Columbine High School Massacre | Part Three: Eric & Dylan, The Myths, Columbiners and The Basement Tapes

 (Continued from Part Two

Who were Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris? We know them as the killers who carried out The Columbine High School Massacre but who were they really? If you were to go back in time to April 1999 and read the newspapers and watched the news reports, you'd be led to believe that these two boys were goths, listened to Marilyn Manson, loved Nazis, were part of a group called The Trenchcoat Mafia, addicted to violent video games and movies, took drugs, took anti-depressants, wore Gothic makeup, dressed in trenchcoats, collected guns and hated everyone from ethic minorities to jocks with white baseball caps. So what was the truth and what was fiction?

Like I mentioned in part one. I was a teenager when Columbine happened and it happened on my very last day of school. I wasn't supposed to have my last day on the 20th of April 1999 but I decided on that morning that I'd had enough and would no longer return. School was a place of hell for me and I'm not just talking about little bits of teasing here and there, I had suffered some horrendous bullying for years and I was suicidal.

When I said that I was no longer going back, nobody stopped me, the headteacher knew what was going on and was powerless to help me so it was a relief for him when I was gone. In high school I was the kid that sat at the back of the class and wore black, listened to bands like Placebo and people in the small town that I lived in thought I was a Satan worshipper and drank blood. Some people were weary of me because they thought I was a weirdo and others would bully me to my face.

Nowadays it's not a big thing to see kids dressed in black and listening to goth bands but back then it was, especially where I was from.

So you can imagine when I got home that day and saw the news. ''Two schoolkids who were sick of being bullied got revenge on the people who made their lives hell''. I automatically thought that these people were like me (It sounds crazy but at that time I was in a really depressed state and I was young). I'm not going to lie, there was times when a door would be kicked in my face by boys calling me ''Monster'' and ''Freak'' and I would imagine what it would be like to get revenge on them. I was having some really dark thoughts.

I'd already read bits and pieces about school shootings before and when Columbine happened, it seemed different somehow, like I could relate to who I thought Eric and Dylan were. I didn't relate to the Nazi stuff, the racism or love of guns but I did relate to the frustration of being bullied, being different, not fitting in. I shaped my idea of who they were from the media.

I started to collect all the newspaper articles that I could and I bought a Marilyn Manson CD because I'd read in the papers that they listened to him. I became obsessed trying to find out all that I could about them. This was in the days before the Internet was a big thing over here in the UK.

At that time I felt a sort of comfort to know that there were people out there I thought were just like me, who'd been through what I had.

Over the years as I grew up and more information was made available with having access to the Internet and then the evidence files, I learned that a lot of what was reported at the time was false. I read Dave Cullen's book (before reading the evidence files plus statements from their family and friends) which was supposed to be based on 10 years of research. I read it a few times and it confused me. Dave said that they weren't motivated by bullying and there seemed to be a more sympathetic view of Dylan despite the fact that there's evidence that Dylan was very active in the shooting, the planning and was very vocal and clearly enjoyed what he did.

Before I did further research into the evidence and statements of those that knew Dylan and Eric, I wondered why Dave Cullen got so much hate online (he still does to this day) and thinking back to the book there is a lot of things that are not fact. I felt it wasn't the whole truth the first time round when I read it.

I watched a youtube video of Dave Cullen doing a speech at a university (the comments were disabled) and he was talking about Columbine. He seemed to struggle to remember a few things and got mixed up. He seemed to be really over confident about who he thought they were like he was in the book. The fact that he didn't take the bullying aspect seriously says a lot to me.

I grew out of the obsession with the Columbine case (I was never one of these fan girls of Dylan and Eric, I was intrigued at the beginning because I'd read that they were two bullied goths) as I got older but from time to time an article would pop up, a documentary or a movie that would be loosely based on them would pop up and I would read or watch them. I read the evidence files because I was interested to find out the truth and what other people who knew them had to say.

Now, with the 20th anniversary coming up and including true crime cases on my blog, I was asked if I would cover Columbine after the Kip Kinkel case and I thought about it. At first I wasn't going to do it but then I changed my mind. As I looked into the case again, I found endless tribute videos to Dylan and Eric, Tumblr accounts and websites dedicated to Columbine, fan art and stories that people had written and I thought, these people are probably kids who are like I was and they've read the whole lonely bullied goth stories and see them as people who couldn't take anymore and created a horrific event. Others I believe to be interested in the psychology of the whole thing, why did they do it, was anyone else involved etc. There are people out there (like me) who are interested in researching the case but do not idolise Dylan and Eric.

