Skip to comments.Investigating the 'Lies' (29 Major Lies By Govt' In Columbine MassMurder Coverup)(Denver Newspaper)
Posted on 01/08/2002 8:06:26 AM PST by t-shirt
Investigating the 'lies'
Parents, police are miles apart on what happened in Columbine rampage
By Kevin Vaughan and Jeff Kass, News Staff
Allegations of a friendly fire death. Whispers of a cover-up by law officers. An independent investigator called in. A request by Colorado's governor for a state grand jury probe. A possible coroner's inquest.
Developments in the Columbine investigation are coming fast and furious, even though it's been nearly three years since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold took their rage to school on April 20, 1999.
It was a shooting rampage that left the two gunmen and 13 others dead and more than 20 wounded. It also left a trail of unanswered questions.
On the day after Christmas, five families of Columbine victims made an explosive court filing in an effort to get their federal lawsuit reinstated.
The documents named, for the first time, Denver police Sgt. Dan O'Shea as the law officer they allege killed 15-year-old Daniel Rohrbough in the chaos outside the school.
And the families detailed 29 instances in which they allege a "pattern of obstruction and falsification" by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
Jefferson County has until Jan. 17 to respond in court. But acting Jefferson County Attorney Bill Tuthill said Friday he does not believe the 29 claims will compel a judge to reinstate the case.
Many do not meet the legal requirement of new evidence, he said. In others, there are no true inconsistencies, according to Tuthill. "It's a second verse of the same song," he said.
The Rocky Mountain News examined each of the 29 statements, using more than 16,500 pages of documents that have been released, the official report on the shootings, follow-up interviews with key figures, and evidence amassed by the Rohrbough family, some of which has never previously been revealed publicly.
Here are the findings. The first category, which is titled "Officially," lists the families' example of an alleged falsehood or misstatement by Jefferson County officials. The second gives the families' version of the truth. The third is the News' analysis.
1. Officially: Daniel Rohrbough was shot twice by Klebold and the bullet recovered from his body was positively identified as having come from Klebold's weapon.
Families' contention: The department now admits that the bullet recovered from Rohrbough did not come from Klebold and was in fact never positively identified at all.
News' findings: The sheriff's department did conclude that Klebold killed Rohrbough, but ballistics do not support that determination.
The official Columbine report, released in May 2000, said Harris and Klebold opened fire about 11:19 a.m. and that almost immediately Rohrbough and two other students "are hit by gunfire" as they leave the building. Moments later, the report says, "Klebold goes back down the stairs to the area outside the cafeteria and shoots Daniel Rohrbough again at close range, killing him instantly."
Two diagrams in the report appear to support this scenario. In one, it appears that Klebold is firing bullets aimed for Rohrbough. In the other, Klebold is shown at the bottom of the stairs firing at Rohrbough.
On Sept. 1, 1999, Rohrbough's family met with Jefferson County sheriff's Sgt. Randy West and investigator Kate Battan. Family members surreptitiously tape-recorded the meeting and this week allowed the News to listen to the recording.
"Every single thing that happens is supported by more than one witness, the evidence and then ballistics," Battan said in explaining how investigators determined the sequence of events.
However, only one bullet, a 9mm slug, was recovered from Rohrbough's body, according to ballistics reports released under court order in May 2001.
Those reports by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation showed the bullet was "consistent" with Harris' carbine rifle -- not Klebold's TEC-9 -- but said that it could not be positively identified.
The report was forwarded to Jefferson County sheriff's officials on July 21, 1999 -- six weeks before Battan and West met with the Rohrbough family.
The bullets that passed through Rohrbough's body, including the one that caused his fatal injuries, were never identified, according to the ballistics experts.
2. Officially: Daniel Rohrbough was shot twice at close range.
Families' contention: The recently released CBI test results on Rohrbough's clothes conclusively established that the shots were not fired from close range. The report states that the absence of gunpowder "precludes the possibility of determining a muzzle-to-garments distance."
News' findings: Officials did tell the family that Rohrbough was shot twice at close range, but forensics tests could not determine the distance between the boy and his killer.
In the Sept. 1, 1999, meeting, West told the Rohrbough family that "Dylan Klebold walks down the stairs and at very close range, then shoots Danny twice more . . . that's with the, uh, TEC-9. But again, we're talking very close range."
When the CBI examined Rohrbough's T-shirt and blue jeans, technicians could find no "gunpowder patterns" and, as a result, could not determine the shooter's location.
