Nancy Lanza, mother of Newtown school massacre gunman Adam Lanza, was a survivalist who was stockpiling food because she thought the world economy was on the verge of collapse.
Nancy Lanza, 52, began hoarding food and water because she feared that the ongoing financial crisis was going to bring about the end of civilized society.
She reportedly became “obsessed” with guns and taught Adam how to shoot, but on Friday in a grim twist he blasted her to death while she laid in her own bed.
Law enforcement sources told the Hartford Courant that Nancy Lanza had not gotten up – and could have even been asleep – when her son killed her.
The disclosure raises the prospect that Adam Lanza could have had the same apocalyptic views as his mother, and that she could have even encouraged them in him.
The Mayan Apocalypse, which the ancient Mayan people thought would mark the end of the world, will supposedly take place on December 21, although it is not clear if Adam Lanza thought that was the case.
In an interview the killer’s aunt said Nancy Lanza was “self-reliant” and indicated she was a “prepper”, or a person who prepares for Doomsday by learning essential survival skills – like how to shoot a gun.
Set on the brow of a gently sloping hill, surrounded by two acres of woodland and well-tended lawns, Nancy Lanza’s spacious property looked like any American family’s dream home.
A wide veranda had views across the gardens. A swimming pool, flanked by a white pool house, was round the back of the two-storey building.
Yet behind the front door in the affluent Connecticut community of Newtown, all was not well at 36 Yogananda Street.
Three years previously, in 2009, Nancy and Peter Lanza had divorced after 28 years of marriage. The break up was traumatic, leaving the couple’s sons devastated. Ryan Lanza was living away at university, meaning that his brother Adam, four years younger, was left at home alone with their mother at their $500,000 house.
He was not well known to neighbors, who describe him as being reclusive and troubled.
And when the news broke on Friday of the murder of 26 people at a primary school in the town, and Ryan Lanza was hastily identified as the killer, people who knew the family knew they had named the wrong brother.
“Adam Lanza has been a weird kid since we were five years old,” said Tim Dalton, a neighbor and former classmate, on Twitter.
“As horrible as this was, I can’t say I am surprised.”
“This was a deeply disturbed kid,” a family insider said.
“He certainly had major issues. He was subject to outbursts from what I recall.”
A further family friend said he had acted as though he was immune to pain.
“A few years ago when he was on the baseball team, everyone had to be careful that he didn’t fall because he could get hurt and not feel it,” said the friend.
“Adam had a lot of mental problems.”
Nancy Lanza was obsessed with guns and preparing for the collapse of the world economy
Adam Lanza’s brother Ryan reportedly told police that his sibling had autism or Asperger’s syndrome, and a personality disorder.
He gave no details, but anti-social disorder – also known as sociopathy – is the type most closely linked with violence and criminal behavior.
Studies have suggested that 50% of the prison population meet the criteria for the diagnosis.
Those with such disorders are more likely to embark on impulsive, risk-seeking behavior, in an attempt to escape feeling empty or emotionally void.
In such cases, they are likely to have little regard for the consequences of their actions, and are unlikely to experience fear.
Ryan Lanza also said that he had not seen him since 2010.
As the news was breaking, Ryan Lanza was at work in accountancy firm Ernst and Young, sitting at his desk in Times Square.
To his horror, the 24-year-old found that his name was flashing up on the television news networks, wrongly accused of the massacre. He fled the office, jumping on a bus to return home to the house he shared in New Jersey. Shaken, he told his neighbor in an online message that he thought his mother was dead and he knew who was responsible for the multiple murder.
“It was my brother,” he said.
Those on the autistic spectrum have a more limited emotional range and can miss social cues, making it more difficult for them to communicate and feel empathy with others. Difficulties communicating can cause frustration, which can spill over into aggression.
Several studies have found that violence and criminal behavior are no more common in those diagnosed with autism than they are in the general population.
Asperger’s syndrome is a type of autism which is more commonly diagnosed in those with higher than average intelligence.
