*Although the world sees a heartless man who killed nine innocent people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, Dylann Roof’s friends and family see a troubled man who had black friends he partied with but also visited white supremacist websites and spouted white power slogans.
The Associated Press cites court documents and nearly two dozen interviews that detail Roof’s troubled and confusing early childhood, which included being raised in “up in an unstable, broken home amid allegations of marital abuse and infidelity.”
Speaking with the AP, Patricia Hastings, who was once Roof’s step-grandmother, said “He was so sweet and bright,” as a 4-year-old.
Like Patricia, Paige Hastings, is trying to figure out what happened with Roof.
Paige admitted to being a “surrogate mother” for Roof and his sister Amber in an affidavit she filed in her 2009 divorce from Roof’s father Franklin Roof. So much so that Patricia mentioned that Paige loved them “unconditionally as her own.”
Despite all the love, Patricia Hastings mentioned that Dylann started exhibiting obsessive-compulsive behavior as he grew. While obsessed over germs, and insisted on having his hair cut in the bowl hair style he now sports, she added that he video games, interacted with family, attended church and Bible camp.
Money problems that resulted in Paige getting a part time job as well as verbal abuse from Franklin Roof eventually led to Paige filing for divorce, which was granted in 2009.
Dylann’s drama expanded outside of his home as he failed the ninth grade twice and ultimately dropped out of school for good in 2010.
Friends of Roof tell the AP that people around him worried about his lack of direction and the fact that was spending too much time on the computer. While they pushed him to get a job, the friends say he was always unhappy.
Roof’s downward spiral continued over the past year as he became more unhinged. Example referenced by court records include Roof asking employees at a mall in Columbia, SC “questions about when stores closed and when they left for the night” in February as well as arrests for possessing the drug Suboxone and trespassing at the mall, where he was banned.
In addition, a police report detailed a situation in March, when an officer found six empty 40-round magazines for an AR-15 assault rifle after searching Roof’s car. The report goes on to say that Roof revealed he was saving up to buy an AR-15.
Roof also became a recluse, the AP reports, while mentioning that he didn’t respond to an invitation to attend Amber’s wedding. In addition, the Southern Poverty Law Center noted what appeared to be the start of Roof’s “journey into the world of Internet hate sites.”
“If you don’t have much of a social life in the real world, this is a way for you to interact with other individuals and be affirmed and encouraged,” Keegan Hanks, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks Internet hate sites, told the AP.
Internet records reveal that “someone using Roof’s name, address and phone number registered a new website” on Feb. 9. Among the things found on the site were “photos of Roof at a Confederate cemetery, brandishing a gun, burning the American flag and spitting on it” as well as “a manifesto explaining an indoctrination into radical racism.”
Recalling a recent conversation she had with Paige, Patricia Hastings revealed that Roof was present when her daughter went to pick up her daughter at her ex-husband’s house. Prior to that, Paige had barely seen Roof since her divorce.
According to Hastings, as she recounted her conversation with Paige, “Roof was quieter than he used to be; he looked distant, lost. He was no longer the sweet blond kid she helped raise for nearly a decade.“
Hastings went on to say that as she was “getting ready to leave, Roof, not one for affection, hugged her tight.”
“It was like he was saying goodbye,” Hastings said to the AP.
For more of the AP’s examination of Roof at Yahoo News, click here.