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Kipland P. KINKEL

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Kip"
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Parricide - Juvenile (15) - School shooting
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: May 21, 1998
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: August 30, 1982
Victims profile: William, 59, and Faith Kinkel, 57 (his parents) / Mikael Nicholauson, 17, and Ben Walker, 16 (high school students)
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber semiautomatic rifle)
Location: Springfield, Oregon, USA
Status: Sentenced to 111 years in prison without the possibility of parole on November 10, 1999
 
 
 
 
 
 

Kip's life line

 
January 29, 1972 Bill Kinkel marries Faith Zuranski
December 22, 1976 Kristin Kinkel is born
August 30, 1982 Kipland Kinkel is born.
1986 - 1987

The Kinkels take a sabbatical year in Spain

The Kinkels went to Spain for the school year. Kristin, although in 5th grade, was placed into a 3rd grade class as it was the only class where the teacher spoke English. Kip went into his first year of school with a teacher who only spoke Spanish. Kristin remembered this as a difficult time for Kip.

1989 - 1990

Kip repeats first grade at Walterville Elementary School

After discussions with teachers, the Kinkels decided to hold Kip back in school for a year. According to court testimony, Kip's parents and teachers felt that Kip lacked maturity and had slow emotional and physical development.

1990 - 1991

Second Grade: Problems with Language

Kip's second grade teacher testified at his sentencing hearing that Kip was an average second grader with no disciplinary problems. She said that written language caused him great frustration. His parents asked the school to test Kip for a learning disability to see if he was eligible for special education services. According to the school counselor, Kip did not qualify. He scored above the 90th percentile on the intelligence test, and average on the neurological screening test. Her only concerns were that he had a remarkably low score on one motor/hand skill, and that he was having great problems with spelling. She observed him during the 25 minute spelling test, and saw that although he worked unusually diligently for his age, he had difficulty spelling even his own last name, and his level of frustration and anxiety was abnormally high.

1991 - 1992

Third Grade: Special Education

During this year, Bill Kinkel retired from teaching and began teaching night classes at Lane Community College.

Kip continued to have problems in school with reading and writing, although he excelled in math. Bill and Faith Kinkel asked Kip's third grade teacher to retest him for special education services. This time he qualified, and a plan for special services was drawn up for him. His third grade teacher testified in court that Kip was given an honor award at the end of the year "for improvement in reading and working hard to overcome his frustration." She also reported that he had no behavior problems in class and received all As and Bs on his report card that year.

1992 - 1993

Fourth Grade: Learning Disability Diagnosed

Kip continued to qualify for special education services and was diagnosed with a learning disability. He worked with a special education counselor for the year. However, according to his fourth grade teacher, he was simultaneously placed in a Talented and Gifted program because of his above-average performance in science and math.

1995 - 1996

Seventh Grade: Mail Order Bomb Books

Kristin transferred in her sophomore year of college from University of Oregon to Hawaii Pacific where she received a full cheerleading scholarship. After Kristin left home, Kip and some friends used the internet at school to mail order some 'how to build bombs' books (e.g. The Anarchist Cookbook). When they were caught, Faith started to worry more about the friends Kip was hanging out with, and whether they were bad influences on one another.

1996 - 1997

Eighth Grade: Shoplifting and the Beginning of a Hidden Gun Collection

Along with some friends, Kip got caught shoplifting CDs from the local "Target" store. Later that year, he bought an old sawed-off shotgun from a friend. He kept it hidden in his room. His parents did not know about it.

January 4, 1997

Rock Throwing Incident

Kip went to a snowboarding clinic with a friend in Bend, Oregon. The two boys were arrested for throwing rocks off a highway overpass. One of the rocks struck a car below. The arresting officer said that she caught Kip's friend at the overpass and found Kip back at the motel where they were staying. She said Kip started crying, and immediately asked the officer if anyone was hurt. Kip claimed his friend had actually thrown the rock that hit the car. Kip and his friend were charged for the offense and referred to the Department of Youth Services in Eugene, Oregon. At 11:40 p.m. the Bend police called the Kinkels, who asked that Kip be held there until they could come and get him. They drove two hours that same night to pick Kip up in Bend.

January 20, 1997

Counseling: Kip and Faith meet with psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Hicks

In response to the Bend incident and Faith's rising concern about Kip's behavioral problems, Faith brought Kip to see psychologist Jeffrey Hicks. According to Hick's notes, Faith was worried about Kip. She told Dr. Hicks about the shoplifting and rock throwing incidents. Faith said that she was concerned about Kip's temper and his "extreme interest in guns, knives, and explosives," and was afraid that Kip could harm himself or others. Faith asked that Hicks help Kip learn more about appropriate ways to manage his anger and curtail his acting out. Faith was also deeply concerned with Kip's strained relationship with his father. Hicks wrote that "Kip became tearful when discussing his relationship with his father. He reported that Kip thought his mother viewed him as 'a good kid with some bad habits' while his father saw him as 'a bad kid with bad habits.' He felt his father expected the worst from him.

In this meeting Hicks found no evidence of a thought disorder or psychosis. He diagnosed Kip with Major Depressive Disorder and concluded that "Kip had difficulty with learning in school, had difficulty managing anger, some angry acting out and depression."

January 27, 1997

Second counseling session: Slight Improvement

Faith and Kip went for their second meeting with Dr. Jeffrey Hicks.

February 26, 1997

Kip's assessment by the Department of Youth Services

As a followup to the rock throwing incident in Bend, Kip was taken to Skipworth Juvenile Facility to meet with psychologist Dr. John Crumbley. Dr. Crumbley did an intake interview with Kip and his parents. According to Dr. Crumbley, the Kinkels were impressive parents. They wanted their son to take responsibility for what he did and wanted to make things right with the victim. He said that Kip was not typical of the delinquent kids he usually sees, in that he was appropriately remorseful and quite straightforward about his part in the crime. Dr. Crumbley felt the crime was more of a "boyish" crime and also felt they did not have a real case against Kip, as he hadn't actually thrown the rock. It was decided that Kip would complete 32 hours of community service, write a letter of apology and pay for damages to the car. Dr. Crumbley saw nothing at all out of the ordinary with Kip or his family.

