The Unthinkable: Children Who Kill
Dark Ambitions: A Born Killer?
It turned out to be a knife, and that was the last thing Gough saw.
Jaime Gough, a shy honor student often bullied, lay over the toilet seat, bleeding profusely from a wound to this throat. He also had multiple stab wounds, but he appeared to still be alive. The security guard arrived, but Hernandez was nowhere to be found. Hed slipped away to the computer lab, apparently oblivious to the blood spatter on his clothing and shoes. The boy from the restroom told his story and officials went looking for Hernandez.
When the rescue unit arrived and went into the restroom, they were unable to save Gough, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The school was quickly locked down, with students kept in their classrooms most of the day and anxious parents gathering outside. The county medical examiners office removed the body and the police notified Goughs family. They were stunned. This was an affluent school for artistically gifted children. Jaime was a musician, athlete and straight-A student. He had never been in trouble. Jaimes mother collapsed and had to be briefly hospitalized.
The police pulled Hernandez from class to question him. A search of his book bag produced a jacket and latex glove with blood on them, as well as a serrated folding knife, which looked to be the murder weapon. They read him his rights, made sure he understood, and took him for questioning.
After several hours, he confessed to the crime, waiving his right to appear in juvenile court. He was charged with first-degree murder, which meant that he would be tried as an adult, and held in secure detention. He was faced with life in prison, so his parents hired attorney Richard Rosenbaum, who was experienced in juvenile crimes and who believed that no child should be abandoned to the prison system. Rosenbaum had won a lesser sentence and a release for Lionel Tate, a twelve-year-old who had murdered his six-year-old neighbor and been sentenced to life.
Students at Southwood who commented about the murder in their midst said that Hernandez and Gough had been the best of friends and neither had ever been in trouble. Hernandez was known to be respectful, even nice. He clearly had a darker side that no one knew, not even his family. While at first it seemed as if this might be just an unfortunate incident between friends that had somehow turned tragic, as the case unfolded, the discoveries proved to be shocking.
It seems that Hernandez had devised for himself a little birthday celebration. He had a list of three people that he had planned to kill: his older sister, a long-time friend referred to in the reports as A.D.M., and Gough. (According to the earliest reports, hed apparently targeted another boy as well, who was not on this list, but when that student did not show up on his birthday or the next day, Hernandez turned on Gough.)
Hernandez intended to kill his two friends at school, he indicated, and prop their corpses up on toilets. In preparation, he had gotten a knife from his fathers store, gloves, a hat, a jacket, and tape. He made instructions to himself to be quick and to remove all blood. Also to Make sure they are dead Make sure there is no one in the bathrooms If so Kill Them.
His ploy that day was to lure the first boy into a stall, strangle him with a belt and then stab him in the back. And that would have been it, he told police. But A.D.M. had not gone along with it. Exactly when he left the bathroom in which Hernandez was attacking Gough remained unclear, although the boy who brought the security guard had noticed a student exiting whom he did not know.
In his journals, Hernandez had a six-page Internet printout about mass, spree, and serial murderers on which he had drawn a hanged man and had written will become a serial killer. (AP clarifications later indicated that he might have been finishing a sentence that was cut off in the copying process, rather than spelling out his intentions, though in other writings, its clear that he hopes to become a murderer.) He also had written a list of violent videogames and movies, had instructions for making a bomb, and made a Swastika image with the words White Power. Oddly, another note said, You will be a serial killer and mass murderer, stay along, never forget God ever, have a cult and plan mass kidnapping for new world be an expert thief. In addition, he had drawn a figure being prepared for death by a suspended blade.
Forensic psychologist and child psychology specialist Dr. Leonard Haber told the Miami Herald that the writings were cold, calculated, and demonic. A defense psychologist mentioned that Hernandez was a complex young man. Indeed, the boy murderer had written to himself that once he had succeeded with his diabolical plan, he was to thank God for success first.
A neighbor who had driven Hernandez to school that day said that nothing about him seemed out of the ordinary. They talked about music and his plans for the day. She could never have guessed what he had in mind, or had in his bag. Within moments of leaving her car, Hernandez had used the knife to stab his friend.
Circuit Judge Henry Leyte-Vidal asked both sides to find psychologists to assess Hernandez for competency. When Hernandez came to court, his head was shaved.
In one new report, defense attorney Rosenbaum was quoted as saying, The psychological evidence, I think, will be overwhelming.
As of this writing, that remains to be seen.
For this school year, Goughs murder brought the total number of deaths on school grounds to 35, more than the total for the previous two years combined.