National News

November 27, 2013

Newtown report renews focus on role of Lanza’s mom

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 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,” 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 wasn’t allowed to enter his bedroom, according to the report, and it was unclear 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.

A friend of hers, Marvin LaFontaine, said Tuesday that she did her best raising her son even though he was difficult and resisted help from others or talking about issues such as other children picking on him.

“That really frustrated her,” LaFontaine said. “It just wore her down to the bone.”

James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, said Nancy Lanza didn’t ignore her son’s psychological problems and can’t 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.”

Adam 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.

The report detailed some of the family’s efforts to address the needs of a young man described as withdrawn, lacking an appreciation of other’s feelings, and beset with “significant mental health issues.”

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.

Some parents of other troubled young adults said they can understand what Nancy Lanza was going through.

Peggy Sinclair-Morris, a special education teacher in Midlothian, Va., said it was like the “wild, wild West” as she tried to find the right treatment for her 18-year-old daughter, who has an anxiety disorder and has attempted suicide several times. If your child does not have certain symptoms, she said, you can get passed around by the system.

“I feel empathy for his mom just because, like I said, you try to find the services, and when they’re not available, you try to do what you have to do to help your kids,” Sinclair-Morris said. “Just because your son committed that horrible act doesn’t mean she was a horrible mother.”

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.

A spokesman for Lanza’s father, Peter Lanza, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

———

Associated Press writers Susan Haigh and John Christoffersen in New Haven contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Indian film awards arrive in Tampa, Fla., but why?

    The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?

    April 23, 2014

  • Indictment: Prosecutor targeted in kidnapping plot

    A North Carolina prosecutor was the intended target of an elaborate kidnapping plot, but the kidnappers looked up the wrong address on the Internet and abducted the prosecutor’s father instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage

    As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger voters by de-emphasizing social issues.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    April 22, 2014

  • A bipolar doctor probes the brain on 'Black Box’

    ABC’s brainy new medical drama “Black Box” does a neat trick: It dares viewers to imagine for themselves the cost-benefit ratio of addiction, and does it without taking a firm stand.

    April 22, 2014

  • Courthouse violence unpredictable despite security

    When Utah’s new federal courthouse opened last week, it came with security improvements that are becoming standard around the country: separate entrances and elevators for judges, defendants and the public; bullet-resistant glass and paneling; and vehicle barricades to keep car bombs at bay.

    April 22, 2014

  • Lucey is tops in Iowa’s ‘Beautiful Bulldog’ event

    Lucey is a slobbering 18-month-old pooch whose human family dreams of making her a therapy dog.

    April 22, 2014

  • Cuban-American leaders helped ’Cuban Twitter’

    Leaders with the largest nonprofit organization for young Cuban-Americans quietly provided strategic support for the federal government’s secret “Cuban Twitter” program, connecting contractors with potential investors and even serving as paid consultants, The Associated Press has learned.

    April 22, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Tuesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

    April 22, 2014