There are always those kids at school that spend their time on the edges, social outcasts who don’t quite fit in with everybody else. If you are or were one of those kids, the isolation can be the most painful thing in your life.
For most people, they find a way to adapt and move beyond that pain, often finding acceptance and friendship with other outsiders. But one lonely teenager would only find anger and more pain, which would lead to tragedy.
Nicholas was the kind of boy who struggled socially and academically, while some troubles aren’t that uncommon, the first sign of serious problems came when he was just 7 years old when the 2nd grader was having a playdate with a friend when he talked about blowing up his school.
Nicholas’ mother Marilyn said she thought that the talk was just kids playing soldiers but the friend’s mother and the boys’ school took it far more seriously. “They asked me — at 7 — if he had access to bomb making materials,” Marilyn said…
After that incident, Nicholas transferred to a new school, then again, then again. Over the next 8 years, Nicholas would attend 5 schools. His interactions got worse and worse, eventually becoming completely mute in social situations, staring at people uncomfortably as they waited for him to speak.
After a series of medical and psychological tests, Nicholas was diagnosed with autism, depression and anxiety. Marilyn simply used “special needs” to describe his issues. Nicholas had no friends and was badly bullied…
Making It Bearable
“We tried to make up for the fact that he had no friends,” Marilyn said, with trips to Guam and the Grand Canyon, golf and saxophone lessons but nothing could make up for his isolation. Nicholas’ mother noticed a hardening in him.
Because You Have To
As a teen, Nicholas called himself a “freak” and “retarded,” falling into very long, dark depressions. “You only love me because you have to,” Nicholas once said to his mother. “How does it get to a point where a person says their mother doesn’t like them?” Marilyn said…
Then, in the summer of 2016, Nicholas was charged with a crime in juvenile court. The case files were sealed but as a result of the charges, he was on probation and was banned from using the internet. But his legal troubles faded into the background as the summer came around with good news: Nicholas had a girlfriend.
Marilyn would describe what followed as an “awakening.” The 2 teenagers spent all the time they could together, going on trips to the beach and to amusement parks. This was unknown and wonderful territory for the formerly isolated teen but Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, the mother of Nicholas’ girlfriend, noticed some troubling signs…
“Almost on day one of them dating this summer [my daughter] told me that Nicholas is very good at history and she said, ‘Did you know that the Jews are partly to blame for WWII?’ “ Buckley wrote in email to a school administrator. “I thought it was a mistake and corrected her. Little did I know it is Nicholas’ obsession.”
Apparently Nicholas was violating his court order and was sneaking onto the internet where he was taking in and spreading vitriolic ideas. His twitter account had a ghoulish, skeletal Nazi as its avatar and he used it to push hatred against Jews, gays, and other minorities…
Nicholas was retweeting hateful things like a tweet calling Martin Luther King Jr. “a low IQ pervert and sex abuser,” another claiming Hitler was not a racist, an illustration of a girl drawing a swastika and the message “I miss you Hitler,” and other, similar things. He seemed to have a special fondness for the “Atomwaffen Division,” a neo-Nazi group linked to a handful of killings that considers Charles Manson a hero.
In addition to Nicholas’ apparent Nazi obsession, he was having troubles at school. In an email written in mid-September, a school administrator wrote that Nicholas was struggling with his mental health issues, failing several classes, and was being “consumed” by problems his girlfriend was having…
Romeo and Juliet
“I think we have a potential Romeo and Juliet situation that we need to be alert to,” the administrator wrote. “These two kids are in my estimation — high risk — for any number of things.” Nicholas’ girlfriend’s mother Buckley thought the same thing, so she called Nicholas up to do something about it.
“I know you’ve been coming in my house,” she said, referring to Nicholas’ sneaking over to see the girl. “Don’t see her again.” Nicholas was devastated. “I’ve given up on trying to be happy,” he wrote in a journal. “Everything I care about leaves or is taken away.” His mental state was rapidly deteriorating…
Marilyn reached out to his probation officer and called a psychiatrist to possibly get her son committed but it was too late in the day to get help. That night, as the family strung up Christmas decorations, Marilyn kept an eye on Nicholas. Not wanting to leave him alone, she kept speaking with him all night until she dozed off sometime before 4 am.
It was after his mother had gone to sleep that Nicholas took his father’s pistol, which was left unsecured in the home, a knife, and a hammer, and slipped out of the house. He snuck into his girlfriend’s home and waited there in her bedroom…
When Scott Fricker, the girl’s father entered, Nicholas opened fire. Just after, he shot the girl’s mother Buckley Kuhn-Fricker who was trailing right behind him. It was then that Nicholas’ girlfriend called 911.
Screams and Shots
When police arrived, they could hear screams coming from inside, followed by the sound of gunfire. They found Nicholas down with a bullet wound to his head. Though the bullet skimmed across his brain, Nicholas would survive the shot, though his memories of that night would be a confusing jumble…
The Frickers wouldn’t be so fortunate. They both died of their gunshot wounds, something for which Marilyn blames herself. While she didn’t learn the full extent of Nicholas’ deepening interest in Nazism and white supremacy until after his death, she thought she should have been better educated about his mental-health issues.
Hate All Around
She should have listened to her instinct that something was off about him and gotten him the help he needed, Marilyn said. She thought his online behavior wasn’t genuine rather, was intended to get a rise out of people. Nicholas’ sister thought otherwise. “I think the world hated him, so he hated the world,” she said.