Research-Based Insights about School and University Massacres



Rebecca Coffey explores the topic of school shootings and tragedies at the hands of seemingly innocent individuals, individuals we see and interact with on a daily basis. I remember Columbine very vividly, and reading the description of this tragedy and many others that span the years back to the 1920’s refreshes the horrible emotions I felt when word of Columbine circulated through the halls of my own junior high school. For all the bravado that my eighth graders demonstrate for peer approval and teacher disdain, their 14 year old egos were shattered on that day. Suddenly we, the teachers, were no longer the ‘enemy,’ but their protectors until the ringing of the dismissal bell. Unfortunately many of those students do not have the luxury of heading home to the comforts of a loving and secure family situation. So, where does that leave them? Where does it leave our innocent children who only want to feel safe in school as well as home?

I commend Rebecca Coffey for her diligent research of the many situations of school/campus violence. Without stating so literally, she has made the fragility and vulnerability of our young people quite clear. —Lisa McCombs, GOODREADS.


Five StarsA Rare Insight into One of the Most Disturbing Trends of our Times: As I read MURDERS MOST FOUL, the relevance of Rebecca Coffey’s book became painfully clear. Seven people were killed and three more wounded at Oikos University by student One L. Goh, the latest tragedy in a baffling series of U.S. school killings that began in 1927.  In MURDERS MOST FOUL, Coffey plumbs that disturbing history, an exploration that suggests the trend may continue.

These widely publicized tragedies have provided many with a soapbox for their views. MURDERS MOST FOUL avoids that temptation. Instead, Coffey scours away the sensationalism and presents us with unvarnished portraits of those who have committed some of history’s most merciless crimes, often with methodical premeditation. In prose compelling by its stark focus, Coffey avoids facile polemics and challenges us to reach our own conclusions, something which may leave some readers unsatisfied. For me, the lack of sermonizing was a sign of respect to the reader’s intelligence. In all, I found MURDERS MOST FOUL a rare insight into one of the most disturbing trends of our times. —Raul Ramos y Sanchez, Author of AMERICA LIBRE and HOUSE DIVIDED from Grand Central Publishing.

Five Stars

Necessary Reading for Parents and Educators: The book starts out with excellent story-telling about a school massacre almost no one remembers. Evidently, this problem has been with us for a very long time. The author is clear about when the rate of massacres reached national crisis proportions. In 1989 it became a problem that doesn’t go away. As harrowing as the chronology of massacres was to read, I found the book oddly calming. Maybe it’s just that, reading this, I abandoned my preconceptions and fears and gained new understanding. The search for the school shooter profile, and all of the attendant speculation about video games, too much TV, and poor parenting, have evidently produced nothing of real use to law enforcement or educators. All of that is hogwash. I am happy that this book “drop-kicked” me into an understanding that I can leave that kind of frantic speculation behind. It’s a bit of a scary read, but very powerful.—Janice Ori

Five StarsFascinating and Chilling: I found MURDERS MOST FOUL to be very informative and well-written. Coffey gives you all the data and information about this harrowing phenomenon in our country’s schools that every parent should know. If you have a school-age child you’ll want to read this book. And BTW, don’t think it can’t happen in your child’s school.—Richard Schwartz

Great History of School Shootings: Rebecca Coffey does a great job of collecting the histories of school shootings in the U.S. beginning with the story of Andrew Kehoe, age 55, who in 1927 killed 37 school children and 7 adults to provide context. Like Dave Cullen in Columbine, Coffey works against the “facts” provided us by sensationalist news and popular culture, looking carefully at the similarities but also the differences in school shooters (who are all young men and boys with the exception of Kehoe). As someone who has taught in public schools (Oakland and Richmond, CA) and who now teaches at a pressure cooker University (UC Berkeley), I have always followed these stories with great interest and have read Columbine and also Lucinda Roy’s No Right to Remain Silent, so it’s possible that I’m underrating this book since I was familiar with most of the information. It is clearly written, well-researched, unadorned reporting with thoughtful analysis. I highly recommend it as a history and an attempt to understand “the School Shooters in Our Midst.”