14-year old Jesse Osborne (now 15) of Townville, South Carolina dreamed of becoming the worst school shooter in history. Worst in terms of the number of people killed, making it the best in his mind.
He saw himself as in competition with Klebold and Harris of Columbine (13 dead), Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary (26), and Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech (32). So when he went on the attack at Townville Elementary School in September, 2016, he thought he would kill at least 50 or 60 innocents, or, in his own words, “Maybe 150 if I get lucky.”
He began in the same way as Adam Lanza who stole his mother’s gun and killed her before committing mass murder at Sandy Hook. Osborne stole his father’s pistol and used it to kill his father before setting out to accomplish his gruesome aspiration. Jesse was not only a failure at life in general, he failed to achieve the macabre notoriety he hoped for. He killed only one child, an adorable 6-year old named Jacob Hall. The pistol malfunctioned after the first shot. Jesse lacked the skill to clear it. A win for the good guys.
Last week a court in South Carolina ruled that Jesse Osborne will be tried as an adult. At the hearing on the prosecutor’s motion a psychiatrist who had evaluated Jesse Osborne declared him to have anti-social personality disorder, i.e., he’s a sociopath.
The DSM says sociopathy cannot be diagnosed in anyone younger than 18. The DSM is wrong. A teenager who tortures animals is a strong indicator that he (very few girls torture animals) is a sociopath and will remain so for his entire life. Around three percent of the population of Western countries are sociopaths. Not all commit mass murder, however. Many are smart and can be appear quite charming. They are the ones who will cheat you out of your life savings, but won’t kill you.
The Jesse Osborne type sociopaths are not smart. They’re just evil. They’re not smart because they are willing to ruin or even lose their own lives for what is to them the temporary gratification by brutal killing. First animals, then humans. They’re not smart because they risk everything to gain something normal people never want.
The hearing on the motion to try Osborne as an adult lasted several days. During that time he was often seen smiling as witnesses recounted what he did. Like a true narcissistic sociopath he was enjoying himself. For those few days in that courtroom, everything was about him.
Not particularly smart does not mean abjectly stupid. Osborne had planned his attack for 2 years, meaning he was barely 12 years old when he first hatched his awful plan. He also took notice that the middle school he would have preferred had armed security. The elementary school he chose did not. Like other school shooters he went to the gun free zone where he believed he could do the most damage before anyone could stop him. He researched police response times and was convinced that he’d have at least 15 minutes to do his killing. He calculated that patrol officers might arrive in 15 minutes but he believed it would take up to 45 minutes for SWAT to get there. I think his times are off, but it shows that his mind was working in an evil way and not in a senseless way.
At some point the gravity of what his future was going to be must have sunk in. In the weeks before this hearing he feigned mental illness in hopes of building an insanity defense. It didn’t work. The psychiatrists who evaluated him said he was faking it. If the court had ruled that he be tried as a juvenile he could not have been held past age 21. Now he will likely die someday in prison.
Maybe he’ll commit suicide at that first chance. I doubt it. Committing suicide in a prison cell offers little glory. It’s just not the same as going out in a spectacular hail of police bullets, John Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde mode.
Another question is how long will he survive in prison? Bank robbers get lots of respect from the other inmates. Narcissistic killers of adorable 6-year olds don’t. You really screwed yourself, Jesse!
A Google search of “Jesse Osborne” will turn up numerous news stories of the shooting and the court hearing.
Here is one: