Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Rumor about a Tumor

A READER WRITES: I understand they found a brain tumor on autopsy. So he was crazy, in a way. Read it in a paperback about Whitman. I don't recall the title.

Ah yes, the rumor about a tumor (quoting Kinky Friedman’s “Ballad of Charles Whitman”) …

The pathologist who performed Whitman’s autopsy said he found one in Whitman’s brain. Some speculated this may have affected his behavior. However, when Whitman’s body was exhumed a month after the autopsy, there was no evidence of a tumor. (LINK)

Whatever the cause, Whitman did have mental problems. Prior to the shootings, he sought treatment for depression at the UT student health center. He even told the therapist that he often felt the urge to go up on the Tower and shoot people. He was prescribed Valium. Doesn’t appear to have done him much good.

Most people think Whitman’s mental problems were the result of severe abuse by his father. It was this abuse, in fact, that led to his leaving home at 18 and joining the Marines.

He did well in the Marines, at first, particularly as a marksman. Then his character began to deteriorate. He was always in trouble. Eventually he was court-martialed for a variety of offenses and sentenced to 90 days hard labor.

A military background is something Whitman shares with two other Texas mass murderers:

George Hennard, who killed 24 people in the 1991 Luby's massacre in Killeen, had been dishonorably discharged from the Navy two years prior to the massacre.

Larry Gene Ashbrook, who killed seven in a Fort Worth church in 1999, had worked for the Navy. Ashbrook, interestingly, also claimed to have had contact with the CIA. A few days prior to the shootings, he wrote two letters to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram describing these contacts, also describing “psychological warfare” and being drugged by the police. The claims may sound wild, but the letters are coherent. (LINK)

Was Ashbrook mind controlled? Was Hennard? Whitman? I don’t know. It is only theory …