It didn't make much sense that Candice and Kristin Hermeler would travel halfway across the world to enact a suicide pact at a local gun range -- until reports began to surface about the Australian twins' obsession with the Columbine shootings. While police have tried to downplay that angle, a CBS4News report indicates that the twins had more Columbine ties than officials have acknowledged.
Kristin Hermeler died at the Family Shooting Center November 15, while her sister Candice was seriously injured after they both shot themselves in the head with rented .22 pistols. A week later, as investigators were announcing that their inquiry was now closed, CBS4's Rick Sallinger reported that the twins had in their effects letters from the mother of Columbine gunman Dylan Klebold and the mother of Corey Depooter, one of the twelve students killed by Klebold and Eric Harris on April 20, 1999.
This is in addition to the Time cover story about Columbine found among the twins' things, and the phone calls and e-mails they sent years ago to Brooks Brown, whose family had tried to alert authorities to Harris's bomb-making and threats before the shootings.
Harris and Klebold, of course, badly wanted their grotesque bid for infamy to inspire copycats. The fact that the tragedy continues to resonate with strangers around the globe may say more about the ongoing deficiencies of anti-bullying and suicide prevention programs than any message the two killers tried to send.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
More disturbing, perhaps, than the Columbine connection itself is the official effort to pretend that connection doesn't exist. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Captain Louie Perea of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office stressed that the copy of Time was "the only thing that we found in their property to tie into Columbine whatsoever."
Except for the letters. And perhaps other materials still not released.
Why all the obfuscation? After years of getting information about Columbine in drips and drabs, we have a pretty good idea of what happened that day. And the sheriff's office spokesman, Captain Perea, has a better idea than many of us. Back in 1999, he was Sgt. Perea, one of the officers who responded to the general call for help, and came upon the grim scene of innocence slain in the Columbine library.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Candice & Kristin Hermeler: Judy Brown on Columbine tie to Australian twins' suicide pact."