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hartford courant

Transcript

Raising Adam Lanza

CO-PRODUCED BY
Joe Beshenkovsky

WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY
Frank Koughan

ANDREW JULIEN, Editor, The Hartford Courant: It’s been a week since the shooting. For most of the journalists in this newsroom, they’ve never covered anything that came close to being as horrific as this. It is a singular event in the history of Connecticut.

NARRATOR: A week after Adam Lanza massacred 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, church bells tolled across the state. Memorials were erected to the 26 victims. President Obama read out 26 names. But there was a 27th person murdered that day, the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

ANDREW JULIEN: Nancy Lanza is the person Adam was closest to in the world. She was the first person he killed. He shot her four times in the head while she was in bed, and then he went off to Sandy Hook Elementary School. If we can begin to understand Adam’s relationship with Nancy, we probably can begin to understand Adam.

ALAINE GRIFFIN, The Hartford Courant: One of the things that Josh and I talked about early on when we were given this assignment is the fact that it didn’t seem like Nancy was ever really mentioned as a victim in this case. We had heard a lot of different things about her through other news outlets. We weren’t even sure if they were true. We come to find out later that some of them weren’t.

JOSH KOVNER, The Hartford Courant: We knew there was some diagnosis, some deficit, some social deficiency, and how that complicated their relationship and what it took to bring this kid along, and some— to some degree, what happened. Those were our marching orders.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: There are going to be many obstacles in reporting the story. The cops aren’t saying much. They’re still sort of holding back. The family members in this case are very reluctant to talk.

JOSH KOVNER: And Adam left very little behind. It’s surprising that someone in this era, where almost everything makes an imprint, can still leave very few imprints along the way. There’s been this firestorm of coverage, and some of it was right, some of it was wrong.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: People are just worn out from having reporters knocking on their doors, calling their house. They see another reporter and they think, “Why would I want to talk to you after all we’ve been through?”

PARENT: [radio interview] When I found out about the news of the Connecticut shooting, I closed the door to my office and just started to shake.

NARRATOR: From the outset, the question was raised again and again in the media: Was Nancy a victim, or was she to blame?

RADIO INTERVIEWER: Are there firearms around your house?

PARENT: Oh, my goodness, no. Having the child that I have, I would never own a firearm. I would never have firearms in my house. And I think that’s just a responsibility issue.

NARRATOR: The story begins in Kingston, New Hampshire. Nancy Jean Champion grew up here, and in 1981 would marry Peter Lanza. Eventually, they built this house on the Champion family’s land. They had a son, Ryan, in 1988. And four years later, along came Adam.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: The person that we’re going to talk to, he describes himself as a dear friend. And he seems to have been involved with her a lot before she left New Hampshire, so I think he can tell us about life with Adam in the early days.

NARRATOR: This is the first time that Marvin LaFontaine has spoken to the media.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Tell me how you first met Nancy?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE, Friend: Through the Scouts

ALAINE GRIFFIN: OK. Do you remember what year she actually joined the Cub Scouts with the boys? What year was it?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: ’94 or ’95.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: 1994, ’95.

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: And Nancy was there for every single meeting with her kids. She never missed one. Those kids were everything to her, and she was very, very protective over them. And I understand that. I was protective over mine, too.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Just in terms of Adam, what do you remember seeing?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: Just a quiet kid. He kept to himself. There was a weirdness about him, and Nancy warned me once at one of the Scout meetings. She said, “Just so you know,” and she says, “And I know you wouldn’t do this, but just so you know, don’t touch Adam.” I go, “Well, I wouldn’t touch him.” She goes, “No, I don’t mean like that, but I mean, like, you know, don’t do an ‘attaboy’ thing or— you know, or shake his hand and say, you know, ‘Way to go, brother,”: you know. She said, “He just can’t stand that. ”

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Did you ever see a reaction to touching?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: Yeah, he’d become upset. Usually, it would be one of the other kids. You know, one of the kids— they’re kids, you know? They don’t care and they touch him. And I don’t know, he just— he was angry with them.

