While the exact reasons why James Holmes walked into an Aurora, Colorado, theatre and shot 12 people to death while injuring 70 others in 2012 are not known, recently-released psychiatric reports offer a glimpse into the convicted killer’s mind.
The reports of three psychiatrists who examined Holmes were obtained by The Denver Post last week, after the newspaper filed a motion to release the documents.
The details of the reports include handwritten observations during an evaluation of the killer by Dr. Lynne Fenton, Holmes’ psychiatrist. According to the documents, she added a note about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in his file, saying that Holmes “has problems concentrating, eats OK, does not have crying spells and does not have thoughts of suicide.”
On April 17, 2012, Fenton wrote of her concern about Holmes’ homicidal thoughts, and how he refused to go into detail. Holmes reportedly told her that if he spoke of his detailed homicidal thoughts, the psychiatrist “would lock him up,” according to The Denver Post.
“Angry that I won’t tell you my philosophical ideas of purpose of life ‘I’ve told you all mine. Are you just a pill pusher?,’” Fenton wrote.
Holmes also conveyed his thoughts to University of Colorado licensed social worker, Margaret Roath, who then wrote an email to Fenton, regarding her observations.
“When I asked him [Holmes] about other symptoms, he said he did not want to say as I would have to report him,” Roath wrote. “He says he wants to kill other people, but no one in particular and has never done anything to harm others.”
“He [Holmes] is the most anxious guy I have ever seen and has symptoms of OCD. But, most concerning is that he has thoughts of killing people, though I do not think he is dangerous. He said he did not want to tell me everything he was experiencing as I might have to report.”
During Fenton’s last session with Holmes, marked June 11, 2012, she wrote that she became frightened of him after he began making “hostile” comments.” Fenton indicated Holmes spoke of the Unabomber, as well as putting a “suspicious” package under the doctor’s chair.
“He may be shifting insidiously into a frank psychotic disorder like schizophrenia,” Fenton also wrote. “His ability to mentalize about others’ states of mind is very impaired and he may be on the autism spectrum.”
Further, the document revealed that Holmes was diagnosed by Fenton with Trichotillomania, a mental disorder defined by Mayo Clinic as involving “recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out body hair.”
The same evaluation also stated that Holmes had been dating a woman for approximately four months, though it was added that she wasn’t interested in having a long-term relationship with the man.
Fenton ultimately decided that he would not place Holmes on a mental hold. However, Fenton did contact the university’s threat assessment team, as well as Holmes’ mother and another psychiatrist regarding her concerns.
“He never met the criteria for me to hospitalize him,” Fenton said in 2015.
Though she was sued by one of the victim’s widows for making the decision to not place Holmes on a hold, the case was later dismissed.
*Editor’s Note*: Additional reporting provided by Leigh Egan.
[Feature Photo: James Holmes/Arapahoe Sheriff’s Office]