Connecticut lottery shooting
Connecticut Lottery killings
On March 6, 1998, there was a fatal shooting at the then-Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Newington. (The Connecticut Lottery headquarters currently is in Rocky Hill.) A Lottery employee, Matt Beck, killed four of his supervisors, then himself.
On March 6, 1998, Matthew Beck, a disgruntled accountant at Connecticut’s lottery headquarters, opened fire at his supervisors killing four people before putting a bullet through his own head.
Beck, 35, had just returned from a four-month stress related medical leave. He succesfully filed a grievance report involving his demotion from accountant to data processor and was awaiting back pay. A day before the carnage he met with his union representative to complain about the change of his job classification.
Beck, an eight-year lottery employee, came to work armed with a Glock semi-automatic handgun, a butcher knife and three clips containing at least 19 rounds each. Half an hour after reporting to work he left his office and headed for the executive suites where he pulled out his weapons and started wasting supervisors. Witnesses said he was a man on a mission: “He didn’t come in and just start blasting. He planned it. He was definitely after the managers.”
Beck killed with a calculated coldness. First he walked into the office of Michael Logan, an information services manager who first denied his grievance, who he shot and stabbed with the butcher knife. He then walked into an adjacent area where chief financial officer and a former one-term mayor of New Britain Linda Mlynarczyk, 38, sat waiting to meet with him. Beck pointed his gun at Mlynarczyk — with whom he had recently discussed his new duties — said, “Bye, bye,” and pumped three bullets into her.
The third to go was Rick Rubelmann, 40, vice president of operations who he had once appealed to for help. Then he chased Otho Brown, the state’s lottery president, out to the parking lot. Brown, 54, stumbled, fell on his back, held up his arms, and started begging “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me,” to which Beck answered, “Aw, shut up,” and shot him. As police closed in on him, Beck shot himself in the right temple and fell just feet from his last victim. He died a short time later at Hartford Hospital.
Beck, a Florida Institute of Technology graduate who had worked for state government for eight years, contended he got a bad deal in July 1996 when supervisors shifted him from number-crunching at the lottery agency to testing computer software. He thought he should have been paid more for the computer job than his accountant’s salary. Now in retrospect, they should forked over the back pay he demanded. Especially after reading the sticker on the front door of the house where he lived with his father: “Warning: Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”
Months before the rampage Beck — who had taken to shaving his head and wearing a goatee — complained to at least two newspapers that lottery players were being cheated. He claimed the Connecticut Lottery Corp. exaggerated potential winnings to spur ticket sales, and that store clerks were taking winning scratch tickets for themselves by cracking the computer system. He also complained to The Day of New London and The Hartford Courant about unfair treatment at work. The Courant described him as frothing at the mouth and said his eyes were “wild,” while the Day described him as “scruffy” in appearance.
Beck’s father, choking back tears, read a written statement from him and his wife apologizing to the victims’ families. “His murderous act was monstrous, but he was not a monster, as his friends and family can attest.” Not surprisingly, Beck was described by friends and co-workers as a quiet and diligent. “He was the all-American guy. He was Mr. Clean-cut,” a childhood friend told the press. And, like many other all-American guys in the Mass Murderer Hit List, Beck had a powerful cache of weapons — including three assault rifles and two large-caliber handguns — stashed in his house.
His father said Matthew did not hint at what he was planning to do as he left to work the morning of the rampage. After waking up he fed his cat, greeted his father and headed out the door saying, “Well, I’m off.” The soon-to-be-rampagerplanned to see the blockbuster “Titanic” with a friend that night. “He looked perfectly normal. I had seen him when he was depressed, and he certainly wasn’t depressed.”
The father acknowledged that his son suffered from bouts with depression and attempted suicide several times. The most recent was last year, when he found him nearly comatose from an overdose of medication. Donald sobbed as he recalled saving his son’s life. “That might have been a mistake,” he said, “That might have been a mistake.”
Massacre at Conn. Lottery
Disgruntled employee kills 4, then himself
By Strat Douthat, Associated Press writer
NEWINGTON, Conn. — A state lottery accountant who returned from stress-related disability only last week gunned down three supervisors yesterday, then chased down the lottery chief in the parking lot and killed him, too.
The man shot himself to death as police closed in.
