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Letters to Family Arrested: T. J. Lane — 28 Comments

  1. Joyce, thanks for the update on this sad case.
    It’s sad because this young man made this decision and he can’t even say why he did it. When asked why, he said he didn’t know. He must be so full of rage.

    • Michelle, he’s full of rage, and he doesn’t care. That has been the hardest thing for me to process. That another human being really, truly, and seriously DOES NOT CARE was beyond my ability to comprehend. How could someone simply “Not Care” about their fellow human beings? Well, the fact is that this is true: some people simply do not care, never cared, and will forever be incapable of having a care to the end of their days.

      I don’t “like” this fact, but it’s a fact, nonetheless.

  2. Welcome to Family Arrested, Michelle. Yes, it is a sad sad case. My friend who sent me the information on this case knows quite a bit about it since she lives near there. I feel for the good members of his family as well as for the victims.

  3. I am the one who sent the article to Joyce. This happened very close to my small rural community. The day of the shooting, my grandson’s school was put on immediate “lock down” and we were notified by an emergency phone system why. Some of the buses picked up students at the school where the shooting happened, then continued on to our home school. It was not known if there were more than one shooter so all neighboring schools were put on lock down as a precaution. We were told we would not be allowed to come to the school to pick up our children, which is exactly what you want so badly to do after receiving a call like that.

    For the past year, I felt this young man was VERY troubled and snapped. What many of the local people know, is that this young man was bullied, made fun of and victimized. While he has continually denied this, it was happening. He also has said it was just random shooting, he didn’t target anyone. Unfortunately, everyone familiar with the victims also know this was not the case. The victims were some of the very people who had been bullying him. So, I believe, it was a act of deliberate revenge. I no longer feel that he was simply a very troubled child that snapped. I think he was an evil, cold, calculating individual, a psychopath.

    The entire time (1 year) that he has been in custody he has been wearing the mask of a confused, polite, shy, misunderstood young boy. Everyone that has dealt with him during his incarceration, everyone that has seen his demeanor in court, said he never gave any hint of a troublemaker. The morning of the sentencing, officials dealing with him said he became unpredictably “cocky” a different persona from what they had seen before.

    Many local medias are highly critical of the judge for allowing him to wear the “killer” t-shirt. Having been in that courtroom, the judge and bailiff would not have been able to see. The deputies do not have a legal right to do anything unless instructed by the court. Personally, while I can’t imagine what the victim’s families must have gone through seeing such a display, I an glad he wore that shirt, I am glad we all got to see it and hear what he said. There is no longer any doubt – he planned this attack on the families, just as he planned the attack on their children. He took pleasure in what he did. His rage came from being a psychopath, nothing else.

  4. Dear Milo,

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. I know that you are very familiar with psychopathic behavior, having, like me, a psychopathic offspring, but your daughter, unlike mine and T. J. Lane, is not a killer. In fact, most psychopaths are not killers, but many killers are psychopaths. The hallmark of psychopaths is the very low or absent empathy for others and the delight they take in “putting one over” on some one else. I think, because he had a regular shirt on over the tee that the deputies who led him in didn’t know he had written on the undershirt until he opened the top shirt.

    I agree with your assessment of T. J. Lane as a psychopathic (sociopath, anti-social personality disordered) individual. Lots of kids were bullied in school, and bullying is a horrible experience, I can testify personally to this as I was severely physically bullied in second grade and kept secret about it until the bigger kid broke my jaw, but only a very few kids who are bullied go on to become bullies themselves. Just as the myth that all kids who are sexually abused go on to become abusers themselves, the myth that most bullied become bullies is also false.

    Psychopathic behaviors, which include the type of behavior that he exhibited in court typically don’t usually show up in a kid until puberty. The court room behavior where he obviously took delight in taunting the families of his victims is called “duping delight” and is the delight that psychopaths get in hurting others. His attack and murders I think was well planned and I think his behavior in the court room was also well planned well in advance.

    I don’t know what T. J. Lane’s family situation is, or what kind of parents they were, but I do not blame them if they were even poor or neglectful parents. While nurturing and good parents can help a child grow up to be a caring and compassionate person, many children who have grown up in terrible conditions still become good adults.

