In a response to the tragic events that occurred on February 2nd 2013; the Warfighter Foundation has conducted a comprehensive investigation that included interviews with U.S. Marines that knew and served with Eddie Ray Routh, the murderer of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield Additionally, there has been very little investigation into Routh’s military service and no inquiry regarding those who served with him. This is the first time Marines who knew and served with Eddie Ray Routh have been interviewed.
In order to understand the true significance of the subject matter, we must first provide an analytical assessment of Eddie Routh’s cognitive dissonance. What , if any , are the key implications that caused this individual to perform such a behavior. We can begin this assessment by breaking down Routh into several categories. The individual persona, the state / role and behavior within the United States, and finally his role as a Marine within the war in Iraq. This systematic breakdown allows for a precise characterization of not only his personality, but also allows for the identification of any “red flags” that might be claimed from Routh himself.
Our analysis begins with SSgt. Justin Webster, a former U.S. Marine that served honorably from 1998 – 2011. Webster was a Marine Corps recruiter that dealt directly with Routh for 11 months before heading off to Marine Corps boot camp. According to Routh’s mother Jodi, Routh left home during his junior year and moved in with his aunt and uncle who lived in a nearby town. She said that they had wanted to get away from their overprotective mother. Jodi doesn’t dispute this: “They were rebellious, and they wanted to drink and smoke pot and stuff, and that wasn’t gonna be allowed at our house.” The aunt admitted that she kept alcohol and marijuana around. Routh’s sister Laura, said that friends often passed out on the floor, and described the aunt’s house as “a squatter pad.” Meanwhile, in a house not far away, Routh and Laura’s grandfather was dying of cancer. The aunt was among those who had been entrusted to handle the grandfather’s prescriptions, including morphine; some of the morphine was stolen, and the aunt’s husband eventually overdosed on it. These initial conditions that Routh was exposed to may have been a contributing factor in the psylogical paranoia leading up to the murder.
“Eddie wanted to be a Marine forever, supposedly. He joined the DEP (Delayed Entry Program) his senior year and participated in the Recruiting Station’s pool functions (training events to prepare Marine candidates for Recruit Training) two to three times a week.” Webster said. “He was a dumb country kid. Good, but dumb.” Routh reportedly barely graduated High School and received an incredibly low score on the ASVAB (test that helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military). Jeff Diener, one of Routh’s classmates, said that he was “kinda hard to get along with.” Another classmate said that Routh was a “standard troublemaker” who “didn’t show a whole lot of respect” for the teachers. Kc Bernard, who was a security guard at the school for two of the years that Routh was there, said that Routh was “always ready to fight” and “had a chip on his shoulder.”
SSgt. Webster admitted, when Routh enlisted, it was during a time when the Marine Corps Recruiting Command was putting pressure on Marine Recruiters to fill quotas, no matter the cost. For example, in 2008, the Marine Corps recruited a man with autism. Over the last three fiscal years in 2009, 265 Marine recruiters have been relieved of duty for misconduct, most commonly for hiding negative background factors.
Later, Routh completed Marine Corps Recruit Training and headed home for leave. Webster said that “he [Routh] seemed motivated.” SSgt. Webster wouldn’t see Routh again until being stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, just a few miles away from Camp Lejeune where Routh was stationed. Webster ran into Routh at a bar in Jacksonville, NC. “It was late 2009 or early 2010, I went to a local Marine Corps bar, Lucky’s Tavern in Jacksonville, and there Routh was” said Webster. Routh’s grooming standards were out of Marine Corps regulation and he was “nasty looking, appeared disgruntled.” The two never spoke, due to circulating rumors of Routh’s drug use, but Webster was able to see that something was wrong. “Something had changed him. I just wrote it off as just a disgruntled Marine, you know, that typical first term Lance Corporal.”