The gunman, Matthew Beck, 35, an eight-year lottery employee, walked into a meeting, told one victim, “Bye, bye” and opened fire, one witness said.
Beck had put in about a half-hour of work yesterday morning before the rampage.
“I saw him come in and hang up his coat,” said Peter Donahue, who works in the accounting office. “He didn’t come in and just start blasting. He planned it.”
The sound of gunshots sent dozens of terrified workers rushing to the doors, where a security guard yelled for them to run for the woods nearby.
Lottery president and chief executive Otho Brown, 54, joined a security guard in yelling for everyone to “just get out and run,” said Shannon O’Neill. Brown fled the building and Beck pursued him. When Brown stumbled in the gravel parking lot after about 100 yards, Beck shot him to death.
“We all took off for the woods and that was it. We heard gunshots when we were halfway through the woods,” said O’Neill, a field representative for the lottery.
Seconds later, with at least two police officers watching, Beck shot himself. He later died at a hospital.
A law enforcement source, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Beck ran past a number of employees waving his gun before reaching Brown. When he caught up to the lottery chief, Brown was lying on his back with his hands up, pleading with Beck not to shoot him, according to the source.
“He (Brown) said ‘Don’t kill me, don’t kill me.’ And Beck says ‘Ah, shut up,’ and shoots him,” the source said.
Beck’s supervisor, Karen Kalandyk, said she was sitting next to the lottery’s chief financial officer, Linda Mlynarczyk, at a meeting with four other people when Beck came in.
“He walked in and put his hand up with the gun and said ‘Bye, bye’ to her and shot her three times,” Ms. Kalandyk said.
The other workers dived under the table as Beck walked down the corridor, firing more shots. Someone went over to Mlynarczyk, 38, also a former mayor of New Britain, but she was already dead, Ms. Kalandyk said.
Also killed inside were Frederick Rubelmann III, 40, vice president of operations, and Michael Logan, 33, an information services manager.
“The whole state mourns this unexplained act of violence,” said Gov. John G. Rowland.
About 20 workers had taken refuge in another part of the building used by a paint distributor. A 45-year-old man suffered a head injury as he jumped onto a moving vehicle while trying to get out of Beck’s way.
There is no armed security at lottery headquarters, about 10 miles south of Hartford. About 115 state workers are employed there, but it was unclear how many were there at the time of the shooting.
Back to work with a plan for revenge
By Diane Scarponi, Associated Press writer
HARTFORD, Conn. — Matthew Beck came to work yesterday with a gun and a grudge.
He had been back to work only eight days after taking five months off for job-related stress. And while Beck, 35, finally was going to go back to doing the accounting work he enjoyed, he still was fighting his bosses over money.
He contended he got a raw deal between July 1996 and October 1997 when supervisors shifted him from number-crunching at the lottery agency to testing computer software. He wanted back pay, contending he should have been paid more for the computer job than his accountant’s salary.
After months of negotiations, the state in January agreed to give him back an accounting job. Beck returned to work a month later, but he had changed during the time on paid leave, said his new supervisor, Karen Kalandyk.
“When he came back, he wasn’t the same Matt. He was like talking to a stone,” Kalandyk said.
Beck frightened some of his co-workers with talk of playing paintball and his gun collection. But he did not worry Kalandyk.
Even when he shaved his head and grew a goatee more than a year ago — a move he hoped would draw attention away from his growing baldness — she still chatted with him on the job.
“Some people were afraid of him. I wasn’t, but I guess I was wrong,” said Kalandyk, who watched from just feet away yesterday as Beck shot their boss, Linda Mlynarczyk.
There was an indication something was amiss long before the shootings.
In January 1997, while Beck was mired in computer work under supervisor Michael Logan, Cromwell police were called to Beck’s apartment near the town center at the request of a “concerned party.”
Capt. Tom Roohr said the person informed police that Beck “was displaying depression,” and wanted officers to make sure he was OK. He was not home, and surfaced later in Middletown with a friend, Roohr said.
Logan also was killed yesterday. Both he and Rick Rubelmann — another victim — had weighed in for the state in contesting Beck’s grievance. Beck had approached Rubelmann in July 1996 about returning to work as an accountant, union officials said.