NARRATOR: Marvin’s and Nancy’s young children were friends through the Cub Scouts. In this exclusive home video filmed by Marvin, Nancy helps her brother, James, a police officer, set up a demonstration for the Scouts. That’s Adam, age 4-and-a-half, walking towards the camera.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Did she talk about special programs Adam was in at school?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: She said he was coded.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Tell me— and describe coded to me?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: IEP, individual education plan. I could see it was bringing her down. She didn’t know what to do. And there’s a lot of counseling help available, but not all of it’s good and she was very particular about who she would bring him to. She often didn’t trust the intentions of some counselors, that maybe they didn’t know what they were doing or they didn’t understand the situation enough to help.

NARRATOR: Children with disabilities are entitled to an individualized education program, known as an IEP. For Nancy, it would be the first of many efforts over the next decade and a half to keep a struggling Adam on track.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: And then they decide to go to Connecticut.

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: It was her husband’s idea. And she didn’t want to go at first.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: And it was because he got the job at GE? Is that what it was?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: Yeah. Yeah, he got the job. And he made a lot of money. He was very successful. And the good thing is that she thought the schools in Connecticut were better. There was more stuff there to help him versus New Hampshire, and she was very pleased about that.

[www.pbs.org: More from Marvin LaFontaine]

NARRATOR: It was 1998 when Peter’s job took the family to the affluent suburb of Newtown. They settled into the spacious home where Nancy and Adam would spend the rest of their lives. Nancy and Marvin kept in touch by email.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Friday, May 21st, 1999, Nancy writes to Marvin, “Adam is in two plays next week. Ryan was in one last night. It has been so cute to watch them rehearse. Adam has taken it very seriously, even practicing facial expressions in the mirror.”

The emails at one point do turn a little dark. She does talk about how she was ailing. She doesn’t specify what her disease is. But on Thursday, July 1st, 1999, she writes, “My diagnosis was not good. There isn’t a fancy name for my problem, just a genetically flawed autoimmune system. When it happened to my grandfather, it was so quick that nothing could be done. Six weeks. It’s like living on top of a time bomb. I have told VERY few people”— and she highlights “very” in all caps — “and have not told even some people in my family to try to save people from unnecessary worry.”

NARRATOR: It has been reported Nancy had multiple sclerosis, but FRONTLINE and The Hartford Courant were unable to confirm.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Wednesday, March 31, 1999, Nancy writes, “Ryan’s and Adam’s birthdays are coming up. Ryan is having an ‘old friend’ party and a ‘new friend’ party. Adam is having only a ‘new friend’ party, but he has 26 new friends! Adam is doing well here and seems to enjoy the new school.”

What an adorable class, huh? And where’s your son? Wait, don’t tell me. I’m going to guess. I’m going to guess. There.

WENDY WIPPRECHT: No, that’s Adam.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Oh, that’s Adam?

WENDY WIPPRECHT: Yeah.

NARRATOR: The new school Adam was so fond of was Sandy Hook Elementary School. He was 6 years old and in the 1st grade. Wendy Wipprecht’s son, Miles, who is autistic, was in Adam’s class at Sandy Hook and was invited to his “new friends” birthday party. Wendy now has Parkinson’s.

WENDY WIPPRECHT: Adam had his 6th birthday party and invited a group of kids to go. That’s where I remember talking with Nancy. Nancy was concerned about Adam. He was shy, a little withdrawn, quiet. She was worried that perhaps he had— had some kind of neurobiological condition.

JOSH KOVNER: Wendy, were there any support groups—

WENDY WIPPRECHT: Oh, sure.

JOSH KOVNER: And did you ever participate in any?

WENDY WIPPRECHT: Sure.

JOSH KOVNER: Did you ever hear whether Nancy did?

WENDY WIPPRECHT: None of the ones that I was in. But she was talking about sending Adam to St. Rose because classes were smaller and she thought he might do better there.

