HOPKINS -- Neighbors of 18-year-old Jeffrey Lee Parson say the high school student charged in the worldwide computer worm attack several weeks ago was a loner who drove too fast and idolized Bill Gates.
"He's just got one kid he hangs with, typically," said Curtis Mackey, 33, who has lived down the street from Parson's apartment for about seven years with his wife and two sons.
"He speeds up our street and it really ticks me off," said Mackey, a real estate appraiser and volunteer firefighter.
The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Parson nearly always wears baggy jeans with T-shirts and sports constantly changing hair cuts and colors. 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 worm, which unlike a computer virus can replicate itself without human intervention.
"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."
A man who has known the family for several years said Parson was taking college-level classes because he had learned all he could at high school. The man, who spoke only on condition that his name not be used, said Parson had no other hobbies besides computers, and he worshiped Gates.
"That's his life. That's what he lives for. I just hope they don't take it away from him," the man said.
The teenager, who was starting his senior year at Hopkins High School, told the FBI he modified the Blast worm that had struck two days earlier by incorporating a method for reconnecting to victim computers, according to court papers. Infected computers automatically registered themselves with Parson's Web site so he could keep track of them.
Parson operated the "t33kid.com" Web site, according to Internet registration records.
The Web site had been taken down Friday. But a cached version on the Google search engine had a link to at least one worm, called "p2p.teekid.c." The site described it as "my little p2p worm spreads via kazaa and imesh, downloads a file from the web. No biggie." Kazaa and iMesh are popular peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.
A listing of some damaging Internet viruses led users to anti-virus web sites that explained how to remove viruses from a computer.
The FBI said in court documents that at least 7,000 computers were infected by Parson's software.
Neighbor Bill McKittrick called Parson "a computer genius" and that his parents were out of work.
"He's smart on the computer, but I cannot believe he was doing any hacking," he said.
Some investigators weren't so impressed with his Parson's computer prowess. Hours after the teenager's arrest, professional virus-hunters were frustrated that no one had followed the clues sooner.
While some neighbors thought little of Parson, Kathy Noor remembers him as someone who opened his door and offered to protect a neighbor woman was being chased by a man with a knife. In the end, no one was hurt in the incident, Noor said.
"They seem really nice," she said of the Parsons. "I've never had any trouble with them."
Next-door neighbor Rick Peterson said he and his family were grilling when about 30 federal agents swooped down on Parson's apartment and seized seven computers. They forced Peterson's family into their garage.
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