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An Internet trail of a boy's death wish
By Heron Marquez Estrada and Ron Nixon
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune


March 24, 2005

In the last few months of his life, Jeff Weise was obsessed with death.

The clues are sprinkled along a long trail the troubled 16-year-old boy left on Internet Web sites, blogs and postings where he weighed in on everything from Hitler and Bigfoot to suicide attempts and school shootings.

"They pegged me as a school shooter earlier this year," Weise wrote last year in one of the dozens of postings he made on, which bills itself as the world's most popular site for conspiracies, coverups, UFOs and other such topics.

On one site, he posted a short story about surviving a school shooting. On another, he illustrated a profile page with a still image from the movie "Elephant," which is based on the 1999 Columbine High School shootings.

On a third site, under the Web name "Regret," he posted a short but bloody animated video in which four people are shot and a police car is blown up with a grenade before the gunman shoots himself in the head.

Monday's shootings at Minnesota's Red Lake High School, while not a literal copy of the animated video, have some eerie similarities.

Weise shot himself after killing nine people. He drove to the school in a police car he had stolen from his grandfather.

"I feel like a child in the middle of a dark abyss right now," Weise wrote in November. "The world seems very chaotic. I think life is the best soap opera there is ... and the producers are about to bust out their most 'entertaining' plot lines."

Weise grew up in the Twin Cities area and moved to the Red Lake Reservation after his father killed himself during a police standoff and his mother was severely injured in a car accident.

"He was just a normal kid when he was a kid," said Patrick Tahahwah, a relative who lives on the reservation.

But something happened that left Weise angry and alienated by the time he was 16.

"I don't know what happened in his life," said Wanda Baxter, one of Weise's former middle-school teachers. "Our children aren't born bad."

Again, the postings offer clues.

"My mom used to abuse me a lot when I was little," Weise wrote in a posting attributed to him on another Web site. "She used to drink excessively, too. She would tell me I was a mistake, and she would say so many things that it's hard to ... think of them without crying."

Weise apparently was especially upset about having to move to the reservation, where he was picked on and considered something of an outcast.

"I'm living every man's nightmare," Weise wrote in an online posting on Jan. 27. "I really must be ... worthless. This place never changes, it never will."

Michelle Kingbird, 13, saw another side to the youth, who she said grieved his father's suicide in 1997 and tried to take his own life earlier this year.

"He was funny. He was cool," she said. "Any time I felt sad, he made me feel happy. ... He always made me laugh."

Baxter said Weise showed endearing qualities even though he was troubled enough at school for officials to have placed him in a home tutoring program.

Weise clearly was crying out for help in the final months of his life, she said. Weise's friends say he sent signals that they now see as the signs of a deeply disturbed boy. He dressed in Goth fashion and frequented Nazi Web sites.

The Instant Messenger name he used with Kingbird was "Decemberofthesoul." He also used the Web name Todesengle, which means angel of death in German.

John Stefany also contributed to this report.


Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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