Third Counseling Session: Doing Better

Hicks reported that Kip was doing better. He wrote in his notes that Kip continued to feel depressed several days per week but denied thought of suicide.

April 4, 1997

Fourth Counseling Session: Ongoing Interest in Explosives

Hicks noted that Kip still had an ongoing interest in explosives, and that he remained depressed, though less angry.

April 23 - 29

Kip gets two suspensions at school

Kip was suspended for two days for kicking another student in the head after the student shoved him. Kip was angry that the other boy did not get punished. Soon after, Kip got a three day suspension for throwing a pencil at another boy.

April 30, 1997

Fifth Counseling Session

Faith and Kip discussed the school suspensions with Dr. Hicks. They both felt the school handled the incidents unfairly and that the school was not acknowledging how much progress Kip had made.

June 2, 1997

Sixth Counseling Session: Prozac Recommended

According to Hicks's notes, Faith thought that Kip's behavior had been better, but felt he had also become quite cynical. Dr. Hicks discussed the use of anti-depressants and recommended Kip try a course of treatment with Prozac. He wrote: "Kip reports eating is like a chore. He complains that food doesn't taste good. He often feels bored and irritable. He feels tired upon awakening most mornings. He reports there is nothing to which he is looking forward. He denies suicidal ideation, intent or plan of action." Hicks forwarded these notes to the Kinkel family physician with a recommendation that Kip be put on Prozac for depression. The physician concurred, and four days later Kip began taking 20 milligrams of Prozac per day.

June 18, 1997

Seventh Counseling Session : Prozac seems to be working

Kip was on Prozac for 12 days. Hicks wrote that Kip was "sleeping better. No temper outbursts, taking the medication as prescribed without side effects." He also noted that Kip appeared less depressed.

June 27, 1997

Bill Kinkel purchases a 9mm Glock 19.

Kip went with Bill to buy a 9mm Glock. The understanding between them was that Kip would do the research on which model gun he wanted and would pay for it with his own money. He was not to use the gun without his father present, and the gun would not become Kip's until he turned 21 years old.

Dr. Hicks made no mention of the gun purchase in his psychological notes, although in court testimony Hicks stated that Kip told him that Bill had purchased a handgun for him, after some persistence on his part, and that it was kept out of his reach and to be used only under supervision. When asked in court if he had concerns about buying a gun for Kip when he had just started on Prozac and had an excessive interest in guns and firearms, Hicks responded, "No one consulted me about that decision, and yes, I have concerns about that."

July 9, 1997

Eighth Counseling Session : More improvement

Hicks made no mention of the Glock purchase in his session notes with Faith and Kip. He reported, however, that Faith felt that Kip was less irritable and generally in a better mood with no temper outbursts. Hicks also noted that Kip was getting along well with his parents and his father was continuing to make efforts to spend time with him.

July 30, 1997

Final Counseling Session

Hicks wrote that Kip continued to do well and did not appear depressed. Hicks, Faith and Kip all agreed that Kip was doing well enough that he could discontinue treatment.

Summer 1997

Another gun

Kip bought a .22 pistol from a friend. He kept it hidden from his parents.

1997 - 1998

Freshman year

Kip entered Thurston High School. According to friends and parents he did much better in school and things were starting to look up. Bill Kinkel had his friend, Don Stone, the Thurston High football coach, call Kip at home and invite him to come out for the freshman football team.

Fall '97 Kip goes off Prozac after three months.
September 30, 1997

Bill buys .22 semiautomatic rifle for his son

Bill bought Kip a Ruger .22 semiautomatic rifle under the condition that he would use it only under adult supervision. Again, the gun was bought with Kip's money.

"How to Make a Bomb" speech

Kip gives a talk on "how to make a bomb" in speech class. He shows detailed drawings of explosives attached to a clock. According to kids in the class, a girl in the class gave a speech on how to join Church of Satan, so Kip's topic did not seem extraordinary.

October 1, 1997 Pearl, Mississippi school shootings
December 1, 1997 West Paducah, Kentucky school shootings
December 14, 1997

Bill confides in a stranger

While at San Diego airport waiting for a flight home from with a friend, Bill struck up conversation with Dan Close, an Oregon University professor who specializes in juvenile violence. They talked for about two hours. They began their conversation talking about Kristin. Bill said that she was going to be graduating from college in August. He told Professor Close how much he was looking forward to going to Hawaii with the family. According to Dan Close, Bill then saw a forensic book in Close's bag and started talking about his troubled son. Bill told Close that in the last couple of years Kip had started hanging out with a tougher group of kids, playing with explosives, and that he was becoming difficult to manage, more secretive and was having troubles in school.

Mar 24, 1998

Jonesboro school shootings

According to a friend of Kip's, they watched some of the school shootings coverage on TV monitors at school and both said, "Hey, that's pretty cool."

May 1998

Toilet papers house

Kip spent the night at Tony McCown's house. They organized a bunch of friends to beat the school "tp" record. They spent weeks hoarding toilet paper in Tony's garage. That night, they snuck out of the house and met ten others at midnight and did a grand toilet papering job of another house, using over 400 rolls of toilet paper. They beat the school record but got caught. The next day, Kip along with the others, had to go clean off the house. Apparently, he was one of the few kids whose parents grounded him for the incident.

May 19, 1998

Korey arranges to sell Kip another gun

Korey Ewert stole a .32 caliber pistol from Scott Keeney, the father of one of their friends. He arranged, over the phone, to sell it to Kip the next day. It is unclear whether Kip knew that the gun had been stolen from Keeney.


