INSIDE A TWISTED MIND
Adam Lanza’s Terrifying Online Life Revealed: Mass Shooting Spreadsheets, Columbine Collages, and Murder Tumblrs
Buried deep inside newly released FBI files is evidence the killer was obsessed with school shootings to a degree previously unknown.
Adam Lanza was so obsessed with school shooters that he named Tumblr accounts after them, newly released documents show.
It’s been nearly five years since Lanza killed 20 first-grade students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. After the massacre, investigators revealed that Lanza’s internet history revealed an interest in other mass-murders.
But a newly released cache of FBI documents show Lanza was obsessed with school shootings, particularly Columbine. An internet acquaintance told the FBI about Lanza’s disturbing history online, including his Tumblr accounts. Those accounts were homages to previous school shooters, complete with graphic collages of Columbine victims, The Daily Beast has found.
“I'm still waiting for a mass shooter who eschews 9mm pistols and instead buys an AK-47 pistol, 30 30-round magazines, and 1000 hollow points,” Lanza posted in a forum about the Columbine High School shooting in January 2011.
Lanza wrote the post under the penname “Smiggles,” which blogs like Sandy Hook Lighthouse have long suggested belonged to Lanza. In an interview with the FBI, one of Lanza’s acquaintance confirmed Lanza was Smiggles.
That acquaintance said she first noticed Lanza’s posts on a forum about the video game “Super Columbine Massacre RPG,” which lets players relive the 1999 Columbine High School massacre from the viewpoint of the killers, during which two high school seniors murdered 12 fellow students and one teacher. (Lanza also played a video game called “School Shooter,” in which the player guns down students from a first-person view, The Daily Beast previously reported.)
Journalist Dave Cullen, author of Columbine, said the shooting has attracted a significant online fanbase over the past half decade.
“The huge chunk of them are just kids trying to look cool,” Cullen told The Daily Beast. “They’re all trying to impress these other strangers with how cool they are, even though I don’t think most of them are even into killers that much.”
But among the Columbine fans and the true crime aficionados are “a small subset of people who I think actually do want to do something like Columbine. It’s a tiny, tiny fraction buried at the bottom of this haystack.”
Lanza clearly belonged to that fraction.
Lanza described dreaming about Columbine in his sleep in one forum post. His internet acquaintance told investigators that Lanza had posted about Columbine dreams on at least two other occasions on his two Tumblr accounts. Those accounts, “gayfortimk” and “queerforkimveer” were named after school shooters Tim Kretschmer and Kimveer Gill. The accounts have since been deleted, but some of their posts remain in circulation.
In one post, shared on both accounts, Lanza shared a graphic collage of corpses bodies from Columbine. In another post, on the Queerforkimveer account, Lanza shared a series of pictures of the Virginia Tech murderer.
On the Gayfortimk account, Lanza posted a compilation of “school shooting monologues” from movies and television shows. Lanza uploaded the compilation to his DailyMotion account, where he used Tim Kretschmer’s picture as an icon and also uploaded videos and audio of school shooters, including the Columbine killers.
Lanza was obsessive in documenting these killings, collecting every piece of footage he could.
“We finally have authentic photographic evidence of the gym incident where Dylan was running around pushing people,” Lanza gushed in a forum post about a new photo of a Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold.
Klebold appeared to be one of Lanza’s favorite killers. In a late 2011 forum post, Lanza conceded that Klebold’s conspirator Eric Harris was “a monster,” but appeared to express some sympathy for Klebold, whom some investigators have described as a depressive bullying victim, as opposed to Harris, who has been described as a calculating psychopath.
Cullen said a number of Columbine fans have come to admire Klebold in particular. “It’s a very powerful thing, this mythology. People think ‘Klebold was like me, he was tormented, and he struck back.’ He became the folk hero,” Cullen said. “That’s the power and the danger of people mythologizing these guys and seeing them heroically.”
Dr. Peter Langman, an expert on school shooters, said mass murderers often draw inspiration from previous killers.
“Sometimes it’s a minimal reference, sometimes it a lot of research: idolizing them, practically worshipping them,” Langman told The Daily Beast. “What’s different about Adam Lanza is the extent of the research he did, compiling a spreadsheet with minutely detailed information. He went beyond what most shooters do, but the pattern that is consistent, especially among the younger perpetrators of mass attacks, is that they often find someone or multiple people to inspire them, whose footsteps they want to follow.”
Lanza’s acquaintance, who described him as “the weirdest person online” told investigators that Lanza was “working on a list, or spreadsheet, meticulously documenting the details of hundreds of spree killings and mass murders.”
Lanza claimed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of killers. When one commenter on a Columbine forum mentioned a mass murderer named Robert, Lanza boasted that “for trivia's sake, I know of four other young mass shooters whose names were Robert,” listing four young, murderous Roberts active from 1966 through 2002.
Lanza was a withdrawn young man who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and anxiety, a 2014 report by Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate found, and was reported to have avoided communication with peers. Official reports released in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting described Lanza as being bullied as a child. But online, he seemed to admire mass-murderers.
“Serial killers are lame,” Lanza wrote as Smiggles. “Everyone knows that mass murderers are the cool kids.”
While there’s no data on who uses macabre forums like Lanza’s, most users are likely not mass-murderers in the waiting.
“No one’s going out and doing personality tests or psychological evaluations on these people,” Langman said. “It remains anonymous. We’re left to guess why are they doing this? What’s their motivation? Is it more of a joke, or are they really serious? It’s probably a mix of these things.”
“I wish I could be sure he was joking,” a forum user wrote of Lanza’s posts. “I really don't know with Smiggles anymore”
Users on the forum also accused Lanza of being a pedophile after he posted about wanting to eliminate the age of consent, and other disturbing sexualized ideas about children.
“Doesn’t anybody else notice that Smiggles sometimes sends huge ‘I AM A PEDOPHILE’ signals?” one wrote.
In emails to his acquaintance, Lanza claimed to hate pedophiles, describing them as a “threat” that would “influence a child”. Much of Lanza’s online postings railed against adult influence on children. The acquaintance told the investigators that Lanza liked the Harry Potter books because he like the idea that children would be taken from their families.
In summer 2012, Lanza deleted much of his internet presence. Lanza “committed virtual suicide,” destroying his hard drive and going offline, the acquaintance said. He deleted his Tumblr posts in November 2012.
One month later, Lanza would obtain the high-power rifles he lauded in forum posts, pull on fingerless black gloves like one of the Columbine shooters, and walk into Sandy Hook Elementary to commit an atrocity.
Lanza, said the acquaintance who watched years of his postings on murder, was “more fucked up than I thought.”