Filed under: Brent High

Notes, 1/31/07

Anyone who has followed my blogging for some time may know that I have relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis. I’ve been lucky with RRMS — the relapses I’ve had have never been completely incapacitating. Painful, depressing, frustrating, but if the worst possible relapse simply makes it so I walk with a cane, I’ll be fine with that. Some people with more progressive forms of MS end up in wheelchairs.

One thing I’ve noticed since I first developed the symptoms that would eventually be diagnosed as RRMS is what seems to be an overall weakening of my immune system. The most recent book on MS is that it is a disease that is acquired through contracting a virus, but MS sufferers may have certain genetic predispositions that make them more vulnerable to that virus. Genetic factors notwithstanding, MS is considered an autoimmune disorder.

As a result I’ve been sick with one virus or another and attending infections since late November. It sucks.

I hate telling people these things, both in person and online. In person — specifically at the church where I am the tenor soloist and section leader in the choir — I feel like people might just roll their eyes, even though I’ve known most folks there too long to truly believe that. Actually, my church has been wonderful to me, so I shouldn’t even worry. It’s just me.

Online, it’s even easier for people to say, “whatever dude, you’re too sick to work a computer?”

Not exactly. I still surf when I’m sick. But I find if I’m ill enough, I can’t seem to put sentences together properly. My research, crucial to making my blogging different, unique — that suffers too. Research like I do requires a focus and level of concentration that only comes when I’m in decent health.

I’m amazed I’ve blogged as much as I have in the last two months, really. Of course, I haven’t been ill straight through, either. Here’s what I’ve been able to identify, though:

  • My whole family passed around a lovely norovirus about a month ago — for a guy who has only upchucked one other time in 27 years, that was great fun — not;
  • Immediately on the heels of the norovirus, I came down with what must have been the flu;
  • That segued into an upper respiratory infection;
  • In the midst of the upper respiratory infection, I stepped out of the shower one night and was cleaning my left ear with a q-tip, and something happened. Still don’t know what. I do know that I’ve got perhaps a 40-50% hearing loss in that ear at the moment. You can imagine how upsetting even a temporary, minor hearing loss is to any musician. I can only describe what’s going on in that ear as it being like someone tucked a radio tuned to an empty channel in there. There’s a layer of white noise over everything.

That’s the short list. I go on, and I risk sounding like I’m 79, not 39. The only other thing worth including is the bronchitis — yay!

My point in telling you this is to explain why there are occasionally fits and starts in my blogging. I will rapidly update stories, participate in comments, you name it, and then it may seem like I disappear. I never do — I monitor comments no matter what, and read all the e-mail I receive. But my mental and physical energy (in spite of the sedentary nature of writing) must be close to normal before I do all this. If it isn’t, I’m just a passive observer.

Some notes on cases recently covered now…

Loic Rogers

The 3-year-old Montana boy may have died through misadventure, after all.

For his family I fear that even a declaration of accidental death may not dispel a cloud of suspicion, particularly over Loic’s father, Mark. I had my questions, that’s for sure, and I still am troubled by leaving the youngest child outside at night to go inside and get older children — but Loic’s father Mark doesn’t need any more fingers pointed at him, I think. Something like this, any parent will spend years tearing themselves apart. One passage in the Daily Interlake article linked above is worth quoting, though:

Authorities have not determined whether the [septic] tank’s damaged lid was the reason [Loic] ended up inside it.

One thing is clear, however: If the lid had been securely fastened in place, even the determined little boy could not have slipped in during just a couple minutes of the gathering dark Jan. 24…

The article does not state, nor have authorities said at this writing that Loic’s drowning in that septic tank was an accident, but the tone of the piece certainly seems to be pointing in that direction.

If it is officially declared an accident, I say leave the Rogers family alone. Loic’s parents, Mark and mother Ariel, were already estranged when the boy disappeared. The fracturing of a family is usually a private tragedy. Loic’s disappearance turned the Rogers family’s problems into fodder for the media and bloggers, because let’s face it — the vanishing of a cute 3-year-old boy on a cold, wintry night is upsetting to just about anyone with a heart. I’ve got a cute, blond-haired three year old son just like Loic, so naturally I was bothered by the story.

But this missing persons case turned into a death investigation is like a lot of missing persons cases — not necessarily a crime. That’s the gamble crime reporters or bloggers take when we cover them.

