By Jason Sickles, Liz Goodwin and Michael Walsh
A website surfaced Saturday featuring a racist and rambling manifesto and dozens of photos of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof posing with white supremacy symbols and the Confederate flag.
Roof, 21, remains jailed on nine counts of murder for allegedly opening fire in the historically African-American Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday.
Who authored the manifesto or posted the images is not officially known. But through online registration records, Yahoo News confirmed the website’s domain, lastrhodesian.com, was started by a Dylann Roof of Eastover, S.C. on Feb. 9. The street address used is the same Roof has given authorities since he was captured in Shelby, N.C. on Thursday. Of Feb. 10, the registration information was purposely obscured.
The webpage traces its author’s path toward strong beliefs in white supremacy and says the moment of “awakening” was the race debate ignited after the shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin. The rambling text ends with the author's statement that it's time to take the beliefs expressed, “to the real world."
“I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
While they are rare, retired FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole said killer manifestos are all about “the writings of a very narcissistic, arrogant individual.”
“They feel this need to tell the world how they were wronged,” O’Toole said. “It’s like they have to shove our nose into why they are entitled into what it is they are going to do.”
O’Toole, who has seen hundreds of manifestos during her career studying killers, read the document posted to Roof’s website at the request of Yahoo News.
While not vouching for it’s authenticity, O’Toole described it as shallow and likely plagiarized.
“The themes don’t indicate that this person is spending a lot of time to do research,” said O’Toole, who now directs the Forensic Science Program at George Mason University.
The 2,444-word manifesto wanders from topic to topic spewing about, among other things, patriotism, blacks, Jews, Hispanics and Asians.
“He’s trying to weave like a quilt of those themes that he went out in search of,” O’Toole said. “Which tells me that whoever the author is had preexisting opinions and ideas … and then you go to the Internet to get a little bit of this and a little bit of that to fuel what you already believe and already think.”
The New York Times, reports that according to web server logs, the manifesto was last modified at 4:44 p.m. ET on Wednesday, about four hours before the Charleston shootings.
“Unfortunately at the time of writing I am in a great hurry and some of my best thoughts, actually many of them have been to be left out and lost forever. But I believe enough great White minds are out there already. Please forgive any typos, I didn’t have time to check it.”
Benjamin Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family and a leading national voice in civil rights issues, said he was troubled to learn the manifesto mentioned Martin case.
“Regardless of how this demented, racist individual attempts to shift the focus of his murderous actions, we will remain steadfast in our defense of the voiceless around this country,” Crump said in a statement. “They need it now more than ever. My thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of this terrible tragedy and the Charleston community.”
Dozens of images posted to the site show Roof in historic locations like a Confederate soldier cemetery and a slave burial ground.
In one image, the suspected gunman is posed on the beach wearing the same clothes he is seen wearing on surveillance footage as he entered the chruch on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if this image was taken the same day as the shooting, but if so, it would show that Roof took time to visit the beach, scratch the racist symbol 1488 in the sand and photograph himself before allegedly traveling to Charleston.
The symbol 1488, shown in Roof's photos, is a number that has been adopted by white supremacists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Racist Skinhead Glossary.
The “88" refers to H, the eighth letter of the alphabet and is a symbol for “Heil Hitler.” The “14” refers to a 14-word slogan popularized by David Lane, a white supremacist serving a 190-year sentence in the murder of a Jewish talk show host. The slogain is: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
If Roof was updating his website up until shortly before his alleged crime, it would become another example of what O’Toole calls “creating kind of living manifesto as they lead up to the event.”
She said Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college student, posted a 141-page manifesto called “My Twisted World” online and a seven-minute video on YouTube titled “Retribution,” before killing six people and wounding more than a dozen others in May 2014.
“What that shows is that they are not in a state, necessarily, of frenzy,” O’Toole said. “They are building this historical record kind of, ultimately leading up to the shooting … trying to justify their actions.”
Word of the Roof's alleged manifesto website spread quickly after it was first discovered by Twitter users Emma Quangel and Henry Krinkle. By late Saturday afternoon, the website was not accessible and appeared to be offline.
Quangel, who identifies as a Communist, tweeted that it is her “solemn duty and obligation to hate and fight racism with every inch of [her] being!"
The site's title is a reference to an unrecognized state in Africa, in a region that is now Zimbabwe, during the 1960s and '70s that was controlled by a white minority. White supremacists have idealized this era and the Rhodesian flag has been used as a racist symbol.
A picture of Roof from Facebook — circulated after he was identified as the alleged shooter —shows him wearing a jacket adorned with flag patches for both Apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia.
The trove of images on the site also include photos of a Glock .45-caliber handgun, which investigators have said was the type of weapon used in the murders. Roof reportedly purchased the gun in April with money given to him by his family for his 21st birthday.
Other undated pictures were taken at the Sankofa Burial Grounds for slaves on the McLeod Plantation in Charleston.
Some appear to have been taken at the Boone Hall plantation in Mount Pleasant, S.C., and the Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, S.C.
The author of the manifesto writes he did not grow up in a racist home or environment.
“Living in the South, almost every White person has a small amount of racial awareness, simply beause of the numbers of negroes in this part of the country.”
Roof's family broke their silence late Friday by releasing a statement extending their sympathies victims' families.
“Words cannot express our shock, grief, and disbelief as to what happened that night,” it reads.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed this week. We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims' families offering God's forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering.”