(AURORA, Colo.) — Accused movie theater gunman James Holmes is spitting at jail officers so frequently that at one point he was made to wear a face guard, sources told ABC News.
Holmes’ odd behavior was first seen by the public when he appeared in court Monday looking dazed, alternately bug-eyed and nodding with his eyes closing.
But ABC News has learned that his loopy court appearance was just one of several bizarre behaviors.
In the hours after his arrest Friday for the massacre at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater, Holmes stared at the wall in the Arapahoe Police Headquarters with his eyebrows twitching.
Holmes told police he was the fictitious Batman villain, the Joker, and when cops put evidence bags over his hands to preserve traces of gunpowder residue, he pretended the bags were puppets, law enforcement sources told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver.
The bizarre actions by the former Ph.D student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 is seen by some as signs of psychosis — or that he’s faking it.
His behavior in court Monday was particularly strange. Unshaven, with a shock of dyed orange hair, Holmes gave no indication he knew where he was.
His lawyer even had to nudge him to rise when the judge entered the courtroom. He said nothing during the proceedings, in which he was held without bond.
Some observers wondered if Holmes was on drugs or being medicated. Sources told ABC News he was not on drugs, leading to expert theories that he may have been in the grips of “psychotic episode,” exhausted from stress or simply faking it.
“I think there are two possibilities going on here,” Marissa Randazzo, former chief research psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service and an expert in mass shootings, told Good Morning America Tuesday.
“One is that he is in the middle of a psychotic episode which is quite possible. We see him distracted at multiple points, an almost sort of ‘coming to’ and trying to figure out where he is and process what’s going on,” she said.
“The other thing that we’re seeing — and we’ve seen some of this behavior in the past couple months — might suggest mania. Meaning hyperactivity, hyper energy … been possibly up and not sleeping for days. What we might be seeing here is the post effects.”
But Randazzo also said there was a third possibility. He might simply be faking it.
“It’s possible,” she said when asked if Holmes’ behavior could be all an act. “It is possible. We’ll leave that open,” she said, adding that most people who lie about that sort of behavior are sociopaths and “What we’ve heard about his history does not suggest sociopath at all.”
“Let’s keep that in mind that he was studying neuroscience. He was studying exactly the type of brain issues that we’re going to be talking about throughout this whole case,” she said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio