Air Date: January 18, 2000
The Killer at Thurston High
Produced by Michael Kirk, Miri Navasky, Karen
Directed by Michael Kirk
Written by Michael Kirk & Peter J. Boyer
Peter J. Boyer, Correspondent
PETER J. BOYER, Correspondent: Out of the whirlwind
news cycle, careening from tragedy to scandal and back, there suddenly came
NEWS ANCHOR: -a deadly shooting in an American-
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN: It has happened again, death by
gunfire at another school in the United States.
PETER J. BOYER: Schoolyard shootings-
PETER JENNINGS, ABC News: This time the boy was 15.
It was in the school cafeteria that-
PETER J. BOYER: -a violent choreography that in the
course of one school year became stunningly commonplace.
PETER JENNINGS: -violence unfolded in front of
JUDY WOODRUFF: At least one student is dead in
TOM BROKAW, NBC News: This is the latest in a shocking
series of shootings during the school term, killing-
PETER J. BOYER: In homes across America there was an
awakening to the most unwelcome thought: our schools are not the safe havens we
had comfortably assumed them to be.
PARENT: This is what violence causes!
PETER J. BOYER: And something even more
STUDENT: He looked me square in the eyes and said,
"Kill me. Just kill me now."
PETER J. BOYER: Some of us are raising killers in our
STUDENT: Something went wrong.
PARENT: He was in a hair's breadth of getting
PETER J. BOYER: How can we know the dimensions of this
PARENT: He told people he was going to do
PETER J. BOYER: Perhaps its measure can be taken in
the story of how this evil came to possess one particular American
JUDY WOODRUFF: His name is Kipland Kinkel. He is 15
PETER J. BOYER: Tonight on FRONTLINE: The Killer
at Thurston High.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The bodies of a man and a woman were
found in Kinkel's home. They had been shot to death.
KRISTIN KINKEL, Kip's Sister: It was about 7:00 A.M.
in Hawaii. I get a phone call from my friend, and she says, "I have some bad
news. There's been a shooting at Thurston."
RICHARD BUSHNELL, Kinkel Family Friend: I hear kids
DON STONE, Thurston Football Coach: And I heard some
"Pop, pop, pop, pop."
TONY McCOWN, Kip's Friend: This mom was yelling, "He's
got a gun! Get out of here!"
DON STONE: I could smell blood, and looked and saw
blood spurting out of legs-
KRISTIN KINKEL: She's watching the news, so she's
giving me little bits of information. Finally I said, "Is that why you're
calling me? Is Kip hurt?" She said, "Well, Kip was involved. I don't know any
more. I'm watching the news. I'll call you back." Click.
NEWS REPORTER: Before Kip came to school, he killed
KRISTIN KINKEL: And finally, I was speaking to a
member of the sheriff's department. "Is it true?" I said, "Are my parents
dead?" And she said, "Yes, they are."
And I turned the T.V. on, and there was my house, the
helicopters flying all over the place, and yellow tape. Then of course, the
phone started ringing as people started finding out.
NEWS REPORTER: Here is what we know so far
NEWS REPORTER: Witnesses say the boy jumped onto a
table and opened fire-
NEWS REPORTER: He kills at least two students and
critically wounds several others.
NEWS REPORTER: Police suspect the teen's violence
began before he-
NEWS REPORTER: Authorities believe the young man might
have also killed his parents.
NEWS REPORTER: The bodies of a man and a woman were
found in Kinkel's home.
PETER J. BOYER: What would you find if you opened the
door into a young life that had produced an unspeakable horror? Surely a
domestic landscape of dysfunction, physical or mental abuse, neglect, a trail of
But what if you found a nurturing home, a comforting community
and loving parents recognized for their special way with children, by all
accounts an ideal American family? Perhaps nothing could be more frightening
Understanding what happened inside that family takes us on a
journey to an apparently unremarkable past, a journey requiring testimony from
witnesses who saw no signs of a killer in their midst, a journey that begins
deep in these Oregon woods.
RICHARD BUSHNELL: They built the house out there, and
they loved it out there because it's a very natural setting. It was quiet.
There's animals. So they just loved the setting.
MARCIA BUSHNELL, Kinkel Family Friend: Even in the
design of the house. It was this A-frame, kind of like you'd see at a ski lodge
or something like that. It was almost like going home every night to a
recreation haven, retreat.
PETER J. BOYER: Bill and Faith Kinkel built their
dream house in a new area just outside Eugene, Oregon. It was called
Shangri-La. It was a 20-minute drive to town, but they told friends the quiet
countryside was worth it. They were both highly regarded high school teachers,
and together meant to get the most out of life.
RICHARD BUSHNELL: Bill would be at the tennis club or
doing some kind of activity, floating the river. Of course, Faith was out in
their neighborhood. They had a wonderful neighborhood of people that would go
out every morning and hike the trails up above their house.
PETER J. BOYER: They became a family when their
daughter, Kristin, was born. They were settled into a happy life. Then Faith
had a surprise announcement.
KRISTIN KINKEL: I still actually remember the day when
my mom told us that she was pregnant. She gathered the whole family there -
Grandma, Grandpa, everybody - and sat them all down. And she stood up and
looked at me, and she said, "Kristin, you're going to have a little
PETER J. BOYER: The pregnancy was unexpected. Faith
KRISTIN KINKEL: I remember being really excited and
really proud and telling everybody I was going to have a little brother. And
then he came, and I said, "Hey, where did all the attention go?"
PETER J. BOYER: They named him Kipland, "Kip" for
short. Bill had dreams for his son. He would share his love of sports, and of
course he would love books, languages and travel. Shangri-La was a beautiful
and remote place. There weren't a lot of kids around. Kip's best friend was a
little neighbor girl, Kasey Guianen.
KASEY GUIANEN, Kip's Friend: I'd wake up, and then I'd
go to his house because no one was home at my house in the mornings. They all
left. And I would, like, walk in the back door, and just go in and go up to
Kip's room and wake him up. His mom would make us breakfast, and she'd make us
weird things to eat sometimes, but- like microwaved eggs and stuff.
PETER J. BOYER: Faith taught Spanish at Springfield
High School. Her friends remember her as earnest and hard-working.
DEBBIE CULLEN, Faith's Friend and Colleague: You know,
people are very lucky if they find a profession that's as fulfilling as I think
teaching was for her. She was always pushing her students to achieve, but
always with a hug because there was a warmth in her that was
PETER J. BOYER: Faith was an excellent teacher. By
all accounts, Bill was in a class by himself, a legend at the other Springfield
high school, Thurston.
