Gunman's Writings 'Out of a Nightmare'

By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

For a look into the mind of a mass murderer, consider reading "Richard McBeef," a 10-page play written by Cho Seung Hui.

It features an "aging balding overweight pedophiliac" stepdad named Dick who puts his hands on the lap of his stepson, a 13-year-old who appears driven to kill and a wife who beats her husband with her shoe.

Or consider "Mr. Brownstone," another Cho play, about a group of bored teenagers and a teacher who they claim raped them and then stole their $5 million in casino winnings. Even allowing for creative freedom, the plays that Cho wrote as an English major at Virginia Tech display a deep anger and preoccupation with violence, feces and sodomy.

The plays were posted on the Internet yesterday by AOL's News Bloggers site, which obtained them from an employee, Ian MacFarlane, a classmate of Cho's at Virginia Tech until December.

"Most people who have read those plays have been horrified by the young man's apparent state of mind," said AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein. "Thousands of AOL users have been deeply disturbed."

MacFarlane declined to comment through the spokesman but said in his blog posting, that he thought of Cho immediately after hearing about the massacre in Blacksburg. He thought Cho fit the stereotype of a "school shooter" -- a loner, obsessed with violence, with serious personal problems.

Although he and Cho were in the same playwriting class in the fall, MacFarlane said he realized that he had never heard Cho's voice. He and some of their classmates tried to talk to Cho, to lure him out of his shell, but he kept to himself and seemed resistant to making friends.

All the playwriting students had to submit their work for assessment by the rest of the class, usually supportive critiques, MacFarlane wrote. That was a problem with Cho's work, he said, because "it was like something out of a nightmare."

"The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of," MacFarlane wrote. Cho's brooding became so intense, MacFarlane said, that he and others wondered whether Cho could shoot up a school.

MacFarlane said he debated whether to post the plays on the Internet. But he hoped that by doing so, they might offer some insight into the mind of a mass murderer.

The two plays are filled with diatribes against Catholic priests and Michael Jackson, along with references to government conspiracies to kill Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon. In "Richard McBeef," the mother of the 13-year-old named John, who claims his stepfather tried to molest him, slaps her husband's face and hits him on the head with her shoe. "You fat piece of pork," she yells at her husband.

"Oh my god," she yells. "You are a pedophile."

"No. No . . . Honey-poo," he responds, before making a graphic suggestion that they have sex.

John rants in the play about the need to kill his stepfather: "I hate him. Must kill Dick. Must kill Dick. Dick must die." At one point, John's mother "grabs a chainsaw and brandishes it at Richard, who retreats to a car parked in the family's garage. John later joins Richard in the car and says: "Today is one fruity day." Then Richard kills his stepson.

MacFarlane said he always wanted to help Cho but couldn't think of how to do that. As far as notifying authorities, he said he had no idea about whom to turn to.

MacFarlane said there was no system to let people say: "Hey! This guy has some issues! Maybe you should look into this guy!" If there were, he wrote, "I definitely would have tried to get the kid some help. I think that could have had a good chance of averting [the] tragedy. . . ."

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