Written by Kevin Jennings
YouTube is a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For viewers, it can be a place to learn interesting facts that the presenter has already forgotten before he’s even finished saying them. You might seek out videos for entertainment like various video game channels. Maybe you’re a fan of British comedy and you enjoy binging celebrity panel shows like “Taskmaster” or “8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown”. If you’re anything like me, you might turn to YouTube to help you fall asleep as you watch some British guy named Simon solve Sudoku puzzles so difficult they make your brain turn off. That wasn’t a pitch for a new channel; you’re not the only British Simon on YouTube.
But YouTube doesn’t have to be a passive experience! Not only can you like, comment, and subscribe, and seriously, GET IN THE COMMENTS, but the comments section of videos has been used by viewers for all sorts of things. Korean schoolchildren have turned to comments sections of obscure videos to use as their own personal chatrooms. Disgusting old men have used comments sections on children’s videos either as their personal grooming headquarters or as a place to meet other likeminded individuals.
Then there’s the creators themselves. Honestly, there are far more reasons people put content on YouTube than we could ever cover. With over 82 years worth of content (720,000 hours) uploaded every hour, there are literally billions of hours of content on the platform with every possible motivation imaginable, so we’ll only take a look at a couple of them that are relevant to today’s episode. Some content creators are creatively bankrupt capitalists that monitor the current trends and publish any old thing that they think will get clicks so they can make more money…not that I’m accusing anybody here of that; we all know this show is permanently demonetized anyway, so not sure why I brought that up.
The other motivation that’s important for today’s episode is as a desperate cry for help. Some content creators feel so isolated, bullied, and alone in their normal lives that they turn to the internet for some sort of validation, for any indication that their existence matters at all. But even if they receive that, online validation from strangers can never be enough. Feeling worthless and insignificant in your daily life, while blatantly seeking attention from family or teachers that is never received, can take a massive toll on a person’s psyche.
If that mental anguish wasn’t enough, imagine not only experiencing those feelings of worthlessness that seem to be confirmed by everyone around you in your real life, but also being trapped in a body in which you don’t belong. Imagine the emotional pain of waking up every morning in a male body with those disgusting dangly bits between your legs when you know, deep down in your black, uncaring soul that you’re not a boy, you’re a girl. You are a cartoon girl who is also a ghost, and death is the only thing that can free you from the unbearable shackles of oppression that came from being born as a white male.
Randy Stair was born on September 17, 1992 in Dallas, Pennsylvania. He had a relatively normal childhood growing up with his parents and older brother. Randy was always introverted and socially awkward, and did not particularly like being around other people. It was a pretty understandable point of view for him to take, because people are the worst; if they weren’t, this show wouldn’t exist. Casual misanthropy aside, Randy had the typical childhood of a relative loner. You know, that quiet type of kid whose family and neighbours always say on the news “I can’t believe it, he always seemed like such a nice boy!”
This is exactly what would be said of Randy as well, even by his coworker, which is utterly shocking and shows just how little attention anyone was paying to him. By the time middle school rolled around, Randy was already beginning to signs of his developing mental illness. He was obsessed with death and had an idyllic view towards suicide. He was clearly suffering from major depression, but beyond that it’s impossible for us to say if there was some greater underlying condition of which his depression was merely a symptom. Randy hated the idea of therapy or counseling, stating that it “alters who you are.” Considering he didn’t seem particularly happy with who he was, maybe that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. One potential contributing factor to his depression was the immense gender dysphoria he experienced, but we’ll get to that much later.
Back to middle school, Randy was on the receiving end of “mild bullying” as it is always cited, though that is not clearly defined. From his accounts, it sounds like it was the kind of light verbal teasing that all boys that age do to one another. The first warning signs that something was wrong came in the form of his essays for English class. Every story he wrote involved all of the characters dying or committing suicide at the end. The teacher never said a word about the dark content to Randy and his parents were never contacted about his writing.
At least, as far as we know. It’s important to note that a lot of the information we have comes from Randy’s own journals and videos. While I’m generally inclined to think that a mentally ill murderer is not a reliable narrator, considering the sort of shit he is openly honest about it seems unlikely that this would be a lie. Just bear in mind that statements like this are entirely from his point of view, so it’s possible that the teacher or school reached out to his parents and they just chose not to talk to him about it.
