Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jared Loughner and the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

Online Ravings

Within hours of his name being released to the press, Loughner's internet footprint was exposed. His MySpace page and his YouTube account were all posted online, the strange ramblings and odd photos and videos, reverberating on blogs and websites. In one video, he takes five minutes to burn an American flag somewhere in the desert. Midway through, he enters the picture looking like the Grim Reaper before he sets fire to the flag.

But perhaps the biggest find were his postings on Above Top Secret, a website that describes itself as "the largest and most popular web site for 'alternative' topics"—"dedicated to the intelligent exchange of ideas and debate on a wide range of 'alternative topics' such as conspiracies, UFO's, paranormal, secret societies, political scandals, new world order, terrorism, and dozens of related topics with a diverse mix of users from all over the world."

After it was deduced that the postings were from Loughner, the site's owners decided to put his contributions—normally unable to be seen by non-members—up for the public's perusal, with a brief introduction:

"As is often typical, recent analysis in the media is rampant with all manner of conclusions, second-guesses, exaggerations, distortions, and missing information. The opinion of the staff and owners of is that it serves the public interest to provide an easy method to access every post made here by erad3 (normally, visitors must be logged-in to view such information)."

The postings on Above Top Secret purported to be written by Jared Loughner reveal an odd mind, with a strange, disjointed and illogical way of seeing the world. Questions would be asked, but because Loughner's logic was circular or his syntax incoherent, they were often unanswerable. In one post in July 2010 he asked, "Is it possible for an infinite source of currency?"

In a post riddled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, he attempts to explain himself:

"If a member of the treasury creates 5 new currency's then the new currency replaces the previous currency. If the new currency replaces the previous currency then the previous currency is no longer in use. A members of the treasury creates 5 new currency's. Therefore, the previous currency is no longer in use."

The thread evolves into a discussion of the gold standard, but because Loughner is unable to demonstrate a grasp of simple concepts, the thread's followers become frustrated with his posts. Loughner's attempts to elaborate with nonsensical graphs and pictures only make the discussion more incoherent, and his responses get more confusing:

Finally, a user named "mordant1" responds:

"I think you're frankly schizophrenic, and no that's not an amateur opinion and not intended as an uninformed or insulting remark, you clearly make no sense and are unable to communicate. I really do care. Seek help before you hurt yourself or others or start taking your medications again, please."

Unfortunately, he didn't.