Adam Lanza was said by classmates to be fiercely intelligent.
He’d correct people’s Latin homework, when they were aged around 14, and at 16 was among the list of top students in his English class, studying Of Mice and Men and Catcher In The Rye – the classic tale of troubled youth.
“It was almost painful to have a conversation with him, because he felt so uncomfortable,” said Olivia DeVivo, who sat behind him in English.
“I spent so much time in my English class wondering what he was thinking.”
“He didn’t have any friends, but he was a nice kid if you got to know him,” said Kyle Kromberg, now studying business administration at Endicott College in Massachusetts. He studied Latin with Adam Lanza.
“He didn’t fit in with the other kids,” he said.
“He was very, very shy. He wouldn’t look you in the eyes when he talked. He didn’t really want to lock eyes with you for very long.”
He was also a technical whizz kid, keen on computers and video games, and part of a group who would meet up for computer programming get-togethers.
“My brother has always been a nerd,” Ryan Lanza said, according to Gloria Milas, whose son was a club member along with Adam Lanza.
Catherine Urso, who was attending a vigil on Friday evening in Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer and remembered him for his alternative style.
“He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths,” she said.
The siblings certainly carved out different paths in life.
Ryan Lanza went to university; followed his father into finance; was living with friends in an attractive red-brick property in New Jersey. By contrast, Adam Lanza had few friends and, as a child, went to great trouble not to mix with his fellow students at his state school. A Newtown resident also suggested he was home-schooled for some time.
“I always saw him walking alone, sitting on his own at a table or on the bus. Most of the time I saw him he was alone,” said Alex Israel, who was at school with him as a young girl.
“He was really quiet. A little fidgety, uneasy. I think socially he was just going out (into the world) and not making friends with everyone.”
Her mother Beth Israel, who lived nearby, said: “I know he had issues. He was a really troubled kid … a very quiet kid, a shy kid, maybe socially awkward.”
He was not on Facebook, unusually for any Westerner of his generation, and did not appear in his 2010 High School Yearbook. Instead were written the words: “Camera shy”.
Forty miles away from Newtown, in the well-heeled Connecticut city of Stamford, Lanza’s father Peter was returning home on Friday afternoon. A highly-qualified academic who a year ago was appointed vice president of taxes for energy investment firm GE Energy Financial Services, Peter Lanza wound down the window on his blue Mini Cooper and asked the person outside his home how he could help her.
“I explained that I’d been told someone at his address had been linked to the shootings in Newtown,” said Maggie Gordon, a reporter from the local newspaper.
“His expression twisted from patient, to surprise, to horror.”
Peter Lanza had moved out in 2009, remarrying a University of Connecticut librarian in January 2011. He was said to have last seen his son Adam in June. But the painfully shy young man had taken the divorce badly.
“The kids seemed really depressed” by the break-up, said Ryan Kraft, 25, who stayed with Adam when Nancy Lanza went out.
“He would have tantrums,” Ryan Kraft said.
“They were much more than the average kid [had].”
Peter Lanza’s lawyer Gary Oberst said: “He was very upset that he was getting divorced, but he didn’t want to take it out on anybody.
“He did more than he had to with the divorce. When he came in to consult with me, I said ‘This is what your obligation is.’ And he said: <<That’s not enough. I want to do more>>.”
Peter Lanza agreed to pay $240,000 annually to his ex-wife, and Nancy Lanza appeared to live in comfort with Adam. There was also suggestions that she was unable to work.
“She needed to be home with Adam,” one family insider said.
Marsha Lanza, aunt to the boys, described Nancy Lanza as a good mother and kind-hearted.
Nancy Lanza would host games of dice, or else venture out to visit her neighbors for a glass of wine. The home was immaculate; the swimming pool behind the house well maintained.
But Nancy Lanza was also, according to friends, an avid gun collector.
Dan Holmes, owner of a Connecticut landscaping firm, said Nancy Lanza once showed him a “high-end rifle” that she had purchased, adding: “She said she would often go target shooting with her kids.”
