Dark Knight Killer's Shrink: Here's Why He Did It

Psychiatrist William Reid gives his insights into mass killer James Holmes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 5, 2018 12:55 PM CDT
Dark Knight Killer's Shrink: Here's Why He Did It
In this July 23, 2012, file photo, James Holmes, who was convicted of killing 12 moviegoers and wounding 70 more in a shooting spree in a crowded theatre in 2012, sits in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo.   (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via AP, Pool, File)

A psychiatrist who spent hours talking with mass murderer James Holmes says that what led Holmes to open fire in a crowded Colorado movie theater was a one-of-a-kind vortex of his mental illness, his personality, and his circumstances—and some other, unknown currents that will probably never be uncovered, the AP reports. "A big part of it is, it's hidden in Holmes' mind, and he can't see it either," says William Reid in an interview about his new book, A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings. Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58 when he opened fire during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, a Batman movie, in the Denver suburb of Aurora on July 20, 2012. Holmes was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Reid listed factors that influenced Holmes' actions:

  • Holmes' mental illness, and the way it influenced his behavior.
  • The way Holmes' personality shaped his awkward interactions with other people and influenced his view of the world.
  • The ups and downs of Holmes' life as he struggled in neuroscience graduate school at the University of Colorado in Denver and broke up with his girlfriend.

"The answer—and this really is the answer, but it's not very satisfying—lies in an unimaginably detailed and complex confluence that we can't replicate because we can't see all of it," Reid writes. But he reveals that Holmes said he may kill again if given the chance. Should prison guards be worried about that? "Um, I'd say so, yeah," says Reid.

(Read more mass shootings stories.)

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