GOLDEN, Colo. – The National Enquirer plans to publish leaked crime-scene photographs showing the bloodied bodies of the two teen-age gunmen who stormed Columbine High School three years ago.
The Boca Raton, Fla.-based supermarket tabloid announced on its Web site that it will publish the pictures of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Friday's edition. Two photos show them lying side-by-side, a shotgun and rifle nearby.
Enquirer editor David Perel refused to say how he got the pictures or whether he paid for them, though he said money was spent investigating the case. He said no photo will be published depicting any of the 12 students and one teacher the gunmen killed April 20, 1999.
The weekly says on its Web site that the photos will accompany an article saying Harris shot Klebold. The official investigation report says the teens committed suicide.
Perel said the weekly chose to publish the photos because "they are very gripping and powerful and they help illustrate a very significant news story. I think they also cast serious doubt on the official account."
Jefferson County sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Tallman said an investigation had not determined the source of the leak. She said the department would pursue theft charges or official misconduct charges against anyone found to be involved.
Tallman said Thursday she was unable to persuade the Enquirer's lawyers, editor and reporters to withhold the photos.
"They are very difficult to look at, even for law enforcement who have a history of looking at photos like this," she said. "The average citizen doesn't have that thick skin."
Tallman said if the photos are genuine, they could have come from sources other than her department; 34 agencies and 900 officers were involved in the case.
Several news organizations other than the Enquirer also have said they have the photos, but have chosen not to publish them. Tallman said each has declined to help investigators determine their origin.
Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis notified his staff Wednesday of the publication and was preparing an automated phone message for all parents "just to give them a heads-up," said Rick Kaufman, spokesman for Jefferson County schools.