the killer at thurston high
the 'classroom avenger'

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[Note: This is an excerpt from "The Classroom Avenger," James P. McGee and Caren R. DeBernardo, Forensic Examiner (May-June, 1999). The study includes this important set of qualifications: "As a descriptive composite,[the "Classroom Avenger"] is not based on any type of statistical or actuarial model of prediction. Instead, it is both subjective and impressionistic and it is partially informed by a limited number of cases and an equally limited amount of fragmentary data and unconfirmed anecdotal accounts derived from official police reports and the popular media."]

Exclusionary Criteria  Characteristics not associated with Classroom Avengers

  • Female
  • Resides in large city
  • Minority status
  • Openly homosexual or bisexual
  • Membership and active participation in the following activities:
  • mainstream religious groups/churches
  • student government
  • drama, chorus, dance and other performing arts
  • boy scouts/eagle scouts
  • ROTC
  • Individual and team sports
  • Prosocial hobbies and interests
  • Attends private school
  • Humorous-"class clown"
  • Outgoing, friendly
  • Well liked by teachers, "teacher's pet"
  • Close relationships with teachers or other adults in authority
  • Has steady girlfriend
  • Popular among peers
  • Prosocial leader
  • Recipient of academic or public service awards
  • Acceptance to military academy
  • Recipient of scholarships
  • Positive and close relationships with siblings
  • Positive and close relationships with parents
  • Volunteerism
  • School spirit
  • Pacifist
  • Support for gun control
  • Specific career aspirations
  • Enthusiasm about present and future
  • No guns in home
  • No interest in violence
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Body piercing/tattoos
  • Physical handicap
  • Mental retardation
  • Severe learning disability
  • Severe mental illness such as Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder
  • Consistently poor academic performance
  • Severe and evident conduct disorder
  • Well documented history of extensive criminal/delinquent behavior
  • Chronic truancy
  • Recurrent extreme belligerence towards teachers and school authorities
  • Frequent physical fights


Inclusionary Criteria Characteristics associated with Classroom Avengers
  • Male
  • Caucasian
  • Middle Class
  • Average age 16
  • Rural or small community residence in south or northwest
  • Physically healthy
  • Dysfunctional family (superficially normal)
  • Family anger and power struggles
  • Poor parent and sibling relationships
  • Loner/social outcast
  • Member of alienated group
  • Attends public school
  • Family history of mental illness, personality disorders or substance abuse
  • Guns in the home, proficiency with firearms
  • Appearance of normality to adults
  • Negative self-image and unstable self-esteem
  • "Geeks or nerds" who are rejected by mainstream students
  • No physical handicaps, disabilities, mental retardation or severe mental illness
  • As infants-colicky, temperamental, delayed milestones
  • Problems with attachment and bonding
  • Average to above average IQ
  • No history of serious school/conduct problems
  • Covert vandalism and dishonesty
  • Distrustful and secretive with adults in authority
  • Immature
  • No participation in prosocial groups or "normal" pastimes
  • Interest in real and fictional violence in the media
  • Atypical depression with action equivalents
  • Mixed personality disorder with paranoid, antisocial, and narcissistic features
  • Motive vengeance and achievement of power/status
  • Violent fantasies
  • Premeditation/planning/surveillance of targets
  • Target female and high functioning students
  • Stalking of females
  • Menninger Triad (suicidal, homicidal, suicide by cop)
  • Recent multiple psychological stresssors including rejection, discipline, humiliation
  • Copycat influence
  • Inappropriate communications of intent

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