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The Goth Phenomenon
20/20

Wednesday, April 21, 1999
(This is an unedited, uncorrected transcript.)

DIANE SAWYER Well, since yesterday we’ve heard a lot of speculation about the two suspects and their group the Trench Coat Mafia, with police saying the boys may have been part of a dark, underground national phenomenon known as the Gothic Movement and that some of these Goths may have killed before. Brian Ross has been investigating.

SINGER (singing) We hate love, we love hate

STEVE RICKARD, DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT What they’re thinking is totally irrelevant to a normal person’s thoughts.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) It’s what’s known as the Gothic Movement, violent and black

STEVE RICKARD Black relates to the dark side. Gothics usually dress in all black. They a lot of times put white makeup on their face to appear dead.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) A growing and, to many, troubling trend in suburban America.

STEVE RICKARD I wasn’t totally surprised that it happened in Colorado finally. All these things are, to me, a warning signal that something’s wrong.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) And for the last seven years, Steve Rickard of the Denver Police Department gang unit has been trying to spread the word of how the so—called Gothic Movement has helped fuel a new kind of teenage gang—- white suburban gangs built around a fascination with the grotesque and with death. His most recent appearance was before students at Columbine High School in Littleton.

STEVE RICKARD Just three or four weeks ago.

BRIAN ROSS (interviewing) Just three or four weeks ago? And you were speaking about gang violence?

STEVE RICKARD About gangs and gang violence, how to recognize gang activity.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) And Rickard, in a telephone hookup between Denver and New York, says school officials later told him among those who may have been in his audience were members of the so—called Trench Coat Mafia, for whom the black coats are what colors are for the Bloods and the Crips are of the big cities. (interviewing) So, like the colors of the Crips and the Bloods, the black trench coat is that Same kind of emblem?

STEVE RICKARD To them, I think that was a common denominator. That showed everybody at that school that these 10 kids belonged together. That’s their group. “Don’t bother to try to join us because we’re there and we don’t want to be accepted by you.”

BRIAN ROSS (VO) And Rickard says while the extent of the killing yesterday at Columbine caught even him by surprise, it was not the first time members of such groups in the suburban Denver area had turned to violence. Two years ago, another Columbine student, said to be part of the Trench Coat Mafia, Robert Craig, killed his stepfather and then killed himself. And last year, in another prosperous Denver suburb, Lakewood, 46—year—old Eugene Riddle barely survived an attack by his teenage son, deeply involved in the Gothic Movement. (911 call)

EUGENE RIDDLE I was stabbed in the chest—yes.

911 OPERATOR OK, who stabbed you, sir?

EUGENE RIDDLE I can’t pull it out.

911 OPERATOR Sir, I don’t want you to pull it out, OK?

EUGENE RIDDLE OK.

911 OPERATOR The knife is still in your chest?

EUGENE RIDDLE What?

911 OPERATOR The knife is still in your chest?

EUGENE RIDDLE Yes.

911 OPERATOR OK, I want you to hang on for me, OK?

EUGENE RIDDLE OK. Hurry. I’m not going to last too much longer.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) Riddle’s son, David, and his girlfriend, were convicted on charges of attempted murder. They were proud, self—proclaimed members of the Gothic Movement, and like the students involved in yesterday’s shootings, focused on white extremism and hate.

STEVE RICKARD And what was interesting to me about this kid, in his living room, he had about a six—foot wooden end table that was carved with various signs, like anarchy signs and Nazi swastikas. He had written about killing somebody and plunging a knife in their body and letting the blood run over his hands and how that made him feel so fulfilled.

BRIAN ROSS (interviewing) Where are those kinds of ideas coming from, do you think?

STEVE RICKARD I think in his case, you can trace it right back to Marilyn Manson.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) Marilyn Manson is a man once called Brian Warner who combined the names Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson for his stage name. His violent, controversial music performances have made him a prominent figure among Goths, as they are known, a rebellious role model for the ’90s.

STEVE RICKARD There’s kind of a cult that follows him. And I think he was looked at him like a god.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) For most Goths, it’s just an act, but apparently not for all.

STEVE RICKARD In the Gothic Movement, they have what’s called “the blood sports,” where they’re involved in self—mutilation in some cases. A lot of young females slice themselves with razor blades. Don’t ask me to explain that because I can’t. I know that they’re—they’re mixed—up kids.

