know who I am." Kip wrote
extensively about his loneliness, anger and confusion. Over and over he
penned the words "I need help," because "my head just doesn't work right."
Kip's murderous impulses emerge in his journal before
he decided to take any real action. What, if anything, held him back
from going on his planned killing spree? "The one reason I don't: Hope,"
wrote Kip. "That tomorrow will be better."
"As soon as my hope is gone, people die."
Those demons lurking beneath the surface of Kip's
young face would not stay quiet, and on May 20, 1998, he finally decided
to share his personal nightmare with the world. Kip's hope was gone, and
he was about to shake loose the hope of countless others.
Kip was expelled from school that day, ironically for
having a stolen gun in his locker. He would later write: "I just got two
felonies on my record. My parents can't take that. It would destroy them.
The embarrassment would be too much for them. They couldn't live with
And so Kip killed them. His words are from a letter
he left on the coffee table after shooting his father, Bill, in the head
and then firing six bullets into his mother, Faith. Kip cleaned up after
killing his father, according to prosecutors, and waited several hours
for his mother to come home. He told her he loved her before pulling the
The next day, May 21, Kip walked into the Thurston
High School cafeteria wearing a trench coat and armed with three guns
and two knives. After telling one student he "should probably leave,"
Kinkel said he pulled out a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle with a 50-round
banana clip. He acknowledged these facts on a videotape played at his
sentencing. Firing 50 rounds in 90 seconds, Kip claimed the lives of two
students, Mikael Nickolauson and Ben Walker, and injured several others.
He was subdued by several teenagers who tackled him to the ground.
In later testimony Detective Alan Warthen would
describe how the young suspect was found to have extra bullets taped to
his chest so he could kill himself and begged officers who questioned
him: "Just kill me! Just shoot me!"
Initially, Kip pleaded not guilty by reason of
insanity, but on Sept. 24, his defense decided to enter into a agreement
with prosecutors. Kip would plead guilty to four charges of murder and
26 charges of attempted murder, just three days before his trial was set
to begin with jury selection. Under the plea agreement, Kip faced a
minimum of 25 years and a maximum of 220 years in prison.
"Because Mr. Kinkel is a juvenile the death penalty
does not apply," said Lane County District Attorney Doug Harcleroad.
The possible drama of a jury trial paled in
comparison to the horror that the victims and their community would have
had to endure. "[Kip's] participation and agreement," said Lane County
Circuit Judge Jack Mattison on Wednesday, "spared us the necessity of
spending eight weeks or so of reliving the events of May 20 and 21."
However, sparing the community the trauma of a trial
was not the main reason behind Kip's guilty plea. Fearing jurors would
not take an insanity defense seriously, Kip's defense opted against a
"We worried about jury scepticism of mental illness
and about using it as a defense for criminal conduct," defense attorney
Mark Sabitt told Court TV. Instead, Kip's defense chose to rely on the
discretion of a judge who, in Sabitt's opinion, "could have more
objective insight, a higher level of education and experience with the
And so the case of the State of Oregon vs. Kipland
Philip Kinkel went directly to sentencing. Although they had abandoned
their insanity defense for Kip, attorneys Sabitt and Richard Mullen
hoped that testimony from experts regarding Kinkel's mental condition
would influence the judge's decision. This testimony included evidence
that Kinkel's brain scan suggested schizophrenia, and that four out of
five first cousins on his mother's side had been institutionalized.
Though the experts differed on a specific diagnosis
for Kip, all agreed that at his young age, the disease is still emergent.
Furthermore, said Sabitt, "Whatever he has, whether it's bipolar
disorder or schizophrenia with paranoid effect, they are accompanied by
psychotic episodes." In other words, the defense argued that Kip's
mental illness had a profound effect on his behavior.
According to Sabitt, Faith Kinkel once took her son
to a psychologist because she was alarmed at his violent thoughts and
unhappiness, but a full psychological evaluation was never done.
"He was prescribed Prozac," said Sabitt, "but he and
his parents decided he should stop taking it after a few months." Kip
walked around with a potentially inflammatory, undiagnosed illness, the
But prosecutors described Kip to the judge as a cold,
dangerous and calculating killer. Assistant District Attorneys Kent
Mortimore and Caren Tracy detailed the way that Kip planned his murder
rampage. For example, said Mortimore, the defendant used an extremely
quiet gun to kill his father and then cleaned up the mess in the kitchen;
after he killed his mother, Kip talked normally on the phone for hours.
