Eheler said she later learned that Roberts had stopped at her brother Tyler's home on the way to the mall. Tyler Eheler and Roberts had been best friends since high school, she said.
"He came in and hung out for a minute and told him that he had to go and that he didn't want to," she said, and added that he gave her brother a bracelet that he always wore, and hugged him. "He told him he was just going somewhere south, somewhere warm, and not to tell me or my boyfriend that he had left until the next day."
Eheler said her brother was devastated and was not granting interviews.
Another friend who said she had known Roberts since middle school, Shania Riley, described Roberts as a "very compassionate and very caring person."
She said everything seemed fine when she saw him at a bar last week. The only odd moment Riley could recall came about six months ago when she and her boyfriend were at Roberts' apartment "and he was pulling out guns and showing them to us."
She recalled seeing two handguns and a rifle.
Benjamin Eshbach, who played chess with Roberts, said Roberts had bought a pistol about a year ago and used to shoot it in the woods when he went camping.
"A lot of people are thinking he was fixated on things like that. That couldn't be further from the truth," Eshbach said.
The aunt who raised Roberts said her heart is breaking for the victims.
Tami Roberts became Roberts' guardian when his mother died shortly before his third birthday. The two had a falling out when he turned 18, and had not spoken in four years.
Tami Roberts said she tried to contact him many times but declined to say why he refused to speak with her.
Court documents show Tami Roberts misappropriated $18,000 that Jacob Roberts received in an inheritance from his grandmother when he was a young teen. She said that was not the reason for the estrangement.
Tami Roberts showed reporters numerous photos from happier times, including one showing the pair with matching tattoos. She said a foot injury five years ago dashed his hopes of joining the Marines.
The last time Tami Roberts saw her nephew was in a parking lot a few months ago.
"I was telling him how much I love him, how proud I am of him and how much I miss him," Tami Roberts said.
He just rode off on his bike without saying a word to her, she said.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Tim Fought, Jonathan J. Cooper, Nigel Duara, and Sarah Skidmore in Portland, and Jeff Barnard in Grants Pass, Ore., along with researcher Rhonda Shafner.
Follow Rachel La Corte at http://www.twitter.com/RachelAPOly and http://www.facebook.com/news.rachel .