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Clay Nathaniel SHROUT

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Parricide - Held his class hostage
Number of victims: 4
Date of murder: May 25, 1994
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1977
Victims profile: His father Harvey, 43; his mother Rebecca, 44; and his sisters Kristen 14, and Lauren, 12
Method of murder: Shooting (.380 caliber pistol)
Location: Florence, Boone County, Kentucky, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty by reason of insanity. Sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years on October 14, 1994
 
 

 
 

On May 25, 1994, 17-year-old Clay Shrout got ready for school differently than any other day. Instead of getting his school work in order, he loaded a .380 caliber pistol, and killed his mother, father, and his two sisters.

Then he got in his parents car and started driving. Along the way he kidnapped a girl he knew at gun point. Eventually he drove to school where he held his class hostage. After several hours Clay gave up to police.


Slaying of family nothing but evil: Shrout must pay

By Joe Braun - Kernel.uky.edu

Monday, February 20, 1995

Imagine your entire family being killed.

The pain and the sorrow you would experience having your entire legacy wiped from the earth is indescribable. You always would feel guilty as you thought of things you should have said or things you could have done to prevent such an act. The absence of any family to be there and support you in life's victories and defeats is a sad lot for anyone.

I cannot envision such an image because much of who I am and what I do revolves around my family. While I know someday I will have to say goodbye to them in the physical sense, I do not expect to have to do so until I have formed a family of my own on whom I can lean for support.

Now add to that vision the idea that you killed them. All of them, in cold blood.

The pain and the guilt is now 10 times worse, correct? For one Northern Kentucky teenager, the nightmare is a reality, and one he seems to be sleeping through quite well.

In each instance of arraignment or sentencing, there has yet to be one single ounce of true emotion shown by Clay Shrout. You cannot kill your entire family in cold blood and not be affected emotionally.

Shrout seems to be the exception.

The boy, now 18, killed his father, mother and two younger sisters with a .380 caliber pistol.

It was not a simple " bang, you're dead " scenario, but rather a pre-meditated act of pure evil.

The pre-meditation can be shown since Shrout allegedly set his alarm clock to be sure he awoke before his parents, who usually rose early to go to work.

The act is one that makes even the most heartless of souls churn with disgust. According to police, he went into their bedroom and shot his parents, then proceeded to kill his two younger sisters.

After killing his sisters, he shot his father again as he struggled to find enough energy to roll to the phone to call for help.

While an act such as this seems to be an act of insanity, Shrout is not exactly a stupid person. Many of his teachers, family friends and peers all told the media Shrout, an honor student, was a bright person with an even brighter future.

They couldn't understand how someone like him, with a loving, religious family, could do such a thing.

It seems the courts are buying this same argument and have even allowed this idea to cloud their sentencing. Shrout pleaded guilty, but mentally ill. The reason for such a plea is most likely that no rational human being is capable of such a dastardly deed. The reality is though, Shrout knew exactly what he was doing. He planned the event, drove calmly to school after it took place and took his class hostage only after he had discussed the act with a friend.

All signs of sanity present and in tact, aside from the sheer horror of someone being able to do what he did.

It disgusts me that he, being considered a juvenile, has gotten away with plea bargaining his sentencing to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. This allowed him to avoid the death sentence, as if this was a real threat in a state such as Kentucky, which is afraid to carry out the law and execute anyone.

On Friday he is scheduled to be resentenced since he is now 18. Boone County Circuit Court Judge Jay Bamberger should throw the book at Shrout and not think twice about it.

While the possibility of medical treatment is an option, it still does not excuse the act or his rational behavior in executing the plan.

If ever there was a reason to dust off the electric chair in Kentucky, it is with this case. The court needs to realize what many already have, his erratic behavior and sheer intelligence make him unqualified for a pathetic plea such as insanity or mental instability. If he sits in jail for the rest of his life, the guilt just won't do.

The only suitable punishment for such a disgusting act is reserved seating in Kentucky's favorite lazy recliner.


Recap: Events in day of terror

By William Croyle - Enquirer.com

May 25, 2004

Less than two hours after he was arrested for killing his family and holding 22 classmates at gunpoint, Clay Shrout was interviewed by Boone County Detective Jerry Goins. Following is a recap of that day's events, based on a transcript of that interview, along with interviews from law enforcement officials conducted in recent weeks.

At 5:45 a.m. May 26, 1994, Clay Nathaniel Shrout shot and killed his parents and two sisters in the family's upscale Florence home.

