By Rosslyn Smith
Many outlets have been saying the Colorado Springs shooter was from Western North Carolina, where I live. Since I have been active in the local prolife community, this bothered me. So I did a little snooping on-line.
I found that Dear does own property in Buncombe County (Asheville) though he lists his address on the property records for bot parcels as South Carolina. The properties are low end. He also appears to have a residence in unincorporated Hartsel, Colorado and was registered to vote there as an unaffiliated voter. I'd say that makes him a Colorado resident. He never registered to vote in North Carolina.
Since Dear doesn't seem to have held a regular job, one has to wonder how he paid his bills. Property taxes are probably low on those two parcels, but it still takes ready cash. The family is from South Carolina. I have to wonder if the tax bills go to a relative or trustee there. From a professional point of view, he seems to me like the type of person whose inheritance might be put in a spendthrift trust. And I do suspect there might be some money in his family. One report says Dear listed his occupation as a "self employed art dealer." That's not usually an occupation for someone with middle or working class roots.
His full name is actually Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. His namesake was a WWII veteran and Citadel graduate who was employed by Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company for 40 years. During that time the family may have relocated for business more than once, as senior's obituary noted he lived in Florida, Kentucky and Missouri before he returned to his native South Carolina for the last 15 years of his life. Senior was a joiner -- a member of the Honorary Order of Kentucky Colonels and the Citadel Brigadiers Club. Poor people don't tend to be invited into such beneficial organizations. The well-to-do are also more likely to clam up whenever a relative brings disgrace to the family name. So far I have not heard a peep from the extended family and all the names were in the easy to find obituary.
Unlike his sire, Dear Jr. is said to be a loner. He had no on-line presence anyone has found. He lived in Walterboro, SC for several years, where he was far from unknown to the local authorities because of a variety of incidents -- complaints of domestic violence, animal abuse, peeping tom. From those reports he seems to be a bit of a paranoid crank, quick to take offense at a neighbors while oblivious to when he gave offense. But he was still middle class enough to call the police to assist him from time to time. Once in SC he claimed his motorcycle was damaged by a neighbor. Another time he called in the law in a dispute with a tenant over installment payments on a truck she had purchased from him and then claimed it had disappeared when he tried to repossess it. The appliances also disappeared when the tenant moved out of the place she had rented from him. The lac of job information for a man his age plus these reports that indicate poor judgment/erratic behavior fits the pattern of a child of the upper middle class who may inherit via a spendthrift trust.
From what I have found so far, Dear looks like a pretty sad figure, the not quite right in the head child who never grew up. He apparently never got along all that well with people even before he dropped out to live off the grid. I have to wonder if his parents never stopped contributing to his upkeep and that when senior was alive junior was kept on a short enough leash to seem respectable.
In Walterboro, Dear Jr. had a wife, at least one child and a home in a day trip tourist town known for historic preservation and quaint antique stores/folk art galleries. Then in recent years his life seems to have gone off the tracks. Perhaps the combination of divorce, the death of his father and an economic environment in which those who are too difficult for other people to deal with simply won't find work was the trigger that sent him into an off the grid shack on Black Mountain.
A neighbor in North Carolina reported
You can tell his personality is just off. The way he looked at you, the way he talked, he just seemed off,” said James Russell, who lives a few hundred feet down the mountain. “If you talked to him, nothing with him was very cognitive — topics all over place.”
There is no information so far on why Dear, Jr. moved to Colorado after apparently spending so many years in the Carolinas. It would be funny if legalized pot has something to do with it. He does look like quite a few of the badly aging hippies, many of them scions of respectable, affluent families, who get drawn to low cost of living communities in areas around towns like Asheville or Colorado Springs.