WASHINGTON -- The question that cries out for answers in the Virginia Tech massacre is, why didn't anyone pull together all of the psychopathic clues about Cho Seung-Hui before he went on his killing rampage?
Those clues have been tumbling out in the aftermath of the worst mass murder in American history by a single gunman. They inexorably lead to one painful inquiry: How could the university system allow Cho to stay on campus and attend classes when so many people knew he was a deeply disturbed, mentally ill young man who frightened students and teachers alike?
An English teacher was deeply troubled by his bizarre writings about death and killings, and his sullen, uncommunicative behavior in class. That behavior reached a point where she came to class to find most of her students absent because they were afraid of Cho, who talked to no one and took pictures of them. His classmates sensed something was very wrong with him.
Another teacher chose to tutor Cho separately, urging him to seek out counseling, which he refused to do. She notified her superiors, but it seems they felt powerless to act, and we now know that no one looked into the senior English major's troubled past until it was too late.
Then more troubling reports of his past came out. He had approached and messaged two women in separate incidents, which they reported to the university security authorities. No charges were filed against him, but he underwent an examination at a mental-health facility following a temporary detention order signed by a judge.
The judge checked off the box that said Cho may be suicidal, but did not check off the box suggesting he could be danger to others. The mental-health-examination documents record that he was "depressed" but did not represent a threat to others or require involuntary treatment.
But the insane rantings in his computer and the menacing, gun-wielding videos and hate writings he sent to NBC News fully revealed a deranged man who foretold of his plans to kill as many people as he could before taking his own life.
"You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off," he said on the video he had recorded, probably long before last week's deadly events unfolded.
These and other signs were there for anyone who took the trouble to examine this man's psychotic past and "connect the dots," the famous line about the trail of clues that led up to the 9/11 attacks on America.
"Every day, every hour, more people came forward who knew that something was deeply wrong with Cho Seung-Hui. Teachers, roommates, classmates from college, high school, middle school -- people knew," reporter Marc Fisher wrote in The Washington Post.