|“||It's over...Everything's over...it's done. ... Nothing matters now.||”|
— Kipland after his massacre
Kipland Philip "Kip" Kinkel is a schizophrenic spree killer and school shooter who on May 20, 1998, murdered his parents, and then committed a school shooting at his former school, Thurston High, killing two students and wounding twenty-five others.
The shooting at Thurston High was considered the deadliest shooting at an American high school until April 20, 1999, Columbine High School massacre perpetrated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Kinkel was born on August 30, 1982, in Springfield, Oregon, to William "Bill" and Faith Kinkel, both Spanish teachers. He had an older sister, Kristin, who was six years older than him and would go on to become popular and athletic. Sometime from 1986 to 1987, the Kinkels spent a sabbatical year in Spain, where he attended a non-English-speaking elementary school. Because the teacher spoke only in Spanish, this made learning very difficult for Kinkel. Upon returning to Springfield, he attended Walterville Elementary School but had to repeat the first grade after his teacher cited his immaturity and lack of development in physicality and emotions. In the second grade, Kinkel was tested to see if he was eligible for special education services but scored an average score on the neurological screening test, therefore not qualifying. He was noted to have disadvantages in particular motor skill and in spelling, and that his frustration and anxiety was alarmingly high. In the third grade, he continued to have problems in writing and spelling but did extremely well in mathematics. Kinkel's parents had him retested for special education, and this time, he qualified for the
services. By the end of the year, Kinkel performed outstandingly academically and had allegedly controlled his frustration. In the fourth grade, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability.
By the time he transitioned into middle school, Kinkel started getting himself in trouble with authority. When he was in the seventh grade, Kinkel and some of his friends purchased bomb-making instructional manuals, such as The Anarchist Cookbook, online at school. In the eighth grade, he was caught shoplifting CDs from a local Target store and, unbeknown to anyone, also purchased a sawed-off shotgun from a friend and hid it in his bedroom. On January 4, 1997, he and a friend went to a snowboarding clinic in Bend, Oregon. There, the two were arrested for throwing rocks at cars driving down a highway, one of which struck a car. It is unknown which of the two threw the rock, though Kinkel alleges it was his friend. Both were charged and referred
to the Department of Youth Services, where Bill and Faith picked Kinkel up. As a result of this incident, Kinkel was brought to psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Hicks by his mother. In this meeting, Hicks didn't find any signs of a thought disorder or psychosis and diagnosed Kinkel with major depressive disorder. Also, according to his notes, Kinkel became "tearful" when talking about his father, whom he had a strained relationship with. On February 26, he and his parents visited psychologist Dr. John Crumbley, who described Kinkel as being remorseful about the rock-throwing incident. Kinkel was eventually sentenced to 32 hours of community service.
Despite his visits with Hicks, which told of Kinkel's improvement, he was suspended for two days on April 23 for assaulting a student after Kinkel was shoved by him. On April 29, he was suspended again, for three days, after throwing a pencil at another student. On June 2, Hicks recommended the use of antidepressants, and Kinkel was soon put onto Prozac, which seemed to work. On June 27, Kinkel was allowed to purchase a gun and bought a 9mm Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol. The purchase was made without Dr. Hicks knowledge. Initially, Bill didn't allow for guns to be in the house but changed his mind in order to allow Kinkel to take some gun-safety lessons. On July 30, his emotional improvement allowed for the discontinuation of counseling. During the summer, Kinkel purchased a .22-caliber Ruger MK II semiautomatic pistol from a friend and hid it from his parents. When the summer ended, he entered Thurston High School, where he excelled academically and was even invited for the freshman football team. On September 30, Bill purchased a .22-caliber Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic rifle for Kinkel. He also purchased a hunting knife. At this point, he had begun hanging out with a tougher group of students and played with explosives, excusing the latter as means to vent out his anger.
