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Oregon Killer: Just A Lonely Introvert With Mental Issues Obsessed With Killing?

Oregon Killer: Just A Lonely Introvert With Mental Issues Obsessed With Killing?

By Jack Healy for The New York Times

For investigators searching for his path to mass murder, he left behind a typewritten manifesto at the scene and a string of online postings that showed he had become increasingly interested in other high-profile shootings, angry at not having a girlfriend and bitter at a world that he believed was working against him.

Mr. Harper-Mercer appeared to have a particular animus against organized religion, and some survivors’ families have said he asked the victims whether they were Christians before shooting them.

Just this week, on Tuesday, using the handle lithium_love, he commented on a post titled “How many girlfriends have you had?” by saying “0. Never had anyone.” When pressed further by another user, he responded “Well, it means I’ve never been with anyone, no woman nor man (nor dog or animal or any other).” Then, on Wednesday, responding to a comment that he “must be saving himself for someone special,” he said, “Involuntarily so.” It was a day before the killings.

“He did not like his lot in life, and it seemed like nothing was going right for him,” a law enforcement official said, describing the writings found at the crime scene. “It’s clear he was in a very bad state of mind.”

He retreated to online message boards to express his thoughts about commercialism, other shootings and the infamy that accompanied the gunmen who carried them out. On a blog post linked to Mr. Harper-Mercer’s email address, an Aug. 31 entry expresses sympathy for Vester Lee Flanagan II, a dismissed television reporter who killed two former colleagues during a live broadcast in Roanoke, Va.: “I have noticed that people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are.”

The entry continues, “Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”

After his parents divorced when he was about 16, he lived with his mother, Laurel Harper, a nurse who fiercely protected him from, among other things, the neighborhood sounds of loud children and barking dogs. Once, neighbors said, she went door to door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.

“She said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him,’ ” Julia Winstead, 55, said. “She said they were going to go stay in a motel. Until that time, I didn’t know she had a son.”

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