MARILYN MANSON For me the most important thing is that I express

BRIAN ROSS (VO) Immensely popular among disaffected, alienated white teenagers, Marilyn Manson talks of being picked on in school, of shooting BB guns at athletes, of embracing death. Featured on MTV recently, he talked about his own funeral.

MARILYN MANSON In a perfect world, one that everyone would attend and there would be a bomb so that they would all die as well.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) Manson, who is appearing tonight in Grand Rapids, Michigan, would not talk with 20/20, but he has denied being a racist or a fascist. Outside the concert hall, his fans talked about the Gothic Movement and what happened yesterday in Colorado.

1ST FEMALE MARILYN MANSON FAN I just think they got sick of people just, like, making fun of them. And I think that they had something mentally wrong with them.

2ND FEMALE MARILYN MANSON FAN Because I listen to Marilyn Manson doesn’t make me a violent psychopath that’s going to go kill my family.

1ST MALE MARILYN MANSON FAN Now we’re going to get blamed for a lot of reasons, like this, people will start blaming us for this.

2ND MALE MARILYN MANSON FAN Blame the music.

1ST MALE MARILYN MANSON FAN Yeah, blame the music, the clothes.

STEVE RICKARD All Gothic young people are not the same. There’s the Gothic scene where kids are just dressing the part, listening to the music. I bet you it would be hard pressed to find any suburban area in the nation who isn’t affected somehow by suburban groups like the Gothic Movement.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) There have been a series of violent episodes around the country linked to teenagers who call themselves Goths. Just last November in Burlington, Wisconsin, police say five students with ties to a so—called Goth group had planned to storm their high school heavily armed, take the principal hostage and kill student and faculty targets. Two of the students involved got scared and the police became aware of the plot. Ron Jondoor (ph) is the superintendent of the schools in Burlington.

RON JONDOOR, BURLINGTON, WI, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS The students had targeted the building principal, the assistant principal, our police liaison officer, a teacher, and each of the five participants had a personal list of students that they had also targeted. The sum total was proximately 20 people.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) Later in a confession, one of the students involved said the would—be targets were white students who they thought were acting too cool, as if they were black.

STUDENT ON TAPE Wigger wannabe kids, you know, they are upper class, middle class, you know, white kids in small—town Wisconsin. “Yo, what’s up?”
You know, white chocolate.

STEVE RICKARD With traditional gangs, their enemies are pretty well defined. With suburban groups, their enemies are not defined. I think everybody is their enemy. I think anybody, not just the jocks, or not just minority people, anybody who would get in their way, I think they would potentially kill.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) As police officials throughout Denver and it suburbs today were consulting with Steve Rickard about what steps to take next, he says it is now clear to him that when he spoke three week ago at Columbine High School, the shooters were no doubt already planning their attack for April 20th, the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

STEVE RICKARD I think that based on how complex the whole thing was, how it went down, I think it was being planned for many months.

BRIAN ROSS (interviewing) And being planned by more than just two?

STEVE RICKARD I would think—it would be hard for me to imagine that no other associate of these two suspects would have been aware.

BRIAN ROSS (VO) And yet, no one seemed to pick up on the Trench Coat Mafia as being a real threat, including you, sergeant.

STEVE RICKARD Well, that’s true. I think they’re saying, here we are. They’re never going to forget us now. Now we’re something. We’re in history now. We’ve killed so many people that we’re going to be never forgotten.

SAM DONALDSON As we said earlier, Marilyn Manson says he’s an artist and in no way a racist or a fascist.

Search for more on:

S U M M A R Y

Some members of the Gothic movement may have killed before.

In This Series

20/20: People Who Knew Shooters Speak Out

20/20: The State of the Condition Inside the School

20/20: Tales of Horror In A Town of Mourning

20/20: Warning Signs Emerge After Tragedies

Related Links
Colorado School Shooting
Complete Coverage





W E B  L I N K S

Columbine High School Home Page

Columbine Senior High Information

Jefferson Co., Colo. School District

Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office

Swedish Medical Center, Englewood, Colo.

Denver Rocky Mountain News

The Denver Post Online

A U D I O

School shooting status reports


Content and programming copyright 1998 ABC News. Transcript by Federal Document Clearing House, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to ABC News. This transcript may not be copied, resold or redistributed in any media.


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