The Columbine Tapes

In five secret videos they recorded before the massacre, the killers reveal their hatreds--and their lust for fame

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Dec. 20, 1999 TIME Cover: The Columbine Tapes

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Others agree that the whole social-cruelty angle was overblown--just like the notion that the Trench Coat Mafia was some kind of gang, which it never was. Steven Meier, an English teacher and adviser to the school newspaper, says, "I think these kids wanted to do something that they could be famous for. Other people tend to wait until they graduate and try to make their mark in the working world and try to be famous in a positive way. I think these kids had a dismal view of life and of their own mortality. To just focus on the bullying aspect is just to focus on one small piece of the entire picture." Meier points out that Harris' brother, from all accounts, is a great kid. "Why would a family have one good son and one bad son?" asks Meier. "Why is it that some people turn out to be rotten?"

The killers made their last videotape on the morning of the massacre. This is the only tape the Klebolds have seen; the Harrises have seen none of them. First Harris holds the camera while Klebold speaks. As the camera zooms in tight, Klebold is wearing a Boston Red Sox cap, turned backward. "It's a half-hour before our Judgment Day," Klebold says into the camera. He wants to tell his parents goodbye. "I didn't like life very much," he says. "Just know I'm going to a better place than here," he says.

He takes the camera from Harris, who begins his quick goodbye. "I know my mom and dad will be in shock and disbelief," he says. "I can't help it."

Klebold interrupts. "It's what we had to do," he says. Then they list some favorite CDs and other belongings that they want to will to certain friends. Klebold snaps his fingers for Harris to hurry up. Time's running out.

"That's it," concludes Harris, very succinctly. "Sorry. Goodbye."

--With reporting by Andrew Goldstein, Maureen Harrington and Richard Woodbury/Littleton

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