Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Columbine High School Massacre

On the Surface

 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (AP)

As the police investigation progressed, the background of the two boys gradually unfolded. Initially it seemed that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were just two average teenagers -- intelligent, well-mannered kids who had come from good homes.

Eric Harris was born onf April 9, 1981 in Wichita, Kansas. His parents Wayne, and Kathy Harris had both been born in Colorado but Wayne's career as an Air Force transport pilot had meant that the family had moved often. They had lived in Ohio, Michigan and New York. When Wayne Harris retired, he and Kathy chose to settle in Littleton in 1996. There Wayne worked at the Flight Safety Services Corporation in Englewood. Kathy worked at a catering company in the same area. Friends, neighbors and associates of the Harrises in all of the areas in which they had lived described Wayne and Kathy as good people, supportive and considerate of both of their sons.

Eric Harris
Eric Harris (AP)

During his childhood, Eric Harris had played Little League and was a Boy Scout. Eric and Dylan became firm friends soon after the Harrises moved to Littleton. Before long they had linked their home computers and would spend many hours playing video games.

Eric had hoped to be accepted into the Marine Corps but had been informed, several days before the massacre, that his application had been rejected. The reason given was that Eric had been taking the anti-depressant Luvox, which was often used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Luvox is a commonly prescribed drug, which normally does not cause any physical or psychological side effects unless taken with other drugs or alcohol. No evidence of drugs or alcohol had been found in Harris's body after his death.

Dylan Klebold, like Eric Harris, came from a stable middle-class family which was held in high regard by friends, neighbors and associates. Dylan was born on September 11, 1981 in Lakewood, Colorado. He had lived in Littleton for many years with his parents Sue and Tom Klebold and older brother Byron.

Tom Klebold, a former geophysicist, operated a mortgage management business from their family home while Sue worked at the State Consortium of Community Colleges providing accessibility for disabled students. Close friends felt that Dylan began to change after he befriended Eric Harris during 1996.

As far as anyone knew there had only been one incident of criminal behavior in the past. In March the previous year, the boys had been arrested on felony charges of criminal trespass and theft for breaking into a car and stealing some tools. Klebold and Harris had made such a good impression on the juvenile officers involved in the case that they were offered to have their records cleared if they promised to stay out of trouble and participate in a diversionary program. Harris was required to attend anger management classes. Again, he had made a good impression on authorities.

However, it would not take long before a contrasting picture began to emerge. A picture of two young men, angry at the world they thought had wronged them, who had sought, for some time, a way to accomplish their revenge.

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