How James Holmes Went From Shy Nerd To Accused Cold-Blooded Killer

james holmes

James Holmes, the 24-year-old  accused of gunning down dozens of people in a Colorado movie theatre last week, went from being a “quiet” doctoral student to the most infamous man in America.

Here’s what we know about how he might have gotten there:

  • Holmes was adopted as a child and raised in San Diego, Calif., the New York Post reported, citing the father of a victim, who had in turn said he got that information from the police.
  • His mother is a registered nurse and his father is a senior scientist at FICO, the company that provides credit scores, according to local paper U-T San Diego.
  • He has a younger sister, Chris, according to USA Today.
  • His elementary classmates remember Holmes as a well-behaved kid who excelled at computer programming and sports. He got “picked for flag football first, because he was fast,” one classmate told The Californian.
  • He dabbled in soccer and cross-country in high school. One classmate said he had a small group of friends who played video games and told the New York Times he was “nice and sweet.”
  • College academics came easily to Holmes, who studied at the University of California. One former classmate told the Washington Post: “He didn’t even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an A.” 
  • In college, he worked as a camp counselor for children. He was in charge of about 10 campers. One of his former coworkers told TMZ he was a nice guy who hung out with the rest of the staff and never gave anyone alarm.
  • In the summer of 2006, he scored an internship at the prestigious Salk Institute that may have raised some red flags. His supervisor told the Christian Science Monitor he was an unusually bad intern, “odd” and “stubborn.” 
  • But he still graduated from University of California at the top of his class, according to USA Today.
  • After that, he enrolled in a neuroscience doctoral program at University of Colorado.
  • Experts have suggested he might have had a psychotic break after failing to meet the expectations of his father, who has a degree from Stanford and a successful career, the Daily Mail reported. 
  • From here, the picture gets more disturbing: Holmes was always alone, according to reports from his neighbours in Colorado cited by The New York Times.
  • He blared techno music beginning at midnight, playing the same song over and over, a neighbour told the Huffington Post.
  • He started to show interest in joining a gun range, but was rejected after the leader heard his bizarre, “demonic” voicemail message.
  • He also allegedly slept with several prostitutes, even reviewing them for a website, TMZ reported. One woman who claimed Holmes was her client said he was “really nice.” 
  • Holmes also may have had profiles on AdultFriendFinder and The profiles said people noticed his “soul-penetrating eyes” and asked if women would visit him in prison.
  • Weeks before the shooting, he failed an important exam at University of Colorado and bought one of the assault rifles he’d allegedly use in the shooting.
  • He allegedly spent months building an arsenal, possibly from the $26,000 in federal grants he received for graduate school.
  • Now, reports have emerged that Holmes sent a notebook full of his plans last week to a University of Colorado psychiatrist. It went unopened until Monday.
  • Just two days before the shooting, he drank at a local bar. Another patron told KCNC-TV in Denver he seemed intelligent and had a swagger.
  • When he went into the theatre, witnesses said he morphed into a monster, selecting his victims. “He would shout, ‘What are you doing? I said stand up!’ And he would pick people up. I saw him stand over someone. I just see hair and him holding the shirt and — boom!”, 21-year-old Stephanie Davies told the New York Post.
  • Yet Holmes put up no fight in the parking lot and told authorities his apartment was booby-trapped. Police found a complex system of explosives and a Batman mask in the apartment. 
  • Since he was arrested, Holmes’ behaviour has been bizarre. He used police evidence bags as hand puppets, acted dazed in court despite not being on medication and won’t stop spitting at corrections officers, the local ABC affiliate in Denver reported.
  • There’s speculation he’ll go for an insanity defence. But court analysts have predicted that it will flop in court considering the organisation, premeditation and his “normal” background.

DON’T MISS: Post-Columbine Study On Teen Killers Could Give Clues On James Holmes>

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.