There is a big following of people who are really interested in the case called ''Columbiners''. These are the people who have the dedicated websites, Tumblrs and channels. I think there's a mix of people who idolise Eric and Dylan and others who don't idolise them but just research the case. It's one of those things were people seem to class all of them as Columbiners. They would probably class me as one because I've covered them in this blog & done a lot of research into the case or as one when I was a teenager.

In my opinion, I don't see anything wrong with people researching the case and finding out the real facts for themselves, it's when people go to an extreme with it and refer to Dylan and Eric as Gods or try to copy what they did which is obviously not the right way to go. 

In this post I want to talk a little bit about who Dylan and Eric were based on what people who knew them have said (Not Dave Cullen or the newspapers) and The Basement Tapes.


Who Was Dylan Klebold?


Dylan Bennet Klebold was 17 years old at the time of the massacre and (born on the 11th of September 1981) was described as someone who was painfully shy but quick to anger from those that knew him, his favourite band was Nine Inch Nails. He is often described as depressed, lonely and full of suppressed rage. As a child he was discovered to be quite ahead of his classmates academically and seemed to have quite a number of friends. He was close with his parents and had a brother who was 3 years older than him.


In middle school Dylan met Eric Harris and from what I have read there were no problems in middle school from either of the boys. In 1995 they moved up to Columbine High School which had just undergone a $15 million dollar makeover. They were amongst the first to see the new look and take advantage of the new facilities.

Friends who knew both Dylan and Eric said that Eric was the one who suffered the most bullying at Columbine, however people did comment that they saw both Eric and Dylan being targeted by Jocks in the cafeteria on a couple of occasions, one incident involved the Jocks spraying both of the boys in ketchup and calling them homophobic names. Brooks Brown also said that he was with Dylan and Eric one day when a group of Jocks threw a glass bottle at them. Brooks wanted to say something but Dylan told him to leave it as it happened all the time.

Dylan and Brooks Brown (the boy who Eric told to go home before the massacre began) had been friends since childhood. Dylan also informed Brooks about the website that Eric had made where he posted Brooks' address and threatened to kill him (I'll talk more about that when I cover Eric).

At Columbine he was active in school play productions as a light and sound coordinator as well as being involved in video productions and Columbine High School's rebel news network.

Dylan and Eric would make homemade videos, they also created a video for a school project called Hitmen For Hire, this was later believed to be a spoof of what they planned to carry out and another red flag that should have been looked into.

Just weeks before the massacre, Dylan handed in an essay to his teacher that was so graphically violent that she refused to grade the paper till she contacted his parents and spoke to him directly about it. The essay was about a lone warrior wearing a trenchcoat who stabbed and shot to death a group of college preps then set off a bomb to divert attention away from the police. Dylan's explanation for this was that it was just a story and the whole thing seemed to be forgotten about. This teacher along with other members of the Columbine teaching staff were later named in wrongful death lawsuits from parents of the victims who said that she and her colleagues could have done more to prevent the tragedy and that the essay should have been taken more seriously.

Dylan worked with Eric at a place called Blackjack Pizza, he was written up for bringing a pipe bomb to work (Eric and Dylan often played pranks at work). He quit the job shortly after but was rehired again by Blackjack when they were short of staff.

Sue Klebold, Dylan's mother said that she and her husband had no idea about what was really going on in Dylan's mind. She knew that there had been some trouble at school involving Dylan and Eric hacking into computers. There was also an incident where Dylan scratched a school locker and he and Eric were caught breaking into a van to steal electrical equipment, both boys had to attend a juvenile diversion program. Dylan did so well on the program that he was allowed to complete it earlier than normal.

Dylan promised his mum and dad that he was going to straighten himself out and not get into any more trouble. Over the weeks and months, Dylan seemed to be doing well, he applied to and been accepted at 4 different colleges. He visited the University of Arizona (which was his first choice university/school) with his parents and picked out a room. he also made plans to attend prom which he did on the weekend before the shootings. He went to prom with his date Robyn (who was just a friend) along with a group of friends in a limo. The night of the prom he was said to be in good spirits, laughing, having a good time and talking about the future with his friends.

When Dylan got home from the prom he thanked his parents for paying for everything and that he'd had one of the best night's of his life.

