"These guys wanted to become cult heroes"

The Columbine killers left videos for police to find after their rampage.

Published November 11, 1999 12:30PM (EST)

Authorities are finally beginning to release key information to support
their claim that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold massacred 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School
in April largely for the fame.

Wednesday, prosecutors disclosed for the first time the existence of secret
videos Harris and Klebold apparently created specifically for police. "It is obvious that these guys wanted to become cult heroes of some kind,"
Deputy District Attorney Steve Jensen told the Denver Post. "They are making
statements which they thought would facilitate that status."

That would confirm
lead investigator Kate Battan's conclusion, first published by
Salon News in September, that the pair was strongly motivated by the
prospect of fame.

Salon News independently confirmed the existence of the videos, as well as
investigators' intentions to keep them hidden as long as possible.

Harris and Klebold "certainly wanted the media to write stories about them
every day," Battan said during an interview in September. "And
they wanted cult followings. They're going to become superstars by getting
rid of bad people. And you know, it worked. They're famous."

"So it was really just for fame?" I asked incredulously.

"That's my personal
opinion," she replied. "And all the rest of the justifications are just
smoke." In separate interviews, other investigators agreed.

At the time, Battan refused to cite specific statements to support her
conclusions, but indicated she based them on the famous texts left behind by
Eric Harris, interviews with family and friends and "other" undisclosed
evidence. Battan has steadfastly refused to speak to the media before or
since to expand on the basis for her conclusions.

Existence of the tapes was finally disclosed publicly Wednesday, because
they will play a role in Friday's sentencing hearing of Mark Manes, 22.
Manes pleaded guilty to two Class 4 felonies for possessing and selling
Harris and Klebold the TEC-9 semiautomatic handgun used in the massacre.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Pautler told Salon News that the judge
had wide discretion in sentencing, and the state would attempt to
demonstrate aggravating factors. According to the statutes, he said, Manes
could receive anywhere from one to 24 years in prison. Battan will testify
to how many people were killed with the TEC-9, and read a brief passage
from one of the videotapes where Manes is mentioned.

Authorities said the videos were a blatant attempt by the killers to gain
publicity, so they intend to aggressively fight any attempts to release

By Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen is a Denver writer working on a memoir, "In a Boy's Dream."

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