For four nights the lights of television news camera crews and the chatter of reporters camped on their front lawn filtered through the drawn curtains and closed doors of Jared Loughner's parents' home.
His parents, Randy and Amy Loughner, stayed inside, bedridden and crying, since last Saturday, the day their son allegedly opened fire on a crowd of people, killing six and wounding 13. They are believed to have since left their Tucson, Ariz., house, sneaking out to an undisclosed location without speaking to the press or attending their son's arraignment.
There is little sympathy for the parents of people accused in mass killings, especially when the suspect smiles for his mug shot.
But there is a small circle of people who know the enormity of what Loughner's parents are coping with.
"In the weeks and months that followed the killings, I was nearly insane with sorrow for the suffering my son had caused, and with grief for the child I had lost," wrote Susan Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold who became notorious for shooting up Columbine High School and then killing himself.
"While I perceived myself to be a victim of the tragedy, I didn't have the comfort of being perceived that way by most of the community," she wrote in O magazine in 2009. "I was widely viewed as a perpetrator or at least an accomplice since I was the person who had raised a 'monster.' ... If I turned on the radio, I heard angry voices condemning us for Dylan's actions. Our elected officials stated publicly that bad parenting was the cause of the massacre."
Similar accusations have been made about the Loughners. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has said the suspect came from a "dysfunctional family," and former senator Rick Santorum questioned the parents' role in Loughner's behavior.
"Who are the people who know this man," Santorum asked the Wall Street Journal. "I would say: Where were the parents, the friends, and neighbors?"
Anne Marie Salvi is the mother of John Salvi, a 24-year-old Boston man who carried out two fatal attacks on abortion clinics in 1994 and 1996. She has some understanding of the hell the Loughners are experiencing now.
Jared Loughner's Parents Struggling to Cope With Son's Actions
"The family probably didn't fully understand how sick their boy was. They didn't know what to look for," Salvi told ABCNews.com.
"Most of us are well educated about when to go a doctor. At a certain age we should have tests for blood pressure, for a heart condition. But we don't know enough about mental illness. No one tells you what the symptoms are to look for," she said.
Salvi said that even more than a decade later she cannot bring herself to talk about the hours and days in the immediate aftermath of her son's rampage.
"I can't even discuss it. It's too heartbreaking. Obviously my son was a paranoid schizophrenic and I think this boy [Loughner] is too. You can never get over it. It's too heartbreaking," she said.
In an interview after the Virginia Tech shootings, David Kaczynski brother of the Unabomber told "Nightline," "There was probably a time when I asked my mom, 'What's wrong with Teddy?' and she said, 'What do you mean? There's nothing wrong with your brother.'"
Loughner neighbor Wayne Smith, 70, told KPHO-TV earlier this week that Amy Loughner had remained in bed, crying nonstop since she learned of the shootings.
"They're devastated, and they feel guilty for what happened," Smith said.
Psychologists say its normal for parents to blame themselves, but many people simply don't know how to recognize the signs that a family member might become violent.
"Unfortunately, we've seen this before. The families almost always blame themselves. Family blame has long been a part of the misinterpretation of mental illness," said Joyce Burland, a psychologist at the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
"But they almost never realize the seriousness of the situation until something tragic happens," she said.
On Tuesday the family issued a brief written statement expressing their sorrow and confusion.
"There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were so we could make you feel better. We don't understand why this happened," Loughner's parents said in a statement.
Parents of Mass Killers Often Treated Like Accomplices
A series of warning signs have come to light since Loughner was arrested – including building a shrine featuring a skull in the family's backyard, being evicted from an apartment, writing disturbing Internet posts and poems. But psychologists say family members are sometimes unable to read the signs in front of them.
"Families often think this is some phase. They don't what to do and assume the person will just grow out of it. That's way off the mark," Burland said.
Klebold, one of the two Columbine High School shooters, tried to protect his parents from what he knew would be the backlash in the wake of his shooting spree.
"Good wombs have borne bad sons," Klebold said in a video he left behind before shooting several students and himself.