When Randy got to high school, the bullying intensified quite a bit. He was ridiculed by the other boys who would call him homophobic slurs, and he remained a loner throughout high school. In his search for the attention he desired, he decided to turn to YouTube.
On June 9, 2008, Randy opened his first YouTube channel, Pioneer Productions. He went by the name Andrew Blaze online, but we’re just going to stick with Randy because he hated his real name and I don’t care to kowtow to the feelings of murderers. The first year of videos is almost entirely lost to time. While YouTube has since deleted the entire channel, the early videos were deleted off the channel at some point while it was still active so they did not get archived by fans like the rest of his videos were. From what we know, it largely seems to be more of the same.
Pioneer Productions was almost entirely short comedy sketches. Randy became even more isolated as he ventured into YouTube, so he was almost always the only human character in any of the videos. The other three main characters were Mr. Horse Head, which was a toy horse head on a stick, Whale, a stuffed whale he won from a claw machine, and Froggy, a plastic frog he found purposely left behind at the bottom of a grocery store carriage. He was just your regular 15 year old kid playing with toys on YouTube.
Randy spent all of his free time working on his YouTube channel. When he was at school, his thoughts were always either of YouTube or of death. For all his hard work, he did see a mild level of success, reaching nearly 9,000 subscribers for his channel. He was grateful and appreciative of his fans, and would frequently tell them that he had no idea what he would have done without them. This was the first of multiple channels that Randy would create over the years.
Still, even though he now finally had a place where he felt like he mattered, his dark and obsessive thoughts were overpowering. He couldn’t escape his obsession with death, and would fantasize about lighting himself on fire. Maybe had he not been so fundamentally opposed to the idea of therapy someone could have helped him work through all the pain he was struggling with. Instead of seeking the advice of a professional, Randy decided he was going to live his life by following the advice of a monster.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
Eric and Dylan were the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine school shooting. Randy was obsessed with Columbine and the two killers, especially Eric Harris who he idolized. I find this a little bit ironic as Randy was far more similar to Dylan than to Eric, but whatever.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Columbine that were perpetrated and proliferated by the media at the time. The biggest misconception is that Eric and Dylan were unpopular loners who lashed out at their classmates after years of bullying. This is almost certainly what drew Randy to them as it would have made them feel like kindred spirits. It is also completely fabricated bullshit because it was somehow easier for people to understand than the fact that Eric was just a full blown psychopath who really, really wanted to murder people.
The truth is that the Columbine shooters probably had more friends in high school than you did. While the Trenchcoat Mafia was a group of bullied loners at Columbine, Eric and Dylan weren’t part of it; they were just reported as such because they frequently wore black and played violent video games. Their motivation was not personal at all, they just hated the world and wanted to kill as many people as possible, only choosing to use their school out of convenience. There’s a whole lot that could be said about that entire situation, but that would be the topic of a different episode.
Regardless, Randy was not only obsessed with Columbine and the two killers, but he was openly obsessed about it. Despite this, he still didn’t receive any attention as a result of it. He said that on one single occasion his mother asked him why he was so interested in it, but that was as far as it went. He purchased multiple white shirts that said “natural selection” on them, the same shirt Eric Harris wore during the shooting, and would wear them multiple days in a row without ever receiving a comment about them.
That’s probably because most people aren’t aware of that fun fact and had no idea he was paying homage to a murderous psychopath with what could be seen as a generic angsty teen shirt. Still, to the death obsessed Randy, this was a very obvious and deliberate act and someone should have talked to him about it. Even if his parents very understandably didn’t catch the reference, I’d like to think they’d ask why he was wearing the same shirt three days in a row, because that’s gross.
Encounters with Death
During high school, a friend of Randy’s brother, Tom, died in a car crash. Even though he hadn’t known Tom well, this fucked with Randy’s head in a big way. As if that wasn’t enough, a new friend he had made, Matt, also died in a car crash . In his journal, he wrote “Tom’s death sucked the life out of me. Matt’s death killed me.”
Randy already thought and fantasized about death a lot, and this trauma plunged him deeper into darkness. In a livestream on his channel he talked about it and about how he thought about death all the time. With no healthy coping mechanisms, he had no idea how to handle these deaths. Seriously, my dude, it’s okay to talk to a therapist. You need help.