    Research is now showing that DNA and genetics has a big influence in what and who we become, just as it says what our eye color will be and if we are going to be smart or dumb. DNA is NOT destiny, though, but even good caring parents sometimes can not overcome the hand of cards that DNA has dealt. My own family on both the maternal and paternal sides is filled with psychopaths and dysfunctional environment, and my son’s paternal grandfather I think was high in psychopathic traits, but my other son is not a psychopath, and only one of four of my paternal DNA donor turned out to be high in psychopathic traits, (they are only half sibs though.) even though he raised (and abused) them.

    As you and I both know, Milo, from doing everything in our power to raise our children to be good people and good citizens, both these two individuals chose the “dark side” of the law and of relationships.

    I so much admire you for the sacrifices you and your hubby have made in raising your daughter’s child and in instilling in him a conscience and empathy when his mother has none, and his father is a hardened criminal. You have overcome very high hurdles with this young man and I firmly believe there will be a special star in your crown in heaven. Thank you again for contributing this story to FA. I appreciate your input and your wisdom in dealing with those who we cannot deal with and must separate ourselves from them. The psychopaths among us.

  5. Even after so long a time, there is at least one or more people per day reach my site by googling “T. J. Lane” so I can tell that there is still some interest in what this man did, but also in what he IS…probably a psychopath, without conscience.

    Here are some update articles about Lane.



    One of the things that is interesting to me is the comments by readers…many of whom blame the parents and grandparents of Lane for his crimes. True, the father of Lane was abusive…but fortunately few people who are abused themselves become abusers of others, much less delighted killers. The narcissism and the lack of remorse, but also the comment by lane of “this is the hand that killed your son, and that mas-ter-bates (so that the profanity nanny won’t bleep it out. LOL) to the memory” is about like something that my own psychopathic son would say.

    Even psychopaths exhibit different levels of entitlement and outright delight in their crimes, and I think that Lane is one of those with a high level of rage inside, entitlement, and lack of fear of consequences, but instead delights in any ATTENTION given to him.

    He is kept in protective custody in prison because the other prisoners would likely do him harm if not kill him.

    Should he be kept in prison for his natural life even though he was 17 when he killed those people? I think the answer to that is YES. He knew what he was doing, he planned what he did, and now he GLOATS over doing it even if it did mean he spent life behind bars. “Protective custody” usually is close to solitary confinement.

    I read an article yesterday about some death row inmates who are so dangerous even in prison that they must be strapped face down on a gurney even for a visit with their attorneys. Sort of like “Hannibal”—even chained they can kick and bite.

    The crimes of T J Lane still seem to resonate with people seeking information on this man. I do feel great empathy for those of his family who are horrified by this young man’s behavior. I know the slings and arrows that are pointed and flung at them…and while there is most likely, as research is proving, much genetic influence in a person becoming a psychopath, still, it isn’t like a person who is “mentally ill” who doesn’t know what they did is “wrong” and who can maybe be helped, psychopaths have choices just like the rest of us do. Just like a person with the genetic tendency to become an alcoholic can still DECIDE and CHOOSE not to drink.

    • Joyce, there are certain types that are over, and above, the run-of-the-mill psychopath/sociopath, to be sure. That Lane was 17 when he committed his crimes doesn’t absolve him of any responsibility to “know” that what he was doing was wrong – at 17, I was stupid and foolish, but I knew that murder was murder.

      There was a recent case in my area where a husband/wife team met an unsuspecting person off of CraigsList and murdered him in cold blood just so they could experience the taking of another human being’s life. This poor guy was strangled by the husband, and stabbed over 20 times by the wife, and they got more of a thrill from it that they did during s-e-x! WHAT?!

      There are a smaller percentage of “those types” that Lane, Bundy, and other notorious killers in the World Of The Disordered, and thank gawd for that. As it is, the run-of-the-mill sociopaths (like the exspath) fly under the radar, and are never even charged for their crimes, much less do time in a correctional facility.


  6. I agree, Truthy, there are what are called “successful” psychopaths, sort of like that James Fallow guy who wrote the book…he would be classified in terms of job, money, family etc as “successful” yet he was brutally hateful to everyone around him, irresponsible, at least emotionally cheating on his wife, etc. so he was NOT successful in his personal relationships.