On the 20th of April 1999, Sue said that Dylan got up very early (it was still dark outside) and she heard him walking down the stairs like he was in a hurry. She called out to him ''Dyl'' and the next thing she heard was ''Bye'' as Dylan slammed the front door shut. She said she felt at the time that something was wrong with him, maybe he'd had a falling out with a friend or was in a hurry for something. She spoke to her husband about it and he said that he'd noticed that Dylan seemed to be talking in a more higher tone the past few days. They both agreed that Dylan's dad would have a talk to him that night to see what was bothering him.

Unbeknown to his parents, Dylan and Eric Harris had been planning the massacre for a year and Dylan had been writing about feeling depressed and suicidal for a long time. Dylan wrote about being lonely, wanting to find love and he wrote about a girl that he had a crush on but nothing ever came of it. Sue said that Dylan didn't have a journal, he just wrote on random bits of paper that were found in various places in his bedroom.

A I mentioned before Dylan was said to experience some form of bullying but not as much as Eric. Dylan was also alleged to have harassed a boy at school to the point of the boy's mother having to speak with the principal about it but nothing was done. Dylan and Eric killed people who had nothing to do with how they were treated at school, none of the kids who were shot had bullied them. A few of the kids had problems themselves with not fitting in and having difficulties.

One of the students who was badly injured in the library by the shots fired by Dylan was a girl named Valeen Schnurr, this was the same girl who was asked if she believed in God. Witnesses later revealed that Valeen sat in front of Dylan in one of their classes together and she was always nice and talked to him, they were surprised at how cold he was to her.

In the transcripts of the library shooting, Dylan can be heard shouting and yelling all kinds of profanities and racist remarks. He and Eric were bullying the kids before they shot them.

After the shootings, Dylan's parents wrote a letter to all of the families who lost a loved one. They also released this open letter to the public:

Nearly a year has passed since tragedy changed the community of Columbine forever. A day that began innocently but ended catastrophically. The healing process has moved slowly as we all attempt to cope, not only with our own despair, but also with the distractions and intrusions that result
from world attention.

There are no words to convey how sorry we are for the pain that has been brought upon the community as a result of our son's actions. The pain of others compounds our own as we struggle to live a life without the son we cherished. In the reality of the Columbine tragedy and it's aftermath, we look with the rest of the world to understand how such a thing could happen.

We are convinced that the only way to truly honor all of the victims of this and other related tragedies is to move clearly and methodically toward an understanding of why they occur, so that we may try to prevent this kind of madness from ever happening again. It is our intention to work for this end, believing that answers are probably within reach, but that they will not be simple. We envision a time when circumstances will allow us to join with those who share our desire to understand. In the meantime, we again express our profound condolences to those who's lives have been so tragically altered, we look forward to a day when all our pain is replaced by peace and acceptance.

Finally, we wish to thank those who have sent their kind thoughts, prayers and expressions of support to our family. We are constantly surprised and heartened by the gestures of understanding and compassion that have been extended to us. The support has been both humbling and inspiring, and we are truly indebted to those who have offered it.

The Klebold family - 4-15-2000.

Dylan's mother often gives talks about her son and suicide prevention. She wrote a book with all the proceeds going to mental health charities.

Do I believe that Dylan was a depressed follower who did whatever Eric told him to do? I think (based on what I've read over the years) that Dylan did have depression and self loathing, he was insecure and I don't think he was a follower, with him and Eric it seemed to be a meeting of the minds. Dylan was happy to take part in this every step of the way and wrote about how he was excited and couldn't wait to do it.

The way he was in the library was the real him, nobody forced him to do that. There was no remorse, he was taking pleasure in the killings. Some people believed that Dylan manipulated people into thinking that he was just a shy and quiet person. There was definitely two sides to him (like there is to most people) only his dark side was a lot darker than people imagined.

I do believe he went through some bullying and to what extent we'll never know (people have mentioned that Eric was bullied more than Dylan or they never saw Dylan being bullied but situations may have occurred when witnesses were not around) but one thing's for sure, he had an extreme amount of anger inside of him.

In Dylan Klebold's autopsy, no traces of drugs were found.

Dylan's funeral was very private for obvious reasons with only 15 people in attendance. The funeral home where the service took place received a lot of backlash at the time with members of the public calling for the funeral director to be fired.

Who Was Eric Harris?

Eric David Harris was born on the 9th of April 1981 and had not long turned 18 years old at the time of the massacre. He is often described as the ''Textbook Psychopath'' and the more dominant out of himself and Dylan. he has also been described as controlling, manipulative and sadistic. He described himself as ''God like'' in his journal and ranted about how much he hated the world and pretty much everyone in it.

