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William FREUND

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Asperger's syndrome - Donned a dark cape and paintball mask and went on a shooting rampage
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 29, 2005
Date of birth: 1986
Victims profile: Christina Smith, 22, and her father, Vernon, 45 (neighbors)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Aliso Viejo, California, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 

William Freund (c. 1986 October 29, 2005) was a nineteen year old male who donned a cape and ski mask and went on a shooting rampage in the city of Aliso Viejo, California.

He shot and killed two people before going home and killing himself by shooting himself in the torso.

Before going on the rampage, he is said to have posted his plans on the online Asperger's Syndrome message board wrongplanet.net. He also posted on the message board of the comedy website Something Awful under the alias "forbiddenforum" asking for information on where to buy buckshot ammunition.

Forum members responded with information, then derision as he claimed that he was going to be shooting at people attempting to vandalize his Halloween pumpkins. The thread was closed a few days before his shooting spree.

He also posted on AnandTech but never commented on suicide or his plans to kill. He was a computer expert who, according to his employer, kept to himself and severely lacked social skills.

 
 


 

Killer Sought Solace Online

By Kimi Yoshino, Mai Tran, Times Staff Writers and Christian Berthelsen

Los Angeles Times

November 01, 2005

In the weeks before 19-year-old William Freund donned a cape and mask and went on a shooting rampage in his Aliso Viejo neighborhood, he reached out for help on the Internet.

He wrote more than two dozen online messages in October, asking for a "real life" friend and saying he was contemplating suicide. He also threatened to start "a Terror Campaign to hurt those that have hurt me."

The messages paint a portrait of a troubled young man struggling with Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disorder described as a variant of autism that hampers people's ability to interact socially. He revealed his anguish and frustration on a website, wrongplanet.net, used by people with Asperger's.

In a prophetic message written Oct. 16, about the "Terror Campaign," he also said, "My future ended some time ago." Other postings included "Everybody hates me" and "I feel like I need to kill myself." He also disclosed that he had bought a 12-gauge shotgun and had gone online to buy ammunition.

Members of the online community for Asperger's tried to reassure Freund and offer suggestions, and volunteer moderators tried to find his parents.

Their efforts failed.

On Saturday morning, Freund put on a dark cape and paintball mask and entered a neighboring house, killing Christina Smith, 22, and her father, Vernon, 45. He then shot at a house across the street and tried to fire at a neighbor, but the shotgun jammed. Then he walked home and killed himself with the shotgun.

Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said investigators did not know what sparked the shooting or why Freund targeted the Smiths. "We're looking into his mental health at the time of the shooting," he said.

An autopsy completed Sunday showed that Freund died of a single gunshot to the upper torso. Toxicology tests are being conducted, but Amormino said, "We don't expect drugs and alcohol set off his bizarre behavior."

What may be the best clues to what set him off could be the messages Freund left behind in postings on wrongplanet.net. The website was created by people with Asperger's syndrome and intended as a place they could post comments, share experiences and talk to one another in online chat rooms. It also offers articles about the disease but is not intended to be a authoritative medical source.

Those with the disorder are often described as loners who have trouble communicating and may not fit in socially.

To the outside world, people with Asperger's are sometimes merely presumed to be rude, although the condition is caused by a neurobiological disorder. Depression and suicidal thoughts often afflict people with Asperger's, but violent behavior is rare.

The syndrome affects more males than females, and although the number of people with Asperger's is unknown, some experts estimate that 1 in 250 people has at least a mild case. Experts agree that it is subtler than autism but can often be emotionally crippling.

Freund tended to keep to himself, although he worked for a while repairing computers and fixing viruses, said his former employer, Forrest Fuster, 24, of Mission Viejo.

"He was incredibly smart, but he lacked social skills severely," Fuster said. "He was a very deep thinker."

In his online profile, Freund described himself as an only child of adoptive parents, a student at ITT Technical Institute in Anaheim who enjoyed "computers, role playing, fantasy, pugs, Food, guns." He graduated from Aliso Niguel High School in 2004, the same school as Christina Smith, who graduated in 2001.

His online messages were filled with spelling and grammatical errors, alternately depicting a self-aware person desperately seeking help and a frustrated, angry man who wanted to lash out at others.

On Oct. 15 he said he had tried suicide before. "Ive Tried Everythink from asphxia, To lethal gases, Inert Gases To full suspended hanging

The next day, he said that if he made it to Halloween, he planned to equip himself with body armor, an airgun and a laser to "just scare any little kids that try to destroy my pumpkin

On Oct. 19, he asked for references to a mental hospital, saying that he needed counseling and social skills training. He also said he had no friends. He wrote that he wished he had some, emphasizing it with 75 exclamation points.