But instead of help, he would receive quite the opposite. Randy wound up in a car crash of his own. If there was any part of him that wasn’t already broken, his car accident made sure to take care of that. Faced with his own mortality, Randy now had to consider the prospect of getting older, and that idea terrified him.
During a Q&A video shortly before his two year YouTube anniversary, one of the questions he was asked was about old people on YouTube. At the time, he said it was a great thing and that he didn’t see any reason the platform should be dominated by angst ridden teens. He also thought that elderly YouTubers could probably give people really great advice since they had done and seen so much. Following his accident, however, his attitude completely changed.
Randy suddenly had an intense hatred of old people. They disgusted him, and the idea of growing old himself was unacceptable. He thought it was stupid and pointless to live beyond 30, so I imagine he’d have really liked the movie “Logan’s Run”. But not only did this brush with death flip a switch in Randy’s brain that made him detest the elderly and the idea of living a full and productive life, it sent him spiraling deep into his other obsession.
Randy had been obsessed with Ember McLain for years, to the point that he thought of her as a goddess. Ember was an unpopular high school girl who had dreams of becoming a rock star. One day, a boy (not Randy) asked her out to the movies, probably as a cruel joke. She waited for him for hours, telling herself that he was just running late. The entire night she sat waiting, but he never showed up. As the sun started to rise, she finally gave up and made her way back home, collapsing in her bed from having been up all night.
She was so exhausted, that she didn’t wake up when the accidental fire started. Soon, her entire house was in flames with Ember still inside. After her death, Ember finally got to live out her dream. She was able to use her hypnotic powers to achieve rock star status in her attempt to take over the world. Ember draws her power from people saying her name, and if you haven’t figured it out yet she’s a fucking cartoon character.
Ember McLain is a villain from the Nickelodeon cartoon “Danny Phantom”, but for some reason the show and character resonated with Randy in a profound way. Much like Randy, Ember was an unpopular high schooler who wanted to be famous. As someone who just wanted to be seen and recognized, Randy also would have drawn power from people saying his name, though in his case it was metaphorical.
Ember meant everything to Randy. “Danny Phantom” wasn’t just a show, it was his life. I don’t mean that the show was really important to him, I mean he seemed to believe that all of these things, this cartoon ghost dimension and the characters within it, really existed and it was where his life was meant to be taking place. Randy finally came to terms with the fact that he was a girl, so from this point forward I’ll be using she/her pronouns.
Unfortunately, Randy’s psyche was completely broken, and she didn’t just think that she was a girl, but that she was a ghost girl. She wanted to die so that she could take her true form as a ghost girl and live happily ever after in the afterlife palling around with her buddy Ember. I cannot possibly stress enough this episode that it seriously is okay to go to therapy. Even If you think ghosts are real, which they are not, you as a living breathing human being should not believe you actually are a ghost trapped in a human body. Then again, if ghosts are real, then in a way aren’t we all ghosts trapped in human bodies? Really makes you think…
Not only did Randy believe she would be reborn as a ghost girl, but she seemed to think she had already spent time as one. In her journal, she wrote, “I miss my cartoon life form. Bodies in this dimension are tolerable, but they’re nothing compared to that dimension.” In an attempt to make her outer body match what she felt like inside, Randy made changes to try to better fit her ghost girl soul.
She would skip meals to be thinner, and shaved her entire body with a girl’s razor. At first she kept the razor hidden, but then would leave it in plain view in the bathroom with all of her other toiletries. Much to Randy’s dismay, no one ever said anything about either thing. She never received any comments regarding the razor or other feminine bathroom products, and her family didn’t seem to notice at all when she skipped meals, something that contributed to her feelings of worthlessness.
During this time, Randy also began purchasing her own girl’s clothes. For years, when her family went to their bowling league every Wednesday night, she would either make a video for Pioneer Productions or borrow her mother’s clothes and wear them, but she finally bought her own bras, stockings, and girl’s t-shirts, including another “Natural Selection” shirt.
Believing that a children’s cartoon is real and that death will allow you to live with the characters is pretty fucked up, but don’t worry Simon, because it’s about to get a whole lot weirder.
Ember’s Ghost Squad
Ember’s Ghost Squad (EGS) was the final channel created by Randy. It was essentially a fanfiction channel based around original characters she created who were part of a squad of girls led by Ember. Most important among her characters were Rachel Shadows and Mackenzie West. Rachel was a violent hothead who hated humans and wanted to kill them all, while Mackenzie was much more shy and reserved.
