News coverage – UNT Texashistory
The Portal to Texas History of University of North Texas provided several KXAS-NBC 5 TV News reports from Jan 08 and Jan 09, 1991, 5 and 6 p.m. with very interesting eyewitness accounts, as well as coverage on the follow up actions of RISD and RHS staff.
Transcript (courtesy of KXAS-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.))
Everyone wants to know why and that’s a question we can’t answer. We need to focus on the positive.”
But what is the positive? A 16-y.o. walked down the hall into a Richardson High English class today and his emotions, his agenda far short of positive. As his classmates watched, he approached the teacher with a gun.
“..and tell the teacher, as he was standing by her desk, “this is what he really need”, and place the gun in his mouth and shot himself”
“I was right across the room at my locker, and I heard a shot and a girl came screaming out of the room, Oh my god”
“people started running out of the room screaming and running everywhere and teachers were everywhere and police officers showed up”
Dead by his own hands, 16 y.o. Jeremy Wade Delle, police say he used a 357 Magnum. No one knows where he got it.
During our visit in the school, several students came up to me and stated that the boy has often complained of problems, problems here at school and at home but none of them could go so far as to say they would ever believe that it could lead to what happened here this morning.
“Kinda gives you a scary feeling, you know, I mean, what can be done, how do you find out about things like that, how do you help stop it? How do you keep things like that happening, you know?”
“How can you prevent it?”
And the sad story ends the same it began. More questions than answers.
Larry Mullins, Texas News 5
Second voiceover-to-sound clip – interview with eyewitness – aired on Jan 08, 1991, 6 p.m. on KXAS-NBC 5
Transcript (courtesy of KXAS-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.))
“When he walked into the room, I’ll be standing right behind him…and..he just looked at the teacher and he said “Well, this is what
had, has to be done”, and he just put the gun in his and he shot himself”
Third clip features follow up news coverage of counseling of RHS students; Jan 09, 1991, 5 p.m. on KXAS-NBC 5
Transcript (courtesy of KXAS-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.))
(Counseling session) “I finally realized , you know, I really wanna die, so I started talking to people”
Narrator: This is a suicide intervention and counseling session at Daytop Outreach Center at Richardson.
(Counselor) “You have to be real open that, number 1: you don’t wanna get high , number 2: you don’t wanna die”
Narrator: This is an avenue for kids to talk about suicidal tendencies, as well as the emotional pain of seeing someone carry it out. Parents, Teachers, Crisis Counselors – all involved in related meetings at Richardson High. Where there is a lot about adolescent fear and anxiety.
(Interview) “It kinda gives you a scary feeling, you know”
Narrator: It’s over 16 y.o. Jeremy Delle, who walked to the front of his class on Tuesday, put a gun to his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Questions… (Interview) “For example…My gosh, he didn’t look crazy to me, just came in here and shot himself? Could that happen to me? Could I do that? Could my friend do that? Could it happen again in this classroom?”
Narrator: The classroom where it happened was closed today, students held class elsewhere.
Experts believe going back now would be just too much.
(Interview) “They have a lot of pain, they have a lot fear, and for many, the place where the death occurred can be the place of fear and anxiety”
(Counselor) “..and Warren, you also have to be open ” And the experts say that’s the key to helping your children get over this suicide not to mention cut off suicidal tendencies.
(Interview) “I’ll encourage them to talk. And I mean, really, when you sit down with your kids, say, let’s talk about what happened. ”
Narrator: And with the hope that what happened, won’t happen again.
(Counseling session) “Does that scare you a little bit?” *shakes head* “It should” ” It was not something I heard before…” – “Well what does it do to you
when people tell you that…’whatever'” – “slightly.. *gesture*” /fade out
/comment: The kids look confused and overwhelmed. The counselor lady came off a bit cold but that could be due to the TV people there. Most of the time, Jeremy was also overwhelmed and confused.
There were at least three other suicides in the mid to late 1980’s involving students of Richardson HS. I’m not aware of any preventive measurements being put in place. Anybody has more info on the follow up measurements?
Brittany K. gave an interview to WFAA, detailing the shocking aftermath after witnessing the events in the English classroom. “Shock and fear went into my mind. All the students ran to the back of the room and kind of huddled together.” She pondered if she should look. “Should I look? I don’t know why I looked but I did. And I’ll never forget it.”
Apart from the counseling offer from RISD in the following days, was there any follow up treatment plans for the witness’ and the other kids?