    There is a female lawyer who styles herself a psychopath and has written a book about it. I will not mention her name or the name of the book, I dont’ want to give her publicity, but she says the reason she is so successful in her profession is because she has no qualms about stepping on someone else without guilt. I dont’ doubt it at all. I think the legal profession, the military, the police, politics, big business, and several other “high power” careers are nests of psychopaths as well as some people who truly do care. I’ve worked with too many of these people and seen for myself not to believe that. I’m not alone in my opinion either. Dr. Robert Hare wrote “Snakes in Suits, when Psychopaths go to Work.” That is a very instructive book on how to spot psychopaths at your work place and among those you must do business with.

  7. An interesting article about this young man was in the Huff/Post today.


    T.J. Lane smirks as he listens to the judge during his sentencing in Chardon, Ohio.

    A teen who pleaded guilty to shooting and killing three students in a high school cafeteria is challenging an Ohio law that allowed him to be tried as an adult, hoping to persuade an appeals court to throw out his sentence of life without parole.

    Prosecutors and T.J. Lane’s defense attorney will go before a state appeals court Wednesday morning inside the courtroom where a smirking Lane wore a T-shirt with “killer” scrawled across it and gestured obscenely toward the victims’ families during his sentencing.

    If this young man is not a psychopath I never knew one! His smirk and wearing a Tee shirt to court that said “Killer” is definitely indications that this young man has NO remorse.

    This is the VERY kind of person who MUST be kept off the streets for the duration of their lives.

    I feel sorry for his family as well as the families of the victims he killed, but when there i s NO remorse there can be NO redemption for this kind of person. I pray that God gives wisdom to the judges in this case.

    • Joyce, this is so sick and sad. The kid is 120% psychopath and does NOT need to be in society, anywhere, under any circumstances.

      I also feel terrible for Lane’s family members. Not one of them can possibly be “okay” with what this young man did, the trial proceedings, and his behaviors throughout. And, I have no doubt that some of these family members are blaming themselves, “I KNEW there was something wrong with him….but, I didn’t __________.” This is horror that they must deal with, and I am so sorry that any parent (or, family member) experiences this.

      (sigh) What a terrible mess……….

  8. Well, from his family history of abuse etc it sounds like T J got a “genetic” link to psychopathy, as well as an environmental one, but whatever combination of genetics and environment that made him what he is, he apparently has no remorse at all, in fact, takes DELIGHT in being a monster. It is odd though that he was able to appear so quiet and nice, “yes sir, and no sir” etc and then start smirking and flaunting his disordered behavior.

    My son Patrick liked to flaunt his bad behavior, it was almost like he REQUIRED an audience to “appreciate” what a tough guy he was…my biological father was also big on flaunting his “tough guy” attitude and bragging on how smart he was, but even though he despised others because they were “not as smart as” he was, he still NEEDED them to worship him…without people fearing or worshiping him, he was EMPTY.,…

    I’m sure that TJ must have some relatives that were not disordered who are mightily shamed by how he has behaved….as well as people who are themselves disordered like his father is/was and for those people I have complete empathy.

    TJ’s wanting to hurt the families of his victims more than he already has is just beyond the pale, but pretty diagnostic of psychopathy in my opinion.

    • Joyce, yeah…………the apple didn’t fall far from THAT tree, to be sure.

      The flaunting of the behaviors is something that I can’t fathom. Maybe, it’s the psychopath bouncing the shame of their deeds back onto their victims/targets to flaunt their behaviors. I don’t know. I just know that I cannot even imagine the world in which these people live – where humanity has NO value, etc. It’s just beyond my ability to comprehend.


  9. Truthy, empathy is something, According to Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, that we have in greater or lesser degrees, but also can be turned on and off…Psychopaths are on the LOW end of the spectrum in empathy, and so are the profoundly autistic, but the difference is that autistics don’t ENJOY hurting others where psychopaths do.

    Also we can turn our empathy “off” and “on” to some extent, if we couldn’t, we would give every stitch of clothing to the homeless guy on the corner, give him our car keys and our house….but while we may have some empathy for him, we do NOT make ourselves homeless so he won’t be. Professionally I had to turn my empathy off to some extent in order to be emotionally detached enough to make good medical decisions. If I melted down EVERY time some patient had a terminal illness or a painful procedure I wouldn’t be able to function.

