Kaynbred, Adam Lanza, and Wikipedia: 3 years in the basement

For the last years of Adam Lanza’s life, starting with his withdrawal from Connecticut State University in 2009, he was a recluse, rarely ever leaving the darkened basement of his mother’s home. Except for a brief stint at Norwalk Community College, lasting less than one semester in 2010, this period of societal darkness coincides with his sudden presence online, and the first evidence we currently have of his interest in mass shootings.

In reviewing his Wikipedia posts, their content, and his other online activities that coincide with their timestamps, we can get a picture of his developing interests in those years of solitude, even while his exact motivations remain a mystery, as his fixation on firearms and mass shootings increasingly consumed his life.

The first Wikipedia contributions from the user Kaynbred–reported to have been Adam Lanza–were not on any actual Wikipedia article. Instead, he contributed to the “talk” page (similar to a forum in which Wikipedia editors can discuss or debate potential edits to the respective page) for the page associated with the “2009 Collier Township Shooting”.

The first of these two “talk” interactions was uploaded on August 6th, 2009, at 1:29am GMT. This time converts to about 9:30 at night on August 5th in Connecticut, barely 24 hours after the shooting itself.

Either Lanza already had a fixation on mass shootings by this point, or this is the one that sparked his obsession.

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The nature of Adam’s two posts to the talk page show that he was participating in an online gawker’s scramble to collect information from George Sodini’s personal websites in the hours after the shooting. Another poster had reported that “The web site was taken down at 11:15 am EDT, just after I has saved the “liveordie.htm” page but before I could return to the other pages such as 19600930.htm” – referring to sub-pages under the main URL georgesodini.com (now inactive).

The “19600930.htm” sub-page that the users are searching for is then described by another user as the “birth page,” as the numbers 19600930 correspond to George Sodini’s birthday, September 3rd 1960.

This is where Kaynbred enters the anonymous conversation.

He states that “It was not removed at 11:15 AM. It is actually still available; just refresh the page multiple times and it will appear. Typing his date of birth does not lead to anything.”—The “it” Lanza refers to as “still available” is thus the main page of Sodini’s site. He appears to be saying that the “birth page” is missing, but the site itself remains active as of that time.

Kaynbred returns to the talk pages for this shooting just over a week later, his comment time-stamped “02:07, 14 August 2009 (UTC)” – or, in Newtown, CT time, 10:10pm on Thursday, August 13. Here he adds an update on George Sodini’s website status: “All pages are now blank as of August 14, 2009, 03:00 GMT. The last time that I checked for activity was August 9, 2009, at which point the website was still available.” Although it has been several days since he accessed the page, this is confirmation that he made multiple visits (Aug 5th, 9th, and 13th).

The content of George Sodini’s website was disturbing and requires its own separate analysis to understand. Suffice to say, he was an alienated man, 32 years Adam’s senior, who was frustrated at his repeated failures to establish relationships with other people–especially women–in his adult life, and had strained relations with his family members, particularly his “successful in the financial world” brother, whom he saw as a bully.

It would be impossible to know if Adam Lanza identified with George Sodini’s writings, beyond simple comparisons between their lives, and the obvious fact that both committed such heinous crimes. Surely, it would be comforting to tell ourselves (in that it would at least be a motive) that Adam read George’s blog, saw George’s repeated emphasis that all of the years of his life since his early adulthood – a span of 25 years that Adam was struggling to enter already – had been “wasted”, and that Adam decided on his rampage then and there.

However, Adam’s medical and educational history, his interactions throughout his life, and his other online activities all suggest a young man who likely would not have identified with anyone at all. His interest in George’s site probably amounted to a simple matter of researching his competition.

After these edits to the 2009 Collier Township shooting page, the next several months of Kaynbred/Lanza’s online activity (see the timeline here) are a flurry of posts to gun enthusiast forums regarding the minutiae of Connecticut firearms laws, the merits of one weapon or caliber over another, and the beginning of his playing the online First-Person Shooter (FPS) Combat Arms, which features a vast catalog of realistic (at least in terms of names and appearances) firearms to use in the game.