It is known that RHS had incorporated the PALS systems before, as well as WINGS (Willing Individuals N-thusiastically Guiding Students), which was an initiative to welcome new students to RHS, to help them feel more comfortable by introducing them to WINGS members, showing them school specifics and organizing holiday celebrations and welcoming parties.
Then there was TOPS (Teens offering peer support, est. 1989? but dropped, made comeback in 1992), a program that enabled peer helpers to be chosen via survey. After spending some time in training in order to learn how to help themselves and others, TOPS would act as student counselors and if needed, as friends. There is no report on how successful those measures were.
Aftermath – Family and Friends
Read the Delle family statements and the suicide note he sent to Nancy here
There is also a source that disclosed more of the last note. Whether this is valid or not can not be said with certainty. But the last paragraph, addressed to Nancy, is genuine, as it was mentioned in the police report.
“To whoever I decide this is to, I have a lot going on, a little too much, more than what I can handle. I’m in too much pain, and I just want YOU to understand why I’m doing this.
I don’t hate myself I hate what’s going on in my life, my parents, a new school. I feel like I don’t fit in nowhere.
I realize that there will be friends that will try to ask me why. Because I feel like I have to, I feel it’s the only way.
I figure it’s been so many ya’ll won’t even know I’m gone and as for ones that tried to hurt me, you didn’t.
Sorry, Nancy, by the time you get this letter I will have blown my head off, aka suicide, better known as (last way out). News flash – not your fault. It’s Michelle’s along with about 137.5 other problems. I was just writing to see if you wanted to go to the funeral. Call my house and ask for my Dad, 690-5338. At least you didn’t have to hear the boom.
Love, Jeremy Wade Delle“
Jeremy sent several audio cassette tapes to different friends in Texas and Dallas, explaining in detail his bout with depression, speaking about his life in general.
Unfortunately, not a single minute of those tapes was ever disclosed and police had to destroy all those sent in after investigation was done.
Effectively, no one except his close friends (and family of course) know what his voice sounded like or what accent he had, which is a bummer.
Police remarked that on the tapes that were sent in, Jeremy would sometimes seem upbeat, sometimes down and depressed. He also spoke about his suicide attempt on at least one tape. Jeremy would send the tapes along with letters that went into detail about the feelings he harbored for the person the tape was sent to.
Joseph would turn in tapes as evidence after the 9th of January. Police noted that the tapes were significant but not relevant to the case, suggesting the investigation was nearly over.
Jeremy wrote several notes to different persons, spreading several hints about his problems and his suicidal intentions which were misinterpreted.
He had a dog. There is no specifics given on what type of dog. He sent pics of himself posing with his puppy dog to a friend in West Texas along with a suicide note in early 1991.
Police note in December 1990 that Jeremy’s height was 5-foot-8 (1,73m), weight was 140 pounds (63kg).
He had a conservative appearance, short straight brown hair, a cross tattoo on his left arm, two gold earnings in his left ear and was wearing a jogging suit and tennis shoes.
According to police records, at the time of his death, Jeremy height and weight was 5-foot-8 (1,73m), 128 pounds (58kg).
According to friends, he had stunning green eyes, subtle freckles, straight brown hair and a kind smile.
Jeremy had three tattoos: a cross on his upper left chest, a “13” on the back of his left hand, and another cross on his left arm. On Jan 8, he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, gray T-shirt, jeans, leather belt, white thermal underwear, two pairs of white socks and brown leather work boots. He also wore jewelry; a gold left earring, gold necklace, silver watch on his left wrist; black comb in pocket and brown holster in waistband.
/Comments: Geoffrey (a friend of a friend of Jeremy) provided following info: “the ’13’ was a reference to an album by the group Fugazi called 13 Songs, and the album itself had 13 songs. ”
There were powder burns on his left hand. He could be seen entering the school while wearing a large white winter coat but had taken it off and put it on a desk in the English class room.
Later toxicological tests were negative.
/Comments: blood loss, combined with depression eating disorder would accommodate for the weight difference in such a short time span. According to police, they conducted a toxicological test during the autopsy. But cannabinoids, acid and other (also prescription) drugs stay in your system for a long time and are traceable in blood samples, as well as hair follicles. It is not known what kind of analytical standards were accessible and prevalent for the pathologists back then and if a toxicology test meant it was also tested for those drugs. According to this source, it was not uncommon to skip Cannabinoid testing in post mortem analysis due to the uncertain nature of the results.