During Kinkel's time in high school, a string of school shootings occurred. First, on October 1, 16-year-old Luke Woodham stabbed and bludgeoned his mother to death, then used a Marlin Model 336 .30-30-caliber lever-action rifle to kill two students and injured seven others at Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, before being apprehended and arrested. This was followed by another school shooting in West Paducah, Kentucky, on December 1, when 14-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of praying students at Heath High School, killing three and injuring five, before surrendering to authorities. He used a .22-caliber Ruger MK II semiautomatic pistol, one of the weapons Kinkel would bring to Thurston High. Finally, on March 24, 1998, Westside Middle School students Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden lured the entire school population out with a fire alarm before opening fire on them with two semiautomatic rifles, a bolt-action rifle, and four handguns, killing four students and one teacher, also injuring nine other students and one other teacher. Both were then arrested by police. Kinkel and a friend watched news coverage of the massacre, both commenting that it was "pretty cool". Sometime during May, he and several other friends "toilet-papered" a house using 400 rolls of toilet paper in order to beat a school record. Though they accomplished their goal, the group was caught. On May 19, Kinkel arranged for the purchase of a stolen .32-caliber Beretta semiautomatic pistol from Korey Ewert.
The Killing Spree, Arrest, and Incarceration
"I had no other choice...I had to."
The next day, on May 20, Kinkel arrived at Thurston High at approximately 8:00 am. and purchased the Beretta from Ewert for about $110 and hid it in his locker. Sometime later, the owner of the Beretta, Scott Keeney, called the school to report his missing gun and his belief that one of the students, who was a friend of his son's, stole it. At 9:15 a.m., Kinkel confessed to having the gun to Detective Al Warthen, who was coincidentally at the school, and he and Ewert were arrested for the crime, both being suspended from school, pending expulsion. At 3:00 p.m., Bill arrived at the police station after being informed of Kinkel's arrest and picked him up. Upon arriving home, Bill threatened him with the prospect of being sent to boarding school if he did not change his behavior. At 3:30 p.m., Kinkel grabbed the Ruger 10/22 rifle and killed his father with a shot to the back of the head as Bill was seated at the kitchen table, drinking coffee. He then dragged his body to the bathroom and covered it with a sheet. While waiting for his mother, Kinkel received a few phone calls and told the callers that his father wasn't available at the moment. At approximately 6:30 p.m., Faith arrived home, and as she walked up the garage steps, Kinkel, standing at the top of them, told her he loved her before shooting her repeatedly with the Ruger rifle, killing her. He then dragged her body across the garage floor and, like he had with Bill, covered it with a sheet.
On May 21, the following morning, Kinkel listened to the song Liebestod from the 1996 film Romeo + Juliet. He then left the house, dressed in a long trench coat that hid his three firearms and also had his hunting knife taped to his leg. In his backpack was 1,127 rounds of ammunition. Driving Faith's Ford Explorer to Thurston High School, he parked on North 61st Street, two blocks from the school, and took a shortcut through a dirt path. At 7:55 a.m., he entered the school, firing two shots in the hallway with the Ruger rifle. Two students, Ben Walker and Ryan Atteberry, were both hit and wounded. He then ran inside the school cafeteria, which was currently occupied by around 200 students, and fired the remaining 48 shots into the crowd, killing Mikael Nickolauson and injuring 22 others, two of them critically. Kinkel then aimed the rifle at student Michael Crowley and tried to shoot him, but the rifle's magazine was empty. When he tried switching magazines, 17-year-old student Jacob Ryker took this opportunity to tackle Kinkel to the ground. Jacob's brother Joshua, brothers Doug and David Ure, Adam Walberger, and at least one other student joined in with Jacob in their efforts to pin down Kinkel. In retaliation, Kinkel drew his 9mm Glock 19 and fired several shots, hitting and injuring Jacob and another student (it is unknown which student) before being completely subdued. At 8:04 a.m., Officer Dan Bishop, the first officer to arrive at the scene, arrested Kinkel.
At 8:50 a.m., Kinkel was taken to the police station, where he was locked in an interview room. He managed to retrieve his hunting knife despite his cuffed hands, and when Detective Al Warthen entered the room, Kinkel threatened him with the knife, continuously charging at him. Warthen then used pepper spray on him when he attempted to slash his wrists with the knife, while another detective present knocked away the knife. At 9:30 a.m., three Lane County sheriffs arrived at the Kinkel house, discovering Bill and Faith's corpses, four homemade bombs constructed by soda cans, and a fifth bomb in a fire extinguisher. After evacuating fifteen nearby houses, explosive devices were detonated on the Kinkel house, and police discovered two stashes of inactive bombs, one in the crawlspace underneath the house porch, the other in Kinkel's bedroom. Also recovered were a hand grenade, casings to two howitzer shells, and fireworks and unspecified chemicals. On May 22, 1998, Kinkel was arraigned, being charged with 58 felony counts, including four counts of aggravated murder and 26 counts of attempted murder. During the arraignment, the defense presented mental health experts to argue that Kinkel was mentally ill at the time of the shooting spree, with psychologist Dr. William H. Sack commenting that the events would have been prevented if his mental troubles had been recognized and treated earlier. Jeffrey Hicks, however, testified that Kinkel was in "satisfactory mental health" by the time his parents stopped therapy. On September 24, 1999, he plead guilty to all of the counts he was charged with, and on November 11, he was sentenced to 111 years in prison without the possibility of parole. During this hearing, Kinkel apologized for committing the killings.
