Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, murdered two former
colleagues at a TV news station in Roanoke, Virginia, last
Wednesday morning. A couple hours after the shooting, ABC News
received a 23-page fax outlining Flanagan’s views and motives in
his own words.
In the five days since the shooting, ABC News has chosen not to
publish the full contents of the fax, which was variously
described in the media as a manifesto or a suicide note. No
explanation has been given for withholding the full contents
from the public. Given that Flanagan is dead, there would seem
to be no reason not to reveal it (i.e., no pending trial and
therefore no reason to worry about an ongoing investigation or
influencing potential jurors).
ABC did report excerpts from the document on the day of the
shooting. In them, Flanagan said the final straw that prompted
his crime was the Charleston church shooting. Speaking of racist
shooter Dylan Roof, Flanagan wrote, “You (deleted)! You want a
race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE… (deleted)!!!”
A New York Times report, published last Thursday, described the
fax as containing 3 separate suicide notes, all of which had
been typed in the past few weeks. The Times added some
additional detail to the report by ABC, including the fact that,
after he was fired by WDBJ in 2013, Flanagan killed his two cats
in a rage and later buried them.
On Monday, the New York Daily News reported on a separate cache
of letters Flanagan sent to his former roommate Robert Avent.
Avent and Flanagan met in 2002 while working out at a gym in
North Carolina. In the letters, Flanagan reminisces about his
life as a gay prostitute and describes his disappointment and
worry over losing his looks.