People who knew him said that he came across as polite, well educated but like Dylan, he had a fiery temper. He was also described as an ''injustice collector'', if anyone made a rude comment to him or if he asked a girl out and she rejected him, he'd write their names down on his hit list and write about how much he hated them.

From what I've read, Eric seemed to have both over confidence and insecurity at times. He had the confidence to ask out a lot of girls and talk to them but he was very insecure about a chest deformity that required surgeries just before he started high school. He was self conscious about taking his shirt off in gym class.

During freshman year, Eric met a girl in his German class and took her to the homecoming dance, it was their only date and she refused to go out with him again. Eric staged a fake suicide, laying on the ground covered in fake blood. He later wrote in her year book ''Ich Bin Gott'' (I am God).

Witnesses say that it was in gym class that Eric experienced a lot of bullying because of his size, weight and because he wasn't very good at sports. He was also mocked for how he dressed and his taste in music. Eric was a big fan of KMFDM and Rammstein.

Eric moved around quite a lot as a child because his dad worked in the Air Force, Eric would later express that the moving was always difficult for him, having to always be the new kid and never being settled.

Eric did care a lot about animals and expressed anger at anyone who committed animal cruelty. He had a dog that he adored who was often sick with seizures (in one of the home videos that were part of The Basement Tapes, Eric is seen talking to the camera and wishing that he could see some of his old friends again, there's a moment where he begins to cry and has to turn the camera off). Eric was capable of showing emotion which, like Dylan shows how they both had two different sides to them. They had the sides that their families and friends knew and then the dark sides that planned and committed the massacre.

Eric had a fascination with Hitler and the Nazis and would often be seen sketching swastikas (Dylan was never seen doing this. Dylan was actually from a Jewish background. According to Brooks Brown's parents, in one of The Basement Tapes Dylan mentions about being Jewish to which Eric is shocked and there is an awkward moment between the pair but they quickly change the subject)

As I mentioned earlier, Eric was said by witnesses to have had a lot of bullying. There was an incident where Jocks had thrown tampons covered in tomato ketchup at him and someone said they'd seen him getting slammed into a locker in gym class.

Like Dylan, Eric took part in the Juvenile Diversion Program (after the van break in) and passed with flying colours. He appeared to the court and his family as butter wouldn't melt and that he was on the straight and narrow but behind closed doors he wrote in his journal how he found it hilarious that he managed to fool everyone. He had no regret for what he had done, he was angry at how he was treated. Dylan was also full of rage because they were arrested.

Eric didn't go to prom the weekend before the massacre, he asked a girl that he liked to go but she said no. he stayed at home and hung out with another girl (said to be just a friend but he later mentioned in one of The Basement Tapes that this girl was to keep the CD that they were listening to that night and he said that in another world, things may have been different)

On the day of the shooting, Eric's dad heard the news and straight away called 911 thinking that Eric had been involved when he heard the words ''Trenchcoat Mafia''

Brooks Brown (who was told by Eric to go home that morning) was a childhood friend of Dylan. Dylan introduced Brooks to Eric and the pair became friends. Brooks would often give Eric a ride to school but on a few occasions he'd turned up late. Eric wasn't happy about this and when it happened a few days in a row, they had an argument about it. Brooks decided it would be best if Eric just found his own way to school from now on and in a temper, Eric threw either a rock or piece of ice which dented Brooks' windshield. Brooks told Eric he would have to pay for the damage.

Eric continued to harass Brooks and his family by putting firecrackers on the windowsill of their house. Eric would gloat about this in his journals and online. Brooks' parents had contacted the police and Eric's parents over the damaged windshield and harassment. Eric apologised but Brooks' mother didn't believe his apology was genuine.

Eric then went online and posted Brooks' phone number and address as well as a rant about wanting to kill Brooks (Dylan later told Brooks about Eric's website). It was around this time that Eric's dad began keeping a journal on his behaviour.

In 1997 Brooks Brown's parents filed a report with an investigator regarding Eric's website. During this investigation, Eric's hit list was found (a manifesto that listed everyone he hated and would like to kill), notes about bomb making were also found. After the shootings this report was hidden.

Eric was very active on the Internet and both he and Dylan had their computers set up on a network to play Doom together.