We then spoke with Cpl. Ryker Pawloski who served Honorably between 2005 and 2009. Pawloski served directly with Routh before and during Iraq with 8th Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB-8), where Routh had been assigned after enlisting as a 2111 Small Arms Repairer/Technician, more commonly referred to as an armorer. “My first impression of Routh, was that he was a tall goofy bastard” Pawloski continued “prior to our work up, I never noticed anything odd.” The unit Routh and Pawloski were assigned to, was preparing for deployment to Iraq. As part of the preparation, the unit was sent to CAX (Combined Arms Exercise), the Marine Corps’ most advanced live-fire unit-level combined arms training program. It was during CAX, when the two Marines were spending every moment together as “Battle Buddies” that Pawloski finally noticed something was odd about Routh. “Eddie was easily pissy, he took everything too personal. I mean, I spent a lot of time with him, he really seemed like a good dude. But, he had that quirk.” Pawloski reported.
It is important to realize that Eddie Ray Routh never experienced combat. According to the American Psychology Association “There is now accumulating evidence that suggests that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is linked to combat experiences.”
Routh and Pawloski deployed together with CLB-8 in August 2007 to Camp Fallujah, Iraq. Pawloski said “We got mortared a couple times, that was the extent of our combat experience. Incoming was like hit and miss bullshit, for the most part there wasn’t a whole lot of hits. Routh was never near any incoming. Where he was located on the camp, he was rather safe and cozy.” Soon after CLB-8 arrived at Camp Fallujah, Routh was sent to Camp Balad in order to support the prison. Pawloski told us “Routh wasn’t needed. We had a few armorers and he was the only one we could spare.” After a couple months, Routh returned to CLB-8 at Camp Fallujah. “This is where I would like to set the record straight” Pawloski said ” Routh hated Muslims. He talked to me about his experiences at the prison and how he liked beating them with batons and didn’t sympathize with them. He really seemed like normal goofy Routh.” However, that same previously mentioned “quirk”, was about to be unleashed at full force.
One day in the armory, Pawloski witnessed Routh almost beat another Marine to death. Pawloski said “Some of the guys were teasing Routh. They had posted ‘WANTED’ pictures of him with a rainbow flag. It was a harmless joke and he fucking snapped.” Routh selected one of the Marines in the armory and began pummeling his face until he was bleeding severely. Pawloski said “We had to break it up. He was out of control.” However, this was not an isolated incident. Routh had already shown a history of this “quirk” where he would snap. Pawloski reported “he would lash out like a fucking wild animal.” It was only a couple weeks later when Pawloski himself would become another victim of Routh’s uncontrollable rage. Pawloski reported “I was walking back into the armory and heard something funny, so I was laughing on my way in. Out of nowhere, Routh body slammed me. I was knocked unconscious because Routh hit my head on the steel work bench when he threw me down. I woke up convulsing.” Pawloski reported that the incident gave him a Traumatic Brain Injury, which can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain that can result in long-term complications or death.
“For him to be able to snap as bad as he did, says something.” Pawloski continued “I think something might have happened when he was young. He never really talked about his family. Routh seemed like he was a guy that was picked on.” According to the National Institute of Health, children who had been abused or neglected were 38% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime. Pawloski also reported that after Routh left the Marine Corps he “hit drugs hard, and I mean fucking hard. Hard shit and prescription.” About 50% of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia meet criteria for substance abuse or dependence. While substance abuse does not cause schizophrenia, it can worsen the symptoms of the disorder. Patients may have particularly bad reactions to amphetamines , cocaine, PCP (“angel dust”) or marijuana. It is thought that patients with schizophrenia are attracted to drugs of abuse as self-medication for some of their symptoms.
CLB-8 returned from Iraq in March 2008. Pawloski said “When we returned, everything went back to normal for Routh. We both went home on leave, we talked all the time; he was normal.” Cpl. Pawloski stated, that PTSD is extremely unlikely and that a previous mental issue was already very prevalent in Routh.