Brentos the Deathmaker (Brent E. High)

I’ve received one very angry e-mail from a relative of one of Brent High’s alleged victims, Randy Brock. They had the usual problem with people posting stuff about murders like this online, much less discussing it. More than that, they really didn’t like my wondering if Brent High was mentally ill. High is the 26-year-old MMORPG devotee who may have ax-murdered Randy Brock and Brent’s own stepbrother, Brandon Johnson, on January 24, 2007 in Nampa, Idaho.

Shortly after I got that e-mail, a different person (maybe a friend or relative of Brent’s) posted in the comments on the first entry I wrote about High, indignant that commenters were not showing much pity for Brent, who may be a paranoid schizophrenic.

Let me explain something here — a killer is a killer. Yet I must admit, the mental illness factor gives me pause. My brother David, who committed suicide in 2000, had a terrible battle with bipolar disorder, and he’d been counter-diagnosed as being a schizophrenic at least once (please, no debates about how different those illnesses are. I’m well aware, and have always wondered why one set of doctors thought David’s symptoms added up to schizophrenia). My biggest fear before David died was that he would do something to someone else one day. It was a fear because even though my brother was an aggressive, feisty guy, he wasn’t a killer — and he himself would never have emotionally survived hurting another person while in a psychotic state.

To my knowledge, my brother David was only ever a grave danger to himself.

Point being, yes, I did have to think about the idea of Brent High possibly being a schizophrenic for a bit, and figure out what I felt about that in the context of researching and writing about this double-murder.

Brent was on social security disability, or so he said. His illness, whatever it was, was a known factor. That being the case, he surely knew that he couldn’t function normally without medication. Personal choices do play a role in such things. Had High’s behavior prior to January 24 never been questioned, it’d be a different story. But he was posting online years ago that he was on SSDI. That means the guy had been to a lot of doctors. At some point, he had to make a decision about whether he wanted to be sane or insane. Or at the least, he became negligent where his mental health was concerned. That was a lapse in responsibility.

So I don’t have any pity for him. I’m pro-death penalty, but not 100% sure High should be fried if he’s found guilty of murdering Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brock. But I am 150% he needs to be locked away forever.

That’s still more liberal a view than I once had. I once compared people insane enough to murder, much less butcher others to rabid dogs, who should be put down.

And if Brent High was more lucid than the first reports of the crime indicated, and that’s proven, then I’ll change my mind a little and say yes, put that rabid animal down.

Other stuff…

I’ll be posting some guest blog entries here soon, and I am still trying to figure out how to repair what happened with CrimeBlog.US and HuffCrimeBlog.com. I’m still not convinced it’s something I need to fix, either, but any further explanation of that would be the in ultimate techno-boredom for most readers. I do have access to the text of all my entries in both blogs, and am still moving things over as often as I can. If an old entry is still missing and you’d like me to ease things and move it over sooner rather than later, simply e-mail me (link above, on the right) and let me know the subject of the entry, and I’ll get it posted here. I am, incidentally, pre-dating the entries as I move them, so new material is always at the top of this blog.

And that’s all for now, folks.

Deathmaker

It wasn’t a typical start to the day for residents living near the 3200 block of Sherman Court in suburban Nampa, Idaho.

A naked man was walking through the neighborhood on a Wednesday morning. This would have been unusual on any day just about any place, but it was especially strange here considering the likely temperature on a typical January morning anywhere in Idaho.

The 26-year-old man’s name was Brent Eugene High.

Naturally somebody called the cops. The police stopped Mr. High, and after some questioning it became clear there was a crime scene somewhere close by.

According to Nampa assistant police chief Leroy Forsman, that crime scene was “gruesome.”

Nampa, Idaho, population just over 100,000, had its first homicide investigation of 2007, and it was a twofer. Found bludgeoned to death in the 3200 block of Sherman Court were two males — men whose names have not been released as of midnight, January 25, 2006.

Brent Eugene High was arrested. He sits tonight in the Canyon County Jail, charged with two counts of first-degree murder. 1, 2.

It is not yet an axiom that a name in the news, a name like Brent High’s, will lead a websleuth to a profile on MySpace. Some names are too common, and plenty of people still do not live their lives online.

In this instance, a search of that domain for the name “Brent High” yielded just a handful of results, and only one was 26 and from anywhere in Idaho:

http://www.myspace.com/130034989
.

The MySpacer listed his astrological sign as Gemini. That information dovetailed with the birthdate for the only Idaho-based Brent E. High, age 26, that I could find in public record database searches on the name.

The person who made the profile, (last log-in on November 17, 2006), well — he was pretty kooky, and he loved Everquest. Everquest is a popular “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” (MMORPG) that’s been steadily drawing new users since 1999.

This Brent High said he was from Idaho Falls, Idaho, which is nearly 300 miles away from Nampa. The database searches I ran gave an address for Brent High in Idaho Falls at one point, then in Boise, which is only 22 miles from Nampa.

Under “About Me,” he wrote:

FU guys, lol J/k but really if you got a problem with my site then STFU Muwahahahahahahah hehe TEEHEE TeeHEHEHE…

Then, under “Who I’d like to meet,” Brent High posted:

That on EverQuest that Trained me that one day back in 2001. Ya i got a Screen shot of that , no not really im not a dick like some of you all. But im a asshole heheh…

For his headline, the quote by the profile pic on all MySpace profiles, Brent High wrote:

EQ Saryrn Brentos DeathMaker’s Myspace Bitches !!!

Working with the assumption that a man found naked near the scene of a gruesome double murder might be a bit odd in general, like the creator of this MySpace page, I felt this profile held information worth searching. Specifically, the name “Brentos Deathmaker.”

It’s a clever, if morbid play on the slogan for Mentos — “the freshmaker.” Clever enough to be pretty unique.

Brentos Deathmaker had an Everquest profile, of course. It showed his total time played was 403 days and some change. He’d last updated the profile on January 18, and was last online using that profile on the 19th.

Removing the space between the first and last name — BrentosDeathmaker — yielded a number of results. On xfire, for instance, the Deathmaker had logged 130 hours playing Battlefield 2.

I didn’t find any of this remarkable in the way you might think. That the man played online games was immaterial to me. If I was looking at profiles for the same Brent High sitting in the Canyon County Jail charged with a gruesome double murder, I did wonder why he had so much time to play the games.

Then I took a close look at the BrentosDeathmaker user profile for a game titled, “End of Evolution”:

Age:
26
Location:
Idaho,USA
Interests:
Everquest,BF2
Occupation:
Disabled SSI , Playing Games is my job !

I couldn’t help but think that the disability would turn out to be a mental illness. My guess would be paranoid schizophrenia.

Sometime in the last few months, Brent High the gamer on social security disability had a huge life change.

Posting to a forum at TheSteelWarrior.org, he gave a breakdown of what was going on, and why he was leaving Everquest. The point to the post (Yahoo’s cache — to read the original required a login for the site) was to sell his Brentos Deathmaker character:

Broke up with lillyanna after 12 year relationship now im 26 yrs old. Living with Heffe…hauled all that my exe didn’t take to the dump , with the clothing on my back and what little I owned Ie a cmputer left…..and now have a property manager handling my home in that city….to make a long story short. Now that im in the Same Metro area as my RL brother , and friends i’m looking to sell Brentos account and be done with EQ. played it for years and no reason to talk to lillyanna at all we have no kids and the break was rather clean she wants to use illegal drugs and thats fine she can OD for all I care..but after 7 years im honeslty rdy to just be done with EQ……turning now to god and Jesus away from sin and wicked people ie drug abusers , I feel bad for her but what can I do she isn’t my wife so I have no legal hold on her she wouldn’t take me for husband doesn’t want to bring life into the world I would at least like the possiblity to have a son or
daughter I would love either that god sent me. Well we all got to do what we got to do. so maybe in time god will bless me untill then may god bless my exe and help her see and get off the drugs as I can’t help and at that time myself good bye i’ve moved on …..there alot of great peeps in EQ and what not brentos is a decently geared tank with max AA atm i’ll continue to play him untill I fine someone who is willing to buy him off my hands. Looking for happiness in all the right places I suppose so im optomoistic. Asking 1800.00 for Brentos guildy or not this is RL business looking to use that along with what i’ll get from renting my home ect….. to buy a Steet bike to get around town with… if your self or anyone you know wants to investe into this Warrior let me know

well Email me Brentostankfly@hotmail.com
IM me also via this email
or call me on the phone XXX-XXX-XXXX
if your seriously interested in Brentos we’lll work out the details I look forward to hearing from you…

The Deathmaker posted a shorter message here, at RealPoor.com, a site that has forums where gamers can trade, buy, and sell characters.

Brent High, or “Brentos Deathmaker” was a still-young man on disability, who even joked that gaming was his “career.” Yet here he was, trying to sell the character he’d used to represent himself online for so long.

Incidentally, he mentioned moving to a “metro” area. In Idaho, that typically means Boise/Nampa. So Brent High/BrentosDeathmaker may have been in Boise by the beginning of this month.

“Brentos Deathmaker” posted the RealPoor.com message on January 15, 2007. The upheaval described in the longer message on the SteelWarrior site was recent.

I believe Brent High spent several years forging a life in the fantasy worlds of Everquest and World of Warcraft. It was his way to pass the day when he had nowhere else to go, since he was on disability. In this instance, it may be that the games actually provided him with a sort of stability.

With the severing of a relationship, Brent’s brittle fantasy world began to shatter.

And it just may be that in one night, Brentos’s self-created name — Deathmaker — went from a morbid joke to a horrific reality.

Any updates will be posted below.

UPDATE, 12:45 p.m. ET

The Idaho Statesman has a good article about this double-homicide here. They have yet to pick up on this angle of the story — how Brent High’s online presence may have given some insight into what was going on with him, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t happen onto this info eventually.

The names of the murder victims have not been released as of noon today.

UPDATE, 4:41 p.m. ET

The details of the murders Brent High is accused of committing are not fully known, but what the Idaho Press-Tribune publishes in an update is pretty awful:

Magistrate Judge George Soughworth said Thursday that suspect Brent High is accused of torturing two men in Nampa Wednesday and then killing them by striking them with a “sharp, heavy object in the face and or body.”

Soughworth said in a video arraignment that the murderer of two men committed the crime “to fulfill some sadistic desire.”

The bodies of Brandon Johnson and an unidentified man were found in the 3200 block of Sherman Court on Wednesday…

This story is even more chilling than it seemed.

A Ladawn Johnson lives at 3220 Sherman Court in Nampa, so it is likely this was the address where the double homicide occurred.

UPDATE, 5:16 p.m. ET

Brandon Johnson may have been Brent High’s stepbrother. Again, from the Press-Tribune, another update:

Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris said officials are “99 percent sure” the victim is Brandon Johnson, stepbrother of suspect Brent High, but there are “still things we need to do” to confirm that he was indeed the victim.

De-Geus Morris said she is also “99 percent sure” about the identity of the second victim but is not releasing the victim’s last name until his identity is confirmed and his parents are notified. DeGeus Morris did say the second victim’s first name may be Randy…

This news renders the posts made by Brentos Deathmaker about his move to the same metro area as his brother more ominous than they seemed before.

It is also apparent that law enforcement doesn’t believe the man they have in custody is insane, but more likely a stone-cold psychopathic killer. I base this on the “sadistic desire” statement from the previous update.

Further updates to follow.

UPDATE, 1/26/07

The Idaho Statesman has an article detailing just how insane and awful the murders of Brandon Johnson and “RB” may have been:

No suspected motive for the killings was revealed in the affidavit, and Nampa police have not disclosed a motive or other details. High seemed lucid during the hearing and answered the judge respectfully. Family members at the hearing appeared distraught; one woman cried softly. They declined to comment as they left the courtroom.

According to the affidavit:

• Both victims were found in pools of blood — BJ on a bed in the master bedroom, RB face-down in the kitchen. Blood spatter and other evidence indicate RB “had been followed and struck throughout the home.”

• A single-blade ax was found in the toilet, blade down. Blood and hair were found on the ax head and blood on the handle.

• Bloody footprints led from RB’s body to a bathroom, where police found blood-soaked jeans, other clothing, shoes that matched the footprints, and High’s wallet.

• Blood was smeared on closet doors and spread on the floors, ceilings and walls in the hallway, entryway and living room.

• High’s hair was wet when officers stopped him, as if he’d taken a shower. Cowdery said he examined High and saw flecks of red on his ear that seemed consistent with blood spatter. High’s left hand, particularly around his knuckles, was yellowish and dark.

BJ’s wife told investigators that High had been living with the couple at the home on Sherman Court for about a month. She said her husband and RB were asleep when she left the house about 6:16 a.m. Wednesday, but High was awake.

Officers responding to a report of a naked man found High several blocks from the home around 9 a.m. When officers interviewed High, he continually made comments about the Bible, religion, God and Jesus Christ, they said in the affidavit…

Religious delusions, walking naked through the cold… this man was sick. It just remains to be seen as to whether or not he was too sick to know that what he did was wrong. It will be the difference between life in prison or the death penalty or life in a psychiatric hospital.

Sources (other than original research):

1. “Naked man arrested for double Murder,” Fox Channel 12, KTRV, Boise/Nampa/Caldwell.

2. Wikipedia entry on Nampa, Idaho.