Earlier today, we told you that the birdshot pellet put up for sale by Aurora theater shooting survivor Carli Richards sold for the asking price of $1,650. Westword has since spoken with the man who bought it, Georgia-based forensic consultant Anthony Meoli.
Meoli says he bought the pellet to help Richards, who has struggled financially since the shooting. All proceeds went to her. "I don't look at it like a grisly souvenir," Meoli says. "The point here is to understand that victims need to be helped."
Meoli has a business called Meoli Forensic Consulting that specializes in criminal profiling and missing persons cases, among other areas of expertise. His website notes that he has spent seventeen years corresponding with serial killers, and he wrote a book with the D.C. Sniper, Lee Boyd Malvo, called The Diary of the D.C. Sniper.
Meoli says he's familiar with SerialKillersInk.net, the website where Richards was selling the pellet, and knows the owner, Eric Holler, who told us he agreed to help Richards after hearing her story.
Richards was hit with 22 birdshot pellets on July 20, 2012 as she fled from the theater gunman. She says she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which has made it difficult for her to keep a job. She's fallen behind on her bills and had to battle with the victims' compensation fund for assistance with her medication and therapy co-pays.
Meoli says he was moved by Richards's story. "I knew that 100 percent of the money was going to go toward the victim," he adds. "In this case, what I'm trying to accomplish is to relieve what appears to be substantial amounts of monetary pressure on a young lady whose life has forever been changed by the actions of James Holmes."
Holmes is accused of murdering twelve people and injuring seventy more, including Richards, by opening fire in an Aurora movie theater in July 2012. Jury selection in his trial began this week. If convicted, Holmes could face the death penalty.
It's unfortunate, Meoli says, that the victims of mass shootings are often forgotten -- while the perpetrators are not. "If I said to anybody, 'Can you tell me anything about the shootings that happened in Aurora, Colorado?,' the only thing they'd probably know is James Holmes's name. They wouldn't know the victims' names or how many people were killed. People don't want to deal with the trauma aspect. Here, I think it's a unique set of circumstances where we have a chance to focus on the victims."
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Meoli doesn't plan to display the pellet, he says; in fact, he insists he wouldn't care if he never received it at all. He was motivated to buy it, rather than just donate money to Richards (who has an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign), in order to shed light on her plight, he explains.
"If I just donated money, you wouldn't contact me, this wouldn't make the news and it wouldn't bring attention to the victims," he says. "At the end of the day, I'm trying to help somebody."
Below, watch an interview Meoli gave to a Georgia TV station in 2013.