Union steward Joseph Mudry said he got to know and like Beck while working on his grievance. The two even talked Thursday, chit-chatting about UConn basketball and about when Beck might see his back pay.
But Mudry said there were no signs the hard-working, intelligent, golf aficionado had hit the breaking point. Throughout the simmering pay fight, Beck had applied for accounting jobs at other state agencies, but had been turned down.
“There was no indication of anything being wrong,” Mudry said. “He tried to work with management and do whatever he could for them.”
Union officials said yesterday they do not know how much the back pay would have totaled.
Yesterday afternoon, state police searched a garage and a pickup truck at Beck’s father’s home in Ledyard. Police said Beck has a gun permit in that town.
“Yes, he has been troubled, but I don’t want to talk to you right now,” said his father, Donald Beck.
A blue sticker on the father’s front door reads: “Warning: Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”
Rampage in Connecticut: The victims
Four People Devoted to Work and Family
By Frank Bruni – The New York Times
With his retiring demeanor and sparse words, Otho R. Brown could easily blend into almost any background. But he stood at the forefront of the state lottery industry, because he had navigated the potentially turbulent transition of Connecticut’s game from what was essentially a government agency to its own quasi-public entity.
”To my knowledge, it’s really the only lottery in the United States that went from one form to the other,” said Jeff Perlee, director of the New York State Lottery, which operates as a government agency. ”That’s quite an accomplishment.”
But Mr. Brown, whose job title changed in July 1996 from Chief of the Connecticut Lottery Unit to president of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, did not stop there. He set his sights on 15 percent growth in lottery revenues each year.
And he was working to make that happen when he, along with three other top lottery executives, was killed yesterday morning by a man who the police said was a disgruntled employee.
People who had worked with Mr. Brown, 54, said that it was hard to imagine him doing anything to provoke such wrath.
”He was a great boss,” said Frank D. Brown Jr., the deputy director of the Delaware State Lottery, which Mr. Brown ran from 1987 to 1991. The two men are not related. ”He was a really compassionate individual,” Frank Brown said.
He added that the white-haired Otho Brown had grown even softer and mellower through the years, making a lasting union of his third marriage, to Denise Brown, and then becoming a father in his early 40’s. The couple’s two daughters, identical twins, will mark their ninth birthday on Monday, Frank Brown said.
”He was such a proud, happy father,” he said, adding that Otho Brown, who preferred to be called ”Ott,” also had an 11-year-old son. ”This is just unbelievable.”
Within the last two years, neighbors said, the family had bought a spacious ranch house in Avon, a densely wooded suburb of Hartford.
Mr. Brown was born and raised in Delaware, served in the Army and graduated from the University of Delaware in 1969. After many years in real estate, he took a job as an analyst in Delaware’s State Budget Office in 1983.
His rise in state government was quick, and in 1987 he was handed the reins of the lottery. He had a wild side back then, Frank Brown said, and used to race on dirt tracks with the motorcycle he owned.
Between 1991 and 1993, he worked briefly in the private sector. Then he signed on with Connecticut’s lottery, where his salary grew to more than $100,000 a year.
In an interview in 1996, he described the lottery’s new identity as a quasi-public corporation, saying, ”We’re a business that is intended to return profits to the shareholders, who are the people of Connecticut.”
He also was disappointed that collective-bargaining rules still applied to many employees, because he believed there should be incentive pay.
Linda Mlynarczyk’s friends said it was hard to lend words to the cheerfulness and can-do spirit that radiated from her smile and governed her life, but there was a line on her resume that seemed to capture them:
In 1993, Ms. Mlynarczyk, a Republican, ran for mayor of New Britain, Conn., even though the city had been controlled for decades by Democrats and its voters had never elected a woman to that post.
And Ms. Mlynarczyk won. Friends said it was the culmination of a lifetime of community service — of pitching in to pluck the litter off dirty streets, volunteering to read to children at schools and sitting on the boards of social service agencies.
”Some people do it just because it helps them get to one place or another,” said Dottie Di Lernia, a longtime friend who attended high school with Ms. Mlynarczyk. ”She was always doing it, from way back when. She was genuine.”
Ms. Mlynarczyk, 38, whose name was Linda Blogoslawski when she was Mayor — she married Peter Mlynarczyk, a lawyer, around the time she left office — served just one two-year term, losing her bid for re-election in 1995.
