Newtown report renews focus on Lanza’s mom
FILE - This undated file identification photo shows former student Adam Lanza, who authorities said opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, killing 26 students and educators. Investigators released a report on the shooting Monday by the prosecutor overseeing the probe, State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III. AP photo
HARTFORD, Conn. — As Adam Lanza withdrew from the world into his bedroom, the only person he appeared to be close to was his mother, who cooked his favorite meals, did his laundry daily — and bonded with him over shooting and guns.
Investigators’ final report on last year’s school massacre in Newtown provided new insights into Nancy Lanza’s home life with her troubled adult son and renewed the debate over whether she bears any responsibility for the bloodbath that began with her own shooting death.
“I think that we will always be bewildered by someone who did express her concern for her son, why she sought to have him engage with firearms,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday.
“Not even those folks who oppose reasonable gun safety legislation would argue that it was a good idea to have someone who was evidencing this kind of disturbance have possession of the kinds of weapons that he had possession of.”
Adam Lanza’s fascination with violence was apparent to teachers and other acquaintances, investigators said in their report. He collected materials on mass killings and kept a spreadsheet ranking of mass murders.
But his mother was not allowed to enter his bedroom, according to the report, and it was not clear how much she knew about his obsession.
While the details released Monday led some observers to direct their anger at her, suggesting she was more enabler than victim, others were more sympathetic.
James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, said Nancy Lanza did not ignore her son’s psychological problems and cannot be blamed for his actions.
“She was a victim, not an accessory,” he said. “We can easily second-guess parents, and there’s a lot there we can question, but the fact of the matter is many people commit horrible crimes despite the best efforts of parents, siblings and others.”
Lanza, 20, shot his mother in the head four times Dec. 14, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 first-graders and six women with a semi-automatic rifle. He committed suicide as police arrived.
He had evaluations of many types over the years, he was home-schooled for a period because he did not like the noise at Newtown High School, and he refused medications and behavior therapies that were suggested for him.
Nancy Lanza, who was divorced from Adam’s father, indicated that she did not work because of her son’s condition. In their spacious Newtown home, she catered to his requests, cooking to his specifications and getting rid of a cat because he did not want it in the house.
In the weeks before the massacre, she said her son hadn’t gone anywhere in three months and that they would communicate only by email, even though they lived under the same roof.
She often took her son shooting at a gun range. She legally purchased all the weapons her son carried the day of the massacre, and she had written a check to buy him a pistol for Christmas.
The report said that she was concerned about her son, but that she never expressed fear that she or anyone else was in danger from him. He was never violent or threatening toward others before the attack, according to the report.