Blarvink: Adam Lanza’s first wikipedia account revealed

(thanks to a reader of the blog, Jonas, for supplying a full accounting of the available posts for this profile; I’d been aware of it for a year but was not convinced it was the shooter until now.)

The first known online activity associated with the Sandy Hook shooter was his activities on wikipedia (and several firearms forums) under the moniker “Kaynbred” starting in June 2009 (I’ve covered that account’s wikipedia activities in depth here.) This first-known account also represented the earliest significant online activity in his timeline.

As it turns out, Kaynbred was not Adam Lanza’s first wikipedia account. The user account Blarvink was created by Adam Lanza on February 4th, 2007, when Adam Lanza was 14 years old.

This point in time also marks just 3 days before Adam Lanza’s final meeting with Yale nurse Kathleen Koenig (they had a total of 4 meetings from Oct 2006 to Feb 7, 2007.) It is thus well documented that he was experiencing emotional paralysis and extreme anxiety at this time, and it was during these meetings that Lanza asked Koenig questions about schizophrenia as well as psychotic depression.

Although the account was created on February 7th, the earliest available activity associated with the account is not until two months later, on April 11th (click here to see all of the account’s contributions.)

The edits on that day include one to the page for the television show Blues Clues, wherein he redacts some obvious vandalism. This perhaps seems like an insignificant point, but it is worth noting the correlation in subject matter seen from Lanza’s other account Smiggles, 4 years later:

Oh, dear God. The school shooter in the episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets was the host of the children’s show Blues Clues. I guess going away to school didn’t turn out too well for him.

[link to a scene from said television show]

This tragedy could have been prevented. Steve showed all of the warning signs.

[link to a scene from Blues Clues]

A similar correlation can be seen in the subject matter of the other page that Lanza edits on that day, and his known fixations in real life. The edit shows that Lanza was active on the (now-erased) page for “Rant” – a page dedicated to defining and explaining the act of ranting.

Since the page itself was erased, we have no way of knowing what edits he made to it (only his edits to the page’s “talk” page survive.) However, being familiar with all of his other writings, I immediately suspected that this section came from the Sandy Hook shooter:

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.

Compare this with the reports from his Yale examinations included in the Child Advocate report, dated one month after the archiving of the wikipedia page:

The Yale psychiatrist’s initial report observed that AL presented as a “pale, gaunt, and awkward young adolescent standing rigidly with downcast gaze and declining to shake hands.”

AL’s mother told the Yale psychiatrist that he used to look at people but did not anymore. AL then asked rhetorically, “Why should I have to.” When the doctor explained all of the information that a person could learn by looking at a facial expression, such as a smile, AL stated that people could interpret smiles differently: “Some primates smile when they are frightened.

However, since the archive in question is from January 2007, and the “Blarvink” account was not registered until one month later, it can’t have come from that user account. Two likely scenarios then:

  1. That sentence is what led to Lanza’s attention to the article and subsequent edits, whatever they may have been.
  2. That edit did come from Adam Lanza, but either under a different user account or anonymously.

Since the page in question is gone, there’s no way to prove or disprove either scenario without access to Wikipedia’s admin records, so it will probably be left at that.

The most significant contribution in terms of cementing the shooter’s timeline, though, is Lanza’s edit to the page for Newtown High School, on August 28th, 2007. In it, he simply changes the number listed for the amount of students attending the school; it his his edit note (explaining to other Wikipedia users why he made the change he did) that is most revealing:

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 can be taken as confirmation that Adam Lanza attended the “New Students” assembly at Newtown High School, the same day that he made this edit.

Note how this event falls in between the other events on the timeline from this period (the edit is bolded:)

August 26, 2007: Just before the start of 10th grade, “a communication from a psychiatrist stated that the doctor had reviewed [Adam’s] history with [Nancy] and that he was confident that Adam was prepared and ready to attend Newtown High School as a full time student that fall.” Source: Report from the Office of the Child Advocate, pg 62

August 28, 2007: Adam Lanza, as Blarvink, makes an edit to the wikipedia page for Newtown High School, updating the number of attending students. His note for this edit includes confirmation that he attended an assembly at Newtown High School (likely the “New Student Orientation” always held in August) that same day:

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.

Pre-Fall 2007: Nancy write to a staff member at Newtown High School, just before the start of the school year, affirming that [Adam] “insists on walking through that front door,” and that he was “prepared.”

It is worth noting that Adam had actually already attended 9th grade at Newtown High School and was thus not a “new student,” but the above context makes the purpose of his attendance at the assembly obvious.

Finally, the account’s later attention to the page for the book Into the Wild is certainly consistent with Lanza’s developing worldview at the time; the edit itself is not significant, beyond also being consistent with Lanza’s obsession with exact details — in this case changing the amount of a person’s life savings, in the previous edit changing the number of students at the school, and in many later edits specifying the weapons and ammunition used by specific mass killers.

For those interested, here I’ll also include some of Jonas’s observations about Blarvink’s wikipedia etiquette and what it suggests to him (without comment from me as this is beyond my familiarity with the site):

Jonas Rand says…

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

[…]

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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About Reed Coleman

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