Discussing my continued correspondence with Eddie Routh the killer of American Sniper Chris Kyle and reading his letter.
Music: “My Prison Walls” by GG Allin and Antiseen used with permission from Jeff Clayton of Antiseen
Eddie Ray Routh was born on September 30, 1987, in Lancaster, Texas, to Raymond and Jodi Routh. He has an older sister, Laura Blevins. He had wanted to join the Marine Corps since he was thirteen years old, and did so after high school. He was deployed to a base near Baghdad in September 2007, where he worked for six months as a prison guard and repaired weapons. In January 2010, he was sent on a humanitarian mission to Haiti. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in July 2011 after serving for seven years.
In late July 2011, Routh was diagnosed by clinicians at Veterans hospital as having post-traumatic stress disorder and was prescribed antipsychotics and antidepressants. He was experiencing auditory hallucinations and paranoia and had threatened suicide. VA clinicians believed Routh’s psychotic symptoms were caused by alcohol abuse and offered inpatient treatment. He declined and stopped taking his medication.
The murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield occurred on February 2, 2013, at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas. Kyle, who was a former Navy SEAL, and his friend Littlefield were walking down range to set up targets when Eddie Ray Routh opened fire and hit both of them. Routh was a 25-year-old Marine who had experienced posttraumatic stress disorder. The case attracted national attention due to Kyle’s fame as author of a bestselling biography, American Sniper, published in 2012.
Chris Kyle had begun working with veterans after leaving the military. Routh’s mother, who worked at the school that Kyle’s children attended, had heard of his work and asked him to help her son. He agreed to take Routh to a shooting range, which Kyle believed had therapeutic value.
On February 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Both Kyle and Littlefield were armed with .45-caliber M1911-style pistols when they were killed, but neither gun had been unholstered or fired, and the safety catches were still on. Kyle was killed with a .45-caliber pistol, while Littlefield was shot with a 9mm SIG Sauer P226 Mk.25 Mod 0 pistol. Both guns belonged to Kyle.
Routh was a 25-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Lancaster, Texas. Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly taken Routh to the gun range in an effort to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Routh had been in and out of mental hospitals for at least two years and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. His family also said he suffered from PTSD from his time in the military. On the way to the shooting range, Kyle texted Littlefield, “This dude is straight up nuts.” Littlefield responded, “Watch my six,” military slang meaning “watch my back.” Four months later, while he was in his jail cell, Routh shared with former Erath County Sheriff’s Deputy Gene Cole: “I was just riding in the back seat of the truck, and nobody would talk to me. They were just taking me to the range, so I shot them. I feel bad about it, but they wouldn’t talk to me. I’m sure they’ve forgiven me.”
After the killings, Routh went to his sister’s house in Midlothian and told her what he had done. His sister, Laura Blevins, called 9-1-1 and told the emergency operator: “They went out to a shooting range … Like, he’s all crazy. He’s … psychotic.” Local police captured Routh after a short freeway chase, which ended when Routh, who fled the scene in Kyle’s Ford F-350 truck, crashed into a police cruiser in Lancaster.