Uncertain what to do next, but eager for a job that would use her training and certification as a public accountant, she signed on with the State Lottery in 1996 as its chief financial officer. Her salary was about $80,000 a year.
She loved her work there, and the job, coupled with her recent marriage, had made this ”a real high point in her life,” Ms. Di Lernia said in a telephone interview from Ms. Mlynarcyzk’s home. She said relatives were too upset to talk.
Linda Blogoslawski grew up in New Britain in a Polish family that had lived there for generations. Her father ran a prominent funeral home in New Britain, which is Connecticut’s seventh largest city, with about 70,000 residents.
She was the valedictorian in New Britain High School’s Class of 1978, then attended Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., where friends said she graduated with highest honors.
As Mayor, she was praised for her lack of pretension and for her accessibility. ”She brought a touch of homeyness to that job,” said Dan Bugnacki, the principal of New Britain High School, who once taught her pre-calculus.
The city’s current Mayor, Lucian J. Pawlak, said, ”She was just a very good citizen — totally committed to this city. She had a vibrancy, and people will always remember her for her smile.”
Mr. Pawlak said that Ms. Mlynarczyk and her husband did not have any children.
Frederick Rubelmann 3d
Frederick Rubelmann 3d, 40, had spent more than 18 years in one aspect of the gaming industry or another, working his way up to the position of vice president for operations and administration at the Connecticut Lottery Corporation in July 1996.
In a statement, his relatives said he was an equally devoted husband to Mary Rubelmann and father to Sarah, 11, and Eric, 10. The family lived in Southington, Conn. ”This is a terrible loss,” the family’s statement said. ”He will be greatly missed every day for the rest of our lives.”
Mr. Rubelmann was born and raised in Connecticut, attending the University of Connecticut for undergraduate work and the University of New Haven for a master’s in business administration.
Michael Logan, the youngest of the victims, was 33 years old. He left a wife and two young children. Mr. Logan, of Colchester, Conn., was the lottery’s director of information systems. Before going to work for the lottery, he had spent 10 years as an electronic systems engineer for a private company. He graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in electrical engineering.
In a Province of Winners, Worker Who Lost Out Takes Revenge
By Jim Yardley – The New York Times
NEWINGTON, Conn.— It is an ordinary beige building with a warehouse in the back, but to many people, the headquarters of the Connecticut Lottery is a place of fantasy where the big winners go to pose with the big cardboard check. They follow the bright yellow ”Prize Claim Center” sign into a special reception area and collect jackpots, from $600 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There is another entrance, one used by the secretaries, accountants and other employees who keep the Lottery humming. They must punch in a code to enter the warren of cubicles and partitions. An outsider could easily get turned around, but Matthew Beck, an accountant, had worked at the Lottery for more than eight years. He knew where he was going, and on Friday morning, he knew what he wanted to do.
More than 100 Lottery employees work in this office in a Hartford suburb. ”He could have shot all of us,” said Karen Kalandyk, one of Mr. Beck’s supervisors.
But he wanted only four of them.
Hindsight seems to offer a terrible, simple clarity: An embittered employee passed over for a promotion and recently returned from a stress-related medical leave, Mr. Beck, 35, stalked and killed the three Lottery executives and one supervisor whom he might have blamed for his failures.
His frustrations at the office also reached into his personal life: An office romance had soured, and, according to several employees, the woman had begun dating the man who replaced Mr. Beck during his leave.
Yet the calculated, personal manner of the slayings seems to indicate that Mr. Beck knew everyone he was after. He apparently had not targeted his former girlfriend. With blood staining his blue jeans, he mouthed ”bye-bye” to his new boss, Linda Mlynarczyk, and shot her three times with a handgun. When his rampage ended, Mr. Beck turned the gun on himself.
As mourners decorated the Lottery office with flowers today, the families of the five dead made funeral arrangements. The lingering questions offered no tidy answers: Why did Mr. Beck snap so violently? Could anyone have foreseen his rage and prevented it? One employee, David A. Perlot, an accountant, said he suspected Mr. Beck even as he was fleeing the building from the then-unknown attacker.