In 2009, Routh was assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit command element, detached from CLB-8. Sgt. Andrew Stokes was right there with him, even sharing the same sleeping quarters. “Eddie was our armorer. If anyone needed to pull weapons out, that is all he did.” said Stokes. The Marines worked together for months on the USS Bataan throughout Spain, Greece, and Turkey among others. Stokes reported “Eddie was a cool guy. But he was a really wild guy. I never really hung out with him outside of work, I know he would drink, but not more than any other Marine.”
On January 18th 2010, Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) joined under the Bataan Amphibious ready group (ARG) – began arriving in Haiti in order to conduct a Humanitarian-Assistance Disaster-Relief (HADR) mission. The ARG consisted of the USS Bataan, USS Carter Hall and USS Fort McHenry. Units within the MEU consisted of 1,600 Marines with the Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, and the MEU Command Element (Where Routh and Stokes were assigned). U.S. troops were also transported by helicopter onto the lawn of the Presidential Palace to help restore order and distribute aid.
The Marines that were sent to Haiti, were primarily for riot control and to distribute aid. Reports have circulated that Routh was part of a “body recovery” mission and that this is where his “PTSD” had developed, this however has been found to be false. Stokes reported “Routh never left the ship. He was the armorer, why would he leave the ship?” Furthermore, the ARG consisted of Marines from 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines (an infantry battalion). “The 03’s (Infantry Marines) were the ones on the ground in Haiti conducting operations.” Stokes continued “Based upon the time I spent with him, I don’t see the claim about PTSD adding up at all.”
AFTER THE CORPS
Upon separation from active duty, Routh struggled with drugs, alcohol, and mental instability. Routh’s father recalled, “We were down at the lake. We’d been going down there since he was nine years old, hunting and fishing. We would go there every weekend if we could get away with it. It was all good but I don’t know, something triggered him and he was telling me he was Dracula, that he was a vampire and wanted to suck people’s blood.” This incident (and Routh’s history of aggressive behavior) is an indication of a psychotic disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (also known as the DSM-IV-TR), the diagnostic standard for mental health professionals in the United States, describes several mental disorders that Routh could have been diagnosed with. Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia are at the top of the list, based on Routh’s behavior. It is important to realize that Routh’s behavior was not an indication of PTSD. It should be noted, that environmental stressors related to home and family life (parental death or divorce, family dysfunction) or to separation from the family of origin in late adolescence (going away to college or military training; marriage) may trigger the onset of schizophrenia in individuals with genetic or psychological vulnerabilities.
Schizophrenia often goes undetected for about two to three years after the onset of diagnosable symptoms, because the symptoms occur in the context of a previous history of cognitive and behavioral problems. The patient may have had panic attacks, social phobia , or substance abuse problems, any of which can complicate the process of diagnosis . In most cases, however, the patient’s first psychotic episode is preceded by a prodromal (warning) phase, with a variety of behaviors that may include angry outbursts, withdrawal from social activities, loss of attention to personal hygiene and grooming, anhedonia (loss of one’s capacity for enjoyment), and other unusual behaviors. The psychotic episode itself is typically characterized by delusions, which are false but strongly held beliefs that result from the patient’s inability to separate real from unreal events; and hallucinations, which are disturbances of sense perception. Hallucinations can affect any of the senses, although the most common form of hallucination in schizophrenia is auditory (“hearing voices”). Autobiographical accounts by people who have recovered from schizophrenia indicate that these hallucinations are experienced as frightening and confusing. Patients often find it difficult to concentrate on work, studies, or formerly pleasurable activities because of the constant “static” or “buzz” of hallucinated voices.
Routh met the criteria of risk factors for violence in a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia: male sex, age below 30, prediagnosis history of violence, paranoid subtype, nonadherence to medication regimen, and heavy substance abuse.
In July 2011, while working in Houston, Routh got heatstroke and fell ill. His sister drove to Houston to bring her brother home. On the way back, he told her that he had a tapeworm. He “kept obsessing over it,” Laura said. Raymond took him to the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Doctors there failed to find a tapeworm. Routh stayed in the hospital a few more days, for further tests, then checked himself out. This is a clear indication of somatic hallucinations. Somatic hallucinations refer to sensations or perceptions about one’s body organs that have no known medical cause, such as feeling that snakes are crawling around in one’s intestines or that one’s eyes are emitting radioactive rays.
