October 6th, 2017

Mass-murdering man of mystery [Part II]: Charles Whitman’s motives

[Part I can be found here.]

One of the strangest mass murderers in history was Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower shooter of 1966. It was a big big story and a profound shock at the time, and those of us who were around back then probably remember it well. Whitman—a young man who climbed a tower at the University of Texas and coldly (and skillfully, with a marksman’s abilities) executed passers-by—had once been an Eagle scout and a Marine and a good student. Earlier in the day, he had also killed his mother and his wife.

What could have happened to cause this behavior? Strangely enough, Whitman himself was one of those people who really wanted to know the answer.

The following quotes contain some excerpts from a journal and notes that he wrote the night before and on the day of the killings. They describe his puzzlement:

I do not quite understand what it is that compels me to type this letter. Perhaps it is to leave some vague reason for the actions I have recently performed. I do not really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I cannot recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts. These thoughts constantly recur, and it requires a tremendous mental effort to concentrate on useful and progressive tasks….

In his note, he went on to request an autopsy be performed on his remains after he was dead to determine if there had been a discernible biological contributory cause for his actions and for his continuing and increasingly intense headaches. He also wrote that he had decided to kill both his mother and wife. Expressing uncertainty about his reasons, he nonetheless stated he did not believe his mother had “ever enjoyed life as she is entitled to”, and that his wife had “been as fine a wife to me as any man could ever hope to have.” Whitman further explained he wanted to relieve both his wife and mother of the suffering of this world, and to save them the embarrassment of his actions. He did not mention planning the attack at the university.

That was the night before. Here’s a later note he wrote shortly after killing his mother:

To Whom It May Concern: I have just taken my mother’s life. I am very upset over having done it. However, I feel that if there is a heaven she is definitely there now […] I am truly sorry […] Let there be no doubt in your mind that I loved this woman with all my heart.

Still later:

I imagine it appears that I brutally killed both of my loved ones. I was only trying to do a quick thorough job […] If my life insurance policy is valid please pay off my debts […] donate the rest anonymously to a mental health foundation. Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type.

Clearly, Whitman didn’t understand his own motives. He had also told a mental health counselor earlier that he had thoughts of going to the tower and killing people:

I talked with a Doctor once for about two hours and tried to convey to him my fears that I felt come [sic] overwhelming violent impulses. After one visit, I never saw the Doctor again, and since then have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail.”

Heatly’s [the doctor he saw] notes on the visit said, “This massive, muscular youth seemed to be oozing with hostility […] that something seemed to be happening to him and that he didn’t seem to be himself.” “He readily admits having overwhelming periods of hostility with a very minimum of provocation. Repeated inquiries attempting to analyze his exact experiences were not too successful with the exception of his vivid reference to ‘thinking about going up on the tower with a deer rifle and start shooting people.’

I’m not sure why there was no follow-up, but there wasn’t. You can’t say Whitman didn’t try to warn someone (this was before Tarasoff).

If you know much about the Whitman case, you know that Whitman’s requested autopsy was indeed performed and a brain tumor was found. It’s hard not to think that the tumor cause his behavior, but things are not that clear:

On August 2, an autopsy was conducted by Dr. Chenar (a neuropathologist at Austin State Hospital) at the funeral home. Urine and blood were removed to test for traces of amphetamines or other substances. During the autopsy, Chenar discovered a “pecan-sized” brain tumor, which he labeled an astrocytoma and which exhibited a small amount of necrosis. Chenar concluded that the tumor had no effect on Whitman’s actions, but this result was later revised by the Connally Commission.

…The commission was composed of neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, pathologists, psychologists, and the University of Texas Health Center Directors, John White and Maurice Heatly. The Commission’s toxicology tests revealed nothing significant. They examined Chenar’s paraffin blocks of the tumor, stained specimens of it and Whitman’s other brain tissue, in addition to the remainder of the autopsy specimens available.

Following a three-hour hearing on August 5, the Commission concluded that Chenar’s finding had been in error. They found that the tumor had features of a glioblastoma multiforme, with widespread areas of necrosis, palisading[a] of cells. and a “remarkable vascular component” described as having “the nature of a small congenital vascular malformation.” Psychiatric contributors to the report concluded that “the relationship between the brain tumor and […] Whitman’s actions […] cannot be established with clarity. However, the […] tumor conceivably could have contributed to his inability to control his emotions and actions”, while the neurologists and neuropathologists concluded: “The application of existing knowledge of organic brain function does not enable us to explain the actions of Whitman on August first.”

Forensic investigators have theorized that the tumor pressed against Whitman’s amygdala, a part of the brain related to anxiety and fight-or-flight responses.

In other words, the tumor might or might not have mattered, and his motives and the reason for the change in his behavior remain mysterious and unknown—and they certainly seem to have remained mysterious to Whitman.

[NOTE: This article about the aftermath for one of Whitman’s shooting victims is extremely sad.]