DEBBIE CULLEN: He was a bright star and a dynamic
person, a charismatic person, an energetic person. In his classes, it was a
show. I mean, he was a fantastic Spanish teacher, but totally different from
PETER J. BOYER: When Kip was 4 and Kristin was 10, the
Kinkels decided to take the kids abroad for a sabbatical year, a year in Spain
to broaden the family's horizons. Even so, friends and family can imagine Faith
worrying about the effect leaving home might have on her children, particularly
on the young son with whom she felt an especially close bond.
KRISTIN KINKEL: I can see my mom saying, "Maybe this
isn't such a good idea. Maybe they're too young. Maybe we shouldn't do this."
But I think that they gave so much weight to a cultural experience like that,
that they believed that was going to outweigh the negative.
PETER J. BOYER: The decision was hardest on Kip. His
first year at pre-school would be in a class where even the teacher didn't speak
KRISTIN KINKEL: There was a bully at his school. I
remember him coming home and not being very happy with this big bully. And I
think he was really frustrated at the fact that he had just mastered English,
and then all of a sudden he was in a place where it didn't work, and I think
that was frustrating for him.
PETER J. BOYER: Bill and Faith were learning one of
the abiding lessons of parenthood: No two kids are alike. Kristin had been an
easy baby. Kip was colicky and a bit of a handful. Kristin easily acclimated
to Spain. For Kip, the adjustment was a challenge.
MARCIA BUSHNELL: Then, when they were coming back,
apparently they- because they'd been there a whole year and everybody had been
speaking Spanish, the mom and dad and Kristin would be chattering away in
Spanish, and Kip would go, "No more Spanish. No more Spanish." And so it was,
like, wow, it must have been- it must have been hard for him.
PETER J. BOYER: Back home, it came time for Kip to
head off to 1st grade. Their friends say that Kip carried with him the family's
expectations of another Kinkel success in the classroom. But somehow Kip seemed
a little lost at school.
KRISTIN KINKEL: He was having an extremely hard time
reading, writing and spelling.
PETER J. BOYER: Perplexed and disappointed by Kip's
performance, Bill and Faith decided it was best to have him held back for a
MARCIA BUSHNELL: That was really tough because then,
all of a sudden, here are all of his friends going on, and he's back. And I
thought about that, and I thought that must be agonizing for them because it's a
small community. Everybody knew each other at that little school. And to know
that he's being held back because of reading just seemed really tough.
KASEY GUIANEN: He was mad because his friends got to
go on, and he didn't. So he was kind of mad at his parents about that. He'd
say something every now and then. I think he thought that his friends would,
you know, just think different of him or something.
PETER J. BOYER: Struggling to fit in with his friends
and to please his parents, Kip stumbled through to the 3rd grade. He
desperately tried to do well.
KRISTIN KINKEL: I remember him studying for those
spelling tests and studying over and over. And all he wanted to do was pass.
And his writing- I remember he would get his 3's and his E's confused, and B's
and D's. And he'd always- when he'd write, he'd write them wrong. But it was
really frustrating for him, as it would be for anyone. And of course he felt
bad about himself because he didn't understand what was wrong with him and why
everybody else in his family was so good at it. Why couldn't he be good at it,
PETER J. BOYER: Kip had a learning disability,
dyslexia. But the Kinkels were experts in learning. One way they would try to
help him was by working harder at home.
DEBBIE CULLEN: They'd spend hours and hours on school
work. I mean, I remember one time thinking, "I don't see how you could do that,
how you'd have the patience to work that long after teaching all day."
PETER J. BOYER: But even with their best efforts, Kip
was not improving. And as their friends now recollect it, Kip knew
JANE BRODERICK, Faith's Friend: He would have cared
that he was a disappointment. They were a very successful couple- high
expectations. I would think that you would want to not disappoint them, to do
the right thing. And if he had difficulty with reading, if he had difficulty
with the Spanish, a different language, I think that would be hard for him
because it wasn't hard for his parents. It's not hard for his sister. And
those are the- they were- that was their life, is teaching, being
BILL KINKEL: [Kinkel family home video] Look
around. See what I'm doing? Kristin's busy driving.
MALE VOICE: Just don't ask her to turn around,
BILL KINKEL: No. No. She's waving. Everything looks
under control up there.
PETER J. BOYER: Home movies meant to memorialize
family fun also show something else, the efforts of a boy trying his
KIP KINKEL: You gotta jump, Dad!
BILL KINKEL: I think you're right.
RICHARD BUSHNELL: It's kind of always you grow up with
an awareness of a little bit of inadequacy.
KIP KINKEL: Oh! Sorry!
BILL KINKEL: Kristin's going to show us some- some
headstands, handstands. Look at that! Can you believe that? Kip's doing a
handstand. I think that Kip needs some more work. But he's eager. He's
KRISTIN KINKEL: Of course he felt compared. I know he
felt compared. I'm sure it was hard.
BILL KINKEL: See Kristin? Kristin continues to show
her- show us her- her gymnastics training and truly being experienced.
KRISTIN KINKEL: I'm sure teachers did. I'm sure
friends of the family did. I'm sure my parents did, in their own little way.
But as far as letting him be aware of it, they tried really hard not to because
they know how important that is.
BILL KINKEL: How about, Kristin, some handsprings
KRISTIN KINKEL: Those were handsprings!
BILL KINKEL: What do you call it when you do it side
by side, side handsprings?
KRISTIN KINKEL: Cartwheels?
BILL KINKEL: Cartwheels. That's what I'm trying to
KRISTIN KINKEL: These?
BILL KINKEL: Yeah. Do a bunch of those. Faster!
Play like you're a windmill in an 80-degree or 80-
MALE VOICE: Oh, there she goes into the
PETER J. BOYER: Athletic prowess was valued currency
in the Kinkel family. Bill was himself a tennis ace and known as a fierce
DENNY SPERRY, Bill's Friend: You had to win that last
point before you beat him. And no matter how far down he was, he'd just hang in
there and hang in there just like a bulldog, just tenacious. Wouldn't give up
till that last point.
PETER J. BOYER: Bill coached the Thurston High tennis
team, and he won the city championship. Inevitably, he put a racquet in Kip's
DENNY SPERRY: He tried to get him interested in
tennis. Kip was small and light, but he just didn't care much for it. In fact,
I would come in sometimes and hit the ball with Kip and try to get him
interested, but he didn't show the interest.
FAITH KINKEL: [home video] She has just
entered the car, adjusting the seatbelt.
PETER J. BOYER: And then Kip's sister, Kristin, left
for college, leaving her brother behind in Shangri-La.
FAITH KINKEL: A kiss good-bye, and off she goes!
