The Brockton killing suspect spent hours online, looking at messages and videos on hate Web sites.
In the weeks and months before a murderous spree, accused killer Keith Luke told police he chatted on white supremacy Web sites that “spoke the truth about the demise of the white race.”
The 22-year-old Brockton man is now accused of killing two people and wounding a third in a plot that was to end in a massacre during a synagogue bingo game last week. It was, he told police, part of his plan to kill as many “nonwhites” as possible.
Chat rooms and Web sites spewing racial, ethnic and religious hate — like those Luke claimed to police he visited — are drawing a number of people looking for validation of their extreme views , experts say.
“It is the dark, underside of the Internet,” Raynham Police Chief Louis J. Pacheco, one of the founders of the High Tech Crime Consortium, said. “The Internet allows instant gratification and positive reinforcement to things outside the mainstream idea that you couldn’t get prior.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which monitors white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity, counted 630 “hate sites” on the Web last year — including the one Luke told authorities he regularly logged onto.
The Web site Luke claimed to have frequented — founded by neo-Nazi Craig Cobb — posts videos detailing handgun tactics and promoting “lone wolf” killings, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project.
“When this kind of propaganda comes into the mind of someone who is mentally ill, we do see violence,” Potok said. “The videos particularly, with certain kinds of mental illnesses, can have a galvanizing effect.”
In an interview Friday with GateHouse News Service, his mother, Dara Luke, said Keith Luke was diagnosed as a teenager with psychopathic tendencies, major depression and paranoid schizophrenia, a condition that causes a person to become delusional and suffer hallucinations. Luke was hospitalized for four years as a result of the conditions, from age 15 to 19, his mother said.
From Web sites promoting white supremacy to pedophilia to claiming the world is flat, people can find someone to tell them their thinking — no matter how twisted or bizarre — is correct.
“You will get the feeling you are not the only one and your beliefs are right,” said Elizabeth Englander, director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State College. “You can meet anybody from any point in the world with any point of view and you will get reinforcement.”
That is not a good thing if those views promote hatred and killing.
“Traditionally in human society, if you had a very extreme view, you were not likely to get support, it wasn’t reinforced,” Englander said.
Getting reinforcement of certain extreme views can have dangerous results.
“I would say that individuals who are on the edge can be fueled by influences on the Internet, whether it is pedophilia or bizarre sexual interests or racial interest,” said Toby M. Finnie, director of the High Tech Crime Consortium, a national organization of computer crime experts.
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, who called the hate sites “very disturbing,” said investigators are now going through Luke’s computer for evidence in the case.
Derrek L. Shulman, New England regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said they may discover there are many others on Web sites who share the suspect’s extreme views.
“It gives people the cover they need to be part of these organizations without others knowing,” he said.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.