”The thought crossed my mind that it was him because he was strange and a little disgruntled,” Mr. Perlot said. On the same morning, a Hartford Courant reporter, Lyn Bixby, checked his voice mail messages after spending Thursday out of town. ”Hey, Lyn, it’s Matt Beck,” began a message left at 12:01 P.M. Thursday. Mr. Bixby covers the Lottery, and Mr. Beck had tipped him to past stories.
Mr. Beck’s voice was calm; he just asked for a meeting. By the time Mr. Bixby heard the message, it was too late.
”Who knows what would have happened if I had been in the office and if we had met in person, as he suggested,” Mr. Bixby wrote in today’s Courant. ”Would he have brought his knife and his gun? Would a conversation with a reporter have been enough of an outlet to defuse the bomb that was about to explode?”
When Mr. Beck returned from medical leave on Feb. 25, several co-workers noticed his cold, aloof manner. ”I had a feeling all week,” said Eleanor Simonides, a secretary. ”His eyes weren’t right.”
A co-worker in the accounting department, Richard J. Heckart, said many employees wished that Mr. Beck had not returned at all. Mr. Heckart, however, considered himself a friend. He said that Mr. Beck collected guns and enjoyed playing paintball, asimulated war game. The two men had played in a golf tournament in October, and Mr. Heckart remembered two things: Mr. Beck hit the ball as hard as he could every time, and he got very drunk afterward.
Mr. Beck had left on sick leave in October, complaining of stress. He had filed a grievance against the state in August. He had complained that he was performing data processing tasks beyond his accounting duties that should have earned him $2 more an hour. He won the first round of the grievance in January and was waiting to learn whether he would receive back pay. But he was also embittered because his promotion from accountant to a supervisory position had been rejected.
John Krinjak, a Lottery sales representative, said he noticed Mr. Beck’s coldness and bitterness last summer. Like others, he recalled that Mr. Beck shaved his head and grew a goatee. ”He became visibly withdrawn into himself,” Mr. Krinjak recalled. ”He took on a severe look, an angry look. He looked like he had lost weight and gotten pale..”
Friday is dress-down day in the Lottery office. Work begins at around 8 A.M., and Mr. Beck arrived in blue jeans and a leather jacket. Both Angela Bentley, a supervisor, and Ms. Kalandyk noticed that Mr. Beck did not take off his jacket inside but kept it zipped up. Mr. Heckart remembered seeing him shortly after 8 A.M. in a sweatshirt. Ms. Bentley exchanged innocuous hellos with Mr. Beck and went for a cup of coffee before returning to her office. What she did not know was that Mr. Beck was carrying a 9-millimeter Glock handgun and a knife under his jacket, the authorities later said.
Mr. Beck’s desk in the accounts payable department sits midway between the administrative suite in the front of the building and the information systems unit in the rear. In his unhappy months before he took medical leave, he had done data processing under Michael T. Logan, the information systems supervisor. Mr. Beck’s skills with computers were unquestioned, but, Ms. Kalandyk said, he could not communicate: ”He couldn’t tell us what he knew.”
At about 8:15 A.M., Ms. Simonides noticed Mr. Beck rummaging in the darkened closet near Mr. Logan’s office. ”He was hunched over, looking for something,” she recalled. ”I said, ‘Why don’t you turn the light on?’ He said, ‘I’m looking for something.’ He had this very serious look on his face.”
Ms. Simonides walked away, and a few minutes later Mr. Beck plunged a knife into Mr. Logan’s chest, the police said.
In the administrative suite, Ms. Kalandyk and four other employees were having a meeting with Ms. Mlynarczyk. Suddenly, Mr. Beck appeared in the open doorway, facing Ms. Mlynarczyk. A former mayor of New Britain, Ms. Mlynarczyk had joined the Lottery as chief financial officer in 1996. As his new boss, she had met with Mr. Beck on Feb. 27 to explain his new duties upon his return. Now, he stared at Ms. Mlynarczyk, told her, ”Bye-bye,” and shot her three times.
”He could have gotten any of us,” said Ms. Kalandyk, who sat beside Ms. Mlynarczyk, ”but he knew who he wanted to get. He just lowered the gun and walked away. I made eye contact, and his eyes were dead.”
