The cold-blooded killer who gunned down two of his former
colleagues on live TV last week was afraid of getting older and
worried that his days as a $2,000-a-night male prostitute were
Vester Lee Flanagan II revealed his insecurities in a suicide
letter and last phone call to close friend Robert Avent, of
Avent spoke with Flanagan just moments before the 41 year old
committed suicide on Wednesday, while he was being chased by
Four days after the double murder-suicide, Avent received a
package from Flanagan containing old photographs and letters
which give insight into his mind in the lead-up to the on-air
Avent shared the contents of the package with the New York Daily
News, while also detailing his last phone call to the old friend.
Parker and Ward were interviewing Vicki Gardner, head of the
Smith Mountain Lake chamber of commerce, at approximately 6.45am
Wednesday morning when Flanagan approached the TV crew and
Tens of thousands of people in Virginia were watching local
station WDBJ's morning news when the shots rang out on live TV.
Parker and Ward were pronounced dead at the scene while Gardner
survived, after suffering a gunshot wound to her back.
In Twitter messages posted hours after the attack, Flanagan said
that he carried out the on-air execution in response to
perceived racial slights from his former colleagues.
He then posted disturbing first-hand video of the attack,
showing Parker trying and failing to escape his shots.
Shortly after fleeing the scene, Flanagan sent a text message to
Avent, saying he did something 'very bad'.
Avent, 45, saw the vague text message when he woke up for work
later that morning and waited until he got to his office to call
his friend back.
When he got Flanagan on the phone around 8.30am, he asked his
friend what was wrong.
'He said, "Oh, I did something this morning." And he was talking
normal, like nothing. Like he didn't do anything at all. Like a
normal voice,' Avent recalled.
'And he said, "I shot and killed two people." Just like that, in
a normal voice,' Avent said.
Flanagan then told his friend to check CNN and hung up.
After watching the news, a shocked Avent called Flanagan back.
Flanagan said he was just riding in his car and said he was not
going to go to jail. Avent then questioned why Flanagan was
acting so calm.
'Well, you know, I just feel, I didn't like those people,'
At this point, Flanagan said he could see police following him
on the road. He told Avent he was going to shoot himself in the
head before letting police take him to prison.
'He asked me if there was anything I wanted to say before he
goes,' Avent said. 'He said, "Come on, spit it out! I don't have
much time,"' he recalled.
'I said, "Just don't do it,"' Avent said. 'He said, "I love you
and thank you for being there for me."'
Flanagan then said he had to go and hung up. Avent tried calling
his friend back but didn't get any response.
Just moments later, police swarmed Flanagan's car where they
found him suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Avent says that he met Flanagan at a Greenville, North Carolina
gym in 2002, and when he got a job opportunity in California in
2006, Flanagan offered to let him live in his four-bedroom house
in Vallejo where he was living alone at the time.
They lived together as roommates from 2006 until 2012, when
Flanagan moved back across the country to work at WDBJ.
But after moving to Roanoke, Virginia, Avent says he noticed a
dark change in his friend.
'He didn't have anybody to talk to. He was home by himself. When
you're home by yourself and you think a lot - he started
thinking bad things,' Avent told the Daily News.
Flanagan's dismal outlook on life is expressed in his suicide
letter to Avent, which Avent received in a package on Sunday
along with old photographs, driver's licenses and student IDs.
In the stream-of-consciousness letters, Flanagan appears
depressed at the loss of his good looks with age.
'I do NOT wanna get old ... HELL NO!!!' Flanagan wrote. 'Please
keep working out player...when the heads stop turning, it's
Flanagan also talked about his time as a male escort, claiming
he was once paid hundreds of dollars an hour to sleep with men.
'I totally CANNOT score right now,' Flanagan wrote. 'And this is
from a man who used to be paid hundreds an HOUR to sleep with
men...one was a hot YOUNG guy in SF...he once asked, "Can I f***
you?" He offered to give me $1,000...I playfully said, "No."
Well, he gave me 2k.'
Avent says he called police after his phone call with Flanagan
on Wednesday, and informed them again when he received the
package four days later.
While Avent himself didn't see the attack coming, he says
Flanagan's family may have had warning signs.
In his last letter to Avent, Flanagan revealed that he wrote to
his father a month before the shooting, saying he didn't want a
funeral and wanted to be cremated when he died.
'I stated my last wish...to be cremated. NO FUNERAL!! That
didn't raise a red flag?' Flanagan wrote.
On Sunday, hundreds gathered at the Shaftman Performance Hall in
Roanoke, Virginia, for an interfaith memorial to Parker and Ward.
WDBJ's general manager Jeff Marks spoke at the ceremony, and
pictures of the two young journalists were shown on a large
The ceremony was attended by Parker's parents, as well as her
boyfriend, fellow WDBj reporter Chris Hurst.