Among a group of outcasts who wanted to disappear, Jeff Weise was virtually invisible.
"He had no friends; he didn't communicate," 14-year-old Allan Mosay told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune of the 16-year-old at the center of Minnesota's horrific school shooting. Mosay, who said he would occasionally see Weise on the Red Lake Reservation, explained that the troubled youth, who killed five students and four adults before turning a gun on himself Monday (see "High School Shooter Reportedly Admired Hitler, Was Previously Investigated"), was not known well by many in the small, tightly knit Red Lake community.
Sondra Hegstrom, who had classes with Weise, told the paper he was quiet and "never said anything," but that he was teased and "terrorized" by other students who thought he was weird. A family member said the 6-foot, 250-pound Weise had been held back several grades.
The troubled teen came from a fractured home. According to media reports, his father, Daryl "Baby Dash" Lussier Jr., committed suicide in 1997 after a day-long standoff with police. His mother, Joanne, is in a nursing home, confined to a wheelchair after suffering brain damage in a drunk-driving accident. Several residents told The New York Times that they believe Weise had been taking medication for emotional problems and that he had been admitted to the psychiatric ward of a hospital at some point last year.
He lived in bleak surroundings on the 880-acre reservation with a population of 5,118, 40 percent of which lived below the poverty level, according to the 2000 census.
Students described Weise wearing eyeliner and an oversized black trench coat, drawing pictures of skeletons and talking about death "all the time." The big black trenchcoat has become a symbol of high school massacres since the April 20, 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, during which killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, referred to as the "Trenchcoat Mafia," both wore them.
According to The Associated Press, classmate Parston Graves Jr. said that Weise sketched a skeleton strumming a guitar about a month ago, with the caption, "march to the death song 'til your boots fill with blood."
Weise seemed to model himself after the Columbine killers, said 18-year-old Willy May, who knew the boy from school. Like Klebold and Harris, he said, Weise frequently wore combat boots with red laces. May said Weise drew "disturbing" images of people with bullets going through their heads and that, at some point, Weise was blamed for phoning in bomb threats to the school.
Though they said he seemed suicidal and that he had once stated, "That would be cool if I shot up the school," those who knew Weise dismissed the comment as just talk.
A Red Lake High student, who said she probably avoided being shot by skipping her last period class (see "FBI: Minnesota Shooter Acted Alone, Chose Victims At Random"), told the Star-Tribune that she heard Weise was having some problems, but that he seemed normal to her. "He seemed like a pretty good guy," Alicia Meadow said. "Whenever I talked with him, he seemed all friendly. I never thought that anything like that would come from him."
But Minneapolis TV station WCCO-TV reported that Weise was obsessed with the obscure horror-core rapper Mars, particularly his song "Go Suicidal," which features the lyrics "no more pain, no more suffering, the dead ain't feeling nothing ... just put that pistol to your chin."
The rapper's upcoming album, which his official Web site said delves into subjects such as "murder ... and suicide" is called Some Girls Deserve to Die, a title inspired by police interrogation tapes of the serial killer known as the Hillside Strangler.
Weise, who had been pulled out of school and put in a home tutoring program last year for an unspecified medical reason, reportedly frequented a Nazi Web site, where he posted screeds decrying race mixing and the decline of "full-blooded Natives."
He is also reported to have been a regular visitor on fiction Web site Rise of the Dead, where, using the screen name "Blades11," he once wrote, "I'm a fan of zombie films, have been for years, as well as fan of horror movies in general. I like to write horror stories, read about Nazi Germany and history, and some day plan on moving out of the [United States]."
The inherent contradiction in wanting to affiliate himself with a movement that preached white supremacy had occurred to Native American Weise, but he still sought acceptance from the group society had shunned. Posting on a Nazi-sympathetic Web site last year, he wondered whether he was too young to join an Aryan supremacist group and if they would take a "non-white" Chippewa youth, according to a Washington Post report.
Despite his background, using the screen name "Todesengel," German for "angel of death," Weise was embraced on the site by a member who told him, "We welcome you, brother." When another member expressed hope that Weise would stick with the group, the teen responded, "Once I commit myself to something, I stay until the end."
A month after school authorities had suspected him of wanting to attack the school, the threat passed and Weise wrote: "I was cleared as a suspect. I'm glad for that. I don't much care for jail. I've never been there, and I don't plan on it."
Weise wrote of having a "natural admiration" for Adolf Hitler and his ideas "and his courage to take on larger nations ... It kind of angers me how people pass prejudgment on someone [who says he supports Hitler]." He also wrote of encountering some hostility because of his Nazi beliefs, but that "because of my size and appearance, people don't give me as much trouble as they would if I looked weak."
In a statement released Tuesday, the supremacist group confirmed Weise's use of the site, but did not denounce the tragedy, saying that it "refused to wring hands" over the rampage. The group also said that the murders confirmed its core beliefs in "eugenics, racial separation and removal of elements hostile to a healthy society."
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