Local News

Jack Teixeira was quiet in school while building a persona online

"I don't think he did it intending to put our country in harm's way."

Jack Teixeira.
Jack Teixeira. Obtained by Washington Post

DIGHTON, Mass. – Sixth-grade Jack Teixeira stands in a sea of kids, his chin tipped up. In the decade-old class photo, surrounded by newly minted middle-schoolers with cheesy grins, he’s not quite smiling.

Already, Teixeira was known as something of a loner, a kid who’d made gun noises during elementary-school recess and would go on to carry around books about war and firearms in high school. By 21, however, a decade later, Teixeira would have allegedly built a commanding persona online – one tied up in his ability to show off U.S. secrets.

His arrest here last week was shocking for those who remembered Teixeira as patriotic and enamored of military service, someone who skipped his own high school graduation to start basic training. But his alleged motive, to impress others online, didn’t surprise one former classmate who attended school with Teixeira and requested anonymity to discuss him and their hometown candidly.


“I don’t think he did it intending to put our country in harm’s way,” the classmate told The Washington Post. “I think he was just a stupid kid making a stupid decision because he wanted to feel cool, because he didn’t get that growing up.”

Teixeira, a member of the Air National Guard, is accused of allegedly posting hundreds of classified U.S. military documents online in an invitation-only chatroom on the gamer-oriented social site Discord. The leaked information, which has since circulated widely, has created geopolitical shock waves, revealing classified information about the war in Ukraine and U.S. surveillance of allies.

Teixeira was arraigned in federal court Friday on charges of retention and transmission of national defense information and willful retention of classified documents. He will appear in court on Wednesday and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

In this southeastern Massachusetts town, a conservative place with wooded streets and a farming tradition, the internationally watched arrest was jarring. But Teixeira seemed to have left more tracks online than in the small town where he grew up.

People here said Teixeira was quiet, or declined to talk about him. The person known as “OG” online – where Teixeira was said by Discord friends to have allegedly spent months transcribing classified documents, growing angry when friends didn’t read them – contrasts with the odd, awkward person who kept to himself.


Teixeira’s family has been publicly silent. But on Saturday, signs went up at Teixeira’s mother’s house, where reporters had been camped out after the arrest. Tacked to trees on the edge of the property and stuck on a backhoe that had been used to block the long driveway to the house, they read: NO TRESPASSING.

‘Overly patriotic’

Dighton is situated in a rural corner of southeastern Massachusetts. A river runs along the town’s eastern border; Cape Cod Bay is about 30 miles east.

A police car is seen driving near the house where Jack Teixeira, a member of the Air National Guard, was arrested for sharing classified documents.
A police car is seen driving near the house where Jack Teixeira, a member of the Air National Guard, was arrested for sharing classified documents. – Kylie Cooper / The Washington Post

Many of the town’s 8,000 residents work in agriculture. They celebrate the start of summer with a cow chip festival, which is named after a contest in which bettors win prizes if cows standing on a grid defecate on their chosen number. American flags fly from some houses, and a majority of voters here supported Donald Trump for president in 2016 and 2020. After the pandemic, the town founded the Firecracker Festival, for Independence Day.

“Patriotism is very important to the town,” said Bill Runey, the superintendent of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District, where Teixeira attended elementary through high school.

Like others in Dighton, Teixeira embraced guns, religion and military service. He went to elementary and middle school in Dighton and arrived at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High, a school of about 700, in 2017.


He didn’t appear to have participated in organized school activities, Runey said, and hasn’t had any connection to the district since graduating.

Some of Teixeira’s teachers remembered him, Runey said, but “nobody really categorized him as anything other than quiet.”

He was so keen on the military and America – “overly patriotic” – that his former classmate thought of his interest as “a form of American nationalism.” “I just feel like he was definitely very misunderstood,” the classmate said. “He did his own thing.”

His peers hadn’t been surprised when Teixeira had decided to join the military, his former classmate said. He followed his stepfather into the Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing and had been stationed on Cape Cod, an hour’s drive from home.

“He had an affinity for military service,” Runey said.

Teixeira, who had a top-secret security clearance, allegedly transcribed and posted hundreds of classified documents in his chatroom over the course of months, starting in the summer of 2022. They got little attention from the young men and teen boys in the group, which frustrated Teixeira, The Post has reported. In late February, Teixeira began posting photos of documents instead.

Then someone in the group reposted dozens of them, many marked “top secret,” on a different Discord server. They continued spreading, and the leaker stopped posting in the original chatroom. When the documents hit the mainstream two weeks ago, he shut the server down.

The Post contacted more than four dozen of Teixeira’s former classmates, teachers, fellow airmen and others who may have known him. Most did not respond. Some who knew him on Discord have told The Post that he wanted to educate and inform his friends.


Teixeira’s family did not respond to requests from The Post last week. His public defender did not respond to a request Monday. Teixeira, who has not entered a plea, is set to appear in court again Wednesday.

‘A little boondock’

At his mother’s property on Maple Street, the house is set far back from the road, screened by the woods that fill the long gaps between houses. Some neighbors said they didn’t know Teixeira or his mother, Dawn Dufault, describing the sprawling neighborhood as very quiet.

Dighton police cars block Maple Street a half mile from the house where Airman Jack Teixeira was arrested for sharing classified documents.
Dighton police cars block Maple Street a half mile from the house where Airman Jack Teixeira was arrested for sharing classified documents. – Kylie Cooper / The Washington Post

The black-and-red no-trespassing signs at the home stood in contrast to the cheerful hanging sign for Dufault’s business, Bayberry Farm and Flower Co. An empty cart parked next to the driveway quaintly advertised “fresh cut flowers,” with an old-fashioned mailbox attached for payments.

Multicolored ribbons curled off a hook on the sign, as if they had recently tethered balloons. Some carnations, still pink, lay on the ground next to a dumpster.

Dick Treacy, who lives down the road, said Dufault, a florist, came to his house earlier this month to pick up pressure-treated wood he’d flagged in the local Buy Nothing group, he said. She was planning to build new raised garden beds.

Treacy helped her load up the wood. In return, she brought him a bouquet for his wife.

“She’s a sweet lady. She says, ‘Don’t tell your wife I gave ’em to you. Tell her you bought ’em,” Treacy said. “She was a sweetheart.”

Though he was familiar with Dufault, he didn’t know she had a son. He saw her just a few hours before federal agents arrived, he said Friday.


“I saw her go by in the morning, and I waved at her, and she waved,” he said. “I had no idea something was already starting.”

Treacy added that he was sad for Teixiera’s family.

“I don’t think it was treason,” he said. “But it wasn’t a smart thing to do.”

The Washington Post’s Cate Brown, Monika Mathur, Erin Patrick O’Connor, Jon Gerberg, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Emmanuel Felton, Mariana Alfaro, Evan Hill, Azi Paybarah and Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.


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