Almost immediately after this last statement, investigators enter and announce that they are going to have to search the house. T.J.’s mother becomes concerned about damage to her home and leaves shortly thereafter. At 11:55 a.m., she says to her husband, “I don’t know what else to say, he obviously does not want to talk to us.” She turns to T.J. and says, “I don’t know what to say to you, T.J., you’ve made your decision.” She and her husband leave. She never touched T.J.

As difficult as it is to base a psychological assessment on data of this extraordinary nature, collected so invasively under such stressful circumstances, these data starkly illustrate a profound lack of emotional connection between T.J. and his mother for some time prior to this. Other evidence is completely in accord as to her attentiveness to his outward needs, her diligence in managing their household, her bewilderment over his passivity and increasing withdrawal, and the fact that she repeatedly sought professional help and responded actively to the more visible aspects of his psychological abnormality.

His needs and her responses, however, were caught in a vicious cycle. The more she tried to manage and control his life, the more he withdrew, and the more frustrated with trying to reach him she became. And his withdrawal was successful. He maintained enough of the appearance of normality, to his family and to others, that he seemed just a little immature, not mentally ill. The profound and deepening nature of his depression was concealed under the polite exterior of a boy who always addressed adults as “Sir” and “Ma’am,” who generally did what he was told, and who rarely talked back.

After the initial signs of T.J.’s worsening depression following the move to Georgia, an appearance of normality reestablished itself. His withdrawal was continuing, however, and it was accompanied by changes in his habits. He began to listen to music at his computer for hours at a time, and his musical tastes shifted from country rock to rap and rock music. He copied lyrics from these songs for hours at a time, to the distress of his parents, as it appeared to detract from his attention to schoolwork. They removed the Internet connection from the home computers. At some point, T.J. downloaded bomb instructions from the Internet, which were found in his room after the incident; he said he did it long before the incident, although it is not clear when.

T.J. also shifted his tastes in music, away from country music to more transgressive and rebellious styles. He copied and tried his hand at writing violent rap lyrics, in the manner of Tupac Shakur and other “gangsta’ rappers.” At one point, he told a female classmate that he wanted to be a rap star and write songs about sex and violence, but then added that he did not want to actually hurt anybody because he was not that kind of person.



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