Jessica Masseth was months into her sophomore year at Bellbrook High School in Ohio when she started getting disturbing text messages from a freshman named Connor Betts.
Betts texted that Masseth was on his “rape list,” describing in detail “what he wanted to do” to her, she said—even sending her the list of all of his proposed victims to prove she wasn’t the only one.
Finally, Masseth said she had enough and went to the police.
“I was not surprised at all when I heard his name on the news yesterday,” she said. “We predicted he would do this 10 years ago.”
Early Sunday morning, authorities said Betts, 24, opened fire on a crowded Dayton street lined with bars and restaurants. Wearing body armor and carrying an assault-style rifle outfitted with a magazine carrying a hundred rounds, he killed nine people, including his sister, and injured 26 others. Police killed him before he murdered more.
Word spread quickly in 2010 about the lists of 15 classmates he wanted to “rape or kill” in a notebook he carried around, Masseth said.
“He had a kill list that was mostly guys and then a rape list that was mostly girls,” Masseth said, adding that he also texted her the list to prove she was on it. “The lists basically had any girl who turned him down, any girl who thought they were above him, and any guy that was competition or was seen as a threat.”
Police declined to comment on the purported lists, citing the “ongoing investigation” into Betts’ mass murder.
Masseth, who said she was “not one of the popular girls,” was shocked when she started to get Betts’ texts naming her as one of the girls on his “rape list.” The texts, she said, made it seem like Betts had a “God complex mixed with ‘I want attention.’”
Masseth said she doesn’t even remember having a full conversation with him.
“In the texts, and on the lists, he talked about destruction and dismemberment. I mean how did the police not know he was going to do something like what he did this weekend?” she said. “Everyone knew he was not right.”
After “countless texts” and growing concern in school about the lists, Masseth said she finally told her mother, who encouraged her to contact the authorities.
Another former classmate, who spoke to The Daily Beast but asked not to be named, said she learned she was on the list when she was questioned by police in the principal’s office one morning.
“There was chatter at school that a kid was taken off the bus by the police but we weren't really sure who it was,” she said. “But then police started asking me questions about Connor Betts and whether there was any reason he would want to hurt me.”
The former student said the list was conveyed to her as a “kill, dismember, and rape list.”
“My best friend and I were on that list,” she said. “But a good amount of girls on the list were girls that didn’t want to date him. I personally never perceived our relationship as that close.”
Police officers pulled Betts off a school bus as they headed to school, a former classmate told The Washington Post.
Masseth said police questioned Betts about the hit lists and he was suspended from school.
The following year he returned to school, she said. When she graduated in 2012, Betts was still “not right.”
“He basically got a slap on the wrist,” she said. “If he was only held accountable, this shooting would have never happened because he wouldn’t have been able to buy any firearms. There are levels of failure here.”
Police said Sunday that Betts had no criminal record as an adult.
Two women who say they dated Betts spoke out on late Monday, alleging he described himself as mentally ill, with violent thoughts about himself and other people. Both women said they ended their relationships because he was too aggressive.
“He would cry to me sometimes saying how he’s afraid of himself and afraid he was going to hurt someone one day,” Lyndsi Doll, who dated Betts in high school, told the Washington Post.
Adelia Johnson told NBC News the two dated this past spring and that on their first date, he showed her video from a mass shooting at a synagogue and often brought up mass murders. Johnson wrote on Medium that Betts had “inappropriate” thoughts and once told her he “wanted to hurt a lot of people,” as she put it. She broke up with Betts after witnessing him stalk another ex-girlfriend.
“This is a man who was in pain and didn't get the help that he needed,” Johnson told NBC News.
Police said Betts arrived in Dayton’s downtown entertainment district Saturday night in his father’s car with with his younger sister, Megan, and a male acquaintance. Betts fatally shot his sister and wounded the acquaintance, who survived, police said. The acquaintance is not suspected to have played a role in the attack, officials say.
Sometime around then, Betts crept through an alley before opening fire near a tattoo parlor before moving across the street toward a crowded line waiting to enter a bar. Just then, several police officers wielding pistols, a rifle, and a shotgun unloaded on Betts—and stopped him a split second before he stepped through the bar’s open doors.
Police said they are still investigating why Betts killed his sister and eight other people. Doll said the two were close and would “would play off one another.”
“She was the bright happy soul and he was the dark, more reserved one,” Doll told the Washington Post.
Masseth said it is “still frightening” to learn he could have made good on his threat against her.
“Everyone in high school knew what he was capable of, but there was a gap in getting Connor help because people just decided they didn’t care,” she said. “If people just cared a little more, none of this would have happened.”