HOPKINS, Minn. – A high school senior arrested Friday for allegedly launching a worldwide computer virus is a loner who drives too fast, neighbors said.
Bill McKittrick called 18-year-old Jeffrey Lee Parson "a computer genius," but not a criminal.
"He's smart on the computer, but I cannot believe he was doing any hacking," McKittrick said.
Another neighbor, Curtis Mackey, said the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Parson has few friends and drives too fast in their neighborhood.
"He's just got one kid he hangs with typically," he said. "He speeds up our street and it really ticks me off."
Parson, known online as "teekid," was arrested Friday. Court papers said FBI and Secret Service agents searched Parson's Hopkins home on Aug. 19 and seized seven computers, which are still being analyzed.
In an interview with FBI Special Agent Eric Smithmier, Parson admitted modifying the original "Blaster" (search) infection and creating a version known by a variety of different names, including "Blaster.B.," court papers said.
Parson nearly always wears baggy jeans with T-shirts and sports constantly changing hair cuts and colors, neighbors said. Last time Mackey saw him, he had long, blond hair and spikes on the top.
He never saw Parson with a computer and was surprised he'd developed a computer virus.
"I didn't think he had the smarts for it myself," he said, adding, "The profile kind of fits. He kind of liked to be alone a lot."
Parson operated the t33kid.com Web site, according to Internet registration records. The site appeared Friday not to have any content on it but previously contained software code for at least one virus and a listing of the most-damaging viruses circulating on the Internet.
The FBI said in court documents that at least 7,000 computers were infected by Parson's software.
Parson told investigators he built into his version of the Blaster worm a method for reconnecting to victim computers later, according to court papers. Infected computers automatically registered themselves with Parson's Web site so he could keep track of them.
Next-door neighbor Rick Peterson said he and his family were grilling a week ago Tuesday when about 30 federal agents swooped down on Parson's apartment and seized the computers. They forced Peterson's family into their garage.
As Parson awaited his first court appearance Friday, a red curtain was drawn across a window at the family's home and no one answered the door. Callers were greeted only by a black cat silhouetted in the window.
Different versions of the virus-like worm, alternately called "LovSan" (search) or "Blaster," snarled corporate networks. Symantec Corp. (search), a leading antivirus vendor, said the worm and its variants infected more than 500,000 computers worldwide. Experts consider it one of the worst outbreaks this year.
All the Blaster virus variants took advantage of a flaw in Microsoft Corp.'s flagship Windows software.