3. Officially: The sheriff's department said there were "many bullet fragments" found around Rohrbough's body.
Families' contention: The department's own recently released evidence chart shows a single bullet fragment near Rohrbough's body.
News' findings: Documents released by Jefferson County contradict the official statement of the department about the number of bullet fragments around Rohrbough's body.
On May 24, 2001, after Brian Rohrbough publicly questioned the ballistics evidence surrounding his son's death, the sheriff's office released a two-page statement defending its findings and asserting that Harris and Klebold killed Daniel Rohrbough. That was the first departure from the official report, which unequivocally said Klebold fired the fatal shot.
"A lot of evidence, including bullet fragments, were found around Daniel's body," the statement said. "It was impossible to determine from those many bullet fragments what firearm they would have come from."
However, both a hand-drawn sketch of the area near Rohrbough's body and a CD-ROM that was released showing the same area show only one bullet fragment.
4. Officially: The department denied a meeting between Randy and Judy Brown and a sheriff's detective in March 1998 concerning alleged death threats Harris made against their son, Brooks Brown.
Families' contention: The department now admits that the Browns made numerous reports and that there were multiple meetings with them.
News' findings: Top sheriff's officials did deny that the Browns met with an investigator, but a draft search warrant affidavit released in April 2001 contradicted that assertion.
The week after the shootings, Randy and Judy Brown -- parents of Columbine student Brooks Brown, a friend of Klebold and Harris -- went public with their story. They contended that after reporting the threat, they met with sheriff's investigator John Hicks on March 31, 1998.
In December 1999, Division Chief John Kiekbusch, who headed the Columbine investigation, said Hicks' appointment records din't reflect that meeting.
"His position is he had a phone conversation with them, as opposed to a face-to-face meeting," Kiekbusch said.
Last April, a judge ordered the department to release a draft search warrant affidavit written in 1998 by investigator Mike Guerra. It included this passage: "On March 31, 1998, your affiant met with Investigator John Hicks and Investigator Glenn Grove of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Investigator Hicks advised your affiant he met with Mrs. Judy Brown reference Eric David Harris."
5. Officially: The department denied there were similarities between the pipe bombs Eric Harris claimed to have made in his writings and actual bombs found in Jefferson County.
Families' contention: The department now admits that the description by Harris on his Web pages matched almost exactly an exploded pipe bomb found by deputies.
News' findings: Top sheriff's officials said they could not link Harris to any earlier pipe bomb cases, but the draft affidavit showed that they did make a connection, at least in their own minds, between Harris and an earlier incident.
On April 30, 1999, Kiekbusch called a press conference to discuss the Browns' 1998 report. He said "attempts were made to determine if any reports of found pipe bombs could be linked to the report, none of which could be."
On April 10, 2001, Jefferson County released the 1998 draft affidavit, which had never been been acted upon. In it, investigator Guerra talked about a page from Harris' Web site which described a 1 1/4-inch by 6-inch pipe bomb and the kind of powder and fuse used for it. He said the size and components of a pipe bomb found Feb. 15, 1998, in south Jefferson County were "consistent with material" Harris talked about on his Web page, and that the size was "consistent" with two pipe bombs Harris had named "Atlanta" and "Pholus."
6. Officially: Officials passed along the allegations by the Browns about Harris to Deputy Neil Gardner, the Columbine school resource officer. "Deputy Gardner occasionally engaged Harris and Klebold, along with several of their friends and associates, in light conversation," a press release said. "Deputy Gardner made no observations of inappropriate behavior and has stated that both Harris and Klebold treated him with the appropriate respect."
Families' contention: In a police interview with Gardner taped six hours after the shootings, he said he had no idea who Harris was:
Question: "Did you recognize him (Harris) from the photo?"
Q: "So you really don't know this kid at all?'
A: "I never dealt, I had never dealt with Eric Harris."
News' findings: Documents released in 2001 support the families' allegations.
County officials did say that Gardner was told of the allegations and kept watch on the gunmen. Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone told the News on April 30, 1999, that Gardner was "eyeballing" Harris in the year before the shootings.
7. Officially: The department repeatedly denied the existence of documents such as the affidavit drafted to search the Harris home in March 1998.
Families' contention: The department finally produced the affidavit under a court order related to a lawsuit filed by CBS News.
News' findings: County officials apparently did not specifically deny the existence of the draft affidavit; however, they asserted repeatedly that they had released all existing paperwork even though the draft had never been made public.
The News, for example, made a written request on April 29, 1999, for all documents related to the Browns' 1998 report about Harris and the county's response. Jefferson County provided some documents, such as the police report, but did not turn over the affidavit.
