The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recently released a 64-page investigative summary of a mass murder that took the lives of six UC Santa Barbara students last May. Released on Feb. 18, the police report includes new information that suggests that perpetrator Elliot Rodger had shown signs of mental instability well before he committed six homicides, 14 attempted murders and eventually suicide in Isla Vista.
The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the suspect’s personal and criminal history, the 17 different crime scenes, the victims and witnesses at each location, autopsies for all seven mortalities and all evidence collected throughout the investigation. After eight months of examination, the release of this report officially concludes the investigation of the Isla Vista massacre.
In an introductory statement to the investigative summary, Santa Barbara County Sheriff-Coroner Bill Brown said that Rodger’s mental instability affected his actions and way of life, but the extent of that impact could not have been obvious to health professionals.
“As an adult he did not effectively deal with those issues or even recognize them, quickly blaming others for his problems. This was especially true in his interactions with women,” Sheriff Brown said. “In retrospect, the contribution this made to the actions of May 23 was extremely significant; however, those mental health professionals who saw and treated him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.”
One of the investigation’s main focuses was examining Rodger’s past, which included multiple interactions with police, as well as a history of mental health issues. In the investigative summary, the sheriff’s office publicized selections from Rodger’s internet search history that could be considered suspicious and were, therefore, classified as evidence.
The compilation of Rodger’s internet history includes recurring searches for Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and knife-related violence. He used two different fixed-blade knives to fatally stab his first three victims inside his apartment, two of whom were his housemates. The report also reveals that Rodger visited an online anxiety forum on May 22 and accessed pornographic websites on May 23, which was the day of the massacre and his suicide.
The investigative summary also discusses the misogynistic content of Rodger’s journal entries, where he frequently wrote about “exacting revenge on women” on his “Day of Retribution.” After committing his first three homicides, Rodger emailed a 137-page autobiographical manifesto to several family members in which he discussed feeling severely unhappy and angry.
Sheriff Brown said that the foretelling evidence that was gathered from Rodger’s personal accounts could provide significant insight about mental health treatments in the form of a federally conducted psychological autopsy.
“What is unusual in this case is the extent of the written and videotaped record of thoughts, feelings and intentions left by a suspect who, in retrospect, clearly suffered from significant mental illness that ultimately resulted in homicidal and suicidal rage,” Brown said in the introduction to the official report. “It is our hope that a thorough review of these materials by mental health professionals and the FBI’s Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit, in essence, the conducting of a psychological autopsy, will result in findings that will assist in the development of new and improved intervention techniques and practices related to the cause, identification and treatment of such pathologies.”