May 20, 1998 - Day of Kip's Expulsion
Approx 8:00 a.m.

Kip buys gun from Korey.

Kip went to school with $110 in cash and bought from Korey a .32 caliber Beretta semiautomatic pistol, loaded with a 9 round clip. He put it in paper sack in his locker.

Scott Keeney called the school to report that the gun was missing and that he thought a friend of his son might have stolen it. He gave the school a list of about a dozen kids he thought might be involved. Kip's name was not on the list.

Detective Al Warthen happened to be at the school and eventually, after talking to a few kids, went to talk to Kip. At about 9:15 a.m., Kip was pulled out of study hall. Detective Warthen told him he is there to investigate the disappearance of a parent's handgun. Kip admitted to having the gun in his locker. Both Kip and Korey were immediately arrested. They were promptly escorted off the school premises in police handcuffs and were suspended from school, pending expulsion.

Approx 11:30 a.m.

Kip is brought to the police station.

Kip was brought to police station. He was fingerprinted, photographed, and charged with possession of a firearm in a public building and the felony charge of receiving a stolen weapon. Detective Al Warthen interviewed him. According to Warthen Kip was very upset and worried about what his parents were going to think. He was scared about what was going to happen to him. Soon after, Bill picked up Kip from the police station and brought him home.

Approx 2:00 p.m.

Richard Bushnell calls Bill

Bill Kinkel and Richard Bushnell talked through various options regarding what to do about Kip. Bushnell said both Bill and Kip were deeply concerned with how Faith would handle the news.

3:00 p.m.

Scott Keeney calls Bill

Scott Keeney called Bill when he heard that Kip had gotten arrested, and said Bill was very upset. Bill said, "I don't know what to do at this point." Keeney said Bill was distraught and thought Kip was completely out of control.

Kip Kills Bill

Kip's father was sitting at the kitchen counter drinking coffee. According to Kip's confession, he grabbed the .22 rifle from his room, got ammunition from his parents room, went downstairs and fired one shot to the back of his father's head. Kip then dragged his father's body into the bathroom and covered it with a sheet.

Approx 3:30 p.m.

Kevin Rowan calls

Rowan is the English teacher from Thurston High. Kip answered the phone. He told Mr. Rowan that he had made a mistake. He also told Mr. Rowan that his father was not there right now.

Approx 4:00 p.m.

Friend calls Kip

Kip's friend asked where Kip's dad was, and Kip said his father went to the store. Kip's friend said his call waiting was going off and they got off the phone pretty quickly.

Approx 4:30 p.m.

Bill Kinkel's Spanish students call

Someone from Lane Community College called to see where Bill was because he was missing class. Kip answered the phone saying his father wouldn't make it to class because of "family problems."

Approx 4:30 p.m.

Tony McCown and Nick Hiaason conference call

Kip talked on the phone in a conference call with his friends Tony McCown and Nick Hiaason. Kip told them he didn't know the gun was Keeney's. He also told them that his dad was out at a bar. He told them that he was worried about what his parents' friends would think of what he did, and that his parents would be so embarrassed when people found out. He kept saying, "It's over...Everything's over...it's done. ... Nothing matters now." Kip told Tony and Nick that his stomach was hurting and that he felt like he was going to throw up. He told them that he just wanted the gun, that he knew he shouldn't have done it and that he wasn't planning on doing anything with it. Kip went back and forth between being upset and angry. According to Tony, Kip kept asking, "Where's my mom...when is she going to be home?"

Approx 6:30 p.m

Faith Kinkel arrives home. Kip kills her

Kip met his mom in the garage. According to his audiotaped police confession, he told her he loved her, and then shot her twice in the back of the head, three times in the face and one time through the heart. He dragged her body across the garage floor and covered her with a sheet.


May 21, 1998 - Day of School Shooting at Thurston High
7:30 a.m.

Kip leaves house

Kip dressed in long trench coat. He filled his backpack with ammunition and carried 3 guns: a .22 caliber semiautomatic Ruger rifle, his father's 9mm Glock pistol and a .22 caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol. He taped a hunting knife to his leg and drove his mother's Ford Explorer to school. He parked one block from the high school and walked down a dirt path, taking a shortcut past the tennis courts and into the back parking lot.

7:55 a.m.

Kip enters school

School security camera recorded his entrance. He walked down the hallway towards the cafeteria. On the way he shot Ben Walker and Ryan Atteberry, and then fired off what remained of the 50 round clip from a .22 caliber semiautomatic and one round from a 9mm Glock handgun into the cafeteria. By the time Kip was wrestled to ground by five classmates, two students were dead and 25 others were injured.

7:56 a.m

Springfield Police arrive at the school

Officer Dan Bishop was the first officer on the scene at Thurston.

8:04 a.m

Kip Kinkel placed in custody by Dan Bishop.

A bunch of kids were on top of Kip on the floor pinning him down. Kinkel was identified as the shooter. Bishop got the other kids off Kip. A student that had been on top of Kip got up and punched Kip in the face. Kip made statements to the effect: "I just want to die." Bishop searched Kip and handcuffed him. Kip was advised of his Miranda rights.

Officer Bishop transferred custody of Kip to Detective Jones, the first detective to arrive on the scene. Detective Jones walked Kip to car and secured him there. Kip made no statements to Detective Jones. Soon after, Detective Al Warthen arrived on the scene. He was directed by Jones to take custody of Kip and "get him out of there." Warthen recognized Kip as the kid he had arrested the day before and took custody of him.

8:50 a.m

Kip assaults Warthen with knife at the at Springfield Police Department

Warthen locked Kip in an interview room and left the room for a moment to set up photo equipment. In the time that he was gone, Kip managed, with cuffed hands, to pull out the hunting knife that had been taped to his leg. On the detective's return, Kip rushed at Warthen with the knife, yelling, "Kill me, shoot me." Warthen backed up while Kip continued to charge him with the knife. Warthen got the door to close between Kip and himself; Kip kept pushing against door. Kip went back to the chair and started using the knife near his wrists. Warthen quickly came back in with another detective and sprayed Kip with pepper spray, while the other detective knocked away the knife.

