As the Stolen Sandy Hook Signs are Returned, a Difficult Question Remains

The stolen Sandy Hook signs were returned to the Northeast today by police in Virginia. Now that it's all over, there are lasting questions: should we feel sorry at all for the man accused of stealing them, Andrew David Truelove? All along he had psychological issues, but does that in any way mitigate what he did -- and what he believes?
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The stolen Sandy Hook signs were returned to the Northeast today by police in Virginia. Now that it's all over, there are lasting questions: should we feel sorry at all for the man accused of stealing them, Andrew David Truelove? All along he had psychological issues, but does that in any way mitigate what he did -- and what he believes?
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Photo: Herndon Police Department

You can't really call this a "happy" ending, but it's a satisfying one and in this case that's the best you can ask for. Today two officers from the Herndon Police Department in Virginia returned the two signs stolen from separate memorial playgrounds honoring victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. Detective Mike Croson and Lt. Jim Moore, the department's public information officer, escorted the panels by car from Herndon to the police department in Stonington, Connecticut. Stonington handled the initial investigation of the sign taken from the playground dedicated to Grace McDonnell, while Herndon picked up the work from there, recovering the signs last week and uncovering the identity of the alleged thief, 28-year-old Andrew David Truelove. Truelove, it turned out, was already in jail in Virginia on an unrelated charge.

From The Washington Post:

“We thought it would be a real honor to deliver back the signs to the jurisdiction where they were stolen from,” Moore said. “It’s very sentimental for the community and the families to have them back.”

This pretty much ends the saga of the stolen Sandy Hook signs. I haven't really written yet about my thoughts and feelings surrounding the whole thing because I always felt like it was important to just report the facts as they came out, devoid of any of my usual wise-assery. I was in direct contact with both Stonington and Jim Moore in Herndon and I think everyone involved performed their duties admirably, going completely by the book on this. Given the information I provided and the investigating I'd done on my own that I could hand off to the police, they kept me largely in the loop on just about everything that was happening as it was happening.

When Andrew Truelove attempted to confirm his identity to me as the Sandy Hook truther behind these thefts and the harassment of the Sandy Hook families that followed, he was incredibly thorough. He made sure that through pictures and descriptions of his actions there would be no question in my mind about him. This is because, in the final e-mail he sent me, he told me flat-out that it was my job to report on what he'd done. He wanted people to know that there was someone out there willing to take a stand against the Sandy Hook hoax and, I guess, the rise of the New World Order it was aimed at helping to usher in. Whether he wanted to actually be identified and arrested, who knows, but someone as convinced as he was that we're all under constant government surveillance had to expect that he'd be captured. He wasn't a source to me and given the piece I wrote that drew him out -- and through my actual conversations with him -- he knew he wasn't going to be entitled to an ounce of protection.

I've turned it over and over in my head since Truelove was officially outed as the suspect whether I feel at all sorry for him. The anonymous person who had stolen memorials to two children and taunted their families was a fucking monster. But could he still be once I saw his face and knew his backstory? It's always easy to dismiss this new generation of conspiracy theorists as being made up largely of lunatics, but the more you find out about them the more you start to believe they're anything but. There's simply no word that describes their special amalgam of intellectual violence and immunity to logic and reason. They're not crazy in the traditional sense; they're actually coherent and completely convinced of their own brilliance, of their ability to see what the hopelessly docile masses can't. This isn't to say they're smart at all. It's to say that they desperately want to be smart and yet they're unwilling to accept the intellectual standards even the dumbest fucking people on earth have sense enough to adhere to.

But Andrew Truelove really does have psychological issues. He truly is damaged in some way and has been for years; psychologists testified as much when he went on trial for the attempted abduction of a minor years ago. I'm not sure whether this mitigates his crimes and actions throughout the years or even whether it always made him the perfect unquestioning warrior in the fight led by generals like Alex Jones. If you're deeply troubled and desperate for something to assert both a measure of intellectual authority and your inner-narrative as a hero fighting against injustice, what better way than to cast yourself as a valiant crusader against a powerful plot that threatens the globe. It's the perfect fantasy.

So, yes, there's a part of me that, despite everything, feels a little sorry for Andrew Truelove. He should've been given help years ago and apparently wasn't. It doesn't mean, though, that his delusions -- of grandeur and otherwise -- don't make him dangerous. While I may sympathize with what's going on in his head, don't think for a second that I think he should be anywhere other than where he is right now: off the streets.