16 Responses to “Mass-murdering man of mystery [Part II]: Charles Whitman’s motives”

  1. Ymar Sakar Says:

    This almost like the JFK assassination, except for a modern audience.

    Maybe this time, we can finally find out:

    One shooter or multiple shooters?

  2. pa Says:

    Whitman’s attack and death occurred in 1966, that is, FIFTY years ago. Surely medical science has advanced sufficiently to add at least a little more up-to-date information on the effects of Whitman’s brain tumor on his feelings and behavior. Medical historians often research old cases and interpret them in light of new knowledge. I wonder if anyone has reviewed Whitman’s old case.

  3. neo-neocon Says:


    The experts still don’t know. My personal opinion is that the brain tumor was an influence on his increasingly aggressive behavior, but not the whole story.

  4. Stubbs Says:

    I don’t think we know enough about the brain, even today, to say anything with certainty about that tumor. It’s suspect number one in my mind.

    But how do you get from the physical object in the brain to the cold-blooded disregard for the concerns of others, especially those of his wife and mother, both of whom he claims to love? The disjunction is just enormous.

    One of my hobby horses is to warn people over and over not to claim to know something when they don’t truly know it, and this and the Las Vegas shootings would be a good place for this principle to be rigorously applied (not to mention how much ink and time would be saved around the world if people would stop guessing and claiming to know).

    My hunch is, and I stated this to my wife about two days ago, that the Las Vegas killings involved a similar real and not solely psychological cause. Let’s let the investigation go on.

    Let me point out that three men won the Nobel this week for studying, at the molecular level, our circadian rythms. The results are now beginning to pour out in the form of cures for illnesses, etc. And by the way, I was a literature major, so I can hardly understand any of it. But I marvel.

  5. blert Says:

    1) Any brain tumor of that size is going to affect sleep — and DREAMS.

    2) Dreams can’t easily be distinguished from memories — once you’ve crossed a threshold.

  6. miklos000rosza Says:

    I am glad that the workings of the brain are not yet understood. Because when the brain is “understood” enough to significantly be controlled — then it will be so controlled, “for our own good.”

    Goodbye then to the irrational factor, which means goodbye to sense of humor and laughter, goodbye to creativity and all art.

    Those are the most obvious side-effects of rendering our thoughts “safe.”

  7. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    It seems likely that the tumor was the triggering ‘mechanism’ for Whitman.

    Mark Steyn’s latest post has the most plausible explanation I have yet read of Paddock’s motivation: “Theory of the Case”

    If the perpetrator yields no clues, look to the nature of the victims.

    Yes, Paddock had originally planned on attacking another venue. If gun control was his object, then he must of thought that his earlier plans failing to materialize was ‘for the best’ after all. As “the gentleman from the London Think Tank” points out, the slaughter both horrifies and as defenders of “gun rights” they also had it coming… since they “enable” gun violence… If so, Paddock saw it as a “twofer”.

    Evil must always justify itself.

  8. blert Says:


    Thanks for the link.

    Best analysis yet.

  9. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Steyn’s post is interesting. But Paddock hadn’t, as far as we know, indicated any kind of moral sense which would cause him to make such an effort. Nobody was important to him, from what we now know.
    So, yes, a real nutcase who opposed gun ownership might be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. But, somehow, Paddock would have to be linked to, at least, some liberal activities in previous years before this is believable.

  10. Mike K Says:

    The note that was found in the room is supposedly not a
    “suicide note” but made up of mysterious numbers. Perhaps he was that most mysterious of individuals, a high speed serial killer. Why did Ted Bundy kill all those young girls?

  11. Stubbs Says:

    Steyn’s London correspondent doesn’t explain why an anti-gun nut would obliterate himself in his little lesson for the world, although the explanation he offers is guaranteed tol have great appeal to those of us on the right, because it blames the left. Last time I looked, the desire to keep one’s life going was a pretty strong motivator for most people.

    I don’t like leftists’ politics, but I am not going to do away with myself in order to achieve an embarrassment for them. It is possible that Stein’s correspondent has stumbled on the true motivation, but the correspondent hasn’t proven it. By the way, I have always admired Steyn’s thinking; I don’t in this case.

    Again, this attempting to provide the “only possible explanation” is just crap at this point. I wish people would stop trying to prove that they are as expert as the FBI in providing the one true explanation. It just proves the ambition of the writer, and it must be at least annoying to the families of the dead.

  12. Sergey Says:

    Forget about medical science and all other materialistic explanations. This was a clear case of demonic possession. Such things happen. Rarely, but repeatedly. And recent shooting in Las Vegas was in the same category. A psychopath, for sure, but more than this: a homicidal maniac with obsessive idea to kill people without any reason at all.

  13. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Americans depending on “experts” to gateway information to them… talk about being weak all over again.

  14. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Why did Ted Bundy kill all those young girls?