One of Eric's aspirations was to join the marines and he even took steps to apply. His application was rejected shortly before the shooting (Eric was unaware of this as the recruiter failed to get in contact with him) likely because he was taking an anti depressant called Luvox. Some people think that Eric may have had an idea that he would be rejected from the marines as his mother had mentioned to the recruiter whilst Eric was in the room that he was taking anti depressants. It was also theorised that the side effects of Luvox could have been a contributing factor to what happened at Columbine.

Originally, Eric was taking Zoloft for a while but began to complain of depressed thoughts and feeling suicidal. His doctor took him off of Zoloft and gave him Luvox which was said to be no better.

In Eric's autopsy a low level of Luvox was found in his system. It is not known if this was the right amount prescribed to Eric or that he was bringing himself off of the drug, nobody knows for certain because there's no information about how much his regular dose was.

I couldn't find much information about Eric's funeral but most people believe that his family had a quiet service and he was cremated.

The Harris family issued an open letter to the public:

We continue to be profoundly saddened by the suffering of so many that has resulted from the acts of our son. We loved our son dearly, and search our souls daily for some glimmer of a reason why he would have done such a horrible thing. What he did was unforgivable and beyond our capacity to understand. The passage of time has yet to lessen the pain.

We are thankful to those who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers.

Wayne and Kathy Harris - Apr 15, 2000.



The Trenchcoat Mafia:


Back in 1999 you would've seen the words ''Trenchcoat Mafia'' all over the newspapers whenever Columbine was mentioned. So many stories were reported and fabricated. The Trenchcoat Mafia was just a group of kids who liked dressing in dark clothing and hanging out together listening to music and playing video games. Because of the way they dressed, rumours went around about them at school that they were satanic, bisexual and into knives. This was also reported to the media. Dylan was friendly with some of the members but they were not connected to the shooting as some of the earlier reports stated. Chris Morris who was said to be a member of TCM and worked alongside Eric and Dylan at Blackjack pizza, was initially arrested due to his connection to the shooters and had previously spoken about his hatred for Columbine High School. He was later released with no charges.


Goths?


They dressed in black but I wouldn't call them full on goths! They seemed to be more into Nine Inch Nails and German industrial music. If they were full on goths they would have dyed their hair black and been more into the same kind of bands and stuff that I liked.


Marilyn Manson:

Marilyn stated in a Larry King interview that he has been blamed for 36 high school shootings. Along with The Trenchcoat Mafia, Marilyn was getting the blame for Columbine too. It was because of this that I bought his album to see what all the fuss was about. I ended up a fan as I'm sure a lot of other kids did. Eric and Dylan were not fans of Marilyn Manson. I read something years ago that someone found a MM CD in Eric's room that a friend had gave him to listen to but that was about it and that started off the media saying they were fans.

Bullying:

I'm not going to say that Dylan and Eric weren't bullied at Columbine because numerous witnesses have confirmed that to be true. You could tell by how some of the students had described them after the shooting, they were described as ''wierdos'' and ''losers''. I think that was a factor in what they did. I've read a lot about the Jocks of the school, what they got up to and how they would get away with things because they put trophies on the school cabinets.

No Friends Or Social Life:


Dylan and Eric had a great social life, lots of friends and were always hanging out. It seemed to be some of the people in the school that they had the issues with, who possibly made them feel that they didn't belong. Just because you may have a group of friends at school it doesn't mean that you won't get bullied.


The Cassie Bernall Story:


Cassie was a born again christian and was killed in the library. The media had reported at the time that she was asked ''Do you believe in God'' to which she replied ''yes'' and was shot. This was a mistake. The girl who had this conversation with Dylan was actually Valeen Schnurr. The media ran away with the Cassie story and soon there was books and movies made about it. Witnesses say that Eric and Dylan asked a number of students if they believed in God.


The Basement Tapes:


There's a lot of obsession around The Basement Tapes, a lot of people would like to see them released. I looked into this and apparently all of the tapes were destroyed in 2011 (Dylan and Eric recorded 6 videos, a couple of which were filmed in the Basement near Eric's bedroom so the police called them The Basement Tapes). A lot of people, especially Columbiners believe that the police made several copies of these tapes and that they will surface online one of these days. Some of the transcripts are available to read online (which I have since seen recreated in movies). It puzzled me as to why they would release some of the transcripts but not the tapes? They have edited out a few details like names but there is still discussion of guns and pipebombs etc. Families of the victims, select members of the media and Brooks Browns' parents have viewed what was known by police as The Basement tapes. 







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