Judge Brooke Jackson ordered the affidavit released on April 6, 2001, after CBS News sued.
The document's significance? It showed that the sheriff's department was aware of possible illegal behavior by Harris nearly a year before the Columbine shootings.
8. Officially: After the search warrant affidavit was released, the sheriff's department said it had disclosed its existence in public reports shortly after the shootings.
Families' contention: No such disclosure was ever made; indeed, after making the statement, sheriff's officials were not able to identify the report.
News' findings: Documents and press releases issued by the sheriff's department support the families' contention.
The day after the draft affidavit was disclosed publicly, the sheriff's office issued a written statement that said, "A few days after the Columbine shootings, the sheriff's office disclosed the existence of the so-called 'secret' search warrant affidavit and discussed our actions in response to the Harris information."
When the News pressed a sheriff's official, he acknowledged that he could not find any news stories supporting the claim.
"If you want to word it that way, sure," Sgt. Mike Julian said when asked if it wasn't true that the department had never acknowledged the existence of the draft affidavit.
9. Officially: All victims outside the school were killed or injured before law enforcement arrived on the scene.
Families' contention: Several points contradict that timeline:
Rachel Scott would therefore have been killed several minutes before she bought her lunch in the cafeteria even if a time-corrected cash receipt is taken into account.
Arapahoe County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Taylor saw Daniel Rohrbough get shot and killed long after law enforcement was on the scene.
Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy Annette Walker told Sue Petrone, Daniel Rohrbough's mother, that she saw Rohrbough holding a door open long after he would have been dead.
News' findings: Sheriff's officials said that all outside victims were shot before officers arrived; a lunchroom receipt contradicts the official timeline in Scott's death; tape recordings released this week support the families' allegations regarding deputy Taylor; and deputy Walker's statement could not be independently verified.
Battan, in the 1999 interview taped by the Rohrboughs, told the families: "All of the kids outside had been shot before any officer showed up. Neil Gardner was the first one and when he shows up Harris and Klebold were done outside -- they're walking in the door."
The sheriff's official report says that Rachel Scott and Daniel Rohrbough were killed in the initial burst of gunfire "at about 11:19 a.m."
The sheriff said Gardner, the school resource officer, stepped out of his car in the student parking lot at 11:24 a.m.
Scott's cafeteria receipt shows that she bought lunch at 11:32 a.m. Another report indicates that the receipt clock was ten minutes fast. That would put the time of her transaction at 11:22 a.m., still up to three minutes after the sheriff says she was shot and killed.
Taylor now says he never heard gunshots on April 20, and never saw Rohrbough or other deceased victims on April 20.
But in a conversation taped by the Rohrbough family, Taylor says he saw "some kid get shot." He said he realized it was Daniel Rohrbough after seeing a photo in the News the next day.
Walker has denied telling Petrone she saw Daniel holding the door open. Walker told investigators she was not dispatched to Columbine until 12:30 p.m., and placed herself at Clement Park adjacent the school at 1:05 p.m.
10. Officially: Battan said that all suspects had passed lie detector tests.
Families' contention: Columbine student Nathan Dykeman failed his test and refused to take another. Student Zachary Heckler's test was inconclusive.
News' findings: Battan did say all suspects passed polygraphs; documents showed that one was "inconclusive" and another was "deceptive" on key questions.
Battan told the Rohrboughs, according to their audiotape: "Some of these people have been interviewed six or seven times. Many of these people, and closer friends, have taken polygraphs. Everybody has passed the polygraphs, which I don't believe polygraphs 100 percent ever."
FBI agent Mark Holstlaw told the News in a Dec. 14, 1999, story, that everyone who had taken lie detector tests had passed, and other methods were used to clear those who had refused.
Dykeman and Heckler, both Columbine students, were friends of the killers.
Dykeman's responses to two lie detector questions are detailed in the sheriff's investigative file:
"Did you help Dylan and Eric yesterday?" Response: No.
"Did you help plan what Eric and Dylan did yesterday?" Response:
The examiner then wrote: "It is the opinion of the examiner that Dykeman was deceptive when responding to these relevant questions.
"When confronted with his deceptive responses, Dykeman admitted he was withholding information from the investigators."
Dykeman said he had not been completely truthful because he was afraid that he would be arrested, according to investigators. But he did provide information about the guns and explosives obtained by Klebold and Harris.
Lie detector test results for Zachary Heckler indicate that his responses to three "relevant questions" were inconclusive, and "no diagnostic opinion can be rendered."