    Sergey Says:
    October 7th, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Following what Sergey noted, spiritual possession, known in the West as demonic possession, is well documented in many countries and cultures. In fact, Voodoo, medicine using tribes for spiritual contact, often intentionally open the gates to be possessed by spirits, in order to obtain power, knowledge, or spells. This is perhaps better known as “spiritual mediums” in the US. Although it is not exactly the same thing.

    There are two primary types of spirits. Angels and demons (not the same thing), that can influence a person’s actions or directly control them, if the soul-body-mind connection ever becomes weak enough. This is why certain religious sects don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. It interrupts the soul-body connection.

    People can check other similar cases, such as the sleep paralysis Shadow Man observations of various people. There’s even a wiki article about it.

    Many sociopaths and psychopaths, are very logical with an above average IQ.


    I wouldn’t go so far to point the cause to be A or Z. In the West, we look for, because we are conditioned to do this, psychological or medical reasons based on Western anatomy. In the East and other countries, spiritual causes are also analyzed and not discounted as much.

    I synergize the two prototypical point of views.

    Also, demons in the Western concept, are fallen angels basically. That is incorrect. Demons are the banished or disembodied spirits of Nephiliim, giants basically, like the tribes Israel wiped our Goliath. Their cannibalism, aggression, and other tendencies, are still with those spirits, yet they lack a body to express those instincts now.

    The common Western conception is that Ted Bundy is playing to an audience, but for a sociopath or psychopath, catering to your persecutors at the end of your life just seems like a big waste of time. Someone that paid no attention to your human laws and human mercy and conceptions of that kind of conditioning, would go out of his way to come up with deception and self deception to play out a final “I’m human just like you” may be his way to have a final game or laugh, but to me it is just a waste of time.

    Someone that thought like a superior hunter as Ted, for example, against women, would be rather foolish, after coming all this way, to kneel down and bow before human morality and laws, one last time. A waste of time. If he wanted to preserve his life, he should have just avoided this issue to begin with. Which implies that he couldn’t control himself. Yet if he can’t control himself, how is he putting on an act when I’m analyzing his body language?

    It is easily explained by external mind control influences, but not if the person was always there.

    People thought the same about Snowden, btw, that he was a sociopath or psychopath traitor. I read his interview and read his body language, and came to a different point of view early days. Indeed, one would have to be a sociopath to given up his American citizenship and moral circles just to stick it to the “Man”…, especially since Man Cia would just drone bomb you once you outside the US or via extradition or extraordinary rendition.

  15. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Ted Bundy is also mostly correct about pornography, surprising if he didn’t have the internet or research sources or experience of it.

    Elizabeth Smart once noted that her rapist and kidnapper, got really excited about porn journals he brought home to experiment with.

    Given my background, talking to ex cons and criminals isn’t such a shocking issue, since my original training was designed to counter terrorists or suicidal fanatics. Somebody that just wants to stab you in the back because you “dissed” him is relatively low on the threat scale there. You just have to kill them, or at least communicate in a way they can understand that you aren’t like other human sheep walking around…

    So the dismorphic “fear” that is generated amongst the West, where you keep these criminals in jail to protect society from them… in my pov, the criminal is in jail to protect them from people like me, not the other way around. As a result, having me interview people like Ted Bundy and introduce the various subjects that people here claim they don’t understand, would be pretty enlightening and entertaining. Sociopaths and body language Master Manipulators, can manipulate average people very well. But they can’t do so when they don’t understand my research very well.

    As for Ted Bundy’s purported intelligence… he is merely average to me. The things we have discovered since his death, far overshadows whatever temporary or Normalized edge he had over the Average American.

    The State Controls people by presenting bogeymen and saying “Obey Us Or Else you will fall to the devils and villains”. For the Japanese, it was the Western colonialists fighting against Asian Prosperity. For the Germans, it was the fiendish Semites (only a certain type of Semite, Arabs and Kurds not included).

    Many of the serial killers in US history, the information on them has been filtered to the public via lawyers and main sewer media gateway keepers… and people can probably guess how far I can trust those types.

    That is why, if only too late at this stage, we should all reanalyze the “truths” the State has fed us. If only because in the future, there’ll be even more mass killers to deal with.

  16. Tim Turner Says:

    I’m inclined to follow Neo’s explanation. He just took delight in other people’s misfortune.

    It’s not political, because he left no political statement.

    If he was trying to act as a crusader for gun control, why was he buying guns as early as 1982?

    Look at his earlier Las Vegas target – the “Life is beautiful” concert. He was an abusive old man who took delight in manipulating people (look at his treatment of his girlfriend, and his pride in being a winning gambler). He was old and certainly reaching that age where he realized “it’s all over soon” anyway. It was time to go out while he was still in his prime. If he could get away, then good. If not, he was able to deface history with a mark that would cause pain for a hundred years as people pass about stories of “the greatest massacre in US history”.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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