Since May of 2012, Routh had been involved in at least three incidents involving police and pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in Johnson County. Additionally, Dallas police say a woman called them to an apartment complex in the 7600 block of Churchill Way in North Dallas because she feared for Routh’s safety. Routh was in distress and wanting to get help, so officers took him to Green Oaks for a mental health evaluation. Routh’s mother also called Lancaster police on the night of May 14th 2012 to report a burglary. The report listed Routh as the suspect and indicated that nine pill bottles were taken.
Routh’s mother, Jodi, reported a disturbance in September 2012 after Routh got into a fistfight with his father over nothing. Routh stomped toward the house, threatening to “blow his brains out” and “suck-start a rifle.” Jodi knew that he was going for the guns, and she grabbed one of Routh’s friends and told him to get the weapons out of the house. Routh fumed when he found the gun closet empty and shouted, “I’ll blow all your brains out!” Jodi called the police, telling the operator, “They need to admit him to the mental ward.” Routh was arrested and taken to Green Oaks Psychiatric Hospital.
In January 2013, Routh and his girlfriend Jen were hanging around her apartment when he fell into a state of paranoia. He began ranting to Jen and her roommate about government-surveillance activities. He once told a friend that the helicopters overhead were watching him. Outbursts of this nature had become more frequent. He made sure to cover the camera on his computer (“He felt very strongly about that,” Jodi said), and confided to family and friends, “They know what we’re doing.”
Inside the apartment, Routh began pacing in front of Jen’s door, clutching a knife. He said that he was prepared to defend her from government agents who were out to get them. For hours, she tried, unsuccessfully, to calm him. Finally, Jen’s roommate texted the police, who arrested Routh and took him to Green Oaks. He was transferred to the Dallas V.A. the next day.
The quality of care varies from one V.A. facility to the next. In 2004, the V.A. Inspector General called the Dallas facility the worst in the nation; a Dallas TV station interviewed veterans who alleged that the facility was so poor that it put “lives at risk.”hian in Kyle’s black pickup truck, according to an affidavit. Around 5:45 P.M. he arrived at his brother-in-law, Gaines Blevins, house. Routh told Gaines and his sister, Laura, that he and two other people “were out shooting target practice and he couldn’t trust them so he killed them before they could kill him.” He asked them if the world was freezing over, then announced that he had a new truck. Laura asked if he had traded in his car, a Volkswagen Beetle; he said no, but added, “I sold my soul for a truck.” He went on, “We went up to the gun range. I killed them.” Laura asked her brother what he was talking about. “Chris and his friend. I killed them. I murdered them,” he said. “I didn’t really think he was telling the truth,” Laura said. “And he’s, like, ‘Are you and Gaines in Hell with me?’ And I was, like, ‘No, we’re not in Hell.’ And he was, like, ‘Well, do you think I can get to Oklahoma?’ And I was, like, ‘Oklahoma? What’s in Oklahoma?’ And he’s, like, ‘Well, if I can get to Oklahoma, I can get out of this.’ And I was, like, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I think you’re telling me a story. Don’t lie to me. Tell me what happened.’ And at this point we’re almost to the front door, and so we walked outside, and when we walked outside I thought I was gonna throw up on myself, because here’s this truck that I know he could never afford. The tires alone were expensive. That’s the first thing I saw—these giant, big knobby tires on this pickup truck.”
Laura realized that Routh really must have killed two men. He offered to show Gaines the murder weapon, and began reaching into a tool chest in the truck. They told him to stop. Laura was afraid for herself and for Gaines, and she asked Routh to leave and turn himself in. Before he drove off, he said to her, “I love you.”
Laura Blevins told police her brother seemed “out of his mind saying people were sucking his soul and that he could smell the pigs. He said he was going to get their souls before they took his.”
