1998 Oregon school shooter: 'tremendous shame and guilt'
SALEM, Oregon (AP) - Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents before he ran rampage in his Oregon high school in 1998, killing two classmates and injuring 25 others, gave his first news interview and told HuffPost that he was "tremendously" feels tremendous shame and guilt. "
Kinkel, now 38, is serving a de facto life sentence in the Oregon State Correctional Institution. He spoke to the news site for about 20 hours over a 10 month period.
He said he felt guilty not only for what he did as a 15-year-old suffering from then-undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, but also for the impact his crime had on other juvenile offenders leading to life sentences Convicted: His case was held up by some of his victims and by others as a reason to oppose reform of the juvenile justice system in the state.
Although he had not previously given interviews because he did not want to further traumatize his victims, he also began to feel that his silence prevented these perpetrators from getting a second chance.
"I am responsible for the damage I did when I was 15," said Kinkel. "But I'm also responsible for the damage I'm doing now that I'm 38 because of what I did when I was 15."
Kinkel described how he had heard voices since he was twelve and how he became obsessed with knives, weapons and explosives, believing that China was invading the US and that the government and Walt Disney Co. had a microchip in his head implanted.
When caught on May 19, 1998 at Thurston High School, Springfield, with a stolen handgun that he had bought another student, he said, "My whole world has exploded," he said Control of a threat - gone. "
Faced with expulsion, a possible crime charge, and tremendous shame, he said the voices in his head made him believe he had to kill his parents and then return to school to "kill everyone."
The next day he killed his parents, and the next day he opened fire in the school canteen, killing 16-year-old Ben Walker and 17-year-old Mikael Nickolauson, and injuring 25 before being overpowered by other students.
He pleaded guilty - at the time he did not want to accept his diagnosis and felt community pressure to resolve the case instead of pleading not guilty of insanity. He was sentenced to nearly 112 years in prison after profusely apologizing.
"I feel tremendous shame and guilt for what I've done," he told HuffPost. "I hate the violence I am guilty of."
Kinkel shot Betina Lynn in the back and in the foot. She told HuffPost that the idea of it ever getting out is "literally terrifying". She has permanent nerve damage, a constant reminder of what happened.
"Even now, more than 23 years later, I and many other survivors are still struggling with the aftermath," said Lynn. "We are all sitting by his side for life."
Kinkel described how he underwent psychological treatment in the juvenile prison where he began his sentence, realizing that he had harmed innocent people, including his parents whom he loved. He also said he cried when he found out about the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado for fear it inspired it.
Kinkel, who graduated from college behind bars, continued to contest his verdict, which was upheld by the state Supreme Court. In March, his lawyers filed a petition in federal court arguing that his plea was not voluntary - he had not taken medication for several weeks before - and that his sentence was unconstitutional.
"Sentencing a youth to death in prison for suffering from a mental illness is a violation of the Eighth Amendment," wrote his lawyers.
In 2019, as part of a national effort to reassess severe sentences for juveniles, Oregon legislature passed a measure to end automatic referrals to adult courts of 15--17 year olds for certain offenses and to ensure they did not get too life Sentenced to prison without a chance of parole. At the time, there were about a dozen people serving life or life-equivalent sentences for juvenile offenses.
Critics warned, however, that the measure could lead to the release of Kinkel, and a month later lawmakers passed another bill to clarify that the measure was not retroactive.
"It doesn't matter if he was 15," said Adam Walker, the brother of Kinkel's victim Ben Walker, in a video released at the time. “The victims don't get a second chance. Why should the perpetrators? "
Kinkel said he was following the debate in the prison library.
"It was like, there was hope," said Kinkel. "And then the legislature ... came back and said, 'No, we are special, on purpose, and on purpose with everything we have to take that away from the children who are already in the system.'"
He said he doesn't think often about the possibility of ever being released: "I don't allow myself to spend too much time thinking about it because I think it can actually cause more suffering."
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