Three hours later, the 17-year-old Ryle High School junior held his trigonometry class and teacher hostage. The standoff ended peacefully, but might not have if Shrout had seen his English teacher that day.

"There's no doubt in my mind if he'd have seen his English teacher first, we'd have had multiple homicides," said Jeff Martin, who was commander at the time of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Boone County Police Department.

One friend, in a written statement a month after the shootings, said Shrout was angry at her because he was flunking English. The friend said Shrout told him that he was going to shoot her on Thursday, May 26. "I didn't tell anybody because, who would have believed me?" the friend said.

Shrout told police he was also angry at his parents for taking away his weapons, and an assistant principal for confiscating his stun gun that week. He even drew a picture of that assistant principal tied to a pole with gasoline poured around him.

In 1994, Shrout pleaded guilty by reason of insanity and received a life sentence. He's eligible for parole in 2019, but Martin said Shrout is not insane and will kill again if he's let out.

Shrout's day planned

Shrout was arrested at Ryle about 9 a.m. He was transported to the Boone County police station, where Detective Jerry Goins (now deceased) interviewed him.

According to the transcript, Shrout had a plan when he set his alarm clock for 5 a.m. that day.

"I was either going to take some stuff and all the money I could find and leave ... or I was going to kill (my family) and take some stuff and disappear," Shrout told Goins. "I didn't want to be stopped so I decided I had to kill them."

Shrout retrieved a loaded Colt .380 Mustang pistol that morning that his father kept in the Jeep. He emptied the gun to figure out how it worked, then reloaded it. He went to his parents' room where they were sleeping and shot them.

His mother, Rebecca, 44, died first. Shrout then went into his sister's room where Kristen, 14, was awake. He shot and killed her.

As he walked past his parents' room to kill his other sister, he heard a noise. His dad, Harvey, 43, was still alive on the bed. "I got scared when I saw him and I fired two more shots at him," Shrout said.

Harvey was now dead. Shrout then shot and killed Lauren, 12, in her room after she told him about a nice dream she had.

"Two reasons why I shot my sisters," Shrout told Goins. "The first one was I didn't want them to have to live without their parents. And also my older sister (Kristin). She had enough intelligence to pick up the phone and call the police ... and I didn't want to be stopped."

The terror continues

Shrout left in the Jeep, but didn't disappear as planned. "I couldn't remember where roads went and some roads were the wrong roads," Shrout said. "I couldn't remember if I was going to go anywhere or not."

He stopped at an Ameristop across from Ryle High to buy juice, then drove to a nearby subdivision and parked in a cul-de-sac. He called some friends, telling one he had just killed his family.

"She didn't believe me," Shrout told Goins.

He then went to the home of another female friend - his prom date from two weeks earlier - who attended another school and was on summer break. She opened the door and stepped outside. "I grabbed her arm and pulled out the gun. I told her to be quiet and walk toward the Jeep," Shrout said.

They drove to Ryle and at about 8:35 a.m. walked into his trigonometry class, where there were 22 students. The friend he kidnapped sat at a desk while Shrout made an announcement.

"He told me that a student had gone crazy and was holding a class hostage and to lock the door," teacher Carol Kanabroski told police in a written statement. "As he was saying this he pulled a gun out from his pants."

This was Shrout's first-period class, but it's unclear why he took them hostage. Martin said Shrout's friends heard him talk about killing but didn't believe him.

Shrout told Goins that his English teacher called his parents earlier in the week because he hadn't turned in "some major assignment." But he said nothing to Goins about wanting to kill her.

In fact, he didn't seem to know what he wanted to do in Kanabroski's class. He sat at her desk holding the gun, but not pointing it at anybody.

"I said I don't care (what you do), just go on doing whatever you were doing," Shrout said. "I'm just going to sit here for a while."

Shrout said most students were quiet. A few cried. Some talked to him.

"I hadn't stopped them from doing anything. I was just sitting there ... drinking a thing of apple juice."

Shrout let Kanabroski answer a knock at the door. It was a student asking her to sign a paper. Kanabroski mouthed to the student that someone had a gun. The student told administrators, who called police. It was 8:46 when Officer Pete Schierloh, about a mile away from the school, got the call.

"'Subject with a gun.' That's all they said," said Schierloh, recalling that day 10 years ago. "I really had no idea what was going on."

Then there was an announcement over the school intercom for Superintendent Ted Wetekamp to report to the main office. But Wetekamp wasn't at the school. The announcement was the school's signal to teachers that there was an emergency - and Shrout knew it.