9:08 a.m.

Kip tells police he killed his parents

Warthen read Kip his Miranda rights again. Kip indicated that he understood those rights. Warthen then asked Kip, "How's your dad?" Kip responded that he killed both of his parents.

Warthen photographed Kip to document physical condition with clothes on, and then allowed him to shower and clean up. Kip took off his clothes piece by piece--on his chest he had masking tape in an X form with one .22 caliber bullet and one .9mm bullet underneath. Warthen asked him why, and Kip said he put them there in case he ran out of ammunition; he wanted to have one of each in which to reload and kill himself.

9:30 a.m.

Bodies of Bill and Faith Kinkel are found

Three Lane County sheriffs, Detective Spence Slater, Detective Pam McComas and Deputy Pat O'Neill, arrived at Kinkel house. They found opera music from the soundtrack to the movie "Romeo and Juliet" playing loudly on the stereo and set to continuous play. They could see through glass doors that there were hundreds of rounds of .22 caliber ammunition strewn all over the living room floor.

Police searched Kip's room and found what they thought could be a live bomb constructed from soda cans and one in a fire extinguisher. They evacuated nearby houses. Later, Sergeant Jim Fields detonated several explosive devices at the Kinkel home and found a store of inactive bombs in the crawl space under the porch.

9:51 a.m. Warthen begins a tape recorded interview with Kinkel.
 
May 22, 1998 Kip's arraignment

Kip was charged with four counts of aggravated murder.

June 16, 1998

Kip Kinkel indicted

He was indicted on 58 felony charges including four counts of aggravated murder.

September 24, 1999

Plea Agreement

Kip pled guilty to four counts of murder and 26 counts of attempted murder.

November 2, 1999

Sentencing Hearing

After a six-day hearing that included the testimony of psychiatrists and psychologists who interviewed Kip, the victims' statements, his sister's statement, Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Mattison sentenced Kip to 111 years in prison, without the possibility of parole.

 

Kipland's life

Kinkel's boyhood troubles explode in rage, destruction

The 16-year-old charged in the Springfield school shootings, adrift and never measuring up, spiraled out of control despite his parents vigorous efforts to save him

Kip Kinkel peered out a window of his house.

"Where is she?" he asked nervously, interrupting a phone conversation with two friends. They had called to console Kip after he was kicked out of school that day for having a loaded gun in his locker.

About 30 minutes later, Faith Kinkel's Ford Explorer turned into the driveway. Kip helped his mom carry groceries into the kitchen.

He didn't waste time.

"I love you," Kip told her.

He shot her once.

"Please, Mom, close your eyes," Kip urged, when he saw her breathing a short time later. He shot her two more times -- once in the face.

By dawn, he'd leave a bomb beneath her body in the garage.


The once shy, freckled-face boy whom his mother affectionately called her "li'l angel" police would call a cold-hearted killer, accused of blasting away his parents and then going on a shooting rampage at Thurston High School.

Despite accounts by some teachers and friends that they never saw this coming, a close examination of Kip's life shows his troubles had festered since he was young.

Interviews with relatives, classmates, teachers, friends, coaches, neighbors and acquaintances reveal a boy who was insecure as a young child, was unable to live up to his parents' expectations as an adolescent and turned to guns and explosives as his antidepressants.

From an early age, Kip seemed disconnected from his parents and an older sister, who excelled at most everything they did. He struggled to be accepted, struggled to achieve, struggled for attention all his life -- but often came up short.

His parents, in turn, strove to steer Kip toward positive pursuits. Yet though they were veteran educators, their son posed problems even they were unsure how to handle.

They did what any reasonable parents would do -- giving Kip extra help with schoolwork when they recognized he had learning difficulties, keeping rigid rules at home for a child who was hyper and defiant, encouraging his involvement in sports and taking him to a professional when they could not explain his persistent brooding.

But their good intentions were not enough, and, at times, might have done more harm than good, some juvenile experts say.

Kip's schoolwork, mood and conduct slumped while his fascination with explosives and guns steadily grew. Hoping to stem the obsession, his father gave in to Kip's hunger for firearms -- disturbing his wife and sending mixed messages to his son.

"When anyone is suffering from depression, with an obsession for dangerous weapons, the last thing you'd want to do is make a gun accessible," Portland psychologist Michael G. Conner says. "That's a formula for disaster."

That disaster played out May 20.

Being the "teachers' " kid, Kip was sensitive to the enormous shame his school expulsion would cause his parents. Kip might have killed them to blunt their embarrassment, a last phone call with his friends suggests.

When he was arrested and escorted out of school, he hinted to a friend that he'd get even. The next day's rampage at Thurston High might have been a final, desperate act of revenge -- and, experts suggest, perhaps even a suicide mission.

For Bill and Faith Kinkel, the truth that their son was dangerously disturbed might have finally been illuminated by the flash of a gun.

"You'd think two trained educators could pick up on Kip's problems. You'd think two teachers would know what to do," said Tom Jacobson, a longtime family friend. "But sometimes you're too close to the problem, especially when it's your own kid."


About 1:30 p.m., Bill Kinkel picked up Kip from the Springfield police station, where he was taken after his arrest for having a gun on school grounds.

They stopped at Bob's Burger Express on Main Street. In a back booth, Bill did not eat; Kip had his usual -- a "Brute -- no tomato, no onion and small fries."

Bill did not raise his voice but asked his son, "Why?" Once home, he called Thurston High.

"Where do we go from here? What are the options?" Bill Kinkel asked Robert Bushnell, his close friend and Kip's academic counselor. "Obviously he can't return to Thurston. Where does he go to school next year?"