Those questions were whether Heckler participated in the planning, whether he knew it would occur, and whether he knowingly provided any of the weapons. Heckler answered no to each one.
Dykeman could not be reached this week for comment; Heckler's family said he would not comment. Tuthill said, "If the basic message is, 'They're cleared,' I think they're accurate," of sheriff's department investigators.
11. Officially: No one was injured in the "commons" area.
Families' contention: Columbine teacher Eric Kritzer was. News' findings: It does not appear that Kritzer was injured.
Kritzer told investigators that he was hit in the calf, possibly by something explosive. The sheriff's report, however, said he suffered no injury.
12. Officially: The department has released all investigative records except those excluded by Judge Jackson's orders.
Families' contention: The department had a timeline of Harris' and Klebold's actions before April 20, 1999, but shredded it.
News' findings: Sheriff's officials have said that all documents were released. They also have acknowledged destroying a timeline but said the information on it was incorporated into the final report.
Lily Oeffler, the assistant county attorney, told Judge Jackson on March 19, 2001, that the county no longer had the original timeline. ,P> "Once the working document, which is just a piece of paper on the wall, was included in the (final sheriff's) report, it was not kept. It was documented elsewhere." Jackson replied, "What did they do, shred it?"
Oeffler responded, "Certainly, like investigators do with the notes or with a letter. It is like a rough draft."
13. Officially: The department said that Klebold and Harris had booby-trapped their victims, and that's why the bodies weren't moved for more than 24 hours.
Families' contention: No booby traps were found on the bodies, and officials knew this long before they made the statement to families.
News' findings: It could not be independently verified that Sue Petrone was told her son's body was booby-trapped. However, officials said several times in public that they feared some victims had been rigged with explosives.
Petrone, Daniel Rohrbough's mother, said she went to Columbine a day after the shootings to retrieve her son's body. She said a deputy -- she doesn't remember his name -- said that her son's body had been booby-trapped and she could not get to it.
A News story on April 22, 1999, two days after Columbine, said: "As evening fell (on April 21), they (police) carried out the dead, who had been left where they fell overnight for fear they might be booby-trapped."
Yes, I know.
The point I was trying to get at is, so what?
Everyone knows the government lies. Were you born yesterday?
And, no, of course, I don't think it's a good thing the government lies.
But, having gotten past the childish, self-righteous business of being indignant about something _everybody_ knows about, what's the point of persuing this issue?
It seems to me there are only two imaginable:
1) It is a pointless attempt to punish people who did their best and were simply confronted with a monstrous situation. Did everyone handle it "perfectly?" Obviously not. Will punishing anyone accomplish anything? Obviously not, too.
2) There is intriguing evidence that the two kids may have been part of a much larger picture. There are conspiracy types who believe that government agencies more or less routinely "recruit" young children into freakish programs that involve grotesque mind control activity and later "sacrifice" those children (and others) to further social and political agendas of the Establishment. If people believe Columbine was an incident related to such programs, it would be worth pursuing to try and drag these unbelievable and simply inhuman programs into the light and get them disbanded completely.
That's what I was asking about. Are people pursing Columbine investigations out of emotional pique, or do they actually hope to accomplish something? (To my eyes, it looks like people just feel a kind of general outrage and have no specific purpose in mind, other than raging against the terrible events at Columbine. I suppose, in a way, that's understandable. But it's pointless and somebody should put a gentle hand on such shoulders and tell the people to go away and deal with their grief in private...)
Justice---the purpose is Justice.
There is nothing childish, self-righteous or indignant about pursuing and achieving justice.
And is a completely righteous cause as it is our God given right and duty as Americans to always do so.
If we want to live in a Free Constitutional Republic than we must have equal justice under the law---even for the government officials, politicains and bureacrats.
My wife and I pulled our children OUT of the government re-education camps four years ago in favor of home schooling.
At that time, the principal of my son's middle school told me "I cannot guarantee the safety of your son while he is on school grounds."
That same day, the campus police officer told me "my daughter is in a private Christian school, I don't want her down here with the things I see every day!"
My son is very safe at home each day. He competes with me in local IDPA and club pistol matches and is well trained to defend himself and my daughter at any time.
I believe the fols at Columbine Research Task Force are working on one. Click around the forums to find reports of what've they've found.
Or is your thrust that the two shooters were "programmed" by some agency to go on a killing spree and these legal actions are an attempt to uncover the behind-the-scenes plot?
9 posted on 1/8/02 10:05 AM Pacific by MarkWar
My point and the point of the families is to find out the truth and get justice.