KRISTIN KINKEL: I saw myself a lot of times as a
mediator between my parents and my brother. My parents were getting older, and
my parents were in their mid-50s. There's a huge generation gap in between
there. You know, one little thing that he would do would be awful. And a lot
of times I found myself saying, "Settle down. Relax. Think about it. Think
about the students that you teach. What he did was not that bad."
And when I left, they didn't have that. I'm sure- I'm sure it
was harder. It just wasn't the same. I think he was lonely.
PETER J. BOYER: Kristin's departure would change the
dynamics in the Kinkel household. The personalities left behind - Faith,
emotional and conciliatory, Bill, stern and a bit of an autocrat, and Kip, the
catalyst - would increasingly draw the family into conflict.
Lonely, an uneven student, not blessed with any particular
athletic skill, 12-year-old Kip Kinkel started middle school.
MARCIA BUSHNELL: I was saying, "Well, what's it like
in middle school?" And he said, "Well, you know, you could be getting a drink
of water at the water fountain, and somebody pushes your head into the water."
And I said, "I don't- that seems really awful." And he said- I said, "Did that
ever happen to you?" And he said, "Yes, but not anymore." And I said, "Wow."
And he says, "Well, I just don't get- I don't go to the water fountain, or I
look around and make sure there's nobody around before I get a drink now." He
said, "I've had to learn to- to kind of be alert."
PETER J. BOYER: Weakness is the everlasting bane of
every teenage boy. Kip was small, and he could be seen as weak. He pestered
his parents to enroll him in a Karate class.
DICK BUSHNELL: I think Kip was interested in some
self-defense because he just wasn't real happy with some things that some kids
would say to him, and he wanted to be able to have the confidence of being able
to protect himself if he needed to.
PETER J. BOYER: But Karate, with its violent
overtones, wasn't the sort of sport the Kinkels would ordinarily value.
Reluctantly, Bill and Faith gave in to Kip.
JANE BRODERICK: You're always, as a parent, hunting
for things for them to feel good about, and then he doesn't feel like he was a
disappointment. I feel like that's why Faith and Bill spent as much time
hunting for things for him to do. Karate was one of those things.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip seemed to be fashioning for
himself a protective layer, an identity as a guy who might be a little bit
JANE BRODERICK: Oftentimes, kids, with the
difficulties that he had- it tends to wear on them even more. "I'm not like all
the other kids. I'm not as good as they are. I have these problems, and I'm a
disappointment to my parents." And instead of having that be able to help them
make some positive changes, it tends to make them make negative
PETER J. BOYER: Kip fell in with a rough crowd from
out in the country that he rode the bus with every day.
TONY McCOWN, Kip's Friend: The skaters, smokers group.
They definitely get in trouble. Like, these guys have spent time in juvenile
detention and been expelled from school, like, every year since 6th grade and-
just endless trouble.
PETER J. BOYER: Hanging out at the mall, Kip and his
new gang from the country found trouble.
TONY McCOWN: In about 8th grade, he was stealing CDs
from, like, a local store. They had, like, razor blades that they'd just, like,
slice off the, like, sensor. I've heard them say they had over 100 at
PETER J. BOYER: Of course, Kip was caught. Bill and
Faith were obviously upset. They tried to separate Kip from the company he was
KRISTIN KINKEL: He had some friends who weren't the
best-quality people. My parents were worried about his friends.
PETER J. BOYER: Like a lot of parents of teenagers,
friends say, the Kinkels felt a little lost.
JANE BRODERICK: Maybe these were just difficult times,
and all teenagers go through them, and all parents go through them. But in the
end, he would grow up, and they would get through these times.
PETER J. BOYER: Bill and Faith followed one of the
golden rules of parenting: channel Kip's energy to a positive course. As it
happened, their son did have an affinity for computers, so the Kinkels did what
much of the rest of America was doing. They let their son go on line.
BRYAN MABE, Kip's Friend: He could just go up there
and do whatever he wanted. You know, a lot of parents don't check on their kids
when they're in their room. Because they're in their room, they're
PETER J. BOYER: The police would later retrieve Kip's
Internet adventures from the Netscape cache files on his hard drive. The
records provide a road map of his journey through cyberspace. Kip made stops at
the usual destination for young male cyber-surfers, at the porn sites.
As he surfed the Web, his parents - especially his mother -
suffered his taste in music. At one point, he printed and framed the lyrics
from one of his favorite songs, "The Reflecting God," by Marilyn Manson. [on
screen: "no forgiveness, no salvation, no forgiveness, no salvation, no
Police records also show he developed a dangerous new
BRYAN MABE: I think that's when he started getting
involved with the bombs in his room, and his parents never really checked on
him. He was at home, so they think he's automatically safe, but he was, you
know, doing some pretty bad stuff.
PETER J. BOYER: And once, with the boys on the bus, he
cooked up a plan.
TONY McCOWN: Him and a bunch of guys got together and
ordered some bomb-making books or bomb-making materials.
PETER J. BOYER: They ordered the materials on the
Internet at school, where the books turned up. The boys were caught.
DEBBIE CULLEN, Faith's Friend and Colleague: And they
called Faith and Bill about it, and they had to go down there. But that was
real upsetting to her. And Kip said that he felt like it would be good to know
because he was interested in becoming a policeman. And so I think she probably
felt that was maybe true, but probably not.
PETER J. BOYER: But Kip somehow got his hands on the
bomb books he wanted. Years later, the police would find them when they
searched his room.
KRISTIN KINKEL: He and a group of friends had ordered
a book about building bombs. And in fact, I think he even did a report using
that book, for school. Just because you order a book doesn't mean that you're-
oh, I don't know what to say about that. I mean, I-
PETER J. BOYER: The incident did have the effect of
adding more edge to Kip's reputation. Now he was an expert on bombs.
TONY McCOWN: A lot of people would ask him what he
would blow up or what he can make, and he'd rattle off, like, recipes, bomb
recipes, which was these big, long, like, formulas for bombs, like, C4 and just
PETER J. BOYER: The police Internet records show that
Kip was feeding another interest- in guns. Kip's deep fascination with guns was
a distinct departure from the image projected by the Kinkel family.
KRISTIN KINKEL: My parents were both really, really
concerned about it. He had been interested in guns from as far as I can
remember, from a little, little boy. And he was not allowed to have little
soldiers. He was not allowed to have any kind of toy that had any kind of
violent anything. I mean, violence in our house was a huge no-no.
PETER J. BOYER: But police records and the evidence
suggest something else.
