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Columbine Basement Tapes

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Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold made several home videos which have been kept tight under wraps since Time magazine blew the cover off of them without consent from the families of those who died. After five years, parts of these videos were re-released to the public though the full-length tapes are still withheld due to court order. Time called the tapes the shooters' "final word, to all those who had picked on them over the years, and to everyone who would come up with a theory about their inner demons".

When Time's reporter Tim Roche got access to the tapes, he wrote an article for the magazine on December 20, 1999, he said that there were five video tapes - the "Basement Tapes". After the article hit the public, the families of the victims threatened to sue Jefferson County for the breach -- the families hadn't even seen the content and here it was, staring at them from the pages of a magazine the whole world could read. Jefferson County quickly allowed the families to view them before they hid them in the vaults indefinitely.

Westword, an online news source that has been in contact with the families (including Brian Rohrbough, father of victim Daniel Rohrbough, and an outspoken activist for the victims's families' rights) supports the claim that there were five tapes originally. The runtimes they offer for the videos is a vague "nearly four hours". My original notes on the tapes, taken from Time's magazine back in 1999, indicated three groups of times given: 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 22 minutes. CNN also makes mention of the five videos in an article from December 1999.

In October 2003, one 15-minute-long tape was released to the public: footage of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shooting at Rampart Range. Also released was a film project they did for school: Hitmen for Hire. It's been assumed by many that these are two of the five tapes due to the hype Jefferson County made about releasing them and the subsequent media frenzy that followed. So what of the remaining three tapes? The following transcripts are primarily quoted from those three tapes that Eric and Dylan made prior to the assault on Columbine High School, assembled with the help of documentation from the Columbine Report and Time Magazine (both the hard copy and online copy of the article), Westword, and CNN.

In 2006, the courts allowed Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink (who took the job after John Stone) the choice to release the Basement Tapes to the public but he decided not to, on the basis that he feared that other troubled youths would see the tapes as a "call to arms" and a "how-to instruction video" to attack their own schools. He decided to release 946 pages of previously unreleased documents (including diaries belonging to the shooters, day planners and schoolwork, and a journal written by Eric's father Wayne Harris). An earlier Supreme Court ruling allowed the parents of the shooters to appeal the decision to release the documents, and Wayne Harris tried to do just that. However, the courts ruled that the Columbine Documents would indeed be released as a supplement to the Columbine Report.

And now... the Basement Tapes.

Evidence Item:
#200 - Sony 8mm video camera. "Columbine High School" engraved on side. Battery labeled "CHS LMC".
#333 - 8mm tape taken from #200 labeled "Top Secret Rampart"
#265 - 8mm tape
#298 - two 8mm tapes, one labeled "Reb's Tape"
#333 - 4-20-1999 message The last video footage the shooters taped, found on the end of the 8mm tape pulled from #200.

Other videos:
Rampart Range footage
Hitmen for Hire
Other related videos Includes some of the videos Eric and Dylan made for film class, as well as footage in and around Columbine, and other Columbine-related videos.
Available on CD-ROM since YouTube went Columbine ban-crazy.