In the 911 call to police, the brother-in-law of Eddie Ray Routh described a paranoid Routh who arrived to his home and said he’d murdered two people because “he couldn’t trust anyone anymore and everyone was out to get him,” according to a search warrant affidavit. Routh “admitted to killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at Rough Creek Lodge Shooting Range” and “admitted to stealing Kyle’s pickup truck” in a statement to police.
As the call continued, Laura Blevins described him as being psychotic and said she did not know whether he was on drugs. “He’s all crazy,” Blevins said. Blevins’ husband told the 911 operator that Routh had told them he had two large gun cabinets in the truck. He said he didn’t know where Routh was headed. “He was talking kind of babble,” Blevins’ husband said. He said that he did not make any threats toward them and that “He [Eddie Routh] just got out of a mental hospital last week.”
Routh then left their home driving the truck, saying he wanted to get to Oklahoma to avoid Texas authorities, the documents state. Authorities arrived at Routh’s home (where they found drug paraphernalia, Routh later admitted he’d been smoking marijuana that might have been laced with other drugs.) in Lancaster to arrest him and saw Kyle’s pickup truck at the home, Routh tried to flee in the pickup. The brief pursuit ended in an arrest near Interstate 35 and Camp Wisdom Road around 8:34 p.m.
Just hours after the murders of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, Eddie Ray Routh gave a long, strange, rambling confession. A Texas Ranger talked to Routh for about 45 minutes the night of the murders in February 2013. The Ranger read Routh his rights, and asked if he understood. Ranger Danny Briley said Routh nodded. Briley asked Routh why he did it. Routh responded in a deep drawl, “I knew if I didn’t take out his soul, he would take my soul next.” He added, “I got tons of people eating my soul,” and, “I can’t sleep.”
Routh also mentioned a wolf in the sky, warlords unhappy with him, and world counsels of men and women to solve problems. He was handcuffed, sitting inside an interview room at Lancaster police headquarters. He did not ask for an attorney, but did ask to see his mother.
Throughout the past few years, Eddie Ray Routh has shown clear signs of a severe psychological disorder. Routh meets the “positive symptoms” of schizophrenia (The positive symptoms of schizophrenia include four so-called “first-rank” or Schneiderian symptoms, named for a German psychiatrist who identified them in 1959), which include delusions, hallucinations, hearing voices, thought insertion or withdrawal (notion that other beings or forces are putting thoughts or ideas into one’s mind i.e. God, aliens, the CIA, etc.), disorganized speech and thinking, and disorganized behavior.
In contrast, you can’t ignore a woman that lived with a U.S. Navy SEAL that served five combat tours in Iraq. A woman who experienced PTSD from a man that undoubtedly carried a larger burden on his shoulders than Eddie Routh. Chris Kyle’s PTSD resulted in helping his fellow veterans, not murdering them. Taya Kyle said that people with PTSD “work through their struggles, just like we work through our struggles. They are phenomenal people and it doesn’t change their character,” Taya Kyle said. She also said that PTSD is not a justification for murder.
Psychologist Dr. Bret A. Moore, an expert in military psychology, said “In most cases, PTSD does not lead to criminal behavior. Much of what is seen on this issue in the media is a result of savvy lawyers conjuring up defenses for their clients that would have likely committed the crime regardless if they had PTSD or not. Lawyers know that the average citizen sitting on a jury will have a great deal of sympathy for the veteran, which they hope will result in a favorable outcome for their client.” – excerpt from Dr. Moore’s article in Psychology Today, titled Criminal Behavior is Not a Symptom of PTSD.
Approximately 80 percent of patients with PTSD have at least one comorbid (in medicine, comorbidity is the presence of one or more additional disorder) psychiatric disorder. Note, that a precipitating traumatic event is necessary, but not sufficient, to make the diagnosis of PTSD. Of all the “traumatic” events that Routh had described throughout his military history (i.e. shooting a child on patrol in Iraq, handling dead bodies in Haiti, etc.) none of them actually happened, according to the Marines he served with. …