"Whenever that happens, the teachers are supposed to shut and lock their doors," Shrout said. "No one is supposed to know about that, but we know about that anyway."

It was now 8:48. Assistant Principal Stephen Sorrell came to the door and asked Shrout to come out.

"I said, 'I don't want to,'" Shrout said. "He said, 'We have to talk.' And I'm like, 'Why can't we talk in here?' And he's like, 'If I come in, can they leave?' I said, 'Sure.'"

The students and Kanabroski left the room. Sorrell entered and sat near Shrout on the edge of a filing cabinet. He asked for the gun but Shrout didn't budge - until he saw Schierloh outside the door.

Schierloh, who had just arrived, reached for his gun. Shrout saw that and immediately gave his gun to Sorrell, ending the ordeal. It was 8:52 a.m..

"He just gave up. It was very much a non-event," said Schierloh, who never drew his gun. "From the time I got there to the time I had him in cuffs was about 20 seconds."

It was about 9 o'clock when Martin entered the room to talk to Shrout. That's when Shrout told him about the murders.

Martin sent Sgt. Jack Banks and Lt. Mike Jarmin to the Shrout home. They arrived at 9:11 a.m., entering through an open back door. They went upstairs and found the family dead. All four had been shot in the head.

The coroner arrived at 9:41. Investigators found six shell casings and a bullet hole in a master bedroom window. From Shrout's room they collected numerous items, including drawings, six marijuana cigarettes, and a book, The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic.

Motives

Shrout told Goins that his parents caught him with alcohol and marijuana. There was the stun gun he was caught with at school. And his English grade dropped from a B+ to an F in one quarter.

His parents grounded him for some of that and also took away his phone, the keys to his truck and some weapons he'd collected, including knives, num-chucks, a sword and a BB gun.

Shrout told Goins he had the weapons for protection, even though he said nobody really bothered him.

"All that I resented was when they took my weapons away," Shrout said. He said his parents had every right to take his truck and phone since they paid for them.

But "they took my weapons and something happened," he said.

He said he argued with his mom a lot, but "I didn't hate her," he told Goins. "Every time I was around her I just got real frustrated. My dad and I got along real well, though."

Shrout said he felt "trapped in a way, like there is no room for me anymore" in society.

"Like colleges. Everyone decided that I had to go to college. This was decided for me before I was born," Shrout said. "I resented them trying to make me out a special mold without asking me what I really wanted to be first."

Martin said Shrout is an evil person who needs to remain locked up.

"Based on what I saw that day, what he told us and why he did things, I have no doubt that if Clay Shrout gets out of prison, he will kill again," Martin said.


Prison behavior a problem

29 pages of infractions in decade behind bars

By Cindy Kranz - The Cincinnati Enquirer

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

EDDYVILLE, Ky. - During his 10 years behind bars, Clay Shrout has been anything but a model prisoner.

Shrout, 27, has chalked up 29 pages of disciplinary actions in the four facilities where he has been incarcerated since 1995.

His possession of an L-shaped, 10-inch stainless steel bar and a plan to escape earned him a transfer in 1996 from the minimum security Kentucky Reformatory at LaGrange to the maximum security prison at Eddyville in southwestern Kentucky.

In 1997, guards there confiscated from him what appeared to be the makings of a knife, prison records show.

The latest disciplinary reports in his file are for failure to stand for the prisoner count - most recently on Aug. 25, 2002.

Shrout avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty, but mentally ill, for the May 26, 1994, murders of his parents and two sisters in their Florence home. Charges related to holding his trigonometry class hostage that day were dropped.

He was sentenced Oct. 14, 1994, as a 17-year-old juvenile to life without parole for 25 years each on four counts of murder. After his 18th birthday, he was resentenced and committed to the custody of the Kentucky Department of Corrections as an adult Feb. 24, 1995. While his health records are not public because of federal privacy laws, previous news reports indicated he had not sought mental health help while behind bars.

Shrout did not respond to a request for an Enquirer interview. He is eligible for parole in May 2019, but Jeff Martin, commander of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Boone County Police Department at the time of the incident, rates Shrout's chances for parole as "slim to none."

"I can't imagine that he would be considered. If they let Clay Shrout out, Clay Shrout will kill again," he said.


Blood in the School Yard

A young boy explodes and turns a classroom into a killing ground. Then it happens again. Then again. Then again. the killers are misfits, lonely and angry, their morbid fantasies fed by violent movies, videos and music. They have stripped away the last innocent veneer of American childhood.