They brainstormed. The Oregon National Guard's boot camp or Mount Bachelor Academy in Bend were two ideas.

"Bill was looking ahead," Bushnell said.


Summer 1982 was coming to a close, and Bill Kinkel had returned to Thurston High for teachers' training when Faith gave birth to their second child.

Kipland Philip Kinkel was born Aug. 30, 1982, at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene. Bill Kinkel, then 43, and Faith, 41, were delighted to have a son. Their daughter, Kristin, was 5.

The Kinkels had settled comfortably into what they considered their dream house -- an A-frame chalet nestled among tall Douglas firs above the McKenzie River, 10 miles east of Springfield. Faith Kinkel wrote relatives that she was living in "God's country." Bill Kinkel planned to teach for another 10 years and retire.

Their friends kidded them about being older parents. But they took it in stride.

"I admired them -- gosh, here Bill will have his 30 years in and be retired before his son even gets into high school," Marcie Bushnell, then a fellow Thurston teacher, had thought.

Kip had Faith's coloring -- auburn hair and blue eyes -- and would acquire his father's energy and inquisitiveness.

Faith stopped teaching at Springfield High School to stay home with her baby boy. She called Kip her "li'l angel" or "li'l sweetheart" in letters to friends and relatives.

But the child nicknamed "Kipper" was a handful. From the start, he was difficult -- insecure, extremely sensitive and hyper. His early years were rife with temper tantrums and fits for attention.

"He was always hanging on to her," Bushnell recalled of a time Kip was 3 or 4. "We were visiting and leaving his house one day. We were saying goodbye on their deck, and Kip ran out to the deck and clung to his mom's leg. She'd joke, 'Don't we give you enough attention?' "

Kip cried easily and, in school, was bothered that he was smaller than others his age. Because he was so sensitive about his size, his parents enrolled him in karate at age 6 or 7, thinking it would boost his self-esteem. He lasted only a few months.


Kip overheard his father talking on the phone one floor below. Bill had called the Oregon National Guard to inquire about its regimented boot camp.

Kip grabbed a .22-caliber semiautomatic Ruger rifle he had secretly stashed. He sneaked up behind his dad, who was by the kitchen counter, and fired one blast to the back of his head.

He removed a key from around his father's neck to unlock a cabinet under his parents' bed. There shone his forbidden treasures: a .22-caliber pistol Kip dragged his father to the bathroom and covered him with a sheet.


In a family of overachievers, Kip did not measure up. He began to struggle as early as first grade, when his parents' push to keep him from veering off track began in earnest.

After discussions with teachers, they had Kip repeat first grade at Walterville Elementary School, citing a lack of maturity and slow emotional and physical development. They agonized about the decision but grew convinced that Kip was not ready to move on.

Once they held him back, his parents wondered whether they had acted too late. Maybe it would have been wiser to hold him back in kindergarten, before he had formed friendships, they thought.

"I just remember him being mad," said Kasey Guianen, Kip's childhood playmate. "His friends were all going up a grade. I told him, 'But you'll be older, and you'll know more.' He didn't understand why."

His parents thought Kip had an attention deficit disorder and, possibly, dyslexia.

"He did this weird thing when he watched TV," said Kasey, who often watched cartoons such as "Tailspin" and "Rescue Rangers" with Kip. "He'd turn his head to the side and roll his eyes back at the TV. I'd ask him, 'Doesn't it hurt your eyes?' I don't know why he did it."

Faith and Bill helped Kip with his grade-school homework. But Kip was easily distracted.

Playful and inquisitive, Kip could not sit still. He'd spend hours outside in the woods behind his home -- scrounging around in the dirt, catching frogs, putting salt on slugs to watch them squirm. Often, he pretended he was a popular action figure, such as Spiderman or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Once, he thrust a stick into a wasps' nest; the wasps swarmed him, leaving nasty welts on his back.

"He was always messing around," Kasey said. "He always wanted to keep going and going. He'd never stop."

His parents laid down rigid rules for Kip -- limiting television to one hour a night, restricting the type and amount of candy he could eat, making sure he took a bath every night and was in bed at a certain hour.

"Being that they were a little bit older, and being teachers, they were probably a little more strict with him than a lot of his friends' parents were. They were not as lenient," said Rose Weir, Kasey's mom. "But if something was not permitted, he wanted it even more. So when he came over to our house, he was a TV fiend. If you did let him go, he'd just go overboard with it."

Faith spent more time with Kip than Bill did in the early years and was more tolerant of his antics.

The first one out the door in the morning, Bill would shout "T-T-F-N," for "Ta Ta For Now," Kasey recalled. "His dad would be really busy -- going to play tennis, going sailing. Bill would do a lot of his own things."

Said Weir: "Bill -- he would work with high school kids throughout the day, and he'd come home to a much younger child. It was a different scenario. Faith did have more patience with Kip than Bill did."

Kip's parents rarely lost their tempers in public. They tried to control Kip with "timeouts" or verbal reprimands. On one family trip, Kip kept circling his bicycle through the campground, irritating his parents.

"Kip, that's enough," they admonished him.

"But he was just bored," said Gary Guttormsen, a close family friend who was on the trip. "Maybe they leaned on him a little too hard. They were always afraid Kip was overbearing when they were with their friends. Maybe they were forgetting he's a boy."


Tony McCown was surprised when Kip answered the phone about 4:30 p.m. He figured Kip's parents would have suspended his phone privileges.

Kip sounded despondent.

He told his friends he felt sick to his stomach. He lied, saying his dad was at a bar. He wasn't sure how much trouble he'd be in. He was worried about what his parents' friends would think. Most were teachers or school administrators, and he knew news of his arrest would spread like wildfire.

"It's over," Kip told McCown. "Everything's over."

Nick Hiaasen, whom McCown patched in on a conference call, pressed Kip on why he risked buying a gun at school.