JOSH KOVNER: Did she say why she thought he needed—

WENDY WIPPRECHT: I think it was his shyness and uncomfortableness, I guess, in large social situations. I mean, a class of 20 people is a lot for a 6-year-old to handle.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: So did he not have a one-on-one aide, like Miles did?

WENDY WIPPRECHT: No. He may not have been diagnosed with anything at the time. What can pass inspection at 6 often is not going to pass inspection, say, at 9. But at whatever age, and even if you’re merely suspicious, it’s a kind of awful thing to have to deal with.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: So Nancy— she sort of did it on her own. What do you think that would have been like for you to do it on your own?

WENDY WIPPRECHT: Oh, it’s impossible.

NARRATOR: Soon after moving to Newtown, tensions develop between Nancy and her husband, Peter. In her emails to Marvin LaFontaine, she described him working 16-hour days and growing distant.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: This is Alaine Griffin calling from The Hartford Courant

NARRATOR: The Hartford Courant has made repeated attempts to reach Peter Lanza.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: [leaving voicemail] Its probably tough to talk to the media, but we were hoping to get in touch with you because we feel you can help us to correct what has been reported out there in terms of this story—

We have reached out to multiple family members. There wasn’t anybody that actually wanted to go on record and speak with us, but what we had developed along the line was a family member who was willing to give us an email that gave us some really good information about Adam that had not been out there before. We learned through this email that while Peter and Nancy did get divorced in 2009, Peter actually had been out of the house in 2001.

NARRATOR: Peter Lanza continued to support his family financially. The email also said that Adam as a young boy had been diagnosed with sensory integration disorder, a not widely accepted diagnosis involving difficulties processing and reacting to stimuli. Later, in middle school, the family member said Adam would receive another diagnosis, Asperger’s, a form of autism that interferes with social interaction.

[www.pbs.org: More on sensory integration disorder]

ANDREW JULIEN, Editor, The Hartford Courant: I want to talk a little bit about the middle school years because isn’t this when we start to hear about Adam having problems that go beyond just the diagnosis of sensory integration?

ALAINE GRIFFIN: We were told around middle school, around the middle school years.

ANDREW JULIEN: Right. There was the initial diagnosis, and then the diagnosis of Asperger’s. And that goes to social isolation, inability to communicate with others. But there’s nothing that connects Asperger’s to the kind of violence we saw at—

JOSH KOVNER: Absolutely nothing by itself. Absolutely nothing.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Family members have told us that when middle school came upon Adam and the whole idea of changing classes and being in the hallways, that was too much for him, the noise—

ANDREW JULIEN: Why? Do we know why?

ALAINE GRIFFIN: The noise and the chaos disrupted him, is what we were told.

ANDREW JULIEN: So she moves him at this point out of the public school system and into St. Rose of Lima.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: She didn’t move him into parochial school right away. Initially, she had this special program set up for him. He was under the supervision of Newtown schools, but he would do some of his work off-site and at home, and then he would later return to the school when the rest of the students weren’t there.

ANDREW JULIEN: OK. And after St. Rose of Lima, though, back to Newtown High School, which is a big school. So why, if movement and people being around him are a problem, is he back at Newtown High?

JOSH KOVNER: I don’t know.

ANDREW JULIEN: We don’t know?

NARRATOR: Changing schools again, Adam arrives at Newtown High School in 2006 and receives special education help. Though painfully shy and awkward, he joins the school technology club at the urging of the club’s advisor, Richard Novia.

RICHARD NOVIA, Technology Club Advisor: I knew him for about four years between the middle school and the high school. I identified him as a person likely to be bullied or picked on, and that’s when I began to interact with his mother. How was it that she was dealing with him, and what could I do?

JOSH KOVNER: And what did she say about that?

RICHARD NOVIA: She was failing at bringing him out of his little world. And I said, “I think I can help him. ”

JOSH KOVNER: What was her reaction to that?

