NIU Killer Left Valentine's Day Note

Shooter remembered as both friendly honor student and a mentally ill teen.

ByABC News via GMA logo
February 13, 2009, 3:20 PM

Feb. 18, 2008 — -- Before going on a shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University, Steven Kazmierczak left a Valentine's Day note for his girlfriend.

"Jessica you're the best! You've done so much for me, and I truly do love you. You will make an excellent psychologist, or social worker someday! Don't forget about me! Love, Steven Kazmierczak," the love note read, offering only the slightest hint that he would kill five people and then himself later that day.

Jessica Baty, who was Kazmierczak's valentine, told CNN, "I still love him."

"I can't believe he is gone. I can't believe he took other people with him. That wasn't the Steve I knew. He was anything but a monster, he was the nicest and most caring person ever," Baty said, with tears streaming down her face.

It was the latest in a confusing portrait of the mild-mannered, award-winning graduate student who was also an Army reject who needed medicine to contain his anger and violent urges.

A new photo of Kazmierczack also revealed a large color tattoo on his forearm of a doll from the popular horror movie "Saw" driving through a pool of blood on a tricycle.

This weekend the manager of the mental treatment center for teens where Kazmierczak lived for a year, guessed the shootings were fueled by his being off medication.

"He didn't like to take his meds. He was kind of quiet, kept to himself," said Louise Gbadmashi, a former manager at the Thresholds-Mary Hill House in a phone interview.

"It's hard to tell when he's violent because his expression doesn't change," said Gbadmashi, who also recalled Kazmierczak cutting himself.

After high school, Kazmierczak's parents had sent him to Thresholds-Mary Hill House, a psychiatric treatment center for teens, to get therapy and medication for what was described as "unruly" behavior.

"He never wanted to identify with being mentally ill," she said. "That was part of the problem."

Apparently, in recent weeks Kazmierczak's problems were re-emerging.

"We have spoke to people who are close to him and apparently he had been taking medication. He had stopped taking those medications and had become somewhat erratic in the last couple of weeks," said NIU Police Chief Donald Grady.

The chief declined to specify the type of medication the gunman was on.

Police discovered other clues on Saturday in a Travellodge hotel room near campus where Kazmierczak stayed only three days before the deadly shooting spree. He checked in paying cash and signing in using only his first name, the hotel manager Jay Patel said.

According to Patel, he Kazmierczak left cigarette butts, empty energy drink bottles and cold medicine containers scattered around the room.

Police also found a duffel bag with its zippers glued shut that a bomb squad unit safely opened, only to find more ammunition.

In an erie twist, Kazmierczak purchased the ammunition from the same website as the Virgina Tech shooter.

In September, 2001, Kazmierczak joined the Army. Six months later he was issued an administrative discharge before he completed basic training, a defense official told ABC News.

The Privacy Act forbids the Army from characterizing the reason for Kazmierczak's discharge.

Kazmierczak had most recently been studying mental health issues at the University of Illinois, and had taken a job as a guard at a prison, according to his academic adviser.

But his career as a correction officer at the Rockville County Correctional Facility was short-lived, according to Doug Garrison, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Correction.