With Ms. Mlynarczyk slumped in her chair, Ms. Kalandyk and the others jumped behind a desk. Someone dialed 911; another person managed to close the door. Meanwhile, the sharp cracks of gunfire had sent employees fleeing the building.
”About five or six girls came running in our door, screaming hysterically: ‘He’s coming! He’s coming! He’s got a gun! Don’t let him get us!’ ” said Gary Peltzer, a salesman at a paint distributing business in the same building as the Lottery.
It was widely known around the office that Mr. Beck had dated another employee, Kim Jackowski, until she ended the relationship. When Mr. Beck took his leave, Ms. Jackowski began seeing his replacement, Joseph Santopietro, several employees said. Mr. Santopietro happened to be working outside the main office Friday. Ms. Jackowski survived, and there is no indication that Mr. Beck sought her out.
Inside the administrative suite, the door to Ms. Mlynarczyk’s office suddenly opened. Frederick W. Rubelmann 3d, 40, vice president of operations, appeared. ”He said, ‘Is everyone O.K.?’ ” Ms. Kalandyk recalled. ”We said, ‘No, Linda has been shot.’ He closed the door for us. I think he went toward Matt.”
Mr. Rubelmann and the Lottery’s president, Otho R. Brown, had rejected Mr. Beck’s promotion, Ms. Kalandyk said. Now, Mr. Beck confronted Mr. Rubelmann and shot him as the executive directed employees outside.
Mr. Beck could not know that Newington police officers would arrive within minutes. He staggered outside, soaked in blood, and began chasing his final prey, Mr. Brown. A 54-year-old father of three, Mr. Brown had personally sought out Mr. Beck for a new position when the Connecticut Lottery became a quasi-private entity in 1996.
Now, Mr. Brown led a group of employees sprinting toward a gravel parking lot about 200 yards away. Mr. Brown shouted for everyone to rush into nearby woods, but he continued straight through the parking lot. Mr. Heckart, who jumped into the woods, credited Mr. Brown with luring Mr. Beck away from everyone else. From the woods, Mr. Heckart saw Mr. Brown stumble and fall.
”Matt was standing over him and had shot him twice,” Mr. Heckart said. ”We realized who it was and we were all yelling, ‘Don’t do it, Matt! Don’t do it!’ ”
”After the second bullet,” Mr. Heckart continued, ”Ott raised his hand as if to say, ‘Please don’t shoot me.’ He was still alive. That’s when Matt turned away for a step and came back and shot him a third time.” Police officers arrived and began approaching. But Mr. Beck lifted the nose of his gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.
”They were the people who had the power in the lottery,” Ms. Kalandyk said of those Mr. Beck had chosen to kill. ”They were the ones who had turned down his promotion.”
As police officers covered the bodies, employees began emerging from the woods. Many were covered in mud. The whole episode had taken only a few, terrifying minutes.
Ms. Kalandyk said she had noticed a stranger among the people who had fled the building. Then she remembered: Someone had come in to pick up a Lottery jackpot.
Father of Lottery Killer Says Son ‘Not a Monster’
By Jonathan Rabinovitz – The New York Times
HARTFORD — After learning that his son had overdosed on pills, Donald Beck rushed over to the apartment, dragged him out of bed and to an emergency room and had his stomach pumped, a move that may well have saved the young man’s life.
This morning, Mr. Beck wondered whether he should have just let his son, Matthew, kill himself on that terrible night last year.
Only two days ago, on Friday, Mr. Beck learned that his 35-year-old son — his canasta and bowling partner, and someone whom he would often call at work to say, ‘I love you’ — methodically stabbed and shot to death four of his bosses at the Connecticut Lottery before taking his own life.
”I brought him to the emergency room a year ago, and the doctors said, ‘Thank God that he lived,’ ” a sobbing Mr. Beck said in a telephone interview this morning. ”But maybe not ‘Thank God.’ Maybe he would have been better off not saved. Maybe I should have not done anything and left him there.
”If I had known what was going to happen, God forgive me, I would have done that,” Mr. Beck, a retired industrial microbiologist at Pfizer, said. He had just been going through his son’s clothing and possessions in the family’s modest Cape Cod home in Ledyard, a town in Eastern Connecticut. It was where Matthew had grown up and from where he had left Friday for his job as a Lottery accountant as if it were any other day.
