Shooting suspect struggled with emotional issues after war

Texas Department of Public Safety photo

Texas Department of Public Safety photo

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

 

Details are starting to emerge about the suspect in last weekend’s double-homicide at Rough Creek Lodge and they paint a picture of an emotionally disturbed young veteran haunted by his war experiences.

Eddie Ray Routh, 25, has been charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths Saturday of decorated war hero and elite military sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. The three were at the long-distance gun range Saturday afternoon on a remote part of the 11,000-acre resort when the shootings occurred.

A possible connection also has emerged between Routh and Kyle. Both attended high school in Midlothian, where Kyle was well known, and where Routh’s mother and Littlefield’s wife were both employed by the school district.

Routh is a 2006 graduate of Midlothian High School, the district confirmed. The district said it had no records of disciplinary action against Routh while he was a student .

Kyle graduated from Midlothian High School in 1992 and still has friends in the area. One of them, who did not want to be identified, said he returned occasionally to visit friends and attend high school football games.

Routh has a sister in Midlothian, Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Sunday at a news conference in Stephenville. He said after Routh fled the scene in Kyle’s truck on Saturday, he went to his sister’s home in Midlothian and told her and her husband “what had happened.”

After he left and went to his residence in nearby Lancaster, the couple alerted local law enforcement, Bryant said.

Tamara Jolee, a former TV news anchor who said she is close to the Kyle family, has been posting on Twitter.com that Routh displayed “aggression” and “mental issues” all the way back to high school. They “accelerated” when he went into the U.S. Marine Corps, she said in her tweet.

The Current has not been able to reach Jolee for comment.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Pentagon records showed Routh is a member of the Marine Reserves and was “an expert marksman and Marine corporal who had earned several medals, including a Marine good-conduct medal.”

He served in Iraq from September 2007 to March 2008. Pentagon officials told the times that Routh currently was listed as “individual ready reserve” and could be called back to active duty.

Routh previously lived at Camp LeJeune, N.C., the home of a major Marine base.

Records show that Routh was arrested and convicted in January 2012 in Johnson County of driving while intoxicated.

The Current obtained Lancaster police reports that show Routh was taken to a mental hospital in September after “threatening to kill himself and his family.” Police responded to a disturbance at Routh’s home and found him walking nearby and smelling of alcohol, according to the Routh investigation report.

“Eddie was emotional and crying,” the report said. Routh also told police he “was hurting” and suffered from PTSD.

Routh’s mother, Jodi Leigh Routh, told police her son had become upset that her husband was going to sell his gun.

“She stated Eddie began arguing and stated that he was going to ‘blow his brains out,’” the report said. Routh was put into protective custody and taken to Green Oaks Psychiatric Hospital for a mental evaluation.

The Dallas Morning News also obtained a report about a Jan. 19 incident in which a woman called police to her North Dallas apartment saying she feared for Routh’s safety.

Bryant said that Routh’s mother is a “longtime teacher” who may have sought out Kyle to help her son cope with “mental illness” problems related to his time in the military. The Midlothian school district said that Jodi Routh has been a Midlothian ISD educational aide employee since 1997. She currently is a special education aide at Longbranch Elementary.

“She may have reached out to Mr. Kyle to try and help her son,” Bryant said. “We kind of have an idea that maybe that’s why they were at the range, for some type of therapy that Mr. Kyle assists people with.”

Chadfield’s wife, Leanne, is an assistant principal at Walnut Grove Middle School.

Kyle in 2011 established a foundation, FITCO Cares, to provide veterans with counseling and exercise equipment. He and Chadfield were “workout buddies,” as Kyle described him.

Kyle said he believed that camaraderie with fellow veterans and exercise could help veterans adjust to civilian life.

Some of Kyle’s friends are scheduled to meet in Midlothian Monday night to plan “an event” — not a vigil — honoring their fallen friend.

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