On June 19, 2007, almost ten years after the killings, Kinkel sought a new trial, citing that his lawyers didn't take his case to trial and used the insanity defense. The now-retired William Sack and a clinical psychologist, Dr. Orin Bolstad, supported these claims, stating that Kinkel exhibited symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, which he had managed to hide away after viewing it as an abnormality and an obstacle to his leading of a social life. According to them, he experienced hallucinations and maintained delusions; some of the latter included the Walt Disney Company trying to take control of the U.S. and the government implanting a computer chip inside his brain. Two months later, his request was denied by a Marion County judge, but he appealed, arguing that he had had ineffective assistance in counseling during the initial trial. On January 12, 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals denied the appeal.
To date (January 2013), Kinkel is currently incarcerated at the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem, Oregon, having been transferred there from the Oregon Youth Authority on June 11, 2007. As of 2020, he is currently thirty-eight years old.
Kinkel attacked most of his victims by shooting them with a sawed-off .22-caliber Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic rifle, but when he was subdued, he briefly used a 9mm Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol. He also brought a .22-caliber Ruger MK II semiautomatic pistol and his hunting knife to the school but didn't use either (though he used the latter in an attempt to commit suicide by cop. After killing his parents, Kinkel dragged their bodies, covered them with sheets, and then booby-trapped them by placing five explosives under the corpses, but this trap failed.
- May 20: William and Faith Kinkel (his parents; both shot):
- William "Bill" Kinkel (his father; shot in the back of the head)
- Faith Kinkel (née Zuranski; his mother; shot twice in the back of the head, three times in the face, and once in the heart)
- May 21: The Thurston High School shooting:
- The hallway shooting: Ben Walker, 16 (shot with a .22 rifle; died at the hospital)
- The school cafeteria shooting: Mikael Nickolauson, 17 (shot with a .22 rifle)
- May 20: William and Faith Kinkel (his parents; both shot):
- May 21, 1998: The Thurston High School shooting:
- The hallway shooting: Ryan Atteberry (was shot with a .22 rifle)
- The school cafeteria shooting:
- Jennifer Alldredge (shot in the hand and chest with a .22 rifle)
- Teresa Miltonberger, 16 (shot in the forehead and nearly killed)
- Betina Lynn, 18 (shot twice in the lower back and ankle; the first bullet nearly missed her spine)
- Jesse Walley, 16 (shot in the back)
- Eighteen other unnamed students (all injured)
- Michael Crowley (attempted to shoot with a .22 rifle, but it was empty)
- Jacob Ryker, 17 (shot in the lung with a .22 rifle, then shot in the knuckle with a 9mm handgun)
- An unnamed student (was shot with a 9mm handgun)
- Numerous unnamed people (attempted to kill with explosives)
- Detective Al Warthen (attempted to charge with a knife)
- Note: Numerous other students were also injured, but not by gunshot wounds. Instead, they were wounded during a resulting stampede.
On Criminal Minds
- Season Seven
- "Painless" - While Kinkel has yet to be directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for Randy Slade - Both were schools shooters and (attempted in Kinkel's case) bombers who attacked the school they attended, attacked all their victims in the school cafeteria, injured dozens, and utilized both firearms and explosives in the assault.
- Wikipedia's article on Kinkel and the killing spree
- TruTV article on Kinkel (pg. 2)
- KVAL article on the ten-year anniversary of the school shooting
- CNN article on Kinkel's appearance at trial and the aftermath of the school shooting
- KATU article on Kinkel's schizophrenia
- The New York Times:
- Los Angeles Times article on survivors of the school shooting
- German for "Love death"
- It should be noted that Kinkel's explosives were placed at his house and not at the school, and that said explosives failed to work. Many sources have counted the murders of Kinkel's parents as being part of the Thurston High shooting.