RICHMOND, Va. - Missing mental health records of Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho have been discovered in the home of the university clinic's former director, Gov. Tim Kaine said Wednesday.
Cho killed 32 people on April 16, 2007, then committed suicide as police closed in. His mental health treatment has been a major issue in the investigation of the shootings.
A memo from Kaine's chief legal counsel to victims' relatives says Cho's records and those of several other Virginia Tech students were found July 18 in the home of Dr. Robert Miller.
The memo, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, says the records were removed from the Cook Counseling Center on the Virginia Tech campus more than a year before the shootings.
"I appreciate your call, but I'm not making comment at this time," Miller said when reached at a number for his private practice.
The recovery of the records, which eluded a vast criminal investigation two years ago, was first announced by Kaine at a news conference.
Removal was illegal
Kaine said a Virginia State Police criminal investigation into how the records disappeared from the center where Cho was ordered to undergo counseling is under way. Removing records from the center is illegal, he said.
Kaine said he was dismayed that it took two years before they were found by attorneys in a lawsuit brought by families of the victims.
"That is part of the investigation that I am very interested in and, of course, I'm very concerned about that," Kaine said.
The state planned to release the records publicly as soon as possible, either by consent from Cho's estate or through a subpoena.
The discovery calls into question the thoroughness of the criminal probe two years ago and the findings of a commission Kaine appointed to review the catastrophe, one victim's relative said.
"Deception comes to my mind in my first response," said Suzanne Grimes, whose son Kevin Sterne was injured in the shootings.
"To say it doesn't make sense is an injustice," she said. "It gives me the impression: 'What else are they hiding?'"
'No sense of closure'
She praised Kaine's willingness to investigate the disappearance of the records and have them released.
"Until we get all the answers to what happened on that day and days prior, there's no sense of closure," Grimes said.
While a large part of the shooting investigation focused on how university officials and law enforcement responded following the first reports of deaths in a Virginia Tech dormitory, family members of victims have also inquired how the troubled Cho slipped through the cracks at university counseling.
In April, on the second anniversary of the shootings, families of two slain students sued the state, the school and its counseling center, several top university officials and a local mental health agency, claiming gross negligence in the chain of events that allowed Cho to commit his killing spree.
The lawsuits also claim a local health center where Cho had gone to say he felt suicidal did not adequately treat or monitor him. The status of the lawsuit was not immediately known.
Holly Sherman, whose daughter Leslie was among those killed, said in November that she was less concerned with continued analysis of how university officials responded to the massacre and more interested in learning about Cho's mental treatment.
Mike White, whose daughter Nicole was killed, said in November he was concerned about why Cho's mental records went missing.
Andrew Goddard, whose son Colin was shot four times but survived, said there was more work to be done on mental health services. Goddard was appointed last year to the state board of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services.