According to the police report, several students at RHS knew about Jeremy’s drug problems.
His school mate Ryan stated that Jeremy wouldn’t stay clean and that he did marijuana and acid. Both Michelle and Nancy confirmed this later.
Jeremy K., another RHS school mate, told the police that Jeremy Delle was in a support class due to substance abuse and that he had the impression that Delle did not want to stay clean.
His father Joseph described Jeremy as being very bright, artistic and curious. He had many interests and hobbies, such as Scuba diving, flying, karate, playing drums and drawing.
Mr. Delle also reported that Jeremy had problems dealing with the divorce of his parents.
Jeremy suffered from depression and therefore the parents sought counseling for him.
Mr. Delle also noted that Jeremy had a tendency to lie often and that his only goal at age 16 was to get a car and a girl pregnant.
He denied Jeremy had a child and also confirmed there were no plans they would be moving to Japan.
/Comment: From what I have read and heard about Jeremy, this sounds about right on the first glance. Mr. Delle’s comments came off a bit harsh though. Undeniably, Jeremy had issues facing reality and day to day life. Whether his conduct was caused by his reported acid consumption, combined with whatever medication was prescribed back then against depression – or if his behavior was only symptom of a latent (undiagnosed) mental health condition other than depression, or maybe a mixture of all those things can not be answered without doubt.
Joseph was checking on other medical treatments for Jeremy. The parents were rarely seen at the new school, RHS, but there have been interviews with Joseph and the school officials concerning Jeremy’s truancy.
The impression left by the police reports was that Joseph cared about his son but was not able to express it properly.
It should be noted that police explicitly stated in the report that Mr. Delle did not seem to be affected by his son’s death at all and only showed anger at minor issues, like who tells Jeremy’s mother.
It is not far-fetched to assume Mr. Delle was in shock. As Wanda said, you go “into a fog”. People behave differently in state of shock. Maybe it sank in later?
Would a non-caring, indifferent parent go for custody?
So the question remains, was living with his dad what Jeremy wanted? No one can say for sure aside from himself.
His notes speak about his dissatisfaction with the family situation and his parents in particular. It would be interesting for the complete picture to hear what he had to say about his family life on those tapes.
Anyway, Mr. Delle showed concern that his son received proper medical treatment and that he arrived at school on time by means of having Jeremy text on a pager, or beeper; a device that most of the late 80’s students used.
Those measures don’t seem very strict or harsh from the outside. However, there may have been other problems and issues not mentioned but only experienced in day-to-day family life. This is purely speculative.
It’s easy to pass judgement after everything was done. Best intentions, hurt pride and other post-divorce inter-familiar power struggles make for weird childhood stories.
To this day, Wanda is still very proud of Jeremy as her house is full of Jeremy’s paintings and ribbons of accomplishments. She said he was very talented.
She indicated that Jeremy was more than a side-note in a newspaper or a theme of a song by noting that Jeremy was a loved son, grandson, brother, nephew and friend.
She did not mentioning his mental problems or this part was not aired during the interview with WFAA.
Nancy’s assessment of Jeremy
According to the police records, Nancy advised following statements about Jeremy’s personality:
-He sent her detailed and artistic letters in which he would often talk about suicide
-He was ‘nice looking with a good personality‘ but he had anger problems with his parents, school problems, drug problems and depression problems
-They dated from March 8 until middle of April 1990
-She broke up with him because of his possessive attitude and his problems with drugs and depression
-Two days later he attempted suicide with pills. He was rushed to the hospital and survived. (suicide attempt #1)
–Consequently, he was put in an in-patient program at Timberlawn.
-Next she saw him was in July of 1990 when they both attended another church retreat. On this occasion he climbed upon a cliff and threatened suicide (suicide attempt #2)
He did not jump and he was counseled by church persons on the incident.
-some days after this incident, he received his pass to come home from Timberlawn and on another July night, he drove to Nancy’s residence and stated that he had a gun, threatening suicide.
(suicide attempt #3) Nancy did not see the weapon and Jeremy left the area soon afterwards. No consequences or reports on this day.
-He stole money from a basketball game at Richardson HS and got in trouble with the Police for it
-Jeremy removed the vehicles of his parents without consent on several occasions to visit friends around the Dallas area – but also as far as Austin
Nancy stated that
-Jeremy blamed his problems on his parents and his older sister
-He was a heavy marijuana, acid, ecstasy and alcohol user
-He had a lot of school problems
-He thought that his dad was very strict
-He had trouble dealing with life in general
-He was a one time member of the Confederate Hammerskins organization
/Comment: This statement was proven false by Jeremy’s close friend Chris from Austin, back from their time at Timberlawn. He said that Jeremy had no affiliation with the Hammerskins. Jeremy probably exaggerated his involvement in a pursuit to impress people.
