Newtown shooter may have edited Wikipedia entries on massacres, report says

7:14 AM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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(CBSNews.com) - Once thought to have a minimal digital footprint, a recent report by the Hartford Courant suggests that the Newtown gunman Adam Lanza has posted discussions in several gun-enthusiast forums and edited several Wikipedia articles about mass shootings.

Lanza killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School and his mother Nancy Lanza, before taking his own life, on Dec. 14, 2012. At the time, authorities were faced with computer hard drives at the scene of the crime that were destroyed, leaving few clues as to what drove the gunman to carry out the massacre.

The Courant reported on Sunday, that Lanza reviewed several dozen Wikipedia entries related to mass murders and had conversation on the gun forum thehighroad.org and glocktalk.com, between April 2009 and February 2010. 

Citing "sources familiar with the probe," the Courant reports that investigators have linked a user name on a website forum to Lanza. The newspaper also discovered the same user name on Wikipedia, and drew a connection. CBSNews.com is not publishing the user name thought to belong to Lanza. 

The Wikipedia user suspected to be Lanza corrected several mistakes for the entry on Richard Farley -- a man who in 1988 killed seven people at ESL Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif. The user also made edits to entries about the 2006 Dawson College shooting in Montreal, Canada, a massacre at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas and Kip Kinkel -- who in 1982, at the age of 15, killed his parents before a shooting spree at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore.

The research associated with the Wikipedia account in question aligns with previous reports that Lanza showed a deep interest in mass shootings. Earlier this year, law enforcement sources said that Lanza saw himself as competing with Anders Breivik, a Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011.

Wikipedia says that the connection between Lanza and the alleged Wikipedia account appears to be speculative. When asked if the online encyclopedia would confirm the account's identity to law enforcement, head of communications at Wikimedia Foundation Jay Walsh told CBSNews.com via email: "We have no way to confirm that a username is associated with an individual. The username in question made 12 separate edits from 2009 to 2010. This is a small number of edits, and we would not consider this to be an active user."

Wikipedia users can edit entries anonymously, but the organization does log IP addresses. In this case, Walsh says that because the edits are "years old," the company no longer has a record of the IP address of the user account in question.

"Wikipedians are not required to disclose personal information (name, location, gender etc) to create an account and edit on our project, although many do disclose that information on their user pages. In this case that user has not disclosed any of that information," Walsh says.

According to the Courant, some of the forum threads on the gun-enthusiast websites included YouTube links to commercials for laughing dolls and an animatronic band.

A glocktalk.com user suspected to be Lanza, lays out the specification for his home computer in one forum thread. In an entry on thehighroad.org, the users suspected to be Lanza asks forum members if they think a gun called the CZ vz. 61 will be banned in Connecticut. When told to consult with state police, the user says he would prefer to ask through proxy rather than speaking to someone directly.

"I was just wondering if anyone knew because I have a fetish for .32 ACP," the forum users suspected to be Lanza wrote, referring to an automatic colt pistol.

 

If the online accounts belonged to Lanza, it would illustrate another side of the 20-year-old man who was previously thought to be isolated from the world. At the time of the shooting, he didn't appear to have any social media profiles.

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