By Lisa Popyk, Special to The Post

In small towns across America, the quiet, the meek, the mild-mannered are striking out with deadly, premeditated violence. A twisted view of reality tells them that killing is the best way to speak up.

The quiet youngsters next door have become today's school yard shooters - 13 of them in the last five years.

The unpredictable, unforgiving and senseless force of the crimes, and the youthful faces behind them, have scarred America's image of childhood innocence.

Yet experts in psychology, psychiatry and criminology say they're surprised that there have been just 13. More, they believe, are certain to follow.

''You can't have the kind of saturation of violence that we have today without it manifesting itself somewhere,'' said Dewey Cornell, director of the University of Virginia Youth Violence Project.

''It's like a virus spreading through a large population of people. Not everyone gets sick. Just the most vulnerable, and then with varying degrees of illness.''

The most vulnerable, he said, are today's children, particularly the lonely, disconnected, misfit child.

In each recent school yard slaying, the gunman was a young male, viewed by peers as weak and by himself as isolated, alone. He found an outlet in violence in movies, on television, on the internet, in his own life. Often he began collecting weapons, writing about violence, torturing animals. In his confused mind, the image of him with a gun and his tormentors cowering at his feet began to loom large. He experienced a power surge beyond understanding, says John Nicoletti of Colorado, an expert in police psychology who is writing a book on school yard violence.

''Once they've drawn first blood,'' Nicoletti said, ''you usually can't talk them down. They've reached the point of no return.''

Filled with rage, the child - almost always a boy - suppresses his emotions until he explodes in a bid to take control of his life and be heard. Girls in such situations develop control through eating disorders and turn their rage inward; boys explode in violence, experts say.

In 1994, Greater Cincinnati awoke to the problem when a Union, Ky., teen slaughtered his upper-middle-class family one morning. Clay Shrout (left), who felt neglected and outcast, stood outside a convenience store drinking juice after murdering his parents and two little sisters. ''You don't even know what I just did,'' he mumbled to passersby. He then headed to Ryle High School with his weapons cache.

For Luke Woodham, the bloody stabbing death of his mother and shooting of two students in 1997 was euphoric. He was still high on adrenaline, and smiling, when he gave police a videotaped confession 20 minutes after his arrest in Pearl, Miss. Filled with bravado and swagger, he said: ''I wanted attention, someone to notice me. I guess the world's going to remember me now.''

And the slight, quiet Andrew Wurst was suddenly in charge, empowered by a .25 caliber Raven, when he sauntered through a panic-stricken school dance in Edinboro, Penn., in April of this year.

He waved the firearm at his friends as they fled in fear and calmly walked up behind his cowering principal. The gun aimed at her forehead, he said: ''That's not going to save you.''

Nicoletti and others say violent images in the media equate murder with power. And it tells lonely, isolated children that they gain control and command attention by wielding a gun. They point to movies like ''Natural Born Killers,'' a 1994 thinly-veiled satire featuring two brutal serial killers who become international heroes. Several of the youngsters involved in recent school yard shootings named this movie in particular as an influencing force.

In the film, lead characters Mickey and Mallory vindicate a lifetime of injustice and abuse - and find true love - by slaying more than 50 people. Murder is equated with freedom. At one point, after making his first kill, a character says, ''I'm alive for the first time in my life.'' In the end, the killers walk free.

The controversial box-office hit is a sensational example, Cornell said, that does not stand alone.

Movies, photographs, video games and song lyrics that would have turned stomachs even five years ago, today don't raise an eyebrow.

''Maybe,'' Cornell said, ''what we're seeing is an indication that our saturation of violence is reaching a tipping point. And early adolescents are like the miner's canaries, the first to succumb to the poisoned air.

''That doesn't mean they're not responsible, morally or legally. But we shouldn't be surprised that they're being affected by it.''

At least two of the nation's recent school gunmen said they were inspired by violence on television and in literature.

Fourteen-year-old Barry Loukaitis claims his shooting spree in Moses Lake, Wash., in 1996 was inspired by Pearl Jam's music video ''Jeremy,'' the movies ''Natural Born Killers'' and ''The Basketball Diaries,'' and the book ''Rage.''

All had killing as a central theme; three included a classroom mass murder.

''Jeremy'' is based on the real life story of a Texas teen who in 1991 killed himself in front of his class. But the video, named Video of the Year in 1993, depicts a lonely teen who kills all his classmates after enduring taunts. Police found a copy of the video in Loukaitis' bedroom.