Kip had wanted a B.B. gun. The police would later confiscate
two B.B. guns from Kip's room, one that looks like an assault rifle, the other
with its stock sawed off. Kip also wanted a knife. His parents gave him
The evidence shows that knife became two knives, and a third.
Eventually, Kip gathered a frightening collection of weapons. Then Kip wanted a
real rifle. Bill sought the advice of an old friend.
DENNY SPERRY, Bill's Friend: He did come to me because
he knew that I was raised around guns. He said he was really concerned. And he
had such an obsession with guns that they thought maybe it was the best thing to
go ahead. And I remember telling him, I said, "Hey, if you don't buy him a gun,
it's going to be like forbidden fruit." He said "You know, that's exactly what
Faith and I were talking about, because it's come to that point. And as much as
we don't want to, we're at our wits' end."
PETER J. BOYER: In fact, Bill had a rifle that he'd
been given as a boy. So he dusted it off and gave it to Kip for his 12th
birthday. The Kinkel circle of friends would have been surprised to learn of
Bill's familiarity with guns. For them, there was only one explanation for the
Kinkel's acquiescence to Kip.
JANE BRODERICK, Faith's Friend: He had worn them down.
And she didn't like the idea. She wasn't comfortable with it. You know, if she
talked to people that also felt that way- "And yet what do I do? What do I do?
We've been saying no, no, no, no. It's not gotten any better. It just seems to
be getting worse. We're fighting more about it. What else do I do?"
PETER J. BOYER: Other troubles kept coming. In Kip's
last winter in middle school, Bill and Faith allowed him to go off on a weekend
away at a ski resort with one of the boys from the country.
TONY McCOWN, Kip's Friend: They were tossing pebbles
off an overpass. I don't think they were really directed at the cars. If they
hit them, yeah, but if they- they were just kind of tossing them. And one of
them picked up, like, a fairly decent-sized rock and tossed it over.
PETER J. BOYER: The rock hit a passing car. Kip had
committed his first felony. He was arrested at his motel. Bill and Faith
received the call every parent fears- from the police. Early the next morning,
Kip was handed over to his parents.
ARRESTING OFFICER: Mr. Kinkel was angry at the
situation. He was angry at the problems that they were having with Kip, and he
was, like, at the end of his rope, trying to figure out how to get this kid back
on the right path.
PETER J. BOYER: It was a long four-hour drive back to
DICK BUSHNELL: At that time, Bill must have been
frustrated. I didn't ever see Bill angry very much, but I'm sure he must have
been frustrated. And it's kind of, like, "How much farther is this going to
have to go on?" It's kind of, like, "At what point is Kip going to turn the
corner and we're not going to have to go bail him out anymore?"
So I mean, Bill and Faith had pride. They were highly, highly
respected people, highly intelligent people, and it's one of those things where
they had to wear whatever Kip did, too, in the eyes of their friends. And there
may have been some shame for them.
DEBBIE CULLEN: I think Bill would be maybe a little
impatient with the messier parts of life, and to understand Kip would have been
difficult. I don't think he was as complex, emotionally, as Kip was. Or Faith.
Faith would be much more willing to search out education or solutions of any
type that would help, you know, any sort of counseling, or visit any doctor that
might be able to help.
PETER J. BOYER: Faith saw a crisis in her family. She
pressed Bill to agree to take Kip to a private psychologist. Bill didn't seem
interested. He wasn't sure about psychologists. He said it would cost too much
and probably wouldn't work anyway.
KRISTIN KINKEL: My mom was the one who said, "This is
what we need. We should do this." My dad wasn't too excited about it. I think
he felt that psychologists were kind of like chiropractors, in the sense that
they may not be as heavily needed as we think.
DEBBIE CULLEN, Faith's Friend and Colleague: So there
was a lot of her in the middle, trying- seeing what she felt was needed for Kip,
and trying to convince Bill that "This is probably what we should do."
PETER J. BOYER: Finally, Bill agreed to let Faith take
Kip to see a psychologist, Dr. Jeffrey Hicks.
PETER J. BOYER: Faith provided a detailed list of her
worries- Kip's hot temper, sometimes kicking holes in the walls at home. Faith
detailed the shoplifting, the rock-throwing incident, the fascination with
explosives, guns and knives. After Kip's first meeting with the psychologist,
it became obvious to the doctor that part of Kip's problem was the man who was
missing from those sessions, Bill Kinkel.
He writes, "He became tearful when discussing his relationship
with his father. He reported his mother views him as a ´good kid with some
bad habits,' while his father sees him as ´a bad kid with bad habits.' He
feels his father expects the worst from him."
Kip told the psychologist that he can sometimes talk about
personal issues with his mother, but, Dr. Hicks writes, "He cannot discuss his
feelings with his father for fear he will become angry with him."
Kip told the doctor he couldn't understand his own anger, but
he made a shocking revelation about how he relieved it. "Kip reported he makes
explosives from gasoline and other household items and detonates them at a
nearby quarry to vent feelings of anger. If he has a bad day at school, he
feels better after detonating an explosive."
Through the course of his therapy, it was becoming apparent
that Kip Kinkel was unwell. And at this time, there would come another
unsettling incident. It happened one day on that long bus ride from
TONY McCOWN, Kip's Friend: They were making fun of
each other on the bus. They get off the bus, and the kid called him a name, and
Kip jump-kicked him in the head. And then he was called down to the
And he came back, he shoves open the door and stomps through,
and he was really, really upset. He was yelling and screaming and crying - he
wanted the kid's address - and grabbed his stuff and left. And that's when he
PETER J. BOYER: There had been some minor troubles in
school- cheating on a test, acting out in class. But the school took the
kicking incident seriously. Kip was suspended for two days.
In therapy, Kip told the doctor other symptoms. "Eating is a
chore. Food doesn't taste good. Often he feels bored and irritable. He wakes
Dr. Hicks had a diagnosis for that: Kip had a major depressive
disorder. He encouraged the Kinkels' family doctor to prescribe an
anti-depressant. Kip was given Prozac. A family friend reports that the
psychologist also had a prescription for Bill Kinkel: Lighten up on the
It was advice that Bill tried very hard to follow. He would
try to find some common ground with his increasingly alienated son. One common
ground was Kip's interest in guns. And as it developed, the psychologist with
whom Kip had made a connection happened to be a gun owner himself. He'd grown
up around guns, and he owned at least four pistols, two of which were high-end
The psychologist and Kip talked about guns in the therapy
sessions. He told Kip he was very satisfied with his Glocks. Kip wanted one.
And Bill, seeking common ground, seemed ready to give in to Kip and buy him the
gun. Faith was torn.