Over the last 48 hours, Mr. Beck has tried to cope with the ultimate horror of any parent, learning that his child had committed abominable acts that defied understanding.
The killings have not only stunned Mr. Beck but left this state in shock. State flags are flying at half staff, and grief counselors and clergy members have fielded calls from dozens of Lottery workers who saw the rampage at the headquarters in Newington, a Hartford suburb.
This weekend, mourners stopped there to leave flowers and cry.
The building itself will not reopen until Tuesday — Gov. John G. Rowland ordered it closed Monday — and state workers have been cleaning up the offices so that employees can return. Yet the Lottery employees are unlikely to work full days this week, as they have funerals and wakes to attend.
”What our son Matthew did was terribly, terribly wrong,” Mr. Beck said today, as he choked back tears and began to read a formal 146-word apology he had written to the families of the victims early Saturday, before the sun had risen. ”We love you, Matt, but why?”
Matthew Edward Beck had in the last two years been battling a serious depression, which had hospitalized him on two occasions. But his father said today that he had thought the young man had it under control. He was taking three types of medication, his father said, and was seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Smith, in Hartford. It was under Dr. Smith’s care that Matthew Beck was given a leave last October because of job-related stress, and it was with Dr. Smith’s blessing that the young man decided to return to work on Feb. 25, Donald Beck said.
His son had no trouble with depression until July 1996, Mr. Beck said, when the Lottery was spun off as a quasi-public corporation. Matthew Beck transferred from the public agency that had run the games to the new entity, hoping that there would be opportunity for advancement, his father said. That did not occur.
Instead, the younger Mr. Beck found himself doing a job in which he believed he was being underpaid, and he filed a grievance in August 1997. In the months before, Matthew Beck became so depressed that his father and sister urged him to seek help.
In January 1997, Matthew Beck began seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication, his father said, declining to specify the type of drugs that were prescribed. Although Matthew had tried to cut his wrists once in college, Mr. Beck said that the depression his son experienced in 1997 was unlike anything before it.
”He was zombielike and had a fixed stare,” Mr. Beck said. ”There was no inflection in his voice.” His son was not ranting and raving, but withdrawn and subdued, he said.
When Matthew was asked why he might want to kill himself, the young man explained that ”everything seemed so hopeless,” his father said.
Still, the young accountant appeared to have rebounded in the last few months, Mr. Beck said. At his parents’ urging, he had given up his apartment in another town and moved back to his old room in Ledyard. On Wednesday, when he came home from work, he brought his father a cake to celebrate Mr. Beck’s 70th birthday.
He saw no sign that his son was on the verge of taking drastic action. Matthew Beck had just bought a big supply of yogurt, a favorite food, suggesting that he was thinking ahead. And he had made plans for Friday night to see a movie, ”Titanic,” Mr. Beck said.
While co-workers have said they feared that Matthew Beck could snap, his father said the family felt fine about leaving Matthew with his young nephews and nieces. Although Matthew collected guns, Mr. Beck said he had never feared that his son would turn them on someone else. Shortly after Matthew was first stricken with the depression, Mr. Beck asked him whether he felt violently toward others; Mr. Beck was persuaded that Matthew posed a threat only to himself.
On Friday morning, Mr. Beck watched his son leave for work, and he saw nothing out of the ordinary, certainly no evidence that he carried a 9-millimeter Glock, a semiautomatic handgun that Mr. Beck said his son had owned for several years.
”The mind is a strange thing,” he said. ”It works in sinister ways that even professionals don’t understand.”
It has left Mr. Beck confused, tormented and ashamed.
Priscilla Beck, Matthew’s mother, has started writing letters to all her relatives, apologizing for her son’s actions. The family is trying to keep the funeral secret so it will draw no more attention to their son.
”He was really a great guy,” Mr. Beck said, ”but what he did is what everyone will remember him for.”
The father struggled today as he read his apology over the telephone.
”His murderous act was monstrous, but he was not a monster,” Mr. Beck said and started to cry. ”We offer our sincerest sympathy to all the families and apologize for Matt.
”I cannot ask you to forgive him, for we have not yet forgiven him for what he did.”Murderpedia, the free online encyclopedic dictionary of murderers. The largest database about serial killers, mass murderers and spree killers around the world ]]>