Aurora Theater Shooting

James Holmes's Mom Breaks Silence: "This Is a Broken Woman"

The parents of mass murderers often refrain from speaking publicly about their homicidal children for long periods of time.

Note that Sue Klebold, son of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold, waited for nearly seventeen years after the 1999 attack to sit for TV conversations in conjunction with a book, A Mother's Reckoning, whose proceeds were earmarked for mental-health charities.

Arlene Holmes, mother of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, takes a similar approach in her first television interview.

She chose a lower-key venue than did Sue Klebold, whose inaugural chat was with Diane Sawyer on ABC, speaking with 10News in San Diego. However, she timed the conversation to Mental Health Awareness Month and concentrates on the victims of the July 20, 2012 attack at the Aurora Century 16 theater, where twelve people died and seventy were injured, as well as mental-health-related issues.

"I talked to other people about signs and symptoms of people who have problems with mental health and they told me it's been helpful, so I want to share the lessons that I've learned," she says. "At the same time, I want to acknowledge that my son did indeed do something very terrible, and it was a great tragedy. Many people were killed, many people were harmed, and I want to focus not on him, but on education."

Arlene adds that the victims are "on my mind every day. It's the first thought when I wake up in the morning. I'm very cognizant of how bad this all was, and I'm praying for their healing; mentally, physically, emotionally," Arlene said. "I can't erase the day, but I wish I could. The way that I want to honor their injuries and their distress is to try and help prevent something this bad from happening again."

Through elementary school, James was a happy kid who frequently invited other kids to play at the family home, Arlene reveals. But following a move from northern California to San Diego when he was in the twelve-to-thirteen range, he gradually became quieter and moodier.

When he moved to Colorado in order to study neuroscience, Arlene continues, she knew that he was seeing a counselor but had no idea about the violent thoughts he harbored — and only during the trial did she learn that he'd been diagnosed as a schizophrenic.

The entire ordeal has clearly taken a tremendous toll on Arlene — one that's far different from the struggles experienced by survivors and the loved ones of those who died at the theater, but undeniably profound nevertheless. The conclusion of 10News journalists Kimberly Hunt and Stacy Haynes: "This is a broken woman."

Here's the 10News report.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts