"YOUR Columbine"

The Denver Post/December 12, 2007

At times he was DyingChild_65, at others nghtmrchld26. But regardless of Matthew Murray's alleged screen name, he was always angry when posting to various anti-religious websites.

The 24-year-old Arapahoe County resident - who carried out attacks Sunday at two religious organizations about 70 miles apart, killing four people and injuring several others - exploded on the Internet between Sunday's shootings.

"Christian America this is YOUR Columbine," said the poster who appears to be Murray on the newsgroup alt.suicide.holiday almost four hours before the shooting at the New Life Church campus in Colorado Springs.

Police say Murray walked onto the campus hurling smoke bombs and armed with handguns, rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. He fatally shot sisters Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, before getting into a gunbattle with a security guard and finally killing himself, officials say.

Hours before, Murray opened fire in a dormitory for missionaries in Arvada, killing Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24.

Between shootings, Murray apparently logged onto a computer and posted writings from Columbine shooter Eric Harris under his own name, lyrics from satanic rock songs and rants about being rejected, abused and suffocated by Christianity.

Authorities have confirmed some website postings; police are still examining other postings, including ones by DyingChild_65 on alt.suicide.holiday. Officials from the organizations named in those postings confirmed some of the details Murray wrote.

A post from DyingChild_65, made at 9:33 a.m. Sunday, said he had been a member of the Denver chapter of Youth With a Mission, a member of the occult group Ad Astra Oasis in Denver and a staff member of the missionary group King's Kids Denver.

Each of those groups on Tuesday confirmed Murray's involvement.

Murray participated in several camps with King's Kids Denver, which does Christian outreach. The family that Killer's Rant runs King's Kids Denver introduced Murray to Youth With a Mission in Denver, said Paul Filidis, a spokesman for Youth With a Mission in Colorado Springs.

"They said he was a special case," Filidis said Tuesday, agreeing to speak after talking with King's Kids Denver director Ronny Morris.

After Youth With a Mission officials refused to send Murray on a mission, the Morris family offered to talk to YWAM officials but Murray asked them not to, said Filidis.

Morris' daughter Veronica said, "We loved Matthew, and we cared for him the best we could."

Angered by rejections

DyingChild_65 did not feel loved. He wrote that he was angered by being rejected by various groups over the years.

"I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things," one post said. "Never inviting me to all your fun parties, never inviting me to hang out."

The killings in Arvada followed a night of Christmas revelry by the young people training to be missionaries, said Peter Warren, YWAM director. Murray arrived after the Christmas party, asking to stay at the dorm. He talked with staffers for 30 minutes before firing.

Later, on the alt.suicide.holiday website, DyingChild_65 wrote that he had looked everywhere for spiritual truth.

"All I found in christianity was hate, abuse (sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional), hypocrisy, and lies," writes the poster

DyingChild_65 ends his rant by saying: "Like Cho, Eric Harris, Ricky Rodriguez and others, I'm going out to make a stand for the weak and the defenseless this is for all those young people still caught in the Nightmare of Christianity for all those people who've been abused and mistreated and taken advantage of by this evil sick religion Christian America this is YOUR Columbine."

Rodriguez, as a child member in a cult, was forced to perform sex acts. He later left the cult, killed a former nanny and then killed himself. In April, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and himself in the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.

At least one visitor to the website was alarmed and contacted the FBI promptly, before the second attack, 9News reported the site's administrator as saying.

The FBI confirmed to 9News that the bureau got the warning about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Murray's final posting on the website was at 11:03 a.m.

The FBI told 9News that after it got the warning, it contacted Arvada police. Agents were examining Murray's posts when the shootings at New Life Church occurred.

Carl Raschke, a professor of religious studies at the University of Denver, said he believes Murray was "under huge psychological turmoil."

"It seemed like he was involved in his own spiritual battle against the empire of Christianity," adding that one of the screen names, nghtmrchld26, is taken from a video game in which characters battle evil demons.

"I would call him a defector from the spiritual warfare that he was brought up in," Raschke said.

Asked to leave group

Steve Mariner, the president of Denver's occult group Ad Astra Oasis, says Murray attended group meetings for about a year before being asked to leave in September.

Ad Astra Oasis is an officially chartered body of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a ceremonial magic order based on the teachings of English poet and mystic Aleister Crowley.

"He was a mostly quiet, geeky young man," Mariner said of Murray. "He was a skinny little kid. He was your typical I-like-college-over-cars type. He was a voracious reader, as far as I could tell. I never heard him raise his voice."

Mariner said the group of about 15 people realized over time that Murray was not fitting in.

"It seemed like he needed some time to back off and evaluate himself," he said. "We could summarize it as saying the personalities were not a good mix."

Mariner said he was shocked when he learned Murray was the shooter.

"You are sitting there having a conversation with someone ," Mariner said. "We all have our little personality quirks, but you don't appraise them of being someone who would go off and do something this atrocious."

That Murray shot several people horrified Richard Werner, a missionary who bunked with him in Arvada in 2002, but it didn't surprise him.

"It was something you can't ever imagine, but it was so obvious after it happened," said Werner, 34, who now lives in Brazil. "It's just because of the way he used to behave."

Uncomfortable memories

Werner shared a dormitory with 18 other people, and Murray slept on a bottom bunk next to his. Now a cook who ministers in his free time, Werner said his time with Murray left him with some uncomfortable memories.

One experience jarred Werner enough to note it in his diary.

"It was Oct. 23 of 2002," Werner said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Brazil. "He was tossing and turning in the middle of the night, talking to himself. I asked him if everything was OK, and he said, 'I'm just talking to my voices.' "

The response jarred Werner.

"I said, 'Dude, you've got to be kidding,' " Werner recalled. "And he said, 'Don't worry, Richard. You're a nice guy and you have nothing to worry about. The voices like you.' "

Another memorable incident occurred at a missionary Christmas party where attendees grouped together and some sang songs in the talent-show atmosphere, Werner said.

"He just went up there to sing, and one of the songs was 'I'm One Step Closer to the Edge,' which really upset people," Werner said.

The Linkin Park song culminates with the anguished phrase "I'm about to break!"

When directors at the school decided in December 2002 that Murray shouldn't join others on a mission trip to Bosnia, Werner said it was because "people weren't comfortable with his behavior."

"He wasn't kicked out," he said. "The directors had a conversation with his parents, and it was decided it would be better if he leave."

On another website, a poster named nghtmrchld26, believed by police to be Murray, said he rebelled against an upbringing that forbade him from buying rock music, video games and popular DVDs.

He writes that he felt oppressed by the restrictions. The hypocrisy of religious leaders, he wrote, prompted him to rebel, although he feared "returning back to what is at least 'familiar,' into a system I at least know how to behave in.' "

In another posting, Murray wrote of a crushing depression that would not respond to intensive therapy or medication.

"This is the Nightmare that just goes on and on," he wrote.

Some postings harbor bitterness toward Youth With a Mission. He said the staff there decided to tell him one week before an outreach mission that they did not want him to go.

"The fact is, in YWAM, and christianity, it's all about the Beautiful People," he wrote.

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