His next contribution to Wikipedia comes two weeks after his George Sodini posts, and is not on a talk page; he makes his first edit to an actual article, that of the Dawson College shooting, which occurred three years prior in Quebec, Canada, and resulted in the death of one student and injuring of 19. (Like George Sodini, the shooter targeted women and killed himself afterward; however, given that we are dealing with mass killers who are men, frustration with women is not a very unique characteristic.)

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The edit is minor. A previous user had written that the perpetrator had used “Beretta Cx4 Storm .9mm” in the shooting, erroneously applying a decimal point before “9mm” (which would make the respective ammunition a tenth of its actual size), and Adam’s only change was to remove the decimal point. Attaching a comment to his edit (not visible in the article proper) he joked “’9mm’ was listed as ‘.9mm’. People say that 9mm is anemic, but this is ridiculous.”

This may seem more like nitpicking than joking, because it’s not a joke that translates well to text, but picture it in this context: two shooters at a firing range, noticing a typo on a records form, and saying it to each other with a guffaw. Kaynbred is trying to impress others with his firearms knowledge, and ingratiate himself at the same time, the gyst being “it’s small but it’s not THAT small! Let me correct you.” This is the same tone he strikes in his firearms forum posts, and should be familiar to anyone who used the internet when they were in their late teens: trying hard to look like they aren’t trying hard to fit in.

Still, Kaynbred does make the correction. He’s striving for accuracy in the weapons used, a markedly more focused contribution than his general interest in George Sodini.

Four months go by before “Kaynbred” returns to Wikipedia. Adam returns to his gun forums, posting much of the same sort of fluff he already had been, and gets deep into Combat Arms, signing up with a “pistols only” clan and posting erratically on their website.

When he does return to wikipedia, it is again not in reaction to any breaking story. He is doing his homework, researching past shootings. On December 9th, he makes edits to four different wikipedia pages, each for a mass shooting.

December 9th edits

  1. Kaynbred removed details from the “Luby’s massacre” that focused on the motive of the shooting and how it related to the gender of victims (the shooter in that case is commonly reported to be a misogynist who targeted women). The information he removed included a mention of George Sondini’s shooting (the wiki “talk” page for that crime marked Kaynbred’s first contribution to Wikipedia, several months before) that also focused on his motives and victims.
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    The method Kaynbred used to remove these edits was to roll back the article to a previous edition, falling back on another user’s work. Thus he made no changes of his own.
  2. Again on December 9th, Adam removed a long and dramatic paragraph from the page for “Larry Gene Ashbrook,” which details Ashbrook’s shooting at a Christian rock concert. The information he removed concerned the victims, and an account of one victim confronting the shooter mid-massacre with a confirmation of their faith in god and the afterlife. Another section described how a survivor was affected by their injuries in the years hence.
    ImageAll of this information Adam deleted, again by reverting the article to a previous version.
  3. Kaynbred updated the page for Kip Kinkel’s school shooting in Oregon in 1998. His edits again focus on specifying exact weapon models, rather than simply manufacturers and chamberings: for example, updating “.22 Ruger pistol” to “.22LR Ruger Mark II pistol”.
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  4. Once again, on the same busy day of Wikipedia work, Adam removed a section from the “Westroads Mall shooting” article. At the time of that mass shooting, in 2007, there had been speculation that a forum post on the site 4chan.com had been from the shooter, confessing the crime he was about to commit.
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    This 4chan post was already proven to be a hoax, but as Adam was reading the Wikipedia article two years later, other users were still trying to add it to the article as if it were genuine, despite numerous deletions. Adam simply deleted that section again, and noted in his comment “Information about the hoax has been removed again.” 

The focus of this edit, from the Westroads Mall shooting, is interesting in light of Adam’s own later efforts to erase his online footprint (deleting posts and destroying his hard drives) while also researching George Sodini’s; as with the guns used in all cases, Adam was interested in facts. He wished to destroy his own records, but had no qualms in reading other shooters’ rants whenever available, his only qualms apparently being falsified posts.

Then, on December 31, 2009, a man murdered five people at the Sello Mall in Finland. Less than a month after the shooting, on January 21st, 2010, Adam is back, editing the “Sello Mall shooting” wiki page.

