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Medical records of Virginia Tech shooter turn up

WASHINGTON — Virginia Tech gunman Seung Hui Cho had been treated at the college's counseling center before the shooting rampage in which he killed 32 students, contradicting earlier accounts of his psychiatric history, according to newly discovered mental health records located in the home of the center's former director.

According to a memo written by a university lawyer, the former director, Robert Miller, had moved the records into his home more than a year before the April 16, 2007, massacre during which Cho also took his own life.

Word that the records had been found first came during a news conference Wednesday by Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine, who didn't say whose home contained the records.

Kaine said a criminal investigation is under way to determine how Miller was able to take the records and why they were not uncovered after the shooting.

Miller, reached at his private practice, declined to comment.

The records were discovered during preparations by lawyers representing the families of two of Cho's victims who have sued the state, the university, the counseling center and others, citing negligence in treating Cho's mental health issues. It is unclear who found the records.

Other families reached a legal settlement with the state with the understanding that Cho's file from the center was missing.

"We think it is imperative that the file be made public as quickly as possible," Kaine said.

Cho's mental health treatment by local and university officials has been the subject of speculation. The discovery of the records could be significant if they show he had greater contact with the counseling center than has been known.

The families of victims Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde were the only ones who did not participate in a settlement last year. They sued the state in April.

In December 2005, Cho was temporarily hospitalized for psychiatric reasons after some odd behavior. He was then ordered to undergo outpatient therapy. A 2007 report commissioned by Kaine that looked into the Virginia Tech shootings determined that records from the Cook Counseling Center at the university could not be found and were considered missing by the time investigators began looking into Cho's mental health treatment.

Medical records of Virginia Tech shooter turn up 07/22/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 9:49pm]
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