"Yeah, I know, I shouldn't have done it," Kip said. "I don't know, I just wanted it. My parents will probably be so embarrassed. Maybe we'll move away from everyone . . . to Alaska."


By the time Kip reached middle school, his sister had graduated from high school, a top student and popular cheerleader who went to the University of Oregon, where she cheered for the Ducks. She would later earn a full scholarship to continue her cheerleading at Hawaii Pacific University, with plans to follow in her parents' path, teaching English as a second language.

By comparison, Kip had his first run-in with police and was disruptive in school. He became a class clown, boasting about how he liked to blow things up and hurt animals. He hung around troublemakers, increasingly worrying his parents.

"Kip was a lot more laid-back -- whatever happens, happens," Kasey said.

Kip's inadequacies became magnified in contrast with his sister's and parents' accomplishments.

"Everyone in the family was always very ambitious and hard-working," Marcie Bushnell said. "I think he realized there were expectations -- everybody does their best. It was something the Kinkels drummed into their kids -- it was almost like unspoken expectations."

Both parents were respected teachers, admired by their colleagues and beloved by their students. Faith was now teaching Spanish full time at Springfield High. She rose early to grade papers and make it to school by 7:30 after her morning exercise. She'd help students during her lunch break and after school.

Bill Kinkel was retired after 30 years at Thurston High. An avid athlete and outdoorsman, he competed two days a week on the Eugene Swim & Tennis Club courts, taught Spanish night classes at Lane Community College four days a week and fit in travel.

For Kip, there was no escaping school. Most of his parents' friends were Springfield teachers or school administrators, and they often joined the family on holidays and trips.

Yet his parents rarely confided in them about their most serious problems with Kip. To most of their adult friends, Kip seemed respectful and polite, with typical teen-age troubles.

Kip's difficulties, though, emerged more visibly in middle school.

Counselors thought he had an anger-management problem. Some classmates said he'd throw fits if he thought someone in his gym class was cheating or if someone hit him accidentally.

"He liked to do things he wasn't supposed to do," said Steve King, a classmate. "He'd bring firecrackers, stink bombs to class. He and his friends were always talking about going out and shooting squirrels."

Kip told friends he was taking the drug Ritalin in middle school to control his temper. He resumed karate classes but rarely used his karate moves on his friends. Yet one day in school, disturbed when a classmate called him a name, Kip kicked the student in the head. He was suspended for two or three days; the student was not seriously injured.

"Kip came into the classroom crying," McCown said. "I think he was worried about what his parents would do."

Another time, Kip told off his eighth-grade English and social studies teacher. The teacher had difficulty controlling Kip and his friends. She'd make them write and rewrite school rules, hoping they would abide by them.

"Kip was abusive to his teacher. Bill told me just what he said -- he told the teacher to go (expletive) herself," family friend Jacobson said.

Concerned his son would fail or get kicked out of the class, Bill intervened. He would cut out of tennis by 1 p.m. to pick up Kip and home-school him during those periods.

"Bill was an educator and felt he could get Kip further along with more cooperation from Kip," said Richard Bushnell, Marcie's husband, who became Kip's counselor.

Kip wasn't pleased.

"He didn't like it, but it seemed to pay off," family friend Guttormsen said.

After 2 months of home-schooling, Kip returned to school for the full day. By then, another teacher was assigned to the class.

Later that school year, Kip had his first run-in with police. On Jan. 4, 1997, he was charged with kicking a large rock -- 12 inches in diameter -- off a highway overpass in Bend with a classmate. The rock struck the front of a car passing below.

"Faith would be real upset," said Springfield High teacher Debbie Cullen. "She didn't understand why he'd do this."

She told fellow teacher Kathleen Petty she was helping Kip memorize "The Lord's Prayer" -- she thought it would be good for him.


Kip tuned in to the TV cartoon "South Park" about 7 p.m. In the episode, the character Kenny falls into a grave and gets squashed by a tombstone. Kip's parents lay dead as he watched.

Later, in the quiet of his secluded home, Kip set about rigging explosives in small nooks and crannies throughout the house.

In a secret hiding place or "fort" in the woods behind his house, Kip kept the materials he used to assemble the bombs: clocks, bottles, batteries, ammonia, baking soda.

He wired what authorities called a "very sophisticated" bomb with 1 pound of explosive charge in a crawl space near the home's garage. Elsewhere, he left two crude pipe bombs, a hand grenade, two 155 mm Howitzer canisters and a basketball-turned-bomb.

"They were still finding explosives there a week later," family friend Berry Kessinger said. "There were bombs everywhere. I'm surprised he didn't blow up the house."


As educators who spent decades handling difficult students, Bill and Faith Kinkel were confident they could turn Kip around. But ultimately they realized the strategies that worked so well in their classrooms were failing with their son.

Exasperated, they sought professional help after Kip finished middle school.

By June 1997, they were concerned about Kip's melancholy, mopish behavior and wanted someone outside the school system to evaluate him. On the advice of Richard Bushnell, Kip's parents took their son to see Jeffrey L. Hicks, a Eugene psychologist.

Hicks counseled Kip in a tidy, one-room office filled with stuffed animals. Kip was diagnosed with clinical depression and began taking Prozac, an antidepressant.

It seemed to calm him. His parents were pleased with Hicks.

"They liked him, and Kip seemed to like him," said Cullen, the Springfield High teacher. "He worked well with Kip."

But, still, Kip's brooding perplexed his parents.

Bill, desperate for a better understanding of Kip's problems, pulled one of his adult Spanish students aside on the last day of class, June 3, 1997. He had just taught the class how to say "Enjoy Yourself -- Diviertase bien," before recessing for the summer.

"His voice was low," recalled Cori Taggart, a professional counselor. "He said he had just found out his son was clinically depressed. 'What's going on?' he asked. 'I don't understand what this is all about.' He seemed sort of confused."