The gun used to shoot Nancy Lanza was her own.
Yet, perhaps predictably, the owner of the local rifle range was defiant.
Richard Dravis, who gives shooting training at Wooster Mountain rifle range, 15 miles away from the school, said: “We don’t train crazy people. I think that if we would address the mental health issue here we could possibly do something in the future. But we can’t count the number of rounds in the magazine of a nut head.”
His grandmother was too distraught to speak when reached by phone at her home in Florida, Associated Press reported.
“I just don’t know, and I can’t make a comment right now,” Dorothy Hanson, 78, said in a shaky voice as she started to cry.
Reports have emerged that Adam Lanza had visited Sandy Hook Elementary the day before Friday’s massacre during which he was involved in an altercation with four teachers – three of whom are now dead.
The fourth teacher – and only survivor of the altercation – wasn’t at school on Friday and is currently being interviewed by investigators. It hasn’t been revealed what the argument was over or if it was reported to authorities.
The staff member’s testimony might be an “important piece of information” for discerning motive in this case, reports NBC.
While initial reports had suggested school principal Dawn Hochsprung buzzed Adam Lanza into the building – bypassing the newly-installed security system – police have confirmed that the shooter forced his way in.
Adam Lanza opened fire on Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which teaches children aged 5 to 10. He murdered 26 people at the school before turning the gun on himself, as well as killing one other person – his mother – at another nearby site.
Investigators said they have found “some very good evidence” to explain what drove gunman Adam Lanza, 20, to slaughter 20 children, including Ana Marquez-Greene and Jesse Lewis, and six adults at the Connecticut elementary school.
Adam Lanza had visited Sandy Hook Elementary the day before Friday’s massacre during which he was involved in an altercation with four teachers
“Our investigators at the crime scene … did produce some very good evidence in this investigation that our investigators will be able to use in, hopefully, painting the complete picture as to how – and more importantly why – this occurred,” Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance told a news conference Saturday morning.
“We’re hopeful it will paint a complete picture,” he said.
All the bodies were removed from the school overnight and a medical examiner is expected to release the names of the victims on Saturday.
Police have assigned a trooper to support each victim’s family in the days ahead. Paul Vance asked reporters to respect the families’ grief and privacy.
“This is an extremely heartbreaking thing for them to endure,” said Paul Vance.
It is expected that investigators will take another two days to process the school crime scene where it is believed Adam Lanza fired as many as 100 rounds from his guns.
“It’s going to be a slow, painstaking process,” said Paul Vance.
The adult woman found at the secondary crime scene is believed to be the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza.
Nancy Lanza legally owned a Sig Sauer and a Glock, both handguns of models commonly used by police, and a military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law enforcement officials who also believe Adam Lanza used at least some of those weapons.
Nancy Lanza was an avid gun collector who once showed him a “really nice, high-end rifle” that she had purchased, said Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping business who recently decorated her yard with Christmas garlands and lights.
“She said she would often go target shooting with her kids.”
Grief-stricken members of the community tied white balloons to the sign for Sandy Hook school today in honor of all those who lost their lives.
Outside Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, Connecticut, mourners left teddy bears, flowers and lit candles for victims.
Newtown was ranked the fifth safest city in America by the website NeighborhoodScout.com based on 2011 crime statistics.
“This wonderful town that we all love for its peace, beauty, the great schools – all of that – has become Columbine,” said Julie Maxwell Shull, a sixth-grade teacher at Reed Intermediate School, referring to the high school that was site of a 1999 shooting in Colorado.
Many people who live in the wealthy, wooded town commute to New York City, about 80 miles away.
Victoria Soto, a young teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, displayed astonishing bravery and sacrificed her life saving as many children in her first grade class as she could after she came face-to-face with gunman Adam Lanza.
Victoria Soto, 27, had worked at for five years at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her final moments were spent ushering her students into a closet when Adam Lanza entered her classroom and she tried her best to shield the children from the evil gunman.
