Linnerooth recommended the mother set reasonable bed times, be affectionate when her child was behaving and make other adjustments. The plan succeeded. “He wanted to learn how to work with kids and he was just a natural at it,” Friman says.
Linnerooth also had made an impression at Minnesota State University-Mankato, where he earned his master’s degree. Professor Daniel Houlihan, who was his adviser, remembers an enormously gifted writer who was prescient about the war — years before, he had warned of a high military suicide rate.
He was hired to teach psychology at the school in 2008. Still raw from Iraq, he quickly became annoyed with 19 year olds griping about tough grading standards. He’d just come from a place where 19 year olds worried about their very survival.
Linnerooth began missing meetings. He seemed paranoid, spending a lot of time in his office shredding papers, Houlihan recalls.
Jeffrey Buchanan, another professor in Mankato who’d been friends with Linnerooth and his wife since grad school, says the confident, self-assured Pete was gone. “It seemed like he was questioning every decision he was making,” he says.
Things were also bad at home. Amy Linnerooth says they tried marital counseling.
Her husband seemed two people, she says. “It would be like the guy you knew ... then a little thing would set him off,” she recalls. “I remember telling him ‘I just want to blend in with the wallpaper. I don’t want to be in your way.’ It was like walking on eggshells.”
In early 2009, Linnerooth’s depression took a disastrous turn. He nearly died from an overdose of pills.
His buddy, McNabb, phoned.
“Jesus, man you can’t even kill yourself right,” he teased. Linnerooth laughed.
But he also confided: “I just hated where my life was going. Here, I’m arguing with my wife. ... I want to be normal for my kids. ... I was tired of being here.”’