DEBBIE CULLEN: The older he got and he got into more
dangerous things, she recognized they were into something they didn't really
know how to deal with
PETER J. BOYER: In the end, though, Faith decided to
go along with her husband.
DEBBIE CULLEN: I think she felt, like, "I don't know
what to do. Maybe Bill's right." Even though she couldn't see it from her own
point of view, sometimes you feel, like, if you can't resolve a problem and you
don't understand somebody else's point of view, at least let them try, because
that might be a solution.
PETER J. BOYER: For his part, the psychologist says he
would never recommend a kid like Kip should have a gun. But in any case, in a
move that still baffles their friends, Bill decided to buy the Glock. Kip knew
the gun's every dimension: semi-automatic, 10 rounds, polymer plastic
construction- a cop's weapon of choice in the drug wars.
JANE BRODERICK: That's the only thinking I can come up
with about the gun. I can see a child like Kip just not letting up. Just like
a dog with a rag, it just won't let it go, you know? And I can see where they
finally say, "Fine. Let's try this. We'll go do the gun safety class. We'll
do it together. You'll get it out of your system, and then it will be
PETER J. BOYER: Bill made sure Kip understood the
rules. Kip would earn the money to pay for the gun. The Glock would be kept
under lock and key in Bill and Faith's bedroom. Kip could only fire the gun
when his father was with him.
And as the summer weeks passed, Kip seemed to break through
his depression. His family seized upon this welcome turn. After nine sessions,
Faith and Kip told Dr. Hicks they believed that therapy had done its job and
that Kip could now leave treatment. Hicks agreed.
KRISTIN KINKEL: I remember my mom calling me and- very
excited, telling me that Kip was doing so much better. The psychologist even
said, "You don't even have to see me anymore, you're doing that much
PETER J. BOYER: After only three months on Prozac, the
Kinkel family apparently decided that Kip seemed better, and Kip stopped taking
As Kip entered high school - Thurston, the very place where
his father had retired as a teaching legend - his parents hoped that Kip would
make a fresh start. Bill Kinkel consulted an old friend and former colleague
DON STONE, Thurston Football Coach: I can remember
Bill saying, "Stoney, I need some help with my son. I'm a little concerned
about him getting a good start at Thurston High School. You got any advice?"
And I said, "Well, Bill, why don't we get him out for football? That might be a
good place for him to establish a good peer group, and I can guarantee you he'll
go home and he'll be ready to go to bed at night." And he said,
PETER J. BOYER: And so Kip went along with his
father's wishes and turned out for football, as a 120-pound lineman.
BRYAN MABE, Kip's Friend: He was, like, second, third
string so- and he was a pretty scrawny guy, so he wanted to lift weights more,
with the rest of the football players. He just wanted to- told me that he just
wanted to be big and, like, stuff like that. He wasn't really an athletic
person, but he kind of wanted to be. He wasn't that good. Well, he played a
position that you had to be big, and he was really small. And so I don't see
how he could have been because even if he did have talent- but he knew that he
wasn't good, and he always made fun of himself.
PETER J. BOYER: Football had not been the tonic that
Bill Kinkel had hoped for. If anything, Kip felt a deepening isolation. He
sometimes wrote down his thoughts, random snatches of adolescent
"I sit here all alone. I am always alone. I don't know who I
am. I want to be something I can never be. I try so hard every day. But in
the end, I hate myself for what I've become. I sound so pitiful. People would
laugh at this if they read it."
Kip's fascination with guns intensified. His father had
bought the Glock, but now Kip began to lobby for a new gun, a dream gun, a
.22-caliber Ruger semi-automatic rifle. Once again, Bill and Faith faced a
decision. Once again, it seems, they decided to look on the bright
JANE BRODERICK, Faith's Friend: I remember one
comment, when she said, "I think we've turned the corner," and I feel like she
always felt that and believed it. And I think you need to believe it. And
maybe the comment was more of that desperate hope, trying to convince herself.
"We're turning a corner. We're going to get better. Wish I could believe it."
PETER J. BOYER: That fall, Bill took some time away.
Waiting for his flight home, a troubled Bill Kinkel struck up a conversation
with a stranger who happened to be a psychology professor from the University of
DAN CLOSE, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof., Univ. of Oregon: He
and I were having a really great time talking about our daughters, and for the
first half hour, there was no mention that he had a son. But he talked about
his son's preoccupation with weapons.
And it was at that point that everything changed, and he
stopped being such a happy-go-lucky, you know, traveler-type person to being a
very troubled, worried dad. But he then went through a fairly rehearsed litany
for me about the rationale for getting his son a gun. And he was focused. The
gun piece had been rehearsed. I believe that he had to make a rationale or a
substantiation for why he was- either had done this or was going to do this.
That was the sense I had, that he had practiced this in his mind
PETER J. BOYER: In fact, it had been rehearsed. Bill
had already relented. Right about the time Kip stopped taking Prozac, Bill
allowed Kip to have the semi-automatic Ruger rifle. Now Kip would add that gun
to a growing collection. Between what Bill had brought into the house and what
Kip secretly acquired on his own, there came to be a veritable arsenal of
The police would later find the arsenal: the 9-millimeter
Glock, model 19, that Bill had bought, the semi-automatic Ruger rifle with clips
that held 50 cartridges, a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun Kip had secretly bought in
the summer after the 8th grade and hidden in his room, the 336 Marlin rifle Bill
had as a young boy and that he gave Kip on his 12th birthday, the Winchester
lever-action rifle Bill kept from his youth, a .22-caliber Ruger pistol Bill had
had for years - he'd let Kip use this gun for target practice - another
.22-caliber handgun that Kip secretly had bought in the 9th grade and had hidden
in the attic above his room, and thousands of rounds of ammunition that Kip had
Then Kip's world seemed to tilt on its axis, and the cause was
something as powerful as any gun. Friends remember an infatuation with one girl
BRYAN MABE: She's really outgoing. I mean, she wears,
you know, bright orange pants and a yellow T-shirt to school, and she's, you
know, just her own person, and she's not ashamed of that. And I think that Kip-
I mean, I can see why Kip would, you know, like her. I think he kind of wanted
to be- he wanted to be like us, but in another sense, he wanted to be, you know,
an individual also. And I think that he looked up to her for being such an
PETER J. BOYER: Kip's first date in high school was to
the Thurston winter formal.
KASEY GUIANEN, Kip's Friend: It just doesn't seem like
his type of thing, to get all dressed up and go dance. But I'm sure he wanted
to go because he was going with her, so-
PETER J. BOYER: The couple memorialized the moment in
KASEY GUIANEN: Yeah, he dressed up. She wore- it was
a really weird dress. It was black and white, and it was, like, wavy. From one
way it looked black, and one way it looked white. It was weird.
