SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — As a California university mourns the deaths of six students, grieving parents are bracing to do the unimaginable — bury their children.
A former stay-at-home dad who worked at home, Bob Weiss had an especially close relationship with his 19-year-old daughter, Veronika. He knew something was amiss Friday night when Veronika, who frequently checked in, didn’t call her family.
So he tracked Veronika’s cellphone online.
“We got on her iPhone and located it in the middle of the crime scene,” Weiss said.
The phone was moving, but no one was answering.
“We actually were looking at her phone while they were moving her body … probably to take her to the morgue.”
Veronika was one of six college students killed by Elliot Rodger, who was bent on killing beautiful women and popular men after years of self-described rejection and jealousy.
Weiss said Veronika was exactly the kind of person who would want to help Rodger.
“She was kind. She was the person who would reach out to the kids who weren’t the popular kids, some of the nerdy kids, some of the kids that were a little bit like this Rodger kid described himself as.”
A day of mourning
A cloud of grief has covered the Santa Barbara area each day since the killer ended the lives of six students from the University of California Santa Barbara. Thirteen other people were wounded.
The university declared Tuesday to be a formal day of mourning, with a memorial service set for Tuesday afternoon.
Counselors are available on campus for anyone needing support, the university said.
‘We would die 100 times’
Kelly Wang and Johnny Chen can’t understand why their son, George Chen, was stabbed to death by his roommate before the killer went on a shooting rampage. Wang said she would do anything to trade places with her son.
“We would die 100 times,1,000 times, but we don’t want our kids to get hurt,” Wang told KABC.
“This shouldn’t happen to any family. This should be the last one in the United States.”
A long-planned rampage
The plot may have been years in the making, but the killer gave just minutes’ notice before he rained terror across the scenic community of Isla Vista.
Authorities now know Rodger’s killing spree across Isla Vista began before he even left home.
The 22-year-old former Santa Barbara City College student fatally stabbed three young men in his own apartment — George Chen, 19, Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, and Weihan Wang, 20.
Chen and Hong were the attacker’s roommates, and Wang was visiting.
A friend of Rodger’s family said Rodger recently had a feud with his roommates, complaining to his landlord that they were too noisy and played lots of video games.
The assailant himself outlined his plan to kill two roommates in a 137-page manifesto.
“I’d even enjoy stabbing them both to death while they slept,” Rodger wrote.
The manifesto chronicles his life from birth all the way to his planned “Day of Retribution.”
On Friday, minutes before he fatally shot two young women in front of a sorority house and killed a young man at a nearby deli, Rodger e-mailed his writings to two dozen people, including his parents and at least one of his therapists.
“My orchestration of the Day of Retribution is my attempt to do everything, in my power, to destroy everything I cannot have,” Rodger wrote.
“All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy.”
But it wasn’t just beautiful girls he wanted to kill.
“All of those popular people who live hedonistic lives of pleasure, I will destroy, because they never accepted me as one of them,” Rodger wrote. “I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer. It is only fair.”
Rodger’s mother, Lichin, saw the e-mailed manifesto at 9:17 p.m. Friday. She went to Rodger’s YouTube page and saw a disturbing video in which her son talked about “slaughtering” women at a sorority house at the UC Santa Barbara, family friend Simon Astaire said.
His mother called 911 and Rodger’s father, and the parents left Los Angeles, headed for Santa Barbara, the family friend said. En route, they heard there was a shooting. Later that night, they found out their son was the gunman.
Elliot Rodger was found dead after crashing his black BMW, a gunshot wound to the head.
Former friend speaks out
One of the people he mentioned by name in the manifesto is Lucky Radley, a childhood friend, who he said became “an object of my extreme jealousy and hatred.”
“When I saw that, I was shocked,” Radley said. “I literally didn’t believe that was coming from him.”
Radley said Rodger was an abnormally quiet boy who barely spoke, even when Radley went to Rodger’s house a couple of times to play.
He hadn’t seen Rodger since high school. Seeing Rodger’s video now, Radley said, “That’s the first time me hearing him say more than a one-word answer.”
The assailant had been seeing therapists
Rodger’s history of mental health issues was no secret to his family, and the young man was seeing at least two therapists prior to his death.
He had been seeing therapists on and off since he was 8, Astaire said. When he went to high school in Van Nuys, Calif., he met with a therapist “pretty much every day,” Astaire said.
Rodger’s family contacted police after discovering social media posts about suicide and killing people, family spokesman and attorney Alan Shifman told reporters Saturday.
Six policemen showed up at Rodger’s home in Isla Vista on April 30, but they found nothing alarming. So they told Rodger to call his mother and they reassured her that he was OK, according to Astaire.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters Saturday that at the time, deputies “determined he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold.”
Brown said Rodger told deputies he was having troubles with his social life, but that he was not going to hurt himself or anyone else.