Taggart told him that the condition was treatable but that it was important that Kip get professional help. Bill nodded. People with depression can become suicidal, Taggart added.

"He kind of made this face -- he kind of recoiled a little bit, shaking his head. No, no, Kip wasn't suicidal. That's not what's going on."

Kip's grandmother, Katie Kinkel, said Kip was becoming a "loner." And despite the counseling and medication that seemed to indicate he was improving, Kip's malaise on his 15th birthday last August disturbed Faith.

"She didn't understand what was wrong with him," Cullen said. "She'd suggest things -- 'You want to do this?' No. 'You want to do that?' No," Cullen said.

Petty, Faith's colleague, said, "She just felt very sad about it, that he just wanted to be alone."

By October 1997, Kip stopped seeing the Eugene doctor and apparently stopped taking Prozac. His parents told others they thought Kip was doing better.


After a solitary night, Kip did not want to be late to school.

He dressed in a long trench coat, filled a backpack with clips of ammunition, tucked a pistol on either side of his waistband and taped a knife to his ankle beneath his khaki pants.

He started his mom's Ford Explorer and drove off down the winding, narrow roads near his home -- the very roads on which his parents once feared he'd drive too fast and hurt himself, or others, now that he had his instructional permit.


The older Kip got, the more fixated he became on explosives and then guns.

Using a pocketknife his parents gave him one birthday, he and Kasey cut branches and built forts in the woods. Intrigued by a neighbor's BB gun, Kip wanted one of his own by age 10.

"Faith was just dead set against it," Weir said. "But her resistance just fed his hunger for it. He was just one of those kids if something was restricted, it became more desirable."

Kip's early attraction to action figures and BB guns gradually grew into a passion for violent movies and a taste for heavy metal music, such as Marilyn Manson and Nirvana, laced with lyrics of death and destruction.

His parents continued to restrict his television and video game privileges. But Kip would find a way around the limits, such as watching television in the middle of the night when his parents were asleep.

Kip used the Internet to obtain bomb-making recipes and boasted to middle-school classmates about his hobby. He took books such as "The Anarchists' Cookbook" to school. On an Internet account, he cited his occupation: "Student surfing Web for info on how to build bombs."

After his parents found a catalog for bomb-making material Kip had obtained through the Internet, they cut his computer use.

"Bill knew Kip had an interest in explosives," Jacobson said. "He described it as an obsession."

After explosives, Kip became enchanted with guns -- first reading about them and their various models, manufacturers, bullets, bores and barrels. Soon, he badgered his parents to buy him one.

As a child, if Kip showed an interest in something, Faith generally tried to encourage it.

She drew the line with guns. Bill could not.

"In all the years they were married, Bill said this was the one thing they disagreed on," recalled Rod Ruhoff, a tennis partner.

Kip's pestering wore Bill down. He worried that Kip would get his hands on a gun anyway, so he relented. It might also bring father and son closer, he thought. They'd take a firearms safety course together, and Bill would channel his son's interest positively.

Bill knew little about guns. He sought advice from Denny Sperry during a break on the doubles court. If he was going to get Kip a gun, Sperry suggested a bolt-action, single-shot .22-caliber rifle. But Kip persuaded his dad to get him the more lethal weapon: a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle. Bill set parameters that Kip use the rifle only under adult supervision.

Child psychologists, who have not evaluated Kip but have worked with other troubled youths, said explosives and guns might have given Kip a sense of power, control and a thrill that was missing in his life.

"These kids never really fit in from the beginning," said Conner, the Portland psychologist. "They're aware of their inadequacies. They feel misplaced, and they don't belong. They feel 'dead' inside. This kid goes after anything that will get him out of it. It could be drugs, sex, anything that stimulates or brings any feeling to them. Kids will carry forbidden things around -- like weapons -- because it's a thrill. It's their escape."


Kip parked the Ford Explorer on E Street, one block from his high school. He walked down a dirt path, a shortcut to school.

He passed through a turnstile and calmly walked past the tennis courts and into the back parking lot.

A school security camera caught him entering Thurston High just before 8 a.m.


Bill Kinkel worried about Kip. He tried to get him interested in football or motor biking or tennis. But Kip's mind was elsewhere.

While waiting in the San Diego airport Dec. 14 for a flight home after visiting a friend, Bill struck up a conversation with a stranger, University of Oregon professor Dan Close -- an expert on juvenile violence.

They talked about Ducks football, Thurston High, Bill's interest in tennis, travel and teaching. Bill raved about his daughter. Only when Close began to discuss a private issue in his life did Bill Kinkel disclose his troubles.

"He said there were only two things in his life that weren't great: One was that his wife was still teaching and not yet retired; he couldn't take many of the trips he wanted to," Close said. "And, second, he has this boy who was a very troubled child."

It was the first mention of Kip.

Bill spotted a thick book in Close's L.L. Bean carry-on bag, titled "Clinical and Forensic Interviews of Children and Families." Bill wanted to know the signs that precede juvenile violence.

Close rattled them off: dysfunctional family, child abuse, drugs, a change in the child's peer group, special education placement, criminal arrest, lack of parental supervision, parents' minimizing a problem, cruelty to animals, access to guns.

"All of a sudden he just freaked," Close said. "He said, 'We have a very good family, but I've got this son who's always been very strong-willed, always wanted to get his way. We're educators, but we've got this boy who's always been difficult.' "

Bill stood, his head down. He said Kip was not interested in school, was obsessed with violence and had been arrested for vandalism.

"I'm not a gun nut. But every kid around here has got guns," Bill said in what Close described as a rehearsed way. "We decided to let him have a gun. We lock the gun up and keep it secure. I wanted control over the situation."

Close advised him to set limits. Bill rolled his eyes and said, "We tried that stuff; it doesn't work with him."