PETER J. BOYER: But his romance became a fresh source
KASEY GUIANEN: She would- not reject him, but kind of
lead him on, just be, like, "Oh, I don't know," you know? Or she'd be, like,
"Well, we can just- we can be friends," but then- I don't know. So he was
getting really frustrated. You know, he didn't know what to do.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip's own words from his random
writings convey his darkening view.
"Every time I talk to her, I have a small amount of hope. But
then she will tear it right down. It feels like my heart is
Like millions of teenage boys before him, Kip Kinkel was
suffering the pangs of a broken heart. He writes, "I need help. There is one
person that could help, but she won't. I need to find someone else. I think I
love her, but she could never love me. I don't know why I try."
As it happened, Kip's romance occurred just when he began to
study that classic story of teenage love, Romeo and Juliet.
VANGE BIGHAM, English Teacher: I would not be
surprised at Kip's love of the play, Shakespeare's Romeo and
PETER J. BOYER: Vange Bigham, a friend of Faith's,
teaches English at the other Springfield high school.
VANGE BIGHAM: I see that every year, the beginning of
second semester. Sometimes we like to think it's in conjunction with Valentine-
the young lovers and all of that.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip's freshman English class watched a
modern retelling of the story starring Leonardo Di Caprio, vivid in its violent
VANGE BIGHAM: From the opening scene, they begin to
see that it might be 400 years old, but it's their play. To begin with, here's
these kids in a street fight. In its entirety, the movie presents such a
wasteland. This director, he gives you an image. He gives you a message of
"Violence is necessary. That's the world of teens. That's what's out there for
them. And in fact, they seek it." He gives you a message that nowhere in the
world can these- in society can these kids go for help.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip's answers from an English test
show his connection to the play.
"My first impression of Romeo was that he was confused, sad
and lonely." "Romeo's attitude toward love is that it causes problems." "I
think that Juliet did many crazy things, but it is the only way she could be
with her true love."
VANGE BIGHAM: If you think about it, all the issues
that Kip was dealing with, his love of- you know, this violent feelings, or
whatever, the angst and tension with his parents- at one point the father in
there says, "My hand itches," he wants to hit that kid so bad. It's- all of the
things that Kip would be dealing with are probably in that play. I bet he
identified with a lot of it.
PETER J. BOYER: The police later found a number of
letters passed between Kip and the girl occupying his thoughts. At one point,
they mention watching Romeo and Juliet.
VANGE BIGHAM: The question that I will give my
students is: "Whose fault is it? Is it the kids? I mean, they committed
suicide. Is it the friar? Is it the prince, because he let this stuff go on?
Is it the parents?"
Guess who they always blame? The parents. Every
PETER J. BOYER: The alienation and rage were echoed in
Kip's journal, an ominous hint of violence.
"I feel like everyone is against me, but no one ever makes fun
of me, mainly because they think I'm a psycho. There is one kid above all
others that I want to kill. I want nothing more than to put a hole in his head.
The one reason I don't: hope that tomorrow will be better. As soon as my hope
is gone, people die."
VANGE BIGHAM: And it's only telling, you know, that
they decide suicide is the answer. Kids are so enamored of death. And I mean,
in the new movie, it's- their death scene is just absolutely glorified. And
they love it!
PETER J. BOYER: Answer to an essay question: "I
really wouldn't know how to answer this question because my cold, black heart
has never and never will experience true love. I can tell you one about love.
It does more harm than good. I plan to live in a big, black hole. My firearms
will be the only things to fight my isolation. I would also like to point out
love is a horrible thing. It makes things kill and hate."
At just this time, in May of 1998, there was something else
everybody in school was talking about, the latest shocking phenomenon to sweep
through the news cycle, school shootings. In September, Pearl City,
Mississippi. Later that fall, Paducah, Kentucky. In the spring, Jonesboro,
TONY McCOWN, Kip's Friend: He reacted to the other
school shootings, their shortcomings, almost- like, how they failed. He talked
about how- not that he'd do it that exact way, like, go to school and shoot
people, but if he was going to go out, he'd try to take as many people out with
him. And also, if he was going to shoot people, like, at a school, that he'd
kill himself. And like, he couldn't believe that the other kids didn't just
shoot themselves instead of sitting there and being arrested. So that's what
PETER J. BOYER: At home, it is hard to imagine Kip's
alienation and rage were unnoticed. He told friends the uneasy truce with his
father was over. Bill was trying to take away his guns. Faith's friends
remember that she always looked tired and worried.
DEBBIE CULLEN, Faith's Friend and Colleague: I think
the great fear was that she didn't know him, that she could not understand him,
and what was happening between them. Where was this little boy that she loved
all these years? I think that was the fear, that it would be something maybe
where they would lose him forever.
PETER J. BOYER: Then the final scene in Kip Kinkel's
tragic drama. It would begin with a daring, reckless act carried out at his
father's beloved Thurston High.
DON STONE, Thurston Football Coach: We had a gentleman
who'd called that morning and had mentioned that there were a number of kids at
his house the day before, and that a pistol was stolen, and he was absolutely
sure that it was one of the kids who had stole the pistol. And we called his
son in, got the names of the kids that were there, and then immediately started
calling kids in.
PETER J. BOYER: That morning at school, Kip had paid
$110 for the stolen gun, a .32-caliber Baretta. He put the gun in his locker
and headed for class.
BRYAN MABE: Kip and I were in study hall when the hall
monitor came in and grabbed Kip to go with him. I mean, he didn't do it in a
violent way. He just- "Come with me," and Kip got up and left.
DON STONE: And I watched from a distance. He looked
concerned, overly concerned, and that was enough to raise a little suspicion on
my part. He walked by me, and we had a little, tiny eye contact. Kip looked
Det. AL WARTHEN, Springfield Police Dept.: I patted
him down for any weapons, and I noticed that Kip was extremely nervous. And
with that, complete surprise to me, he said, "Well, I'm gong to be square with
you guys. The gun's in my locker."
And that's exactly where I found it, in a bag. I looked into
the bag. There was a black Baretta .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol. In
checking the weapon, I determined that is was fully loaded with eight rounds of
ammunition in the clip.
PETER J. BOYER: As the police confiscated the weapon,
Kip was taken to Coach Stone.