Prosecutors also argued that the voices in Kip's head were a lie and
attacked defense claims of mental illness.
The sentencing hearing finished testimony on Tuesday,
with 50 people telling judge Mattison how Kip had irreparably altered
their lives, that the voices in his head didn't exist, and that he
should die in prison.
"I can't stand here and look at you without wanting
to kill you," said Jacob Ryker, a student wounded in the attack. Ryker
was touted as a hero for leading the effort to subdue Kinkel. "I don't
care if you're sick, if you're insane, if you're crazy. I don't care,"
said Ryker, also testifying that he questions himself for "not pulling
the trigger" and killing Kinkel.
"I hate you, I hate what you have done, I hate what I
have become because of you," said Jennifer Alldredge, another victim. "I'm
so tired of having all this run my life."
Unlike earlier in the hearing, when he hid his face
or lay his head on the table when people described his crimes, Kinkel
sat up Tuesday, apparently keeping a resolve recounted by his sister,
Kristin, to listen to the victims. When people asked that he look at
them, he complied.
The next morning, judge Mattison handed down his
decision. "I guarantee you," began Mattison, "I am as nervous as anybody
in this courtroom."
He sentenced Kip Kinkel to 111.67 years in prison: 25
years for the four murders and 40 additional months for each of 26
counts of attempted murder.
Suddenly, there was a commotion in the courtroom. "Someone
call a doctor!" shouted a woman in the gallery. Mark Walker, whose son
Ben was killed in the attack, collapsed in the courtroom when the
sentence was read, and Mattison called for a recess.
Mattison explained that his decision was based on a
section in the Oregon Constitution which had recently been changed.
Originally, Article 1 Section 5 as adopted in 1859 read: "Laws for the
punishment of crime shall be founded on the principles of reformation,
and not of vindictive justice."
However, in 1996 the people of Oregon voted to change
that section to the following: "Laws for the punishment of crimes shall
be founded on these principles: the protection of society, personal
responsibility, accountability for one's actions, and reformation."
This change, said Mattison, "was a clear statement
that the protection of society in general was to be of more importance
than the possible reformation or rehabilitation of any individual
Mattison felt that experts had not convinced him
sufficiently that Kip would not be a future threat to society. He said
there was no way to predict what advancements medical science might make
to relieve Kip's problems and there was no way to know if Kip would
responsibly follow his treatment.
The judge did say that if Kip devotes his life to
being a model prisoner and medical achievements render his cure possible,
"he may be able to make a credible case for gubernatorial clemency ...
and seek a commutation or shortening of his sentence."
But the defense believes that Mattison's decision
amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. "Although [the judge]
considered the hierarchy," said Sabitt in reference to the protection of
society, "he emphasized his opinion while inappropriately downplaying
the potential for reformation." On this basis, "the case will be
appealed," said Sabitt.
According to Sabitt, the defense will appeal on two
grounds. First, that the judge's decision hinged on an incorrect
interpretation of the Oregon Constitution. Second, that the Oregon
Constitution itself, in downplaying the potential for rehabilitation, is
"untrue" to the U.S. Constitution.
Also, said Sabitt, the notion that gubernatorial
clemency is somehow a way out for Kip, should he prove himself, is
slightly misleading. "Clemency in this kind of case is a real longshot,"
Meanwhile, Kip will be kept at the MacLaren Youth
Correctional Facility, a state juvenile prison in Woodburn, Oregon. He
must rely on the services of different court appointed public defenders
for his appeal in Salem.
Even though the prosecution won its case, District
Attorney Doug Harcleroad noted that there is little to celebrate. "While
this prosecution was successful in doing what needed to be done — namely
forever protecting society from Mr. Kinkel, in addition to helping our
victims to feel safe — there are no winners in this incident," said
Perhaps no one will ever know why Kip decided to
destroy his life and the lives of so many others. In a short two days,
he orphaned himself and rendered four parents survivors of their own
Even Kip himself may never understand what drove him
to become a killer. "I absolutely loved my parents and had no reason to
kill them," he said in his statement to the court. "I had no reason to
dislike, kill, or try to kill anyone at Thurston."
What is known is that the effects of this tragedy
will be felt for a long time and, above all, there is a feeling of
immense waste. "There's a lot of potential this kid has that's never
going to see the light of day," said Sabitt of his client. It is as true
for Kip as for those he harmed.
Now everyone — survivors, witnesses and a teenage
convict — must try once again to find hope.