Mass shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes may have sent a notebook detailing his deadly plans to a psychiatrist at his university, it was claimed last night.
Police in Aurora, Colorado, are believed to have found a book containing stick-figure drawings of a massacre which was mailed to the University of Colorado's medical campus.
The psychiatry professor to whom the notebook was sent also treats patients at the university hospital outpatient facility, though it was not clear whether he may have had any contact with Mr Holmes before last Friday's shooting, in which 12 people died and 58 more were injured.
"Inside the package was a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people," Fox News quoted a source as saying. "There were drawings of what he was going to do in it – drawings and illustrations of the massacre."
The book was described as a spiral-bound notebook, containing drawings of a gun-wielding stick figure shooting at other stick figures.
According to the source, the unnamed professor had believed that a different package he received in the mail on Monday morning had come from Mr Holmes, and had called the police. Although that package turned out not to be from the shooting suspect, a second was found in the mailroom.
It was not clear how long the package had remained, unopened, in the mailroom, and therefore whether the sender had expected it to be opened after the massacre – or whether it could have been found sooner and the atrocity prevented.
Mr Holmes, a 24-year-old dropout from the medical centre's doctoral programme in neuroscience, is accused of building an arsenal of four guns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition, rigging his apartment with a booby-trap bomb, and then setting out to a midnight showing of the new Batman movie with the intention of killing as many people as possible. The youngest of his victims was a six-year-old girl. Twenty people are still in hospital as a result of the shootings, seven in a critical condition.
Mr Holmes, who is being held in solitary confinement at a jail in a suburb of Denver, made his first appearance in court at the start of this week, appearing sluggish as if dazed or even drugged. He is expected to be charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder by Monday morning.
The city of Aurora remains in mourning, as families of the victims prepare to bury their dead. The first funeral was held yesterday, of 51-year-old Gordon Cowden, a self-employed real-estate appraiser who had taken his teenage daughters to see The Dark Knight Rises. His daughters escaped unharmed.
An excerpt from the funeral programme attributed to his daughter Brooke read: "I will never forget that in such disorientation and confusion of that night what was certain were your yells, declarations of 'I love you' to both of us."