DON STONE: And Kip and I went into my office, and he
sat in my chair. And no eye contact, and head down, and, "Coach, what's going
to happen?" You know, I know he was real melancholy. I think it was just
starting to hit him as to what the consequences were.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip knew that he would be
DON STONE: Within 10 minutes, we had a black-and-white
out in front of my window. I can remember distinctly seeing Kip in the cuffs
and driving off.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip was booked. The police called
Det. AL WARTHEN: He seemed quite surprised, quite
shocked that his son had been arrested and brought to the police department. In
fact, he says, "Kip? Kip had a gun at school?" I said, "Yes," and then asked
him if he could come to the police department. And he says, "I'll be right
PETER J. BOYER: The police explained to Bill that Kip
was charged with possession of a firearm in a public building and the felony
charge of receiving a stolen weapon. They released him to his father.
Det. AL WARTHEN: And with that, I asked him if he had
any other questions, and he said, " No, that'll be fine." He got up, he put his
hand on Kip's shoulder, and the two of them walked out and left the police
PETER J. BOYER: The Kinkels' friends can only imagine
what came next as Bill and Kip headed out of town.
KASEY GUIANEN, Kip's Friend: I think getting expelled
from school, that his parents would really come down hard on him for that.
That's a big thing.
JANE BRODERICK, Faith's Friend: I can see Bill just
having gathered all those guns- "This is gone. That'll be the last time you
ever see this."
DEBBIE CULLEN: They probably were yelling at each
other, and furious, absolutely furious.
DENNY SPERRY, Bill's Friend: I can just imagine what
happened. Bill laid the law down to him, said "Okay, that's it." You know,
"This is going to end right here, one way or the other. He's either going to
straighten up or he's going to ship out."
PETER J. BOYER: Then resolution. According to police
accounts, with Bill sitting at the kitchen counter, Kip went upstairs to his
bedroom. He picked up the Ruger rifle, went down the stairs and aimed at the
back of his father's head. Kip fired.
In an instant, the struggle between father and son was over.
Faith, still in town, was unaware of Kip's expulsion from school.
KASEY GUIANEN: He was closer with his mom. I think
because he killed his dad, he couldn't go back. And he- I mean, how is he
supposed to tell Mom "I killed Dad?" You know, how would- I can't even imagine
how you would say that. And so I think from that point, from when he pulled the
trigger, it was- it was all over.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip's friend, Tony, called. He had no
idea Kip had just killed his father. They talked for nearly an hour.
TONY McCOWN: He was really nervous and really edgy,
and "Where's my mom?" and "When's she going to get home?" and "She needs to be
home." And I just got this impression that he's sitting at his window in his
room, looking out the window to see when his mom comes home, to make sure he
knows the minute she's home. It was just kind of, like- I kind of got the
feeling he was pacing back and forth at times and just kind of- everything was
DEBBIE CULLEN: He couldn't stand to see her face when
she found out. He would not be able to bear her disappointment, her grief, her
incomprehension of what he'd done, so he would have to kill her. He could not
stand that. I'm sure he knew he could not bear that.
PETER J. BOYER: Around 6:00 o'clock, Faith came home.
Kip told police that as Faith was walking up the garage steps into the house,
Kip said, "I love you, Mom," and fired. Two shots struck the back of Faith's
head. A third pierced her forehead above the left eye. Kip fired another into
her left cheek and another at close range in the center of his mother's forehead
and another into her heart.
Alone in Shangri-La, his father's body locked behind the
bathroom door, his mother dead on the garage floor, Kip Kinkel played a favorite
CD, hitting the continuous repeat button on the CD player. It would play an
anthem of sorts, the soundtrack from that movie he had watched in English class,
Romeo and Juliet.
Now Kip prepared for what he surely believed would be the last
act in his own tragedy.
KASEY GUIANEN, Kip's Friend: The way I think of it,
he'd already killed his parents, and I think he didn't know what to do. Like,
when he was little, when he got mad, he'd get frustrated. And he gets himself
in a corner and doesn't know where to go or- he just doesn't think straight, and
he just doesn't know what to do. And I think he really wanted to kill himself,
but didn't have the guts to. He didn't- he couldn't do it. He's- I don't know.
He's- he's like a little boy. He just couldn't do it.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip loaded the Glock. He filled a gym
bag with extra ammo. He taped two bullets to his chest and a knife around his
ankle. He left behind some home-made bombs and wrote this note:
"I have just killed my parents. I am a horrible son. I wish
I had been aborted." Then a new line to this dark narrative Kip was creating,
something he had never mentioned to his psychologist. "My head just doesn't
work right. Goddamn these voices inside my head."
And then he waited for the dawn.
BRYAN MABE, Kip's Friend: He wanted to take out
himself, and he wanted to take out his schoolmates - some of them - just not to
go out alone. Being alone was his weakness. He was always worried about being
alone all the time, isolated and stuff like that.
PETER J. BOYER: The next morning, Kip dressed for
school, but he also put on trenchcoat to hide the Ruger semi-automatic rifle.
He put on a hat with the logo from his favorite band, Nine Inch Nails. And for
the first and only time in his life, 15-year-old Kip Kinkel drove alone in his
parents' Ford Explorer.
It would take 20 minutes to get to Thurston High, 20 minutes
to a final reckoning for the grievances of a damaged young life.
Kip arrived at Thurston AT 7:45 A.M. He parked down the end
of this road. It took nearly four minutes to walk the road by the tennis
courts. As he rounded this corner, the school surveillance camera captured
these shots of him.
The hallway was nearly empty. As he walked along, he bumped
into a friend.
BRYAN MABE: Adam didn't know it was Kip until Kip
turned around and was, like, "Okay, you need to get out of here, Adam.
Something bad's going to happen." And Adam was just, like, "What are you
talking about?" Kip was just- no expression on his face. And Adam goes, "What
are you going to do?" And that's when, you know, Kip just turned around, didn't
even look at Ben, and fired, not even caring or nothing, like he had no emotion
911 OPERATOR: 911. What is your emergency?
CALLER: This is Thurston High School. We have a gun
on campus with someone shooting. We need help right away.
PETER J. BOYER: Sixteen-year-old Ben Walker was shot
in the head.
911 OPERATOR: 911. What is your emergency?
CALLER: I believe there's been a shooting. Kids are
911 OPERATOR: Do you know the juvenile's name at
PETER J. BOYER: Ten seconds later, Kip reached the
cafeteria. Shooting from the hip, he fired 48 shots from the semi-automatic
rifle. It took less than a minute. Kip hit 24 students. He walked up to one
of them, put the rifle to 17-year-old Mikael Nickolauson's head and
DON STONE, Thurston Football Coach: As I ran across
the courtyard, one of our young men screamed at me, "It's Kinkel!" And then I
immediately ran through the cafeteria and jumped over a couple of kids. The
first thing that hit me was I could smell blood. And looked, and quiet, but saw
a lot of kids down, a lot of wounds, blood spurting out of legs and those sorts
of things, and felt fear because I didn't realize that Kip was being tackled,
off to the left.