    I DID have problems with doing painful procedures on infants and senile elderly where you couldn’t explain to them, “This is going to hurt but it will make you better” and I quit a job in an ICU for premies…I just couldn’t stand it or turn off my empathy. The other place was a burn unit. I just couldnt’ do it, but then in the end, after the plane crash I had to care for my son’s wounds and burns, and I managed to do it okay.

    People with very little empathy though, such as psychopaths, seem to enjoy their “control” over others, their hurting others. They enjoy the power feeling it gives them.

    And yes, It is difficult to understand how they could do that, but I don’t think we have to UNDERSTAND it so much as we have to BELIEVE it when we see it and move out of the line of fire if we can.

    • Joyce, 100% spot-on!!!!!!!! MY job is to acknowledge that these people do truly exist and accept that fact. I’m all about moving OUT of the crosshairs! LMAO!!!!!!!! The INTENT to harm and the malicious glee that the toxic and disordered people experience pretty much negates any level of empathy that they might have.

      I would prefer that people aren’t disordered and that every human being experienced empathy on some level. But, my preferences don’t factor into the Human Condition – not everyone DOES experience empathy. And, that’s just all there is to it. I can’t change that fact, nor can I negotiate it into something more pleasant.

      I personally cannot imagine working in a medical environment where I would not be able to communicate with my patients – this goes for veterinary procedures, as well. I’ve had to stitch up lacerations, lance abscesses, dress wounds, etc., on all sorts of animals, and it’s always been difficult for me because I can’t explain to them that what I’m doing is going to make them feel better.

      A premie ICU or burn unit would be beyond my ability to even fathom.

  10. Yea, working on those screaming infants was more than I could take….and with demented elderly also, and of course burn patients of any age…but you know…I found other jobs that I could handle…and I was fortunate there. The Rehab jobs were difficult because we did become attached to the patients over the months we had some of them (even over a year) and the wounds a disabilities were profound and the recoveries very small for many, and yea, I cried in the bathroom some, but all within normal limits, not too much and not NO feelings…

    As you mentioned in your other comment, we can have “helper burn out” and use all our energy trying to help others so that we have nothing left for ourselves and for taking care of US. I got to that point professionally a time or two, but realized it and left that job and got a less stressful one. I think it is important that we realize in our PERSONAL LIVES as well that we must not give all our energies away to others.

    Dr. Eric Berne who wrote “Games People Play” would say such a chronic “helpless” victim is playing a game of “oh, ain’t it awful” and continually keeps themselves in a “helpless” state so that they can get others to make their decisions for them, and of course if they DO follow your advice and it doesn’t magically fix all their problems, or (GASP) is the wrong advice,..then they can BLAME YOU. They never accept the blame or responsibility for their own lives.

    • Joyce, spot-on. “Helping” others requires a tremendous amount of energy and effort, particularly if we are not involved in it as a career!

      Personally, Joyce, I don’t know how people are able to separate their empathy from their patients in such scenarios as burn units, NICU, etc. To my knowledge, there is NO course of study in nursing/medical school that addresses hyper-empathy, bedside manners, etc. But, I sure could be wrong about that! LOLOL

      The pattern of behaviors where a person begs for “advice” and/or answers, and then dismisses either, unceremoniously, is associated with a few recognized disorders, and I cannot recollect which they are on account of my brain has turned into rice pudding. But………I know what it is and that it’s toxic.

      I have to pick and choose people who are to be my friends with serious care and consideration. The person that I’ve been referring to has a lot of very hard work ahead of her – acceptance being the most challenging task, at hand. After that, it’s going to be an uphill climb JUST like it’s been for all Survivors.

  11. Many people play the “game” as Dr. Berne would call it of “Yes, but…” which is where they ask for advice, then you give it and then they say “Yes, that’s a good idea BUT…” and the game continues until you run out of ideas and they can say to themselves “there is no solution to this problem then they “win the game” and feel vindicated that they don’t have to take any action that they just have to endure…and thus they are a martyr and are helpless.

