In addition to politics and history, I have an interest in true crime and criminal psychology: shows like Law and Order, City Confidential, Deadly Women, John Douglas books etc. Like everyone from my neck of the woods, I got mesmerized by the Casey Anthony saga.
Most murderers are young, stupid, previously violent, and all around failures. But failure is a relative thing. In an extremely unusual crime, a young Navy pilot on New Years melted down and killed three people as well as himself: his roomate’s sister, as well as a guy they all met at a New Years party, in addition to the roommate, also a Navy pilot. Then he killed himself. The killer’s name is John Robert Reeves. I’ve been following the story pretty closely because it is so weird and out of character for this highly selected bunch.
So, as details emerge, there has been speculation the shooter may have been jealous over the sister. This appears more and more likely. He was apparently an avid member of an online discussion forum for Isuzu owners. This itself is not that weird; lots of people have hobbies like cars, sports, running, hiking, motorcycles, etc. Everyone’s into facebook these days. These online communities can be valuable things. But a personality often emerges on these. And this is especially true when a forum on something mundane–Apple computers, knitting, whatever–becomes the center of one’s social world. Instead of talking Isuzus, he’s talking about how to spend lonely weekends, why people don’t like him, how to succeed with women (which he apparently never does), and pretty much everything under the sun.
From his writings, it’s clear that Reeves was, in a word, pathetic. He is frequently mocked for being a virgin by his online “friends.” With occasional shame, but more often resignation, he announces his general frustration with others, women, life in general. There was even a (now creepy) post from last New Years about what he was going to do. Like many school shooters, there were even half-joking suggestions he might go on a killing spree someday. A perusal of these forums reveals the keys to understanding this case: this Aspbergerish guy was unhappy and frustrated with life and particularly so with women and social situations. He couldn’t succeed with women in spite of his superficial professional success. So he was filled with resentment. This is a bad combination, usually harmless, but obviously magnified to the point of murder-homicide by alcohol, guns, perceived disrespect by his love interest, and whatever other screws he had loose.
Reeves is somewhat reminiscent of the LA Fitness Shooter a few years ago, a man who also complained of his lack of success with women and was filled with rage and resentment, in spite of having a few bucks and being presentable.
I don’t have the answers. There are none. There were always be a bell curve of social and sexual success, and there were always be some guys who just can’t get along socially and then become more and more resentful. Most are harmless or harmful only to themselves. Some learn from mistakes and figure things out. Very few, thankfully, go on homicidal rages. But of those that do, particularly in seemingly “random” rages, we can see that the multiplier effects of failure and resentment have a lot to do with it.
God help these poor families. Reeves’ family undoubtedly did not see this coming; he had all the indicia of a young man in the prime of his life. And the victims, David and Karen Reis, were also all-American, very close, and well liked. David Reis, to his and the family’s credit, died a hero trying to save her. Sadly, Reeves’ toxic combination of alcohol, jealousy, and social awkwardness did them all in.