Despite her work as a YouTuber having led to intense isolation, EGS proved to be at least a somewhat collaborative project. Randy worked voice actors to produce a number of short cartoons featuring her original characters and their wacky, not at all disturbing antics. It was also through EGS that Randy would meet the girl she knew was her soulmate.
If all of Randy’s mental instability and disassociation from reality wasn’t painfully clear enough, she believed her soulmate was none other than Mackenzie West, the cartoon character she had created herself. Randy created Twitter accounts for the members of the EGS where she would carry on conversations with herself through the voices of the different fictitious characters. Throughout all of this, Randy never hid her deep inner turmoil; it was all on public display for anyone that cared enough to pay attention.
During a 2014 livestream on her channel she went into detail about thoughts of death, though she never explicitly stated planning to kill herself. Though she wanted to escape her disgusting human body so she could live her life as the ghost girl she knew she was inside, things must have turned around a bit after the livestream. Randy went on to describe 2014 as the best year ever, but it wasn’t long before depression set back in and she wanted to find a way out.
Whatever Randy was going to do, she knew it had to be big. She needed people to notice her, to make her feel like she actually somehow mattered to the world. Most of what was going on was just a cry for help and attention, though help would never come and the only attention she received was from fans of her YouTube channel, who either didn’t care or didn’t understand the severity of the things she was talking about. But before she could shed her human body, Randy had one more project to complete. The previous EGS videos had all been short and crudely animated by herself, but for her final big production she had written a ten minute video and was going to pay to have it more professionally animated.
Unfortunately, this project was a complete and total disaster that fell apart and only served to make Randy feel more worthless than ever. Voice actors were extremely slow in returning their recordings, and the animator backed out completely. Let’s see if you can figure out why people may have been hesitant to collaborate on this project.
Westborough High Massacre
Yup, Randy’s big animation project was to be a video in which she and her creation Rachel gunned down an entire fictional school before killing themselves. It’s not a surprise that animators were not interested in bringing an animated school shooting to life. Despite having already made a series of videos entitled “Conspiring a massacre” leading up to this, it’s honestly a bit shocking that the girl who voiced Rachel didn’t seem to see any red flags in the script. I understand you can explain it away as art or edgy or whatever, but when you’re in your recoding booth reciting lines like “Harris and Klebold are our heroes”, “You’ve seen a glimpse of this from Columbine before”, and “slash her fucking face off”, maybe, just maybe you want to consider who you’re working with.
Despite work for the video beginning in 2016, by the time our story ends in June of 2017 the video wasn’t finished yet. Randy would upload the largely unanimated video featuring his and Rachel’s voice work. Unsurprisingly, it is weird and creepy and I do not recommend watching it, but because it’s barely animated at least the visuals of the school massacre won’t haunt you.
The beginning of the video potentially does give some insight into the way she was bullied, however. After an obligatory monologue about how much she worships Eric Harris, Randy’s character plays back in her head the voices of those that led her to shoot up the school with taunts like “I heard you like to print out girls’ Facebook pics and jizz on them” and “I bet you jerk off to your precious drawings because you can’t get any real pussy.”
It’s unclear whether these are actually the sort of things he had been bullied with or if these were merely confessions, but considering that some students in the video are called out by name when they’re murdered, I’m inclined to believe it’s the former. Also, to the voice of Rachael, you are voicing a character that perpetrates a school shooting and you used the first and last name of one of the animated victims. How is this not a red flag to you? I’m not trying to ascribe any blame here and I know work can be hard to find for struggling actors, but it’s not like this video is the sort of thing you’d put in your portfolio so it’s okay to say no to a job.
The unfinished Westboro High Massacre video was posted by Randy on her last day on Earth. She had been planning it for months and alluded to it in her streams and videos. Her sock puppet Twitter accounts were all counting down the days until the big event. Rachael did so with murderous glee while Randy’s soulmate, Mackenzie, was openly nervous about what was going to happen. But it was too late to back out now; Randy had been planning this for too long, and everything was set in place.
Heads You Live, Tails You Die
By this point you might be confused, wondering if I accidentally sent Simon a script for his upcoming channel The Casual Psychoanalyst rather than The Casual Criminalist. Fear not, you bloodthirsty ghouls, the murders are coming. In fact, it was a mere 44 days before the murders that Randy’s mother took her to the gun store to buy a shotgun.
Despite all Randy’s cries for help and red flags waving everywhere, her mother didn’t see a problem with taking her mentally unstable child shopping for firearms. She also had no idea that Randy got not one, but two guns, both Mossberg 500 pump action shotguns, one regular and one sawed off, something that is normally illegal but Mossberg has a fun legal loophole around with their Super Shorty model.
Randy shot videos in her yard doing target practice with her new guns, but there was someone else holding the camera. We have no idea who it was, though it appears to be a female voice. Whoever it was didn’t seem concerned with Randy firing off a shotgun while wearing her Natural Selection shirt, and can be heard laughing at points during the video. Fortunately, it is unlikely to be a deranged accomplice as she had been looking for a fan to film and upload the big event, which thankfully did not happen.
Originally, Randy had wanted the big day to be May 7, 2019 because the numbers 5, 7, and 19 correspond to EGS and this was the big day she was going to shed her human form and go live with her imaginary ghost buddies. Realizing that would have meant spending two more full years on Earth, she decided she couldn’t wait that long and would instead aim for June 9th, the anniversary of her first YouTube channel.
Following in the disgraceful footsteps of Eric Harris, Randy named her two shotguns Rachael and Mackenzie and carved the guns names into them. She also wrapped the handles of her guns with duct tape as Eric had done. There were some propane tanks involved as well, but those were going to work out as well for Randy as they had for Eric. Also following their example, she would miss the intended date of her murders by a day, though in her case it was a day early rather than a day late.
A week before the big day, there was a decision to make: would Randy kill herself at home, or would she go on a shooting spree at work before taking her own life? When faced with such a difficult decision, the only logical option is to flip a coin. And of course, for the integrity of the event, the coin flip had to take place on camera.
The 1983 quarter would be flipped three times, best out of three wins. If the coin landed heads, Randy would kill herself at home. If it landed tails, she would do it at work. Randy went to her backyard to perform the game of chance. The first coin flip landed tails, so of course the second one had to land heads, making it all come down to the final flip…and also making the first two flips irrelevant. Randy flung the quarter further than intended, so she grabbed the camera and search the grass for it, trying to get the camera to zoom in. It had landed tails.
To my ear, Randy sounded extremely disappointed upon declaring it was tails. She wanted attention, she wanted to be made to feel like she mattered, and she wanted to get out of her male body. For all of the obsession with death and Columbine and the unhealthy fixation on Eric Harris, I’m not personally convinced she actually wanted to kill anybody other than herself. But a person that believes a cartoon ghost dimension from a Nickelodeon show is real is also going to believe in fate, so she was bound by the flip of the coin.
Technically it isn’t explicitly stated whether Randy’s family would have been her victims if the coin landed heads, but when she saw the result she said “Tails. Which means there’s going to be a loss of a human life. Besides my own.” To me that indicates if it was done at home it would have just been suicide rather than a murder suicide, but for as meticulously as everything else was detailed and catalogued, we can’t be absolutely sure.
All the pieces were now in place. Randy had her guns. She had the location. According to her, all she still needed was to get some eyeliner.
The Big Day
Randy had worked at the Weis Markets supermarket for years. She hated her job, and her father was a manager at the store which only strained their relationship. When Randy had turned 18 she took the initiative of getting a job at McDonalds on her own. Her father was proud of her, until she quit three hours into her first shift. I know retail sucks, but damn, you can tough it out longer than a few hours.
After this, Randy’s father was on her case constantly about getting a job until finally getting her to work at the Weis Market, the same job that he complained to his family about constantly. This fueled Randy’s hatred for living, not being able to understand how she could be expected to spend the next 30 years of her life carrying out what she viewed as a miserable experience like her father had.
In the early morning hours of July 7, 2017, Randy uploaded a strange video to her YouTube channel. It was a late night tour of the Weis Market where she worked, showing the layout and all the emergency exits.
That night, Randy showed up for her closing shift as normal. She wasn’t doing any work, but none of her coworkers seemed to notice. Hours before the shooting would begin, after having already uploaded the layout of the store at the end of her shift early that morning, Randy was on her phone uploading her final animation project to YouTube.
Before the animated Westborough High Massacre begins, Randy shows herself loading her two shotguns, posing with them, kissing them, and then walking out the door with a duffle bag full of shells, the two guns, and a few propane tanks. From the Rachael Shadows account, around the time the Weis Market video went up, she tweeted “Me and [Randy] are going to give the world a little insight as to what really lurks in the shadows of your everyday lives…”
Seems like generic edgy stuff out of context, but given the videos that were being uploaded at this point the message was clear. Particularly with the Westborough High Massacre, there was nothing even remotely veiled anymore. Randy was no long waving red flags, she was showing a plan of action. Given that the final video went up hours before the shooting, it seems like she was still begging someone, anyone, to notice her and to stop her.
But no one did. The shift dragged on, and as it did her coworkers, focused on stocking the shelves so they could go home, failed to notice that Randy was wheeling pallets around the store and parking them in front of all the exits to block any path of escape. Shortly after midnight, she took to her phone again. On the main EGS page, she posted Mediafire links to her journal and what she called her “suicide tapes”. She then said her final goodbye from Mackenzie’s Twitter account. But Randy was an insane narcissist, so she was saying her final goodbye to herself, through the voice of her imaginary soulmate.
“Things happen for a reason…good or bad…and I’m so sorry that things have to end like this…I speak for all of us when I say that. I hope we were able to help get you through the day. I always hate goodbyes…but it’s more like ‘see you later.’ Thank you… – Mackenzie”
Everything was in place for Randy’s plan, she even had on her black eyeliner styled to look like one of her cartoon characters. All that was left was to wheel a pallet in front of the main entrance where she had hidden her duffle bag and to lock the door. Her coworkers still didn’t notice a thing, which if you’ve ever worked retail honestly isn’t surprising, especially when everyone is focused on finishing their work so they can lock up and go home.
There were four other employees in the store that night: Victoria Brong, Brian Hayes, Terry Sterling, and Kristan Newell. There are two different accounts of what happened in the store, but we’ll be sticking with the one that was recorded by the store’s CCTV camera rather than the eyewitness account, because eyewitness testimony is the worst.
Randy walked towards the aisle where Victoria was stocking shelves and shot her in the chest, wounding her. As she turned to run, Randy shot her again, repeatedly firing at the base of her skull even after she was already laying dead on the ground. He then went to the next aisle where he found Kristan working.
Much like Victoria had been, Kristan had earbuds in and was completely oblivious to her surroundings. So oblivious, that she had no idea Randy was standing directly behind her with a loaded shotgun for five seconds before walking away, leaving Kristan alone again in the aisle.
Randy then moved on to another aisle where he found Brian and shot him five times from long range, hitting him in his arm, chest, head, and groin. She then tracked down Terry, the oldest of her coworkers who was shot twice in the back, indicating that he was likely running away. At this point, Kristan was still in the aisle stocking shelves when she finally took her headphones off and heard the gunshots. She ran to the employee room and called 911, unaware that it was already too late for all of her coworkers. She then decided she needed to escape.
After seeing Randy firing upon glass and merchandise with her back to her, Kristan made a break for the entrance. She was able to reach behind the pallet to unlock the door, but it wouldn’t slide open, most likely because the pallet parked there was somehow fucking with the censor. Kristan was able to throw her weight at the door until it popped open and she fled the building, hiding behind a bush until help arrived. She said her immediate instinct was to run for her car, but that she changed her mind when she saw Randy’s car and went for the bush instead. I really, really want to make fun of how stupid of a decision that seems like, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be thinking straight under those circumstances either so I’ll give her a pass.
Back inside the store, Randy opened fire on the propane tanks she brought with her, expecting them to explode and destroy the store with her inside it. With how meticulous every other part of her plan was, you’d think she’d have taken five seconds to look up that no, propane tanks will not explode if you shoot them. With that part of the plan failing, the only option left was to walk to the deli section of the store, place the barrel of the shotgun in her mouth, and pull the trigger. Her final tweet read “Goodbye, humans…I’ll miss you….”
In the span of only a few minutes, Randy had fired 59 rounds from her shotgun into her coworkers, the surrounding merchandise, and herself. Even without swallowing a bullet, June 8th would have been her last day alive. Despite being as opposed to drugs as she was to therapy, Randy had ingested a lethal dose of Benadryl before her shift that night. Side effects of extremely high doses of Benadryl include hallucinations and blurred vision, symptoms that might possibly explain why Kristan was allowed to escape with her life.
The Suicide Tapes
The first rule of Casual Criminalist is “Don’t write down your crimes.” While that is normally true, I’d like to add a corollary rule 1a. – “If your crimes are going to end in suicide, please write down everything in great detail because it makes our jobs a lot easier.”
The journal Randy released covered the previous year, and the suicide tapes were dozens of hours of footage spread out over the previous six years. Much of the journal was nonsense. It opened with the sentence “I hate the fucking world”, an homage to the diary of Eric Harris. A lot of it was incoherent ramblings about the Columbine shooting, but there was some insight into Randy’s psyche there as well. Inside the journal Randy also confessed that she was extremely homophobic and racist. There were also details of her plan for the Weis Market, including a poorly drawn layout of the store and where she expected everyone to be when she began firing. She even wrote in it that she didn’t dislike Victoria, but that she had to go. After all, one does not simply disobey the divine wisdom of an arbitrary coin flip.
The videos, however, were much more telling. Over the years, Randy talked about her struggles with life in general. It was here that she revealed actually being a girl to the public, and repeatedly called out her parents for missing all the warning signs that something was wrong. For six years she talked about her struggles with her mental health, thoughts of death, and wanting to be noticed. She also repeatedly mentioned that she didn’t know where she would be if it wasn’t for her fans, though by the last few days before the shooting she even seemed to turn on her fans, feeling that they hadn’t done enough. She also proclaimed that she was a narcissist and would watch back her own videos over and over again.
How much of a narcissist was Randy, you ask? Her bedroom where she recorded her videos was lined with posters depicting the EGS characters. She gave explicit instructions to her family not to throw out the posters, but to instead give them to fans because she had autographed the backs of each poster so they would be worth a lot of money.
Considering that, like everything Randy did, this entire thing was just to gain attention, she would have been devastated to learn that it wasn’t even national news. While news outlets in Pennsylvania covered the story extensively, national media coverage was still focused on the firing of FBI director James Comey. With a murder count of only three, it just wasn’t a big enough story to capture the nation’s attention.
One interesting wrinkle is that for everything that Randy confesses between the journal and the tapes, she says that there are other thoughts that she will take to her grave. A few days before the shooting, Randy brings up Onision while rambling on. She mentions that she stopped watching Onision because he started cross-dressing in some of his videos. Randy then comments that it’s ironic since she cross-dressed herself and mentioned that “we’re pretty similar with some things we view.” I’m not making any accusations, but it does make you wonder.
We talked a lot this episode about Randy’s issues with mental health. We also talked about Columbine, so I want to be very clear not to make the same mistake that media as a whole made with the Columbine shooting. When that took place, the shooters were largely portrayed as victims. News outlets painted a picture of two isolated loners who were constantly bullied and whose minds were being poisoned by violent video games and lashed out at their aggressors the only way they could figure out. Absolutely none of that was true, and they were not victims at all, they were murderers.
No matter what struggles Randy was going through mentally, discussing them today is only to paint a detailed picture of how this all happened. She was not a victim. Victoria Brong, Brian Hayes, and Terry Sterling were the victims. We can use these events and Randy’s journal and suicide tapes to better understand what caused it and to try to prevent it from happening in the future, but mental anguish is not an excuse for murder.
It is estimated that 5% of all adults are suffering from depression right now, and that 15% will at some point in their life. That’s more than 1 in 7 people, which means if you are depressed, you’re not alone. If you feel you are suffering mentally, be it from depression or anything else, it is okay to seek help. This isn’t the 1920s, or even 1980s, when it was thought that therapists were only for crazy people. Attention seeking behaviour and cries for help might work, but as we’ve seen people can be completely oblivious to even the most obvious signs, so if you’re suffering, it’s okay to just ask directly or seek out help yourself instead of waiting for it to be offered to you.
Also, ghosts aren’t real, cartoon characters aren’t real, and cartoon ghosts, especially ones that you drew yourself, are neither real nor your soulmate. I’m willing to give you a pass on believing in ghosts in general, but if you find any other part of that statement to be controversial, then please talk to a therapist.