-He was an atheist
-He was listening to music groups that sang about death and suicide
–He told her that he was molested by his grandfather when he was a child
–He told her that he sometimes smoked pot together with his dad
–He told her that at Timberlawn he met Michelle and she had his child, but miscarried
Regarding the last 3 statements, there is considerable reason to doubt that those are statements made by Jeremy were the whole truth. He had a history of lying.
The last statement was proven to be untrue by Michelle herself.
All considered, his dad was very strict but still allowed him to smoke pot at a young age? This is not convincing.
It could be that Jeremy was molested as a child by his grandfather and it would certainly explain some of his mental health issues.
The grandfather was a decorated army sergeant with 7 children and at least 16 grandchildren. There should have been other allegations regarding the grandfather because those are rarely singular occurrences. There were none to be found at the time.
Additionally, there was no police investigation into this matter and no further mention in the police reports which could indicate the story was most likely untrue.
It can be debated whether Jeremy was an atheist. Why would he get himself not only one, but two cross tattoo’s? It can be assumed that police records would mention if the symbol was an inverted cross or any other kind of cross. From what one is able to gather from the records, Jeremy was at least halfheartedly influenced by Christian teachings, attending a Baptist church in Mesquite. He was also reading up on Satanism and Cults as many adolescents did in the past, and still do nowadays.
Michelle’s assessment of Jeremy
She felt as if Jeremy’s death was her fault because he wanted a commitment from her and possible get married later.
She said that she could not give to him this commitment. She considered him as her friend – nothing more or less.
She stated she did not want to have romantic relationship with Jeremy because she could not handle it.
They met in July 1990 at Timberlawn inpatient program and date for approximately 3 months or more.
Michelle stated that Jeremy was upset they never made love and the fact they did not have a real relationship.
He would make side remarks about suicide in conversations and phone calls, which Michelle would find strange; e.g. he reportedly stated that he “would die for her” a week before his suicide.
Michelle reported Jeremy’s strange behavior to Wanda and according to Michelle, Wanda reacted indifferently.
Jeremy would send handwritten letters with drawings to Michelle when she was released from Timberlawn and they could not see each other that often. According to the police report, Jeremy’s penmanship was neat and the letters were artistic, as he expressed love and longing for a family of his own with Michelle.
She told him on Sunday, January 6th 1991, the she might be pregnant but it was not his child.
After becoming emotional due to the TV news coverage that day, Michelle said that
-Jeremy always seemed depressed
-she knew he was doing acid
-Jeremy liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers and music “like the skinheads listened to”
-he called her often
-he gave her the number of Wanda and tried to set up the place as meeting place because it was only 5 minutes away from Timberlawn – he was taking initiative
-he also visited her at Timberlawn, last time was in the week before Christmas 1990
-he did tell her that he had gotten a gun for Christmas
Jeremy wrote to Nancy that it was Michelle’s fault and 137.5 other problems (probably referring to his weight).
Jeremy also wrote a letter to Michelle (not sent but found by Joseph in Jeremy’s room later and turned in to police on Jan. 14), stating that she was not to blame but the “actions between the two lately were considered in his decision”.
Fascination with guns and suicide & Jeremy’s “creative approach to truth”
According to the police report, upon entering RHS in October 1990, Jeremy would occasionally inquire from school mates if they own guns.
When his classmate Ryan A. confirmed his dad possessed a gun, Jeremy would offer him $200 if he would let him use the gun to commit suicide. Ryan thought Jeremy was joking and told him he was stupid. But then Jeremy offered $1000 if he would kill him. Jeremy did indicate to Ryan that someone was trying to track him down and kill him. Ryan was not sure what to think about this but did not report the incident.
On another occasion, when Jeremy was confined to a substance abuse special support class where he would tell classmate Jeremy K. that he had a girlfriend who had Delle’s child and that she ran off with the kid which in turn made him depressed and suicidal. He would go as far as showing K. pictures of “his” child. Jeremy would also reveal he had gotten a pistol for hunting purposes and that he was not sure if he’d be able to kill anything with it.
Jeremy told Nancy that Michelle miscarried but she was not even pregnant.