    Of course they are UNaware of what they are doing but yet they persist. It is a form of denial in which they get “strokes” because they prove again and again to themselves that inaction is their only solution.

    When I see someone I know does this, plays the “yes, but..” game, if they ask me for advice I usually stop after the second “yes but” (and they will ACTUALLY say this!) and then say, “well, I’m out of ideas on how to help you” and then move away from them permanently. LOL

  12. Joyce, excellent approach, and that’s how I’m going to have to do it, as well. It makes sense, because nothing that I can say is going to “help” this other person. There is no way that I can rearrange the words, use different words, etc., that is going to “reach” this person. They can’t be reached because they want sympathy and concern rather than solutions.

    And, yeah, I get it that some “solutions” don’t seem like solutions, at all! I “get that,” 200%! A “solution” should be comfortable and relatively painless, but that’s only my personal perception. True solutions are difficult to arrive at and, in MY recent history, have involved examining painful and skeery options.

    Yepper………..thanks for the pep talk and common sense! 😀

  13. Because we care about people we want to “help” but unfortunately many times we get sucked into their “games” of being helpless. Many times people get themselves into horrible situations by INACTIVITY on their part and DENIAL…like the woman you mentioned some where else that invited you and your son to move into her house when she is behind on the mortgage and no chance of keeping up. DUH? DeeeeNile!

    I have been BROKE with a kid on each hip, abandoned by my husband, and homeless except for my truck…so been there and done that…but I managed to rebound and survive and thrive, finish my college degree and goo to work. You know the thing is that we have to get out of Denial and look for a REAL solution and not just an EAZY solution. In fact, I have never even SEEN an “easy” solution to anything more important than a shoulder shrug.

  14. Joyce, exactly. There is no “easy” solution, as far as I’m concerned. And, I’ve become wise to this fact: anything that seems to be simple and painless is bogus.

    Nope………not going to enable my own codependency OR someone else’s by entering into a hopeless situation. I’ll sort myself out, in due time, and I’m not in the business of rescuing. LOL!!!

  15. Thinking about my friend Milo, who has now passed away from her pain into a better world, made me think about this situation as she was the one who send me the information on T J Layne. This particular case “bothered” her because it was so close to the community in which she lived and there were some people who were related to T J that she knew. And knew some of the totally dysfunctional family.

    Looking again at what Milo wrote to me about the situation and how upset by it that she was, I think about how conflicted we sometimes become when something horrible like this happens. We ask “Why?” or “what could have been done to make this different”?

    Most times it seems, there are no satisfactory answers. It is all a mixture of DNA and environment and when the two “team up” on a person and they do something horrible it makes us feel unsafe and helpless I think.

    In the court room it became abundantly clear that T J. Layne had no remorse for what he did, and in fact exhibited “duping delight” in doing it. It’s a sad fact that there are people in this world who are remorseless and, for lack of a better word, “evil.”

    Milo fought against the remorseless people in her own life and came to acceptance of what IS rather than grieving over what was NOT. I think that is the best that any of us can accomplish. To come to grips with what IS, though it is not what we want, and live our lives with an inner peace that we’ve done the best we can with the cards we had to play.

  16. Dear Joyce, that was one of the priceless truths that Milo shared: there’s what SHOULD be, and then there’s what , and we each have an option to either accept that truth with dignity and sort it out, OR we can moan, groan, and fight acceptance and continue to live in a state of fear, anxiety, and anger.

    Sometimes, there aren’t any good answers as to “why,” and I have to be honest and type that I’m finally (at LONG last) coming to terms with that truth and letting go of the flawed belief that I can somehow FIX any given situation.

    Milo typed about her struggles with a wholly unfair, unjust, and broken system with sound insight and personal dignity. And, she conveyed that it had been a CHOICE that she had made – that she didn’t just wake up one fine morning and was suddenly graced with acceptance and dignity.

    I’m so sorry that Milo left this world so soon. She was an absolute hero.

  17. Truthy, I too am sorry to lose Milo’s presence in this world, but I am glad that I knew her and that she shared her wisdom with many of us. Actually I feel fortunate that she “went quickly” and didn’t stay around long to suffer physically. She indicated also that she was ready to go. I know her family is having a difficult time though, especially the teenaged grandson as well as her husband.

