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Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen
New York, New York, USA
June 03
Written for NY Times, W Post, Slate, Salon, Daily Beast. Publisher Twelve (Hachette)
An expanded paperback edition of my book COLUMBINE came out March 1, 2010. Links to the book and my bio below: http://www.davecullen.com/columbine.htm

FEBRUARY 25, 2010 7:06PM

"The Last Columbine Mystery"--Eric's parents speak

Rate: 19 Flag

This is news I have wanted to report for awhile now. I wanted to get it right, though, and then had to wait for the paperback publication of my book.

It's adapted from one part of the Afterword in expanded paperback edition (which will be in most bookstores by Monday). 

The Afterword is mainly about "Forgiveness"--in quotes, because some of the people involved dislike the term: and how you label it is essential to how you deal with it.

Two families actually met both the Harrises and the Klebolds. I tell Linda Mauser's story in the Daily Beast piece, but Bob Curnow also met with both and had a completely different reaction.

Today: February 25, 2010 Dave Cullen The Last Columbine Mystery
by Dave Cullen


 As another school shooting rocks the Columbine area, Dave Cullen reveals the secret meeting Eric Harris’ parents had with his victims’ kin—offering a rare glimpse into how they viewed their son.

It’s been nearly eleven years since the Columbine tragedy rocked the nation, and the largest remaining questions center on the killers’ parents: Did they see it coming? Why do they think it happened? How did the tragedy affect them? Do they feel remorse? Have they expressed it to the victims?

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Dave, I'm in the middle of reading Columbine right now, so I may be wait to read this article until after I'm done with the book.

This is certainly newsworthy.
Thanks. I have to run, but will be back in a few hours to answer.
A masterful piece. You do an amazing job of showing people's humanity.
Yes, I read this on the Daily Beast this morning and it's, like the rest of the story, fascinating.
BTW, I plugged your book in my latest post.
It's so hard to know what the Harris' may have been like before their son's rampage. One has to wonder if they are still in shock, or if it is just a continuation of how they were before.

One question: you say "Wayne and Kathy accepted that Eric was a psychopath. Where that came from, they didn’t know. But he fooled them, utterly." I'm not sure I understand--how could they accept that he was a psychopath but he also fooled him? Or do you mean, once this happened, they understood he had been a psychopath?
This account is sobering, moving, and the participants seem to somehow fall flat -- or is it that the burden of unanswerable questions leaving them deflated? I love teenagers and have seen them come from all kinds of homes. And no matter what their background, they seem to disappear underground into their own worlds for a while as they keep some sort of face with their families. This is a rite of passage and was, for me, sometimes scary as hell. Reading "Reviving Ophelia" helped me understand better how hard it is to protect or guide our kids today because they are all influenced by media and advertising. Our homes have no walls. We raised our daughters in Crested Butte with no tv and tons of stimulating art centers, horses, 4-H, skiing, hiking, books, collage kits from school supply companies. Every kid wanted to come to our house -- even without, god forbid, television! And, despite warm, humorous, love and communication, one ended up seriously ill with epilepsy and the other troubled and wild. Our family has famous genes. Too many of us want instant gratification -- and that means answers to questions now without regard to the fact that so many questions simply don't have them. You are a brilliant observer and reporter. Mary's going to give me your book to read while I get out of this lonely hotel and into her cottage the month I'm down here. Rated.
Dave I haven't read your book, but I did read this Daily Beast article. My question has always been about the Kliebold kid. I recall, and it's such a painful topic for all of us parents, that it was said that the chemistry between the two boys was the lynchpin. That Kleibold, and this is just from memory, had a kinder family and was better adjusted. That he was new-ish to Columbine community and had he not met up with Eric, he might have been okay? Without giving away the contents of your book, can you comment on Kliebold? Was he new to Columbine. Was he the more sympathetic kid? Was their relationship what made him as well as Eric so combustible?
barking: I think Tom & Linda Mauser were mainly looking for answers--new insights. They are utterly sincere people. (And extremely bright, if that was not obvious.) They are looking for more than one thing in their grief process, but I think they were pretty focused there. That's my take.

Joan: Thanks. Let me know what you think of the book.

Jeanette: I don't think the article is really a spoiler. I think you're safe. (Do others agree?)

Wow, thanks, Skeptic. I tried, but I was a little afraid.

Cranky, thanks for the shoutout.

