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Police Missed Locking Up Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara Mass Murderer

Police Missed Locking Up Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara Mass MurdererOn Friday, a month after police were first alerted to Elliot Rodger’s odd YouTube videos and paid him a visit, Rodger took out revenge as he had promised on his “Day of Retribution.” Luckily for the rest of us, his “Day of Retribution” apparently lasted about 20 minutes. Which is a fitting end to a man who appears to have been at least a little bit narcissistic.

Unlike most mass shooting murderers, Elliot Rodger left us a 140-page manifesto where he lays out his complete life in detail. And while it’s clear from reading this document (part autobiography, part explanation as to why a “Day of Retribution” is needed) that here is a man who has some issues, it’s not clear exactly where those issues came from.

And more importantly, the document sheds little light on what led this man to commit such heinous crimes. He seemed to have had a life of little hardship — outside of being a bit socially awkward (and what teen hasn’t been there?). Most socially-rejected, lonely teenagers don’t go on killing rampages. So what made Elliot Rodger different?

And why didn’t the police pick up on this soon-to-be killer?

Warning, the content described below may be triggering to some people. Please do not read if you are easily triggered.

Elliot Rodger’s autobiography and manifesto about his “Day of Retribution” is here. If you first at least a part of his YouTube video, you’ll get a sense of the tone in which it was written:

The document, entitled “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger,” starts with Rodger’s birth, and ends with his “Day of Retribution,” May 23, 2014 — a day earlier than he had planned. At least a part of the “First Phase” apparently went as he had planned — killing his roommates (three people were found dead in his apartment; he had only two roommates). But Phase Two apparently didn’t happen at all (page 132), where he planned a killing spree at the Alpha Phi Sorority.

Instead, he seems to have jumped to the Final Phase, “my ultimate showdown in the streets of Isla Vista.” After planning to first kill his little brother and mother-in-law (both of which he apparently did not do), he was going to drive down Del Playa Street and start killing people.

His plans for a massacre at both the sorority house and on Del Playa Street resulted in a loss of three lives — a thankful testament to his inability to carry out even his own careful plans.

After I have killed all of the sorority girls at the Alpha Phi House, I will quickly get into the the [sic] SUV before the police arrive, assuming they would arrive within 3 minutes. I will then make my way to Del Playa, splattering as many of my enemies as I can with the SUV, and shooting anyone I don’t splatter. I can only imagine how sweet it will be to ram the SUV into all of those groups of popular young people who I’ve always witnessed walking right in the middle of the roas if they are better than everyone else. When they are writhing in pain, their bodies broken and dying after I splatter them, they will fully realize their crimes.

What appears to me is to be a disconnect with reality here, acting as though driving around, running over and shooting people is like some Grand Theft Auto video game episode.

And what crimes could a person who’s never met you possibly realize by being randomly shot by a car speeding away?

Once I reach Del Playa Street, I will dump the bag of severed heads I had saved from my previous victims, proclaiming to everyone how much I’ve made them all suffer. Once they see all of their friend’s [sic] heads roll onto the street, everyone will fear meas the powerful god I am. I will then start massacring everyone on Del Playa Street. I will pull up next to a house party and fire bullets at everyone partying on the front yard. I will specifically target the good looking people, and all of the couples. After I have destroyed a house party, I will continue down Del Playa, destroying everything and everyone. When I see the first police car come to their rescue, I will drive away as fast as I can, shooting and ramming anyone in my path until I find a suitable place to finally end my life.

Which — thankfully — he did after apparently crashing his car.

What you take away from reading these 140 pages is a person with some serious self-esteem issues, an overwhelming sense of entitlement, shallowness, and a belief that “deserving” people should have a special place in this world. Some of this is not surprising seeing the somewhat privileged life he had growing up.

He had multiple schemes for attracting women’s attention. First, he thought it would come naturally, once they saw what a deserving gentleman he was. This would be nearly impossible, however, since he rarely spoke to women. Then he thought he simply needed power and wealth, and undertook an effort — spending a good chunk of his savings — on lottery tickets. Needless to say, he didn’t win.

Time and time again, he expresses his frustration that women simply didn’t choose him for their attentions. He takes no responsibility for getting to meet and know women, and instead completely turns the responsibility onto them:

I hated all of those obnoxious, boisterous men who were able to enjoy pleasurable sex lives with beautiful girls, but I hated the girl’s [sic] even more, because they were the ones who chose those men instead of me. It was their choice. They are the ones who deprived me of love and sex.

My hatred and rage towards [sic] all women festered inside me like a plague. Their very existence is the cause of all of my torture, pain and suffering throughout my life. My life turned into a living hell after I started desiring them when I hit puberty. I desire them intensely, but I could never have them.

Why not? Because apparently he was simply too shy and devoid of basic social skills to approach a girl and ask her out.

The Police Were Warned

The police were warned approximately a month before the shootings took place:

After only a week passed since I uploaded those videos on Youtube [describing Rodger’s plans for his “Day of Retribution”], I heard a knock on my apartment door. I opened it to see about seven police officers asking for me. As soon as I saw those cops, the biggest fear I had ever felt in my life overcame me. I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it. If that was the case, the police would have searched my room, found all my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I plan to do with them. I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can’t imagine a hell darker than that. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, but it was so close.

Apparently, someone saw my videos and became instantly suspicious of me. […] I don’t suppose I’ll ever know the full truth of who called the police on me. The police interrogated me outside for a few minutes, asking me if I had suicidal thoughts. I tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding, and they finally left. If they had demanded to search my room… That would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over. When they left, the biggest wave of relief swept over me. It was so scary.

So as you can see, all the laws in the world can’t stop someone from committing horrible acts of murder. Even the police can’t tell when someone is lying to them.

Another shooting tragedy in America. And one that perhaps could have been prevented, had those seven officers made a little bit more effort to get to know the person they were asked to check in on.

Police Missed Locking Up Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara Mass Murderer

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Police Missed Locking Up Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara Mass Murderer. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 25 May 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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