The hulking computer technician accused of gunning down seven of
his co-workers at a Wakefield high-tech firm this week suffered from
a host of mental illnesses - including schizophrenia - for which he
was taking a trio of antidepressants, a source told the Herald
``He's got some serious
psychological issues and a long (psychiatric) history,'' the source
said of 42-year-old Michael ``Mucko'' McDermott.
Accused killer Michael M.
McDermott at his arraignment Wednesday. (Staff photo by Matthew
McDermott, a divorced Navy veteran from Marshfield who lived most
recently in Haverhill, suffered from severe depression, paranoia and
schizophrenia, and had been in psychiatric treatment for some time,
according to the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
To cope with his mental disorders, McDermott was prescribed
several Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, designed
to increase brain serotonin. Low levels of brain serotonin can lead
to depression and anxiety disorders.
A source familiar with the investigation said McDermott's
supervisors at Edgewater Technology Inc. did not appear to know he
was using the medication.
McDermott is being held without bail on seven counts of
first-degree murder in Tuesday's massacre at Edgewater. Prosecutors
have said McDermott wielded a shotgun and semiautomatic rifle with
premeditated precision and extreme atrocity, hunting down workers in
the company's accounting and human resources offices but letting
others flee unharmed.
He was arrested by police who found him sitting in the lobby near
the bodies of two of his victims. At least two Edgewater employees
witnessed the rampage, including one woman who hid behind a chair
and her coat beneath a desk in the accounting office, where two of
her co-workers were killed.
Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley has said
McDermott may have been seeking vengeance over the impending docking
of his paychecks by Edgewater to satisfy an IRS demand for back
taxes. Sources say the IRS orders would have left McDermott with
just $275 every two weeks.
But investigators also are looking for clues about what drove the
man to kill by delving into the contents of computers seized from
McDermott's office and home, where police also found bomb-making
literature and materials. One source said McDermott had attempted to
wipe out the hard drive of his office computer the day of the
Yesterday, neither Coakley nor McDermott's defense attorney,
Kevin Reddington, would discuss the case or McDermott's mental state
and psychological history. However, at Wednesday's arraignment,
Reddington raised the specter of an insanity defense by saying his
client had been seeing psychiatrists and asking the judge to OK his
Insanity defenses rarely succeed. The so-called Prozac defense
has been unsuccessfully attempted in dozens of murder cases
nationwide, including in the case of Kip Kinkel, the teenager who
killed his family and two schoolmates in Springfield, Ore.
According to the source, who is familiar with the still mounting
case, McDermott had been taking Paxil, Prozac and Desyrel - all of
which are SSRIs designed to treat depression, social phobias or
The source also said orders have been sent by doctors to the
Middlesex County Sheriff's office so McDermott can receive his
medications in the Cambridge jail. He will be examined by
psychiatrists some time in the next week, the source said.
The revelations about McDermott's psychiatric history emerged as
his co-workers returned to St. Joseph's Church - where so many of
them had sought refuge and solace in the hours after the shootings -
for a memorial service in honor of their seven slain colleagues.
``We're all hurting and grieving, but I can't tell you how much
we're pulling together as a team,'' Edgewater Technology Chief
Executive Officer Shirley Singleton said after meeting with her
employees for the first time since the shootings.
The company has started a memorial fund for the families of the
slain workers with a $70,000 donation. Singleton also said grief
counseling, which began yesterday at the firm, would continue as
long as employees need help.
She declined to discuss the shootings that claimed the lives of
Jennifer Bragg Capobianco, 29; Janice Hagerty, 46; Louis Javelle,
58; Rose Manfredi, 48; Paul Marceau, 36; Cheryl Troy, 50, and Craig
State and federal authorities are seeking the origin of
McDermott's weapons, including the AK-47-style rifle and 12-gauge
shotgun that he is alleged to have used to kill the four women and
three men, a .32-caliber pistol found in his pants pocket and a
large-caliber hunting rifle found in a locker by his desk.
Haverhill police began looking for McDermott late Christmas Eve
after someone reported hearing gunfire in the woods near Crystal
Lake, where a man fitting his description was spotted by a car with
the license plate ``MUCKO.'' Officers traced the car back to
McDermott's apartment but could not locate him despite several more
visits Christmas Day.
One day later, investigators believe McDermott lugged the weapons
unnoticed into the Harvard Mills complex, one law enforcement source
said. Two soft-sided gun cases were found under his desk.
``He walked them right in and placed them under his desk,'' the
source said. ``They had a skeleton crew working that day and no one
apparently saw him or recognized what the cases were for.''
The source said McDermott loaded the shotgun with buckshot at his
work station before embarking on his killing spree. The source, a
longtime investigator, said the carnage he witnessed in the
shooting's aftermath left him shaken.
``I was sick to my stomach over it,'' he said. ``It was unlike
any other murder scene because it was in a work setting. It was
almost surreal. One of the (dead) women had her head resting on her
arm like she knew she was going to get it.''
Meanwhile, gun control advocates held a rally outside the State
House to urge lawmakers to ban the sale of assault weapons like
McDermott's. Although Massachusetts already has the country's
toughest gun law, it does not ban the sale of assault weapons
manufactured before September 1994.
``They have no legitimate use in a civilized society other than
for law enforcement,'' said Stop Handgun Violence co-founder John E.
Kevin Sowyrda, spokesman for the Gun Owners Action League,
declined to comment specifically on an assault weapon ban but said,
``The last thing we need in this period of mourning are political
Donations may be made to the Edgewater Wakefield Memorial
Foundation, Box 2133, Wakefield, Mass. 01880-6133. Donations may
also be made at Fleet bank branches.
Karen E. Crummy contributed to this report.