Va.Tech Gunman's Motives Still a Mystery
Saturday, April 28, 2007; 4:13 AM
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Since Seung-Hui Cho killed himself after slaughtering 32 classmates and professors, busy investigators are not preparing a prosecution but simply seeking answers. And yet, nearly two weeks after his rampage at Virginia Tech, the student who signed himself with a question mark remains one.
Police are losing sleep over the possibility that the whys and wherefores may never come for survivors and for victims' families.
"With what they have been through and what they have seen, you want to be able to give them answers and bring them to closure," says Col. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police. "But we may never be able to get inside the head of Mr. Cho and find out what he was thinking."
Authorities continue interviews with people the 23-year-old student crossed paths with _ though he revealed little to them. English professor Lucinda Roy described her interactions with Cho as being like talking to "a hole" _ a very dark hole.
Police seek clues in his computer and credit-card records. Why did he strike Ambler Johnston dorm first? Was there something personal behind his choice of victims? Why did this horror happen?
More than most people, the senior from northern Virginia lived in his computer. And computers leave trails.
Using the screen name blazers5505, Cho had been a trader on the eBay Internet auction site since at least January 2004. Mostly, he sold old class texts.
Then, in March, blazers5505 made a purchase from an Idaho shooting supply site: A two-pack of 10-round ammunition magazines for a Walther P22 pistol, total $38.99.
We know from his credit card receipts that Cho bought the Walther in early February. He bought his second handgun, a more powerful Glock 9 mm, about a month later.
We can follow these electronic bread crumbs to track Cho's accumulation of weapons and tools. But his motive?
Cho was known for using the school's Web-based people finder _ jokingly called the "Hokie Stalker" by students _ to research the objects of his affection, gleaning dorm assignments and other information he used to send unwanted messages. But after poring over his computer files, police have found no evidence that Cho had communicated with his first victim, 18-year-old Emily Hilscher.
Cho was seen hovering around the entrance to West Ambler Johnston Hall around 7 a.m. the day of the shootings, around the same time Hilscher returned to the dorm from a weekend with her boyfriend. But he didn't follow her inside, at least not immediately.