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This time it’s another minor edit, but with another different focus: he removes “Hungerford Massacre” from the “see also” section of the page, and replaces it with a link to the page for “Sylvia Seegrist“, noting his reasoning that “The Hungerford Massacre doesn’t seem to be relevant to [the Sello Mall shooting] as much as the others. Sylvia Seegrist was added.” In doing so, Adam removed an event from the UK in 1987, a rampage involving multiple carjackings and crime scenes in when 16 were killed, including the perpetrator’s mother, in favor an event in 1985 when three were killed at a mall in the US, and no family members were killed. It’s a logical but very miniscule distinction (connecting two mall shootings), showing that by this time he must have begun exhaustively cataloging variables for every mass shooting on record.

Kaynbred’s final series of edits – indeed, Lanza’s last known posts online anywhere – were made on February 4th, 2010, to the  page for Richard Farley, who had killed 7 in a workplace shooting in 1988. This time, his edits were added in four different pieces; three of them are formatting corrections, and the removal of nonsense information added by another user. The fourth is familiar: he adds specific information about the shooter’s weapons.

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Of particular note is that Kaynbred here added information that was not present in the article already; beyond simply changing “Browning Hi-Power” to “Browing .380 ACP pistol” and “Smith & Wesson pistol” to “Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol”, he added the details that Richard Farley had also armed himself with “a foot-long buck knife and smoke bomb.” For the first time, and in his last contribution, he adds new information.

This in itself is noteworthy, because it proves that the “Kaynbred” online profile does not represent the depth of his research into mass shootings. Although he did not cite a source, the information that Richard Farley had used a knife and smoke device must have been obtained via some other means of research beyond Wikipedia (a cursory web search suggests he may have obtained this information from an appeal filed in 2007 by Farley himself, although this is just speculation).

Motives and victims were apparently not of interest to Adam Lanza, or more accurately, were not appropriate in his mind for reference material. He preferred the descriptions of these crimes to focus on arms, tactics, and body count. Cold, clinical and above all, uniform. Structured. It’s enough that I suspect there was a mild frustration in him with how the erratic crowd-sourced Wikipedia pages strayed from the rigid scoring he set up in his own spreadsheet, which was surely open in another window as he made these Wikipedia edits: edits that remain among the few, stubborn records of his online life –arguably his “real life”– that he would have no choice but to leave behind.

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About Reed Coleman

email: reedscoleman@gmail.com
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18 Responses to Kaynbred, Adam Lanza, and Wikipedia: 3 years in the basement

  1. James says:

    Many people say that the investigation should be simple, because the prime suspect is dead, but I disagree. I think we should know everything we can about Lanza so that we can attemp to find things that may have influenced him. For example, what music was he listening to when he drove to newtown? Did he have his car keys on him, or leave them in the car? (Maybe he thought he could get out). What color was his room painted? These are minute details, but are the detailed minutiae that provide insights into a personality that all of know nothing about. I digress, but thank you for this write up.

  2. Schultz Barbara says:

    Investigation should also be done on Asbergers and it’s medication, Violent Video Games (Black Ops 2) and the amount of hours playing it. Sleep patterns or lack thereof. Diet as it relates to asbergers …

    • Roger says:

      Stop the bullshit comments about video games. Millions upon millions of people play them for fucks sake, you old trollop.

  3. Schultz Barbara says:

    I wouldn’t rule out the father’s influence being the same sex. Divorce. Fathers new life. The hate for his working mother. Stress and ability to manage it.

  4. Zephyr says:

    All four car doors were left open. Sure looked as if a team of shooters was planning to race back to the vehicle and get in, and away, in the minimum amount of time possible.

  5. Rebecca wade says:

    I have done that research. I live it. Myself and my daughter. I play battlefield regularly. My daughter plays my the walking dead. Neither of us will ever go and shoot up a school. And I’m sick of people thinking aspergers has caused a quiet socially awkward boy to become a mass murderer. This profile is bullshit. To be believed by people who think you medicate a person with aspergers. Are you aware that one) there has been no proof he was diagnosed with aspergers and two) if he was, there is actually no such thing anymore and it’s now referred to as asd, autism spectrum disorder. How may autistic people are looked at as possible mass murderers? This demonising of aspergers and people who have little social skills and don’t fit into this judgmental, vain, ignorant world, prefer to play video games rather than what ever it is the rest of the world does, is disgusting. What’s worse? The amount of people that are eating it up like candy. I doubt he even existed with this crazy nonsense profile and strangely but clearly created home photos of the evidence of his craziness. I’ve never seen such odd photos, and they all happened to prove each thing that was initially reported on. It’s all very very odd. But please don’t be ignorant about aspergers, autism, adhd, unless you do your own real research, you will be fearing the wrong people for ever.