She was a highly regarded young teacher who was popular with her pupils. One young student, Jacob Riley, said that Victoria Soto was known for chewing gum in class – something not usually allowed for teachers. He said he had often teased her about her habit and she had playfully teased him back.
“She took her kids, put them in the closet and by doing so she lost her life protecting those little ones,” Victoria Soto’s cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News.
“She was found huddled over her children, her students, doing instinctively what she knew was the right thing. I’m just proud that Vicki had the instincts to protect her kids from harm,” he continued.
“It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children and in our eyes she’s a hero,” he added.
Victoria Soto displayed astonishing bravery and sacrificed her life saving as many children in her first grade class at Sandy Hook Elementary School
A deeply distraught 10-year-old boy who is a former student of Victoria Soto described her as “really nice and funny”.
Three teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School trying to save their students from gunman Adam Lanza, the son of Nancy Lanza, who worked at the school.
The other two teachers have been identified as principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56.
Twenty-eight people died in the shooting rampage, including 20 young children between the ages of five and ten, alleged gunman Adam Lanza, who took his own life, and his mother, who was shot before the school massacre.
Three teachers murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School all died heroes trying to save their students from gunman Adam Lanza who they recognized as the son of a kindergarten teacher there.
Authorities have identified principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, and 27-year-old Victoria Soto, a young first grade teacher, as three of the eight adults found dead on Friday.
Twenty-eight people died in the shooting rampage, including 20 young children between the ages of five and ten, alleged gunman Adam Lanza, who took his own life, and his mother Nancy, who was shot before the school massacre.
Victoria Soto sacrificed herself to save her students – throwing her body in front of the young children.
When Adam Lanza began started firing at the school in suburban Newtown, Connecticut, some teachers dived under tables – but Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach never hesitated.
They ran into the hallway to confront the danger – and were murdered execution-style as a result.
Victoria Soto sacrificed herself to save her students, throwing her body in front of the young children
The New York Times reports that Dawn Hochsprung buzzed Adam Lanza into the school, bypassing the newly-installed security system – recognizing him as the son of Nancy Lanza, a teacher there.
Little did she know that Adam Lanza had already killed his mother at the home they shared nearby. He took three of her guns and used her car to drive to the school.
Diane Day, a school therapist, told the Wall Street Journal that she and several other teachers were in a meeting with Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach when the shooting began.
“We were there for about five minutes chatting and we heard, <<pop pop pop>>,” she said.
“I went under the table.”
The principal and the school psychologist had other ideas. They jumped out of their seat and ran toward the sound of the gunfire.
“They didn’t think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on,” Diane Day said.
Rabbi Shaul Praver told MSNBC that Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach were killed execution-style.
Tributes for all educators poured in on Friday night.
A deeply distraught 10-year-old boy is a former student of Victoria Soto, who had taught at the school five years, said she was “really nice and funny”.
The woman’s cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News that police said the 27-year-old was trying to shield her students and usher them into a closet when she came face to face with the gunman.
“She put herself between the gunman and the children and that’s when she was tragically shot and killed,” Jim Wiltsie said.
“I’m just proud that Vicki had the instincts to protect her kids from harm,’ he continued.
“It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children and in our eyes she’s a hero,” he added.
Adam Lanza, a troubled 20-year-old loner with a history of autistic behavior, is the monster behind a horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead on Friday.
Adam Lanza shot his mother Nancy, a kindergarten teacher, at the upscale suburban home they shared together and then took three of her guns and drove the Sandy Hook Elementary School about 9:30 a.m.
He used two semi-automatic pistols, a Glock and Sig Sauer, and reportedly wiped out an entire classroom of young children and shot several in a second class before taking his own life.
Witnesses say Adam Lanza was going from room-to-room shooting people after first killing the principal Dawn Hochsprung and psychologist execution-style after they confronted him in the hallway.
Parents who have not been united with their children are assuming the worst. One witness told WCBS: “Police just told us everyone presumed missing is in the school and they are dead.”