"I believe the guy was tormented," Close said. "He said he was a good kid, but he was scared to death of him. He was worrying that he was capable of getting, really, really mad."

That weekend, an unprovoked Kip scrawled the word "K-I-L-L" in whipped cream on a friend's driveway. Kip was one of four friends Jeff Anderson invited to his house on his 15th birthday. Jeff's mother banned Kip from returning to their home.


Kip pulled his favorite gun -- the .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle -- from beneath his trench coat and opened fire in the dark hallway of his school.

Two students dropped to the ground -- Ben Walker, shot in the head, and Ryan Atteberry, shot in the face.


By now, Kip's fascination with explosives and guns had infected his schoolwork at Thurston High.

In different classes, he wrote about killing people, gave a detailed speech on how to make a bomb and learned to type as he listened to one of his favorite heavy metal groups, Slayer, on headsets.

In Marian Smith's speech class, Kip gave a detailed talk on "How to Make a Bomb," complete with a color-penciled drawing of an explosive attached to a clock. In his literature class later that day, he chuckled that he had gotten away with it.

Smith said she took appropriate action but refused to specify what that was. Bushnell and Don Stone, school disciplinarian for freshmen and sophomores, said they never were told. Stone's boss, Dick Doyle, referred the question to the superintendent, who declined comment.

Kip's father learned of the speech. Other teachers heard about it during lunch in the faculty lounge.

"Bill told me just in passing -- 'Guess what Kip did this time? Yeah, Kip even did a report in class on how to make a bomb.' He didn't let on it was a major deal," Jacobson said. "Through the whole thing, I don't think they realized how dangerous he was."

Kip's violent prose continued. In Kevin Rowan's literature class, Kip filled his daily journal assignments with guns, bombs and knives.

"He'd write, 'If I was the ruler of this country, I'd go and bomb . . .' and sometimes it would get too graphic," classmate Cassidy Rhoden recalled. Or he'd write about "being Godzilla and walking down the street and killing everyone." Once he wrote about hurting a classmate who got on his nerves.

Rowan often interrupted him as he read his work aloud.

"Mr. Rowan would sometimes cut in, 'That's rude -- you don't need to be saying things like that,' " classmate Tesa Manka said. "Mr. Rowan would have him rewrite it more politely."

Kip would slam his books down and angrily storm out.

Bill, who was friendly with Rowan, was apparently informed. Again, Bushnell and Stone said they were unaware of the writings, but Bushnell wishes he had been told.

"If I had been aware of it, I probably would have gone to Bill and Faith and done an assessment as to where we were with Jeff Hicks, and talked directly to Jeff Hicks. Obviously, things didn't come together exactly right," Bushnell said.

Although Bushnell was close to the Kinkels, Bill never told him that he had gotten Kip a gun. It was mostly Bill's tennis pals who knew.

"Bill never included the right people in that," Bushnell said. "I don't know whether it was Bill's pride . . . I wish Bill had come to me." 


Kip stoically continued down the hallway to the school cafeteria.

Nickolauson, hit multiple times, died within minutes. The cafeteria erupted in chaos.

Several students tackled Kip as he tried to reach into his backpack for another clip of ammunition.

He blasted one more shot from his 9 mm Glock before he was wrestled to the ground.

"Just shoot me," he said. 


The rifle Bill Kinkel got Kip only fanned Kip's desire for more firearms. Despite professor Close's words of caution, Bill gave in to Kip's desire for a handgun earlier this year.

At the tennis club in January, Bill "asked me if I was familiar with the 'Glock,' " Ruhoff said. "It cost more than $400."

Kip had earned money doing odd jobs. Bill decided he was going to own the gun and keep it until Kip was old enough and could be responsible with it.

But by early February, shortly after the gun got into Kip's hands, he broke the bargain. Neighbors heard him firing in the woods. Bill confronted Kip, who acknowledged he had been shooting. Bill seized the weapon. Exasperated, he wrapped the gun in a towel, took it to the tennis club and put it in his locker.

Ultimately, Bill had a gun-lock cabinet placed under his and Faith's bed, and he wore the key around his neck. He no longer trusted Kip.

In late April or early May, Kip wound up in more trouble. He and his friends were at McCown's house and scooted out for a midnight prank -- toilet-papering a house.

Bill grounded his son through the summer -- cutting off his phone, television and computer privileges, and preventing him from going on sleepovers. His dad, growing more distrustful of his son, went through Kip's room and found a padlocked trunk he had hidden. He cut the lock. Inside were more guns -- a sawed-off shotgun and .22-caliber pistol. Friends said Kip had bought them from students -- one before getting on the school bus one day.

The confiscation of his guns did not deter Kip from his obsession. "It was something he felt he couldn't live without," Conner suggests.

On May 19, classmate Korey Ewert arranged to sell Kip a stolen gun. Ewert had snatched the gun from the home of Thurston High student Aaron Keeney. He had entered the Keeney home through a back door, knew where to look and walked off with a .32-caliber pistol, Ewert's uncle said.

The next morning, Kip brought $110 in cash to school -- three weeks' worth of savings, partly earned staining his parents' deck at $5 an hour. Ewert handed Kip the gun in a paper sack; Kip placed it in a lower corner of his locker.

Aaron's father, Scott Keeney, noticed his pistol missing and called the school early May 20. Kip was pulled out of his second-period study hall. As administrators searched his locker, he waited in the small office of Stone, school disciplinarian and football coach.

"Coach, what's going to happen if I have the gun?" Kip asked. Stone told him the school had no tolerance for guns; he would not be able to return to school for a year.

Kip dropped his head and mumbled, "Sorry, coach."

"He looked up one time like he was ready to cry but sucked it in," Stone said. A police officer took Kip into the hallway, searched him, cuffed him and walked him to a cruiser parked in front of the school.

As Kip and Korey were escorted out of school, Kip whispered to Korey, "They'll get theirs."

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