    I know too that you have “lost” a son as well, the same way Milo and I “lost” children to personality disorders. Coming to ACCEPT that loss is difficult, and I think in many ways more difficult than losing someone to death. We are FORCED to accept a death, and to realize we can’t change it, but with someone who is still breathing, we don’t like to “give up hope”

    Milo accepted what WAS and that included her impending death. I hope when my time comes if I know in advance what I am facing that I will have as much wisdom and courage as Milo did.

    Death is part of the life experience, just as birth is…the only difference being that while we have no choice in our own birth or in the fact that we will die as well, the time in between the two things is where we have more choices in how we live that life. Not ALL choices, because some things we don’t have a choice about them happening or not happening, but we have a choice only in how we RESPOND to the situation.

    I want very much to respond in a healthy way to whatever life brings, and that’s MY choice. The DO RIGHT RULE. If we DO RIGHT in whatever the situation is, we may suffer for doing that, but in the end, it is better to DO RIGHT than to shirk our responsibilities.

    Doing right doesn’t always bring us the rewards we wish it would, sometimes doing right brings down negative consequences on our heads. But doing right also brings us the personal satisfaction of knowing that we can look ourselves in the mirror each day. Milo practiced the DO RIGHT rule and knowing that gives me some comfort in her loss to us here.

    • Joyce, coming to that point of acceptance is one of the hardest and ugliest of all steps that we take in our healing journeys. Honest-to-gawd, I thought that I was going to literally keel over from the cog/diss and the grieving of “losing” my son, Mike.

      When someone passes, there’s a ritual that causes and forces acceptance. There’s the whole set of arrangements that must be made, the choosing of clothing, and the religious/spiritual/memorial ceremonies that commemorate the loved one……and, soothes our own grieving souls. There’s the “wake” or after-ceremony gathering of friends, family, and neighbors…….the support and comfort of people. Our loved ones were loved, and we are loved and cared for. We grieve and move forward, even when those steps back into Life, as it is, are painful and stumbling.

      When someone we love and cared for turns out to be a psychopath, there IS NO ritual or comfort, especially, if the person is a convicted criminal. There is no ritual or support to help us grieve that loss.

      So………we can provide our own acceptance if we know how to do it. When we don’t (as in my case, 5 years ago, and again, 3 years ago), I had to learn how to help myself through my grief and sorrow.

      Milo shared her journey with us. She shared the disappointments, the overwhelming fears, and the intensive frustrations that she experienced. The cog/diss, and the false hopes that her daughter would somehow “get better,” as we have all felt, ourselves.

      Once that acceptance takes place, the journey begins, in earnest. And, I never had the opportunity to thank Milo for what she gave to me, personally. (sigh) So, in light of that, I want to thank you, Joyce, and each individual who has shared their experiences of recovery, healing, and trauma to help me along my own path.

  18. Truthy, you are very welcome, but I find that by sharing…both my successes and my failures…along the way it helps me the most.

    Back when I was in college I tutored others who were in my same class…and by tutoring them, I LEARNED MORE I think than they did…we learn more by teaching others. Any of the articles that I write I have to think about them, and in thinking about them, even if it is something I already “know” then I learn the content more.

    Many times though we have “learned” how to spot a psychopath or other toxic person, we will still allow ourselves to be SUCCKERED into a con by someone. Maybe not a BIG con, but sometimes even then.

    There are so many individual lessons we have to learn and they are not always CUT AND DRIED and OBVIOUS…and people who are trying to manipulate us for their own purposes can play the pity ploy and pull us into their web because we try to “help” them. Having been in need ourselves we want naturally to help others so unless we are very careful it is easy for us to be sucked back in.

    However, that said, I still would rather have too much compassion than too little.

  19. They caught him..his escape didn’t last very long…the comments on this article are 100% bitter and I can definitely understand their feelings, this young man has thumbed his nose at society to the point he has little sympathy from anyone it seems. I’m glad they caught him. I imagine now he will be in solitary 23 hours a day for a long time…maybe forever. For someone who apparently likes attention, that will literally be a “hell on earth” me thinks.

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