Tuesday 12 December 2017

Son of 'Hunger Games' director killed housemates first to create his own 'torture chamber'

Eimear Phelan

The young man who killed six people in California is believed to have killed his housemates first with machetes so he could have a personal “killing chamber.”

One of the victims Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, an engineering student from Taiwan, was a room-mate Elliot Rodger had accused of stealing three candles worth $22 from him in January.


At the time Rodger, 22, attempted a citizen’s arrest over the alleged theft and called police but Mr Hong was released. Friends of Mr Hong said he was planning to move out at the end of the semester because Rodger was “strange”.


Two machetes, a hammer and a knife, were among the items removed from the ground floor corner apartment they shared behind a row of palm trees at the Capri complex in Isla Vista.


In a 141-page manifesto Rodger had described how he intended to use the hammer to knock out his room-mates and then slit their throats a day before launching his gun massacre.

He had saved more than $5,000 in pocket money sent to him by his parents and grandmothers, which he used to buy at least three semi-automatic handguns and more than 400 rounds of ammunition. After doing so he wrote: “Who’s the alpha male now?” A neighbour at the Capri said Rodger had been hospitalised with an injured ankle after being pushed off a ledge in a fight in July.


The neighbour said: “He was so emotional with like water faucets coming out down in his cheeks for half an hour. I’ve never seen anybody that mad. He said ’I’m gong to kill all of them I’m going to kill myself’. I don’t know if that’s what set the plan in motion.”

He described once taking Rodger to a party but he was “like a ghost” and ’just stared at people”.

According to his manifesto Rodger developed an irrational hatred of several blonde women. They included the first girl he had a “crush” on at the age of 14, who grew up to be a model, and the first girl he was friends with as a child who also became a “popular” person. They have declined to comment.

Minutes before opening fire in central Isla Vista, Rodger emailed his manifesto to 30 people including his parents, therapists and former teachers. It is believed he may have already killed the three men in his house by then.

One of the therapists immediately telephoned Rodger’s mother Chin Rodger.

He said “Have you gotten Elliot’s email? I think you should see it.” The time was 9.17pm on Friday, about 13 minutes before the massacre began.


She telephoned her husband Peter Rodger, assistant director of the Hunger Games films, from whom she is divorced. He was out to dinner but they both began racing from Los Angeles to Isla Vista in separate cars. Both heard details of the massacre on their car radios.


Simon Astaire, a family friend, said their son had been seeing therapists since the age of eight, including virtually “every day” while at high school.


He said: “What more could they have done? They are going through indescribable grief dealing with the loss of their son. His parents were conscious and concerned about their son’s health. They thought he was in good hands.”


Mr Astaire said Rodger, who was believed to have Asperger’s but had not been diagnosed, was “reserved to a daunting degree” and “fundamentally withdrawn”, but seemed to have “no affinity to guns whatsoever”.


Other friends of Peter Rodger said he was “heartbroken” and “did everything he could”, including engaging top specialists, but his son turned his back on therapy as an adult and refused to take medication.


Police visited him at the Capri on April 30 after being alerted by his mother to disturbing videos on YouTube. But officers had not watched the videos and did not search the apartment.


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