In a detailed profile, the Washington Post describes Tucson mass shooter Jared Loughner as a seemingly normal teenager who slipped in a “world of fantasy.” He was an only child from a family that had a history of mental illness, a cousin told the newspaper. The Post said of Loughner, “Slowly but steadily, his intelligence warped into a distorted, disconnected series of obsessions.” Interviews and his own writings show no evidence that politics or government were among Loughner's defining or enduring obsessions. Rather, his deepest, most disturbing questions were about the very nature of reality: He appeared to have lost any clear sense of the line between real life and dreams or fantasy.
Loughner's father, Randy, was no career man; he worked jobs here and there, laying carpet, installing pool decks. In later years, he stayed home and worked on his show cars. He kept mainly to himself, neighbors say, and when he did interact with others, the results were often bad: He had tiffs about incursions onto his property; he yelled at people. Before long, some neighbors were telling their children to steer clear of the Loughner place. The feeling was mutual: Some years back, Loughner surrounded his house with a wall that blocked views of his side porch. In 1986, Loughner married Amy Totman, a quiet sort, but someone others found more pleasant and approachable than her husband. Amy worked for the Pima County parks department, taking care of plants and doing maintenance.