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Harris' dad kept record of son

Father tracked son's dealings with school, cops before shootings

Published January 22, 2004 at midnight

The father of Columbine killer Eric Harris kept a record of dealings with his son, including contacts from law enforcement and his school.

Deputies seized the notebook when they searched Wayne and Kathy Harris' home on April 20, 1999, the day that Eric and his best friend, Dylan Klebold, ambushed Columbine High School.

Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink said the notebook remains locked in an evidence vault at the sheriff's headquarters in Golden.

The document is described in investigative reports as a "green steno notebook" and was found in a "main level family room desk." It is classified as evidence item No. 201.

Until now, Jefferson County authorities have never publicly acknowledged its existence. But its contents could help answer lingering questions about what school and sheriff's officials knew about Harris before the Columbine tragedy.

Kate Battan, the lead investigator in the Columbine case, said detectives never talked to the Harrises about the notebook because they were unable to formally interview the couple.

The only meeting between authorities and Wayne and Kathy Harris occurred on Oct. 25, 1999, and it amounted to a negotiating session over rules for a possible interview. No interview was conducted, however.

The notebook mentions contacts from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and Columbine High, the Rocky Mountain News has learned.

The Harrises' attorney, C. Michael Montgomery, was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, his office said.

Eric Harris and Klebold attempted to blow up Columbine with two large, homemade bombs they put in the school cafeteria. When the crude bombs turned out to be duds, the seniors embarked on a shooting rampage, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves.

Battan was asked if she found the notebook interesting when she read it.

"Absolutely," she said.

But Battan and Mink declined to discuss what is in it, citing a court ruling in May 2002 by Jefferson County District Judge Brooke Jackson.

He concluded that items seized from the killers' homes did not automatically fall under state open records laws.

"To discuss the contents of something the court has said, 'Don't release,' to me violates a court order," Battan said.

Jefferson County has referred to Jackson's ruling in denying several requests from the News for copies of the notebook.

Jackson's ruling has been appealed. The Colorado Court of Appeals could decide on the issue at any time.

Wayne and Kathy Harris have never publicly spoken about their son.

They were, however, deposed in federal court last summer as part of another court case, one filed by several victims' families against the killers' parents.

That case was settled, and the terms have not been made public.

The Harrises have asked that evidence seized from their home be returned.

Wayne Harris in September 2000 signed for the return of more than 120 items - including a computer, a pocketknife, photographs, a graduation announcement, a sawed-off BB gun and medical records.

But the department kept other evidence - including the notebook - that investigators said they believed was linked to the Columbine case.

"We argued that those things that can absolutely be connected to Harris and Klebold, the events of April 20 or the behavior of Harris and Klebold, those things we got to keep," Battan said.

Battan said Solvay Pharmaceuticals requested the notebook as part of its defense in another court matter, a civil lawsuit filed by injured Columbine student Mark Taylor.

Solvay makes the drug Luvox, which Harris was taking when he attacked his school.

The lawsuit, in U.S. District Court, was settled last February and the notebook was returned to the sheriff's evidence room.

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