  6. Truth says:

    This is all some government bull crap to ban guns the Muslim in office wants more people to be on his side and what better way than to use children. I mean bombs were used in Boston and the first thing Obama and holder did was attack guns were not free anymore and people who bow to this idiacity is the reason America is in the shape it is open your eyes and stop your crap

  7. Sickos Not Welcome says:

    Yet another whacko. “Truth” (ironic pseudonym since you wouldn’t recognize you if it bit you on the behind) — mentally unhinged people like yourself are the reason America is in the shape it’s in. Slither back under your rock and *puff* — be gone.

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  11. Jonas Rand says:

    Several months ago, it was revealed on this informative blog that Adam Lanza was likely to have used another alias, “Blarvink”. Recently, I revisited this website due to the release of the Child Advocate’s report, and I saw the post discussing a graphic on Adam Lanza’s 2draw account with this alias, revealing it as having likely been a replication of a drawing from his “Big Book of Granny”.

    I was curious of the origin of the name “Blarvink” (which I never did find, by the way), and decided to look it up, when I found a search result pointing to a comment that a user by this name left on a Wikipedia talk page. When I looked up the contributions for this account…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Blarvink

    …I found almost certain confirmation that this was indeed Adam Lanza. This account, which was active from April 2007 to March 2008, perhaps forgotten by Adam Lanza when “Kaynbred” was created a year later, made an edit to the “Newtown High School (Connecticut)” article on Wikipedia (about the school where Adam Lanza went), providing the following edit summary:

    “According to what the surrogate vice principal stated in the auditorioum to the 9th and 10th grades on 8/28, there are 1,737 students in Newtown High School this year. I Updated the page accordingly.”

    This is a clear indication that the person behind the account had attended some sort of orientation for Newtown High School students of the 9th and 10th grades, at which there was a speech by the surrogate vice principal. At the time, Adam Lanza would have been entering the 10th grade.

    User:Kaynbred only had 12 edits.to Wikipedia. By contrast, User:Blarvink, by contrast, made at least 20 edits, one of which is no longer visible (due to the deletion of the article, “Rant”, by an administrator, after the time the edit was made). The Blarvink account was created on February 4, 2007, but his first edits on record are on April 11, approximately 2 months later, reflecting a similar pattern to the account “Kaynbred” (created almost 2 months before its first edit):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Log/Kaynbred
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Log/Blarvink

    Blarvink made a few edits here and there almost every month from April to September 2007, at the end of which he stopped editing, only to login to the account over 5 months later to make his final edit under that name, to the talk page of Barack Obama, where he wrote a sarcastic response to another user’s comment about the article’s content. After this, he seems to have abandoned the account altogether.

    Regarding the edits themselves, they show interests that had not been linked with Adam Lanza before, and also show more ideological viewpoints, such as an opposition to liberalism and Barack Obama. While it isn’t fair to infer that his opinions had not changed between this point and the time he committed his massacre, or that this even tells us what viewpoint he had at this point (he could have been anything from a conservative, to a libertarian, to a Maoist to be opposed to liberalism and Obama), it does help to piece together his internet activities during his high school years. Something that everyone may not be familiar with is the terms used in his edit summaries: he has a familiarity with at least some Wikipedia policies but this could have easily been attained by simply lurking and reading the rules, and looking at other people’s contributions (there is a “Recent Changes” page in most wikis, including Wikipedia). POV stands for “Point of View” and is used in Wikipedia to mean something that is biased, i.e., in contravention to its Neutral Point of View (NPOV) policy. In his last two edits before his long break from Wikipedia, on 10 September 2007, we see Blarvink changing content that he is deeming “POV”. While this is a common term, he uses it to describe the title “Her Majesty” and removes that title from the page about “New Zealand” where it was used to describe Queen Elizabeth II. He was informed on his talk page that this was, in fact, a proper usage of the term, though he never responded to this comment.

