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Australian twin in suicide pact called, wrote to Columbine survivor

One of the Australian twin sisters who shot themselves in Colorado wrote  letters to a 1999 Columbine school shooting survivor. They also had a Time cover image about the shooting.
Louie Perea
Sheriff's Capt. Louie Perea says 29-year-old twin sisters rented handguns and shot themselves in the head.Ed Andrieski / AP
/ Source: staff and news service reports

One of the Australian twin sisters who shot themselves in a suicide pact at a Colorado shooting range called and wrote several letters to a survivor of the Columbine school shooting in the months after the tragedy.

Denver broadcaster KCNC-TV reported Saturday that Kristin Hermeler said in a June 1999 letter to Columbine survivor Brooks Brown that she also had been "rejected, victimized and ostracized."

The letters further suggest that the sisters had a fascination with the Columbine massacre, in which gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and themselves.

"I just wanted to write to you and let you know that not a day goes by that I do not think about what happened," Kristin Hermeler wrote in a letter dated July 14, 1999.

A month earlier she wrote, "I am completely shattered by what happened."

Kristin and Candice Hermeler, both 29, had a photocopy of the Time magazine cover on the Columbine shooting when they shot themselves on Monday.

Kristin Hermeler died, while her sister survived.

The photocopy was found among the belongings of the twins.

However, it remained unclear why they had Time cover headlined "The Monsters Next Door/What Made Them Do It?" and why the sisters made the plan to kill themselves, authorities said.

Columbine High School is about 20 miles from the shooting range. The May 3, 1999, magazine cover featured photographs of gunmen Harris and Klebold and their 13 victims. Harris and Klebold committed suicide simultaneously — just as police said the twins attempted to do.

The magazine cover was found among stuffed animals, cell phones and jewelry the twins left behind at the nearby hotel where they had been staying. No suicide note was found.

Brook Brown's mother, Judy, told the Denver Post on Saturday that she spoke to both twins at length on the phone in 1999. On Saturday, said the two had been sensitive and sympathetic.

The Post said the twins after arriving in Denver did not contact the Browns.

Candice Hermeler remained hospitalized in serious condition with a head wound as her parents arrived in Colorado on Friday. Investigators hoped to talk to the parents later, Arapahoe County sheriff's Capt. Louie Perea said.

The parents issued a statement through Swedish Medical Center thanking people for the outpouring of support and concern, and the sheriff's office for its diligence in determining what happened.

The Hermelers also asked for privacy and declined media interviews, hospital spokeswoman Karen Prestia said.

Perea said the presence of the Time cover showed the twins had some interest in the Columbine shooting but added that Candice told investigators during an emotional interview that she didn't care about the attack and that it had happened a long time ago.

She also told authorities the twins were trying to carry out the suicide plan Monday at Family Shooting Center in Cherry Creek State Park, where investigators said they rented handguns and shot themselves in the head.

There was nothing to indicate the sisters planned to hurt anyone else, Perea said, noting police don't believe a crime was committed.

An affidavit supporting the search of the twins' belongings states a witness at the range saw two women fall down before one rolled around and yelled for help.

An arriving deputy found one sister on her back and the other sitting on her feet. When the seated woman fell onto her sister, the officer noticed a gunshot wound to her forehead as he rolled her away.

The sisters, who are from Australia's Victoria state, had been in the Denver area for about five weeks. One had gun training two weeks before the shooting, and both showed up at the range about a week later for additional training, Perea said.

On Monday, the sisters took a taxi to the range from their hotel about six miles away and rented the pistols. They took target practice on the chilly afternoon, prompting one sister to borrow a jacket, Perea said.

They initially shared a stall near a person firing a high-powered rifle. After the twins complained about the noise, range staff moved them to another lane.

"I don't know if they did that to be in a more secluded area or what," Perea said.

One of the sisters then left to place the jacket on a nearby table — apparently deciding against wearing borrowed clothing for what was to follow.

Authorities said surveillance video captured the incident. It showed the sisters falling out of the stall about a half-second apart, with other patrons quickly reacting, Perea said.

The twins had been at the range about an hour and 20 minutes.

It's not clear what they were doing in the United States.

The Sydney Morning Herald said they were from the Melbourne suburb of Surrey Hills, and identified their parents as Ernest and Kelsay Hermeler. The Herald Sun reported Ernest Hermeler was a bank executive and that the twins' parents had emigrated to Australia from South Africa about 40 years ago.

The woman was well enough to be interviewed by police in hospital for two hours but she would not say why she and her sister had entered into the bizarre pact, Perea told the Morning Herald.

''We asked that on more than one occasion and she declined to answer that question,'' he told the newspaper. ''She was emotional. She was … agitated, frustrated, basically ran the entire gamut of emotion."