the killer at thurston high
Join the Discussion: What are your thoughts on this story? Are there any  answers or lessons that can be drawn from it?

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Dear FRONTLINE,

I think all of you people should think about what you have been saying...I am a 15 year old girl and when I saw the story on Kip I instantly related to his feelings. I wrote Kip a letter and recieved a reply from him and am now in the mist of keeping contact as much as possible.

Kip told me he feels horrible with the whole world watching and listening to his personal feelings. I think the way the film made him look is awful...Don't get me wrong I do think what he did was very wrong and he was very confused on what was happening, but he didn't deserve that treatment.

Next time take into consideration how some things might come across to others..from living and growing up in the reality that Kip did, I cried and still do cry when watching that documentary or hearing the confession tape...


Breeahna Caligiure
Phoenix, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

On the whole, the program was well-done, but I do agree very strongly with the poor judgment behind the decision to show the police video of the Kinkel home after the killings--I was very shocked that PBS would stoop so low as to show such a horrific scene, with the haunting music of the R+J soundtrack in the background, and, apparently, scenes of the covered dead bodies...

What was the purpose of showing this? No replies have been posted yet...It was a very compelling program, however, and one that really stimulated discussion of a tragedy that has become all too common in US public schools. I hope it is a wake-up call to all in America to take a good look at what's happening to their children--the idea of a childhood seems to have disappeared from America!

It is a very complex situation and blame has already been placed on everything and everyone in sight as one can glean from previous posts. It is also probably true that similar violent incidents probably occur more commonly in the inner cities, but do not attract the same kind of attention because it seems to be taken for granted that things like these will happen in such places, and who cares about these poor, hopeless city kids growing up with blatant violence all around them?

Teresa Limjoco

Dear FRONTLINE,

As it did to many others, the audio taped interview of Kip Kinkel tore my heart to shreads. Before hearing his voice and sorrow on the tape, all I could think of was this viscious killer who cared about no one.

This boy needs help. I only wish he could have received it before he went on that horrible rampage...

I feel strongly that this country needs to slow down on WORK, WORK, WORK and pay attention to what is important in this life: relationships with other people, especially their children. Patience and understanding are so important to young people -- to have someone they can trust and someone who is open to their ideas is crucial. In a hundred years, when we look back on our lives, what will be most important: how much money we made? how successfull we were? or how about the importance we had in a young person's life?


Michelle Hunter

Dear FRONTLINE,

I can barely begin to imagine the suffering in the lives of so many families that began the day that Kip walked into Thurston and started shooting. My profoundest sympathies go to everyone involved; may all the wounds heal and their lives become their own again.

But to those who say Frontline should not have aired this story, that it is sensationalizing and glorifying Kip and violence, I would say: Many parents watching this story will have wondered, "Could my child do this?" I know I did; my son is only 6!

Lots of those parents will come to this website and read further. Most of them will think long and hard about how this could have happened. And even if only some of them listen to the voices of young people who have said on these pages, "Listen to your children. Talk to them," then tragedies may be avoided...

Linda Blanchard

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was struck and almost dumbfounded at the report. I'm 17 and a pretty depressed person too. I can relate to the hopelessness that kip felt, but not all the hate and rage.

Adults need to start paying more attention to how we are feeling and not put so many expectations on kids. insted of trying to make us into jocks they should try listening for once.

anthony machuca

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have to agree the show did a good job creating mood and drama for the viewer. It was draining and terrifying to watch.

I think the most important thing to be gained from this piece was to force us to take a look at our own personal relationships we have others and how we treat them.


Certainly Kip and his family had many problems. Kip did cause a great deal of pain and suffering. Trying to place blame really is pointless now. What we as individuals and a society as a whole should focus on now is trying to learn from this horrible experience in order to work on solutions.

We have all our wonderful modern conveniences, all of which are supposed to help adults and families efficiently and effectively manage their time and simplify lives, and yet the human factor ends up being neglected. We need to rethink our priorities and fill our lives and our children's lives with purpose and direction. Indiviudual action and not words is required if future catastrophes are to be avoided or minimized.


Jim Schmidt
park ridge , il

Dear FRONTLINE,

It disturbed me that the filmmaker exposed this boy's most private thoughts - his writing, web-surfing the "sex" sites, etc. - without ever interviewing the boy himself. It felt like a huge violation of Kip's privacy, without his consent or commentary.

The program's disregard for Kip's say in the story of his own life seems an extension of his parents' neglect of his need to be respected and valued for who he is, in spite of his "disappointing" characteristics. In his notes Kip wrote, "I don't know who I am." It seems without this acceptance he felt he was nobody.

The show ended with a rather smug report of Kip's sentence, without telling us what will happen to Kip now as a disturbed young boy sentenced to death, basically, 100 years in prison is probably worse.

I would like to know how the prison system is going to take care of this vulnerable boy, who obviously needs rehabilitation, not confinement and punishment.

