The tragic death of Chris Kyle shocked America. A famous Navy SEAL sniper was the victim of a homicide on February 2, 2013. He was killed alongside his friend Chad Littlefield at the shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge. The killer was later identified as Eddie Ray Routh.
The Fatal Drive
On the early morning of February 2, 2013, Chris Kyle went to pick Eddie Ray Routh in his black F-350 at a house in Lancaster, Texas. Right outside of Dallas. He agreed to spend the day with Eddie Routh as a favor to Routh’s mother. She worked at Kyle’s kids’ school and thought spending some time with the Navy SEAL might help to improve her son’s spirits.
Plea for help
One day when he came to pick up his children from school, she approached Kyle and asked him for his help. She knew that he had been spending a good deal of time helping other veterans with disabilities and she told him of her son Eddie’s troubles. Chris Kyle listened intently, then agreed to reach out to the troubled ex-Marine.
From that small house in Lancaster, Chris Kyle, Eddie Routh and Kyle’s good friend Chad Littlefield took an hour and forty-five-minute drive to Rough Creek Lodge, an 11,000-acre upscale resort.
Shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge
Kyle had helped to design a shooting range in a remote corner of Rough Creek and was welcome to use the facility or stay in the Lodge with his family at any time free of charge.
During the drive to the shooting range, Kyle and Littlefield have been getting bad vibes from Routh as well. Even though they were sitting next to each other in the truck Kyle texted Littlefield, “This dude is straight-up nuts”.
Chad Littlefield answered in a text, “He’s right behind me, watch my six.” Meaning that Chris Kyle should watch his back.
The group arrived at the range with several rifles, five pistols and numerous boxes of ammunition. Kyle and Littlefield were both carrying loaded .45 caliber 1911 style pistols in leather holsters. Kyle and Routh both fired some rounds downrange.
Eddie Ray Routh later revealed that he was bothered by the fact that Littlefield was not shooting. He somehow saw that as a threat. Routh armed himself with a Springfield .45 pistol and a 9mm Sig Sauer P226 MK25 pistol, a model favored by Navy SEALS.
Kyle and Littlefield likely never saw it coming. Routh later confessed to shooting Littlefield first with the 9mm. He was shot seven times in the back, shoulder, head, and hand. Routh shot Kyle six times with the Springfield in the head, shoulder, chest and right arm. Both men fell dead with their sidearms still holstered. Kyle was left facedown in the grass and Littlefield was nearby on the shooting platform. Before he took off in Kyle’s truck, he reloaded the Sig and then took it with him along with one of the rifles and Littlefield’s cell phone. He left without being seen.
Late in the afternoon, an employee noticed that the red flag was up indicating that the range was still in use. He drove out to the range and discovered the bodies. This was a little after 5 PM. The employee called the first responders who tried to revive the two men, but it was too late. Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were dead.
Motive and sentence for Chris Kyle’s murder
The motive for the killings was discovered much later, after Routh’s arrest. He complained to police officers that Kyle and Littlefield would not talk to him. He told a psychologist that the number of firearms in Kyle’s truck made him anxious and be became convinced that Kyle and Littlefield were planning on taking him to a remote area to kill him.
Eddie Ray Routh enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school, at the age of 18. He became an armorer and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 but there was no record that he ever saw any combat during his tour.
Before he was released from the Marines, he spent four months in Haiti helping out with clean up after a devastating earthquake in January of 2010. After returning home he would tell stories of fishing bodies of men, women, and children out of the surf and aiding with their burial in mass graves. By all accounts when he arrived home he was a changed and highly disturbed man.
He began behaving erratically and started having panic attacks and delusional thoughts. At one point he believed an imaginary tapeworm was consuming everything he ate. He grew clinically depressed and talked to his family about shooting himself. Because of this, they took away his firearms.
In the summer of 2011, Routh was admitted to a VA hospital in Dallas for the first time. He was diagnosed with PTSD and was treated with a variety of anti-anxiety and antipsychotic medications. He also self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana.
In the fall of 2012 police picked up Routh walking up and down a road while babbling incoherently to himself. They took him to the VA again where psychiatrists diagnosed him with major depressive illness with psychotic delusions. After a short stay and some new meds, he was discharged.
For a time, he seemed to be doing better. He even found a girlfriend. The two had met online. After a while, they moved in together. She later recalled Routh saying things like, “I’ve killed before and I’ll do it again.”
On January 19, 2013, he suffered another psychotic break. Routh held his girlfriend and her roommate prisoner at knifepoint in their apartment. Police arrived once again, and once again he found himself admitted to a psych unit in the VA. After five days, he was released.
Reportedly, Routh’s mother, Jodi, pleaded with his VA psychiatrists not to release him. Unfortunately, they did. Jodi was running out of options on how to help her disturbed son so she turned to Chris Kyle.
On February 24, 2015, Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty of killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. The jury returned the verdict after less than three hours of deliberations. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.