PETER J. BOYER: Kip's rifle was out of ammunition. He
pulled the Glock from his belt just as he was rushed by a group of students.
Kip got off one shot. They beat him into submission as he screamed, "Just kill
The police hustled Kip out of the cafeteria. In custody, he
pulled the knife taped to his leg and attacked a police officer shouting, "Just
kill me! Just shoot me!"
The police headed for Shangri-La.
Det. SPENCE SLATER, Lane County Sheriff's Dept.: There
was some concern as to the welfare of his parents. We could tell upon approach
that there's loud opera-type music playing. And it's very loud, and it's to the
point of being distracting.
And the house is completely dark. And we notice only one
vehicle in the driveway, and it's a Volkswagen van. And for all intents and
purposes, it appears that no one is home.
And the first open door we come to was in the front of the
residence on the main floor. It's best described as eerie. The music's coming
from somewhere on the right of the room. There's a fireplace on the left of the
room. There's the smell of wood smoke from an open fireplace. The room is
cool, and you can tell that it's probably heated with wood, so it's got a
cabin-type or- except that's its really- it's really kind of- it's eerie. It's
dark. The music's loud. There's bullets on the floor.
It's to the point where we are yelling over it. We're trying
to announce ourselves, that "We're the police. We're here. Whoever may be in
residence," and you have to yell to be heard over that music. It's a CD of
Romeo and Juliet, and it was set on continuous play, so it was playing
when we got there, and it had been playing over and over, apparently.
And you have some indication that Bill and Faith Kinkel are
going to be dead. I believe a paper clip from the office is used to unlock the
bathroom door on the main floor. And just inside that bathroom door, I see a
gentleman that's obviously deceased. He's laying on his back. He's covered
with a sheet. His feet are up against the door. We have to kind of move his
feet away from the door so we can get in there and check on him.
At this point, we're still missing one parent. And we're
going through systematically and checking doors, and it is found that a small
door just off the main hallway has a narrow flight of stairs that goes down.
And we go down in there, and there's evidence on the floor. There's a
considerable amount of blood on the floor. And on the basement floor, on the
concrete, we find Faith Kinkel. She's also deceased and covered by a
PETER J. BOYER: Lord knows, Kip Kinkel was raised in a
nurturing community by loving parents. Still, he came to believe there was no
hope. Kip had sounded any number of alarms, and those who loved him believed
they were making the right choices. Still, they could not keep him from
slipping away. When visited by teenage despair, he embraced it and set for
himself a destructive course that followed the dark logic of a disturbed young
POLICE OFFER: This will be a taped conversation with
the last name of Kinkel, K-i-n-k-e-l, first of Kipland, K-i-p-l-a-n-d.
Tell me what happens when you get home.
KIP KINKEL: [crying] I had no other choice! I
POLICE OFFER: You were feeling really
KIP KINKEL: Yeah.
POLICE OFFER: Okay, so was your dad- did he hit you or
anything like that?
KIP KINKEL: No.
POLICE OFFER: Okay. Was he yelling or out of control
KIP KINKEL: I couldn't- I couldn't let- I had no other
choice! God! [crying] I had no other choice. He was saying all this-
POLICE OFFER: Okay, he's mad at you because you got
caught in school with the gun, right?
KIP KINKEL: Right.
POLICE OFFER: Okay.
KIP KINKEL: And I [unintelligible] all his
friends and everything knew my [unintelligible]
POLICE OFFER: Okay, so he was feeling ashamed and
embarrassed because you did something wrong, is that right?
KIP KINKEL: Right. I didn't want to! I love my dad!
That's why I had to- [crying]
POLICE OFFER: You love him, so that's why you had to
KIP KINKEL: Yes. [crying] Oh, my God! My
parents were good people. I didn't know what to do because- oh, my God! My mom
was coming home, and if she knew what I'd done, she'd- oh, my God!
POLICE OFFER: Okay. So your mom comes home about
6:00, is that right.
KIP KINKEL: Yes. [crying]
POLICE OFFER: And where are you at?
KIP KINKEL: I was waiting for her. [crying] I
just want to die!
POLICE OFFER: I know.
KIP KINKEL: Oh, God!
POLICE OFFER: So you told me that your mom gets out of
the Explorer and starts up the stairs from the garage or basement, is that
KIP KINKEL: Yes.
POLICE OFFER: Do you say anything to her?
KIP KINKEL: Yes. I told her I loved her.
POLICE OFFER: And then you shot her.
KIP KINKEL: Yes. Goddamn! These voices inside my
POLICE OFFER: All right, settle down. It's all right.
It's all right. Settle down. Just settle down, okay? It's all right. Just
KIP KINKEL: [crying] I had no other
POLICE OFFER: Okay.
KIP KINKEL: I loved my mom! [crying] I just
want to die! I didn't know what else to do.
POLICE OFFER: You didn't know what else to do? Why
did you go to school and start shooting people?
KIP KINKEL: I had to! I had no other choice! I
couldn't do anything else! [crying] I had to! I had to! I had to! I
had to! I had to!
PETER J. BOYER: The voices Kip said he was hearing
might have been key to Kip's defense in a trial. But in September of 1999, he
dropped his claim of insanity. He pled guilty to four counts of first-degree
murder, 26 counts of attempted murder. Judge Jack Mattison sentenced him to a
term of 111 years in prison, with no chance for parole.
ANNOUNCER: Explore more of this report at FRONTLINE's
Web site. Examine what some experts say about predicting schoolyard killings,
read more from Kip Kinkel's journal, view the interviews with his sister and
friends, study psychiatrists' reports about Kip and read the statements of the
victims and their families at pbs.org.
THE KILLER AT THURSTON HIGH
Michael Kirk &
Peter J. Boyer
Karen O Connor
Peter J. Boyer
Michael A. Dawson
Eugene Swim and Tennis Club
Lane County Courthouse
Lane County Sheriff’s Office
Martial Arts America, Springfield
Oregon West Guns & Gold
Skipworth Juvenile Detention Center
Springfield Police Department
Springfield High School
Thurston High School
Michael A. Dawson
Julie Parker O'Brien
LoConte Goldman Design
The Caption Center
Erin Martin Kane
SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATE
Lee Ann Donner
Douglas D. Milton
Louis Wiley Jr.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
A FRONTLINE coproduction
The Kirk Documentary Group, Ltd.
WGBH EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED