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Title: Wheaton Teen: A Troubled Youth, A Preoccupation With Death

Source: Chicago Tribune, October 6th, 1985

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Wheaton Teen: A Troubled Youth, A Preoccupation With Death
October 06, 1985
By Howard Witt, Chicago Tribune.

If he had it to do all over, Patrick Beach told a psychiatrist, he would once again not hesitate to raise the .22 caliber rifle, aim for the hearts of his two Wheaton high school friends and shoot them dead.

But he would be more careful to eliminate the evidence, perhaps by wearing gloves and hiding the bodies.

It was a chilling detail, offered during court testimony Friday by Dr. John Macdonald, chief of the forensic psychiatry department at the University of Colorado. But it was only one of many chilling details.

For in the course of only 90 minutes on the witness stand, testifying during a hearing on what the State of Colorado ought to do with a quiet, slight, 15-year-old boy who had pleaded guilty to a double murder in the remote mountain wilderness last spring, Macdonald and a second psychiatrist revealed the darkest secrets of the Patrick Beach nobody knew.

A boy "socially isolated . . . who is severely handicapped by his poor self-esteem . . . his sadistic fantasies and his preoccupation with death," wrote Macdonald in his psychiatric analysis.

A boy "extremely sexually conflicted" who kissed a girl and then felt so disgusted that he wanted "to soak (himself) in acid," wrote Dr. Seymour Zane Sundell, a forensic psychiatrist and medical director for the Denver corrections department.

A boy "who should never be freed unless we are sure he's cured," said prosecutor Reid Pixler.

Under the terms of a plea bargain agreement, Beach, who turns 16 this week, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the June 10 shootings of Larry Brock, 16, and Amy Boyle, 15. The couple, joined by Beach, had run away from their suburban Chicago homes June 3, telling friends they planned to marry.

Gunnison County District Judge Thomas Goldsmith sentenced Beach to 20 years incarceration, during which time he is to receive psychiatric therapy. But the sentence was largely technical; according to the plea agreement, Beach is never to be freed from state mental hospitals until a judge is convinced that he is no longer a danger to himself or others.

Before June 10, nobody who knew Beach thought he could be a danger to anyone. Unremarkable at Wheaton Central High School--despite an IQ of 134 that places him in the top 1 percent of the population, Macdonald testified--Beach was known mostly for his avid interest in fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

"He was kind of strange and he wasn't really popular, but he didn't seem like he had that many problems," recalled Jeff Smith, 17, a close friend for five years and a fellow D&D player.

Within the past two years, Beach, occasionally the victim of neighborhood bullies, befriended Brock, a popular high school football hero.

But that unlikely friendship appears to have been a lopsided arrangement, much more important to Beach than it was to Brock, the psychiatrists testified.

Beach told Macdonald he liked Brock because "he was big and strong" and he served as a kind of protector. Yet at the same time, Beach told the psychiatrists he grew jealous of Brock's strength and popularity and his ability to attract girls.

Beach's feelings for Boyle grew similarly conflicted, the psychiatrists testified, as he became angry at her for "falling under Larry's spell," yet at the same time he felt sorry for her.

Beach told the psychiatrists he accompanied the couple to Colorado largely out of fear of being left behind, but also because he didn't feel he could finish school and wanted to flee problems with his parents.

By the sixth day of their trip, taken in a pick-up truck belonging to Brock's father, shooting the couple became "like an impulse I couldn't drive away," Beach told Sundell. The next day, a Monday, he shot the pair as they climbed toward an isolated creek high in the San Juan Mountains, after their pick-up truck had overturned.

"It was like my killing them was like somebody getting rid of a used car they don't want anymore," Beach told Macdonald.

The psychiatrists, who examined Beach separately a total of 20 times last summer, also revealed numerous other problems and peculiar behaviors that no one who knew the youth ever seemed to notice. They concluded Beach is a "schizoid-type" personality who could very likely kill again.

Beach, the psychiatrists said, felt abandoned by his natural father, who was divorced from his mother when Beach was just 1 year old; he had impulses to kill his mother and stepfather; he experienced sadistic fantasies of blowing up cars by placing drain cleaners in the gas tanks; and he told of several traumatic childhood experiences in which a neighborhood bully forced him to try to have sex with a young girl.

He also talked frequently of "envying the dead," Macdonald testified.

Fantasy, Macdonald added, "appears to be one of his means of coping with difficulties." Beach's intense involvement with fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons was "an unhealthy preoccupation," Macdonald said, "but the adverse factors in his childhood development were of much greater significance in the development of his personality."
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