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He Wrote About Death and Spoke in Whispers, But Few Imagined What Cho Seung Hui Would Do

Linda Liba and her 11-month-old son look out at the Centreville home of Cho Seung Hui, whose parents she called
Linda Liba and her 11-month-old son look out at the Centreville home of Cho Seung Hui, whose parents she called "very good people." (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)

"For the past month, he stopped coming," Kim said.

Charlotte Peterson, a former Virginia Tech student, said she shared a British literature class with Cho in 2005. On the first day, when the instructor asked students to write their names on a sheet of paper and hand it up, Cho wrote a question mark.

"Even the teacher laughed at him," Peterson said. "Nobody understood him."

Brooke Kistner, 22, a senior English major from Chester, Va., said she had three classes with Cho.

"He would keep his headphones on a lot," she said. "I remember one instance where the teacher had addressed a question to him and he really just stared off into space. He didn't even recall acknowledging that she was talking to him. We were like, 'What are you doing?' The teacher said, 'Will you please see me after class?' and he still didn't even acknowledge her. It was an awkward silence, and then she went back to lecturing."

In his Centreville community, residents recalled him as a strange young man.

"He just seemed odd," said Greg Kearns, a neighbor who tried unsuccessfully now and then to strike up conversations with Cho.

Kearns recalled seeing Cho in front of his parents' townhouse a few years ago. Kearns was walking his dog. When he said hello, Cho turned his head and shoulders away. "It was like he was carrying on a conversation with himself," Kearns said.

Abdul Shash, who lives next door to the Chos, said Cho never seemed to have any friends over the years.

"If you walk and you come close to him, he'd walk away," Shash said. "I have kids, and he never talked to them."

Shash described Cho's parents as quiet, modest and hardworking people who seemed devoted to helping their son. During his years at Virginia Tech, his parents regularly shuttled him to and from Blacksburg, more than four hours each way.

"Nobody knows him really," Shash said. "He's always quiet. When I talk to him, there's no response."

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