Wendy: No, Dylan was not new to Columbine. He was very shy, and never fully adjusted to the larger school when he went to middle school or high school. He was very depressed. His relationship with Eric: I'm not sure I can sum that up in a few lines. You might have to check out the book for that. Or start with the book trailer, which is here:

I don't think that these parents could ever reach a satisfying conclusion, but they could deepen their understanding, which seems evident to me. There may be some measure of relief in what they learned and the nature of what they observed in the parents.

No one, not even the parents of the perpetrators, could ever be sorry enough for what happened that it would make anyone feel better. It can't be done by someone else. It's all so sad and supremely unsatisfying but I understand the longing for some punctuation mark at the end that will mark the completion of the suffering and mystery of events like the shootings at Columbine.

I do admire how you tell this story so much. You make it hurt the least it can and that is a supremely admirable accomplishment.
My Daily Beast story on the Harrises is still their #5 "Most Popular" story, even on the second day, which keeps it on their cover page.

So keep clicking, tweeting, posting about it to keep it there.

Thanks to everyone who has.

I just taped the Michael Smerconish radio show, talking about this.

He's in most cities, two shows a day--early morning and noon.

I'll be on the noon-2pm show (times may vary in some cities).

He's got an affiliate map on his site where you can check:

Yes, I think Dr. Susanne has it right. Perhaps the biggest reason we met with the Harrises was to deepen our understanding. There was also the forgiveness aspect (of Eric), although from the very beginning I was not intensely angry with Eric. He was clearly a very troubled young man. I was angrier at the parents at the outset. I do feel that the Harrises have suffered immensely. I do not wish to add to their suffering, but feel I have a right to attain some sort of clarity with regard to them. I sincerely questioned whether it was right to even reveal this interview, but I concluded that even if only a little can be gleaned, it would be worthwhile. Also, they met with us unconditionally, so I do not feel that this is any sort of betrayal.

As you must have concluded from Dave's piece, there was nothing that struck me as grossly inappropriate about the Harrises. Nor do I feel that they were badly intentioned people. There are many parents who know even less about what their kids are doing, and these kids do not get into serious trouble. I do find the preoccupation with Doom and the gun magazines troubling. Do I think they should have been more greatly involved? Yes, I do. As I said to my husband, sometimes just being an "ordinary" parent is not enough, especially in this day and age. I would certainly argue for more vigilance, although sometimes maybe that is not even enough.
Read it at DB.

Can't decide which would be most traumatic - to have one's child killed by a psychopath, or to have birthed and raised the psychopath. All parents, including the affectless Wayne (I'd be lifelong numb myself) are to be pitied...
Read it at DB.

Can't decide which would be most traumatic - to have one's child killed by a psychopath, or to have birthed and raised the psychopath. All parents, including the affectless Wayne (I'd be lifelong numb myself) are to be pitied...
I tried to go back to sleep, but that failed. I'm in kind of desperate shape for sleep.

Linda, it's so nice to see you here. Unfortunately, that means I'm delinquent in getting reaching you directly first. I apologize. Yesterday got away from me. And I'm still trying to pretend today has not started yet. (I woke up at 6:30 and couldn't get back to sleep knowing we started at 7:30 and they usually call early.) Then I came back to post about the show everywhere so people would get a chance to hear it.

I finally got some copies of the book yesterday afternoon, so I'm going to send one over.

This info of the Harris meeting is actually not the main focus of the Afterword, but The Daily Beast wants news, so they insisted on the newsy part. So we spent many hours this week adapting a chunk of the afterword for them.

In the end, I was fine with that. The news site can have the newsy part, and the book has the more reflective take on three victims' very different struggles with grief.
It's o.k., Dave. Hope you get some rest soon.
Linda, thank you for your comments. I do believe that forgiveness is the greatest accomplishment for oneself and ones family under these difficult circumstances. So long as we hold grudges and grind axes the events own more of us than we realize, as if we were giving ourselves over to the chaos in some way and forgetting to reclaim what is most precious in front of us right now. Thanks again. It is very generous for you to share yourself here with those of us who want to understand.
Until I read Columbine, I did not know how I could ever feel compassion for Eric Harris's parents. That I did after reading it is greatly to your credit, Dave. I try to imagine how they can possibly carry on after what happened and knowing what Eric had done, and with all their memories of that time, and it's nearly impossible. It seems to me in this article though, that maybe they endured it all by withdrawing into themselves, a bit; It had to be emotional to meet, and the subdued emotions of the Harrises makes me think they can't bear to feel anything too deeply.