Beky Hayes
San Francisco, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Very impressive documentary. What was even more remarkable is the coincidental scheduling on prime time for the same day with CBS's 60 Minutes II, during which a story detailed how Secret Service's research in what motivates presidential assasins is being used to understand what motivates teenagers in school rampage killings.

The Frontline documentary should have investigated more on what was the significance of Kip's statements: "I had no other choice". I speculate that in the logic of the mental model Kip had, what he did made all sense, and that was the one thing to do, and I wish the program spent more time explaining that. Or am I off?

Alexis Rzewski

Dear FRONTLINE,

I really didn't know what to think of the program. I was mad at Kip at first when he kille his parents and shot inocent people at school, but when I heard his confession, it made me cry!

Holly Cromer

Dear FRONTLINE,

I sat riveted watching the story of this young man unfold before me. As a teacher, I've seen kids like Kip before. What makes some explode while others don't?

Parents- please take an active role in your kids lives. Don't be afraid to know who his friends are and what they are like. If you see symptoms like Kips, don't hesitate to search his room, monitor internet activities, and know who he is with and what he is doing.

I was absolutely dumbfounded at the arsenal this kid had in his bedroom!
It shows you love your child when you say "no" to things that are harmful. Giving in to his every whim only results in a snowball effect of destructive behavior.

This Frontline story scared the hell out of me!

Brad Till
Mason City, Ia

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'd just like to comment on the issue of 'choice' as it applies to Kip and his actions. If we start with the premise that what he did was not the act of a rational human being can anybody dispute this?, the whole argument that 'Kip had a choice' begins to fall apart.

Kip is obviously a very disturbed person who has lost the capacity to think in a rational fashion. I believe that he felt compelled, for his own sick reasons, to do what he did.

By the time Kip aimed the rifle at his father, the concept of right vs. wrong was no longer a factor. He wasn't even thinking about that. He was just doing what he was driven to do.

The crime was awful beyond comprehension, and I too want justice. Most probably Kip is now where he belongs. But I cannot find it in my heart to portray his as an inherently evil monster. This is a human being who fell victim to mental illness, with tragic consequences for a lot of people.

I don't believe the documentary was sensationalized or insensitive. How can a topic like this be handled to everyones satisfaction?

Gary Berger
Bellerose, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

This Frontline show is the best piece of media I have ever seen.

The way it was reported and the way it was filmed was fantastic. As a high school teacher I found the whole story compelling as well as very sad. I have used this in my class and the students were spellbound as the story unfolded.

The big question for all: who is at fault. It is hard to say. I feel after the 2nd time watching it that Kip's parents were at fault to a certain extent. They did not really want to deal with the issues that are running through Kip's life and they were in denial about so much. Giving the sick mind of Kip Kinkel a gun or furthering that interest is a big mistake and they paid a high price for it.

Matthew Altieri
Cheshire, CT

Dear FRONTLINE,

Everyone focuses on the victim, which is the rational thing to do, being tht they were 100% innocent and Kip had no right to take their lives away. However people forget to think about Kip.

In some situations, such as I feel this one was, Kipp deep down is a good person. I have dealt with many people who have similar psychological problems as the ones Kip have, and it makes it a little easier to understand WHY he did what he did, but in no means do I mean that it makes what he did okay.

What he did was undescribingly wrong, but I couldn't imagine what it would be like to live a day in his shoes, with what he was going through. People often underestimate that horrors of psychological illnesses. Of coarse even if it is his diseases that were mainly responsible for his actions, and he is capable of functioning in society, the risk really is too high.

Erin White
Toms River, Nj

Dear FRONTLINE,

I read, with much interest, the information that you provided this website.

After looking at all of the information available, there is no doubt in my mind that Kip had serious psychological problems. Although I do not believe that he was psychotic or schizoprhenic, in the clinical sense. It would appear that his pattern of behavior before, during and afterword, suggested intact cognition.

I think I understand why Kip's legal defense team decided not to pursue the "insanity defense." Most likely it would have been an uphill battle to convince a judge or jury of Kip's inability to understand right from wrong, or the consequences of his actions.

What concerns me and demands further exploration is the role Kip's father may have played in the actions leading up to the tradegy. Throughtout the entire time his Kip's mother was trying to get help for Kip, his father was encouraging him to acquire firearms.

I do not believe that his father actively helped Kip, but his assisting Kip in the aquistion of firearms may have fed the fanantsies, obession with firearms and given the necessary tools to allow Kip to act on his rage.

What do others think?

David Richer
Mammoth Lakes, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am astounded at the writers who say "He had a choice." They do not understand the power of prenatal and child development.

There are many people with these powerful mal-developed drives that cannot get control of themselves. As long as parents fail to understand brain development as created by their behavior, we will have "killers" amongst our children.

Cedric Wood
Dallas, Texas

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