Interviews with more than a dozen people who knew or had contact with James Holmes in the months before his deadly attack at a Colorado theater last month paint a disturbing portrait of a young man struggling with a severe mental illness who more than once hinted to others that he was losing his footing, reports the New York Times. Sometime in the spring, he stopped smiling and no longer made jokes during class presentations, his behavior shifting, though the meaning of the changes remained unclear.
Packages began arriving at his apartment and at the school, containing thousands of rounds of ammunition bought online. An unidentified official said that nothing Holmes disclosed to psychiatrist Lynne Fenton rose to the threshold set by Colorado law to hospitalize someone involuntarily. J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist and expert on mass killers, has noted that almost without exception, their crimes represent the endpoint of a long and troubled highway that in hindsight was dotted with signs missed or misinterpreted. “These individuals do not snap,” he said, “whatever that means.”