Alexander Plank, 19, the founder of wrongplanet.net, said volunteer moderators who monitored messages had been concerned about Freund's postings and took action.

"People at our site tried to contact his parents, but apparently there are a lot of Freunds in Orange County," Plank said. There are 38 Freunds registered to vote.

Moderators also blocked Freund from posting links to pro-suicide websites, said Plank, a freshman computer science major at George Mason University in Northern Virginia.

After seeing articles about the weekend shooting, Plank said, he called the Orange County Sheriff's Department. By Monday evening, some of Freund's messages had been removed from the website.

The sheriff's office declined to provide information Monday about how Freund obtained the shotgun. Freund's messages on the website reveal a fascination with guns and detail his purchase from "a bunch off old farts at a gun center." He also wrote about searching for "the most powerful specialized ammo," which most shops apparently wouldn't carry.

Details of Freud's medical treatment were unavailable Monday. In the messages, however, he said his health was deteriorating because of a new medication. "I'm not getting any better and nobody can figure out what it is." He said he wanted his parents to switch doctors but that they were happy with his treatment.

His parents were not home Monday, and employees at their Laguna Hills printing business said they had not heard from them. Members of the Smith family were also not home.

Blake Melcher, 21, of Laguna Niguel said many students had picked on Freund since middle school. "It happens at all schools, where some kids are always picked on," he said.

In one online message, Freund said he had "no friends, all enemies" and bought the shotgun for home defense.

 
 

Relatives sue over shotgun slayings

By Mai Tran - Los Angeles Times

November 18, 2006

Relatives of a father and daughter who were killed when a neighbor burst into their Aliso Viejo home and opened fire have filed a lawsuit against the killer's family, the gun dealer who sold the weapon and a support-group website where the gunman had vowed to wage a "terror campaign."

Denise Smith and her son, Brandon Smith, filed the lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court this week, seeking damages for wrongful death and emotional distress.

The Smiths allege that the gunman's parents, Karen and Dennis Freund, "permitted" their son to keep a weapon in their home, failed to supervise him, and failed to warn and protect them from their son's violent nature, according to the lawsuit.

Reached by telephone, Dennis Freund declined to comment on the lawsuit. In interviews with investigators shortly after the shootings last year, he and his wife said they did not know that their 19-year-old son owned a shotgun.

An attorney for the Smiths said each of the defendants contributed to the deaths.

"In various ways, these people are responsible for what happened," said Barry Novack, a Beverly Hills attorney. "This was a preventable incident. Had he not had a shotgun, had he not been on this medication, this wouldn't have happened. There are many layers here, and sometimes tragedy occurs when all the pins line up the right way."

The shootings occurred on Oct. 29, 2005, when William Freund, wearing a cape and a dark paintball helmet with a clear face shield, drove his car less than 100 yards around the corner of his California Summit neighborhood.

He entered the Smiths' home and opened fire, killing Vernon Smith, 45, and his daughter, Christina, 22. Her brother, Brandon, escaped through a back door and her mother, Denise, was at work.

After leaving the Smith home, Freund walked slowly back to his own house on Sunbury Drive and shot and killed himself with the 12-gauge Remington shotgun, police said. There were no relationships or other links between Freund and the victims.

Before the murders, Freund e-mailed and posted comments on the WrongPlanet.net website saying he needed a "real life" friend and said he was contemplating suicide.

He also threatened to start "a terror campaign to hurt those that have hurt me."

The website serves as a support group for people with Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disorder, described as a variant of autism, which hampers people's ability to interact socially. Freund suffered from the disorder.

The suit accused the website of failing to alert police, the victims, Freund's family or any authorities to prevent harm.

WrongPlanet founder Alexander Plank declined to comment Friday, but during an interview last year, he said volunteer moderators in Virginia tried to call Freund's parents but were unsuccessful.

The Smiths also accused the Saddleback Valley Gun Center and its owner, George Hueneman, of negligently selling the shotgun to a teenager suffering from a disorder.

Hueneman said he ran a state background check on Freund -- which came up clean. He said the state did not log a person's medical history. He said he was not aware of Freund's condition and that the law did not require him to determine it before selling a him gun.

"I checked with the state, and they told me to sell it to him. How am I supposed to know that he was a mentally disturbed teenager who was on prescription medication?" Hueneman asked. "The state of California and the FBI didn't even know that."

 
 



 

 

 
 
 
 
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