DOTHAN, Ala. — The man who killed 10 people during last month's shooting spree in south Alabama left a letter for relatives, writing that he wanted people to pay for making his mother and him suffer, according to a report published Wednesday.
In the letter obtained by The Dothan Eagle newspaper, Michael McLendon wrote that he shot his mother to death while she slept, then set fire to the rural home they shared. After leaving the burning house March 10, McLendon went on a 24-mile shooting spree with four guns and more than 200 rounds of ammunition. He killed nine more people, including four other relatives, before committing suicide.
"Moma was very sick. Had lung cancer I think. So I put her out of her misery," McLendon wrote. "I'm sorry! But Moma had suffered enough. And so have I. Some of the people who made us suffer will pay."
Autopsy doesn't back cancer claim
An autopsy did not support McLendon's claims about his mother being ill, said Coffee County Chief Deputy R.W. Whitworth.
"It does not mention anything in that autopsy report about cancer. It didn't find any kind of illness," Whitworth told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
The letter to a family member was found in a mailbox near McLendon's home in the Holley's Store community.
McLendon said he had planned the shootings for later but went ahead because his mother had been suspended from her job at a poultry plant.
Authorities had earlier revealed the existence of McLendon's letter but refused to release its contents. They previously said McLendon was frustrated by his inability to hold a steady job, and particularly his failure to join the Marine Corps or become a police officer.
The letter was an included in a 25-page summary of the shooting investigation obtained by The Dothan Eagle through an Alabama Open Records request.
'Does not appear mentally sharp'
Another letter McLendon wrote to his mother soon after his high school graduation in 1999 hinted at what would soon be a futile attempt at becoming a Marine.
"Can't swim ... can't do enough pullups ... shoulder problems ... not making the grade," McLendon wrote.
He was discharged from Marine basic training in October 1999 for "fraudulent entry," apparently failing to disclose that he suffered from chronic shoulder dislocations. In a discharge letter, a Marine captain wrote that McLendon "needs to improve his physical strength and confidence. ... He does not appear mentally sharp."
In September 2003, McLendon left the regional police academy in Montgomery when he failed his physical. Evidence indicated the city of Samson refused to reimburse McLendon $227 for attending the academy since he left on his own.
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