Students described being ushered from their classrooms hand-in-hand, with their eyes closed, to the safety of a nearby fire station as police converged on the school.
Adam Lanza’s brother Ryan, 24, who was originally thought to have been the shooter, is being questioned by police after he was arrested at his home in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Ryan Lanza was on a bus on his way home from work when he was being named as the gunman and posted on Facebook that it wasn’t him.
He told a friend he believed his mentally disabled brother did it. Adam Lanza is believed to be autistic.
Another relative told ABC Adam Lanza had been “obviously not well” and Beth Israel, tonight tweeted that her daughter went to school with him and he was “troubled for a long time”.
Alex Israel spoke to CNN about how she went to school with Adam Lanza and she described him as fidgety, and a quiet loner who kept to himself.
Adam Lanza is the monster behind a horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 people dead on Friday
She also said he was a highly intelligent student, “above the rest of us”.
But she said he was never violent.
She tweeted earlier in the day that he was “crazy”.
The gunman’s father Peter Lanza, who is divorced from his wife, lives in Stamford, Connecticut, and declined to comment this evening after police performed a welfare check on him.
Neighbors said he recently remarried.
Peter Lanza learned of the tragic and senseless massacre by reporters who had flocked to his home.
He arrived shortly after police left and asked what the problem was.
The Stamford Connecticut said his expression shifted from patient to surprise to horror.
Newtown was once named one of the safest places to live in America and before this morning, there had been one murder in a decade.
The President addressed a stunned nation five hours after the shooting and openly wept as he spoke of the mindless shooting saying: “Our hearts are broken today.”
Seldom has a head of state expressed greater public emotion in modern times.
Barack Obama struggled for words, pausing several times as he wiped away tears saying: “This evening, Michelle and I will…hug our children a little tighter, and we’ll tell them that we love them.”
Adam Lanza is believed to have shot himself at the scene, according to the New York Times.
He was carrying three weapons including two handguns and a rifle and was wearing a bullet-proof vest, a mask and black military gear.
Three guns were found at the scene – a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols – and a .223-caliber rifle.
The rifle was recovered from the back of a car at the school. The two pistols were recovered from inside the school. They were legally registered to Nancy Lanza.
A number of children were found hiding in closets in the school five hours after the shooting.
The two children named victims of the Newtown school massacre so far are two 6-year-old girls, Grace McDonnell and Ana Marquez-Greene.
Ana Marquez-Greene and her older brother had attended Linden Christian School nearby, before moving with their parents to Newtown in July and enrolling at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the fall.
Both she and her brother were inside the school when the shooter opened fire, Sun News in Canada reports.
Ana Marquez-Greene’s father is Canadian jazz musician Jimmy Greene.
Grace McDonnell has been described as “utterly adorable” and “full of life”.
She had eyes that were so blue and hair that was so blonde that friends thought she looked like a “little doll”.
But now after she was shot dead in the mass slaying her parents are going through “indescribable” pain.
The two children named victims of the Newtown school massacre so far are two 6-year-old girls, Grace McDonnell and Ana Marquez-Greene
In another chilling twist Lynn McDonnell, 45, a housewife, and Christopher, 49, a business executive, live in a $500,000 detached home in Sandy Hook, Connecticut that is just one street away from where alleged shooter Adam Lanza lived.
From their front window they can almost see the home where the man who allegedly murdered their daughter is said to have slain his own mother before embarking on the murderous spree.
The only consolation for the McDonnells is that they have another son, Jack, 11, who is alive and well.
Neighbor Dorothy Werden, 49, a stay at home mother, said: “I just choke up when I think about it. Grace was like a little doll. She was utterly adorable.
“I used to see her waiting for the school bus over the road from our house every day.
“She had blonde hair and blue eyes – she was like a little Barbie doll.
“When I saw Lynn and Christopher at the school with Lynn being held up by a nun I knew things were not good. I can’t imagine what they are going through.”
A male neighbor who declined to be named said: “What they are going through is indescribable. We are very close. It’s just awful.”