    It is worth noting that almost every edit made under this account comes with an edit summary, which it is considered proper etiquette to do on Wikipedia for all edits that are not minor, though it is not always done. Only one of these summaries is automatic (the result of an “undo” action that automatically reverts the last edit to the version immediately preceding it). Of his 19 edits as “Blarvink”, only three have no edit summaries, including his last edit under that account. His first edit said that he removed vandalism from the ‘Origin’ section of the article “Blues Clues”, but he actually made the edit he described in this post a minute after he said he had done it.

    Another interesting feature of these edits is that they show more of a variety of interests than Lanza’s later postings online, particularly his edits as “Kaynbred”, which largely only deal with the subjects of guns and mass shootings. Here, we have Lanza visiting pages as diverse as the book “Into the Wild”, New Zealand, Blues Clues and the Gas constant. However, we do see an interest in war, reflected in 1) the comments by Lanza’s 7th grade teacher about his essays on the subject of battles, war, and destruction; and 2) the books from Lanza’s book collection which are revealed in the latest report from the Office of the Child Advocate. Blarvink edited the articles on Alvin York (a US Army Sergeant and WWI veteran) and the Fall of Saigon.

    Perhaps he even had an earlier account, but I doubt it due to the nature of his first edit, announcing that he had deleted vandalism when 1) this is usually not announced and 2) he had not even done it yet. This seems like a newbie mistake. He may have had a third Wikipedia account, however: not only was he inactive there after 2010, but the period between the last edit from Blarvink’s account and the first edit by Kaynbred is over 17 months long.

    P.S. – The page “Rant” was deleted in 2013, so his edit to it was not preserved; however, the article’s talk page was never deleted, so his comment there, from 2007, stays to this day.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Log&page=Rant
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Rant

    • Reed Coleman says:

      thanks so much for this comment. I actually have been aware of this wikipedia account for a long time, but the way in which I was searching apparently did not surface the extent of its activity, especially in regards the Newtown-related contributions that you point out here. Will respond directly, but just want to point out you’ve done excellent work here and it’s very helpful. Great stuff!

    • Reed Coleman says:

      No way to know for sure, but I’d be very surprised if his “Rant” contribution was not this intro paragraph (or a piece of it, more likely) talking about chimpanzee behavior (from the web-archived Jan 2007 version of the article):

      “The scholarly foundation for a discussion of ranting begins with the observation that ranting is likely universal, probably evolutionarily conserved, and therefore putatively performs a vital function affecting reproductive success. It has been hypothesized that ranting is part of the behaviour pattern of male bonded, small group, coalitionary lethal violence directed against outsiders. If that hypothesis has merit then the ranting behaviour pattern may have biological roots extending to the epoch of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. It would also follow that ranting may have a powerful non verbal, probably emotional, component.”

      Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20070105120543/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rant

  12. Jonas Rand says:

    You are very welcome, Reed. I am glad to help you in researching Lanza. This case has been of some interest to me since the police reports were released (unfortunately, with heavy redactions) and the highly strange aspects of this case became apparent to me (primary among them, the fact that Adam Lanza was such a mysterious person and that there was no clear impetus or stated purpose to his murder). Regarding his first Wikipedia contributions, it is possible that he contributed something to this section of the article at a later date as “Kaynbred”, and indeed according to this tool (which is used to list the various accounts that a single user has synthesized across multiple wikis run on Wikimedia Foundation servers – such as Wikiquote, Wiktionary, and foreign language versions of these sites)…

    http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:CentralAuth/Blarvink

    …User:Blarvink had 21 contributions, which would account for the edit to the “Rant” article that he discussed on the talk page, and one additional edit. His account currently shows only 19 contributions, so it isn’t beyond the imagination that his first contribution could have been to add content to the “Rant” page and his second contribution being the one he explained on the talk page. However, it is impossible for the section quoted above from the archived page to have been added by the Blarvink account (though it may have been added by Lanza using an IP address, or a different alias, it could have been anyone), for the simple reason that Blarvink wasn’t registered until February 2007, and that archived version was from January.

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