In December, the double murder allegedly carried out by a neo-Nazi teenager of his ex-girlfriend’s parents made national headlines, days after one of the victims had warned of the accused’s radical beliefs and potential for violence.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported the first public comments by the alleged murderer’s mother. Her son, she described, had long ago been diagnosed with mental illness and had shown signs of extreme social isolation. The alleged killer’s mental competency to stand trial is currently under discussion in hearings, the Post said. He shot himself in the head after allegedly murdering his ex-girlfriend’s parents but did not die.
The alleged murderer’s mother recounted missed warning signs to the Post, including when — a day after the slain mother, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, notified a school principal of the teen’s suspected secret, Nazi-centric Twitter account — she dismissed a warning from a school administrator.
The administrator, the teen’s mother told the Post, told the alleged killer’s mother he’d been wearing an Iron Cross, a known Nazi symbol. The administrator, the mother said, called her son a Nazi.
“[T]hat’s just ridiculous,” the mother responded, she told the Post. “He’s just obsessed with reading about history.”
Then, the night of the murder, and after the ex-girlfriend’s mother warned her alleged future killer to stop seeing her daughter, he made a troubling comment.
“He was telling me something is going to happen to the [girlfriend] and that I didn’t understand,” the alleged’s mother told the Post.
Hours later, after speaking with her son for hours, the Post said, the mother drifted to sleep, only to awake to find him missing. She texted the ex-girlfriend’s mother and received the response: “He is here. We are calling police.”
The alleged killer, the mother told the Post, had taken his father’s gun — which was left “unsecured,” the Post said — along with a knife and a hammer.
“They truly didn’t deserve it. It comes back on me,” the alleged killer’s mother said.
A neighbor recounted another missed warning. In October, Penny Potter told the Post, the alleged killer mowed what the paper described as “a roughly 40-foot swastika” into a neighborhood common area. Contradicting her earlier memory of the incident, Potter now says she didn’t tell the teen’s family about the swastika, the Post reported. The alleged killer’s family never saw it, the paper said.
But the alleged killer’s mother defended her son against charges of Naziism, even though, according to an investigation of the teen’s suspected pseudonymous Twitter account by HuffPost in January, that’s how he referred to himself.
“Instead,” the Washington Post reported Tuesday, “she thinks he is someone broken by years of isolation, bullying and mental illness. She said the things he wrote online were intended to get a rise out of people, the kind of impact he didn’t have in the real world.”
HuffPost also reported in January that it had obtained screenshots of the mother’s Facebook page, where “she posted tributes to Confederate generals and argued in favor of keeping Confederate statues in various cities. She also posted a photo of her son at a shooting range, holding what the caption says is a Thompson submachine gun.”
A note the mother found in the alleged killer’s room following the double murder seems to make a strong case for taking his online behavior seriously: “I use ironic memes as a way to cover up the fact how badly I want to blow my brains out,” he wrote.
This post has been updated.