Father of California mass killer never knew 'the monster' in son

LOS ANGELES Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:11am EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The father of a 22-year-old man who killed six college students and himself near Santa Barbara, California, says he had long known his son was deeply troubled but realized too late "the monster" lurking within him.

Peter Rodger, an assistant director on the film "Hunger Games," told ABC's Barbara Walters in an interview televised on Friday that he initially thought his son, Elliot, was one of the victims, rather than the killer, in the May 23 massacre.

Rodger recounted first learning something terrible was afoot while dining with friends that night about 100 miles (161 km) away in Los Angeles and receiving an email from his son with a lengthy, menacing manifesto titled "My Twisted World".

Moments later, Rodger received a phone call from his ex-wife, Elliot's mother Li Chin, who had gotten the same email and then googled their son's name to find a chilling video he had posted on YouTube called "Elliot Rodger's Retribution."

At that point, the father recalled, "A really dark force of horrible energy hit me." He hastily embarked on a desperate road trip, hoping to reach his son in time.

"We were just driving up there in absolute fear for him and confusion," Peter Rodger said.

Elliot Rodger had by then already begun his killing spree, stabbing three people to death, including his two roommates, at their beachside apartment in the town of Isla Vista.

As Peter Rodger neared his son's home, local news media had begun reporting that a gunman was on the loose. In the end, three more college students were shot to death and 13 other people were wounded before Elliot committed suicide.

Peter Rodger said he was devastated by news that his son was among the dead but did not learn he was suspected of being the killer until seeing it reported hours later on the Internet.

Rodger insisted he never imagined his son capable of violence, despite chronic social problems Elliott had suffered among his peers since boyhood and years he had spent in therapy.

He was aware that his son was obsessed with having never had sex, and once suggested taking him to Las Vegas to lose his virginity, an idea his son rejected.

Rodger recalled rebuking his son years later when he found out he had been dabbling in websites devoted to misogynist ideology, but even then did not appreciate the level of hatred his son harbored toward women.

Rodger said his son was "incredibly brilliant at hiding" his inner demons and expressed remorse for the pain that has caused the victims' families.

"I wish that these families didn’t have to go through this terrible ordeal," Rodger said. "It's very hard for them to understand that I didn’t know the monster that was in my son."

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Tom Heneghan)

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Comments (14)
pyradius wrote:
So let’s see, throw paid for women at him (a huge insult to a misogynist), give him your credit cards (but don’t look at what he’s purchasing with Daddy’s money, you know, like guns?! – try looking at your bank statement once in a while dad) and we’re supposed to believe he ‘hid’ his demons?

Sounds to me like there should have been more heart to heart conversations and teaching your child how to interact with people socially. More than likely dad was too busy with his career to deal with his troubled son effectively.

And now we see the price society paid for it. That ‘dark energy’ you were feeling was the realization that it was your son doing those terrible things, not thinking he was ‘just a victim’.

Jun 28, 2014 10:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
bachcole wrote:
It’s strange that we get this kind of observations from so many people in these circumstances, yet two theories are never discussed: demonic possession and psychiatric drugs. Rather, we are presented with only no answer whatsoever or a frowned upon answer that the perp was just plain evil. The mainstream avoid two answers completely, one because it violates the dominant paradigm of materialism, and the other that makes the pharmaceutical companies uncomfortable. The frowned upon answer, that the perp was just plain evil, is also dangerously close to a spiritual answer coming from frowned upon people, the religious right. But what answer does the mainstream have, other than the absurd on that the perp had a bad childhood? No answer that makes any sense whatsoever.

Jun 28, 2014 10:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Helixsnail wrote:
Did your Dad know what you felt about your sex life? When you were 22 or younger? I think mom and dad knew a lot more about their son than they want to talk about. The dad’s call for gun control is just shifting responsibility. While I wish the whole event did not happen and I wish the best to all of the victims families, the dad is a co-conspirator in this.

Jun 28, 2014 11:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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