Loukaitis also repeatedly watched ''Natural Born Killers.'' He often quoted from the movie and told friends he thought it would be ''fun to go on a killing spree.''

Police also found in Loukaitis' bedroom a collection of Stephen King's books, including a well-worn copy of ''Rage,'' in which a troubled boy kills his algebra teacher and takes the class hostage.

King has since apologized for writing the book, saying he penned it during a troubling period in his life. He said he wished it never had been published.

On February 2, 1996, following weeks of discussion, Loukaitis acted out his fantasy. Dressed all in black, with boots and a long overcoat to conceal the rifle at his side - just as Leonardo DiCaprio did during a dream sequence in ''The Basketball Diaries'' - he sauntered into his fifth-period algebra class and opened fire.

With three people dead, a fourth critically wounded and nearly two dozen other students crying around him, Loukaitis smiled and said: ''This sure beats algebra, doesn't it?''

His key target was a classmate who days earlier had called him a fag.

Less than a year later, bright, quiet Michael Carneal also said that he was inspired by ''The Basketball Dairies'' to murder three classmates in Paducah, Ky.

A year after seeing the movie, Carneal was still telling friends he, too, was ''planning something big.''

On December 12, 1997, he packed up an arsenal of stolen guns and headed to Heath High School, (shown at right) where the small, bespectacled freshman unpacked a .22-caliber handgun, inserted two earplugs and began shooting. Eight students fell, three were killed.

Kip Kinkel, who killed four people including his parents in Springfield, Ore., was so obsessed with excessively violent programming that his parents told friends they had to disconnect their cable TV.

''Violence is so pervasive in our culture, I don't think any child escapes it,'' said Charles Patrick Ewing, a clinical and forensic psychologist at the State University of New York and author of the book ''Kids Who Kill,'' (Lexington Books, $5.99 paperback.)

''More children think about (committing acts of violence) than don't,'' Ewing said. ''For every one who acts on it, 99 others think about it.''

Today, it's easier than ever before for children to act out those violent fantasies. Easier, experts said, because of three key factors: the consequences aren't clear, no one is listening and dangerous information is only a keyboard away.

''One of the key factors is that all children and most adolescents do not understand the finality of death,'' said Scott Poland, chairman of the National Emergency Disaster Team for the National Association of School Psychologists.

It's a difficult concept for any youngster, but one made even more complicated by the proliferation of quick and apparently painless death depicted on TV, in the movies and on music videos. No one suffers and no one gets punished, said Marjorie Creswell of the National School Safety Center.

Consider the following from the National Television Violence Study, which reflect three years of research:

85 percent of all programming shown on the three premium cable channels and 44 percent of programming on broadcast networks includes violent acts;

73 percent of perpetrators go unpunished in these programs;

47 percent fail to depict the harm to victims and 58 percent show no pain.

Video games almost never show the consequences. And the running joke of the wildly-popular cable cartoon ''South Park'' is a child dying in a different way every week. Kip Kinkel sat down to watch it after murdering his parents in the next room.

Yet people have become so accustomed to talk of blood and gore, hate and killing, that few take a child's preoccupation with the macabre seriously, Ewing said.

''Children do things for shock value. The problem is, that we have a much greater tolerance for deviance, so it's tough to shock or alarm us,'' Ewing said.

''Plus, we're so into giving people their own space that the boundaries of normalcy for adolescence have become pretty broad. And honestly, that's B.S. A child talking about building bombs, abusing animals and killing people is not normal.''

In each of the recent school shootings, the youth involved talked about his plans before hand. Most wrote dark, morbid and death-filled papers for school assignments. Several admitted to or bragged about abusing animals and wanting to feel the sensation of taking a life.

Making that mix even more volatile is that today's children have greater access than ever before to materials and information that can readily turn a violent fantasy into reality, Ewing said. Through the Internet they quickly can learn about bomb making, hand guns, ritualistic killings, the occult and groups ready to foster violent ideas.

''It's a whole new, secret world that they can get lost in,'' Nicoletti said.

Most of the school yard shooters had downloaded violence-related materials and stock piled weapons shortly before their killing sprees.

Shrout, Kinkel, Woodham and Carneal all used computers to learn about bomb building, guns and violence. Their computers served as their links to a place that their parents most likely would not have approved of, or allowed them to enter.

''Juvenile killers don't just wake up one day and become juvenile killers,'' Ewing said. ''Homicide, like most behavior, is learned.''

 

 

 
 
 
 
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