RICHARD NOVIA: She didn’t think it would work.

JOSH KOVNER: How often do you recall Nancy being on campus, say, on a weekly basis?

RICHARD NOVIA: There were periods of time where I think I saw her two or three times a week, and then you’d have a good month or two and you might see her once.

JOSH KOVNER: Why would she typically be there on a two or three—

RICHARD NOVIA: Adam had episodes, is the best way I can describe them to you, where he would completely withdraw. He would become accustomed to certain things, and when you tried to raise that level or bar, he would pull back.

JOSH KOVNER: You mean a change?

RICHARD NOVIA: Yeah. He would avoid the crowds in the halls. People rushing to the cafeteria, rushing to get to their classes— that would make him nervous, where he felt fearful of other people. But over time, I was able to get closer and closer to him to a point where I felt I could sit next to him and he wouldn’t pull away. He wouldn’t withdraw.

JOSH KOVNER: Did Nancy acknowledge that and—

RICHARD NOVIA: Yes.

JOSH KOVNER: —let you know that she recognized that?

RICHARD NOVIA: Yes, she saw him— she saw it working.

JOSH KOVNER: Did you get a sense that in his development he was at a crossroad?

RICHARD NOVIA: I think Adam had come a long ways. There’s a picture out there that shows him standing up with the other kids. There’s this funny little face on him. He’s not quite smiling. I was there when those pictures were taken, and I can tell you that to have Adam stand for that picture proves there was success. So the problem happens after. He goes backwards.

NARRATOR: These photographs were obtained exclusively by FRONTLINE. News reports to the contrary, Nancy never spoke of disagreements with the school and believed Adam would grow up to be a functional adult, according to the family member’s email. The relative went on to describe Adam as brilliant, saying he played the saxophone and studied Mandarin Chinese. And yet in 2008, Nancy removed him from Newtown High.

JOSH KOVNER: And when you left for other pursuits in July of 2008, did you learn that Nancy Lanza had taken Adam out of high school?

RICHARD NOVIA: Yes.

JOSH KOVNER: Why do you think she pulled him out?

RICHARD NOVIA: I don’t know. I’ve pondered this issue for a long time. I’ve often wondered if she just felt that one of his main support networks were no longer there. I don’t know.

[www.pbs.org: More from Richard Novia]

JOSH KOVNER: So you don’t feel like you’re in a position to know whether this was a good idea or a bad idea?

RICHARD NOVIA: It was a bad idea either way. You have a boy who was receiving a tremendous amount of support. Suddenly, when she pulls him out of there, he loses all those support groups. That’s where he would have fallen farther and farther into his problems because he didn’t have the mental health support group that he once had.

JOSH KOVNER: Richard, when it was observed that Adam in high school was playing violent video games, did anyone try to dissuade him?

RICHARD NOVIA: A lot of the kids were playing violent video games. Adam had shown, at that point early on, some high interest in the violent aspect of those games.

JOSH KOVNER: You know that firsthand?

RICHARD NOVIA: I remember that he would love to— he would opt to sit on the computer playing games like that, rather than to go play DDR, which is Dance Dance Revolution.

JOSH KOVNER: You remember what game he may have played?

RICHARD NOVIA: My best of my recollection — and some people have said, “Well, there’s other games, too”— but it was World of Warcraft at that time. There’s a lot better games now.

JOSH KOVNER: Did it ever come to your attention that Nancy was into shooting sports?

RICHARD NOVIA: No. That shocked me, to hear that Nancy would have had anything to do with guns.

JOSH KOVNER: What we understand is that she did shoot with Ryan and Adam at a range.

RICHARD NOVIA: Yes. That was a mistake.

JOSH KOVNER: Why, Richard?

RICHARD NOVIA: I have a child who loves to do the hot rod driving simulator on the TV. He’s playing the video games. I should have been able to foresee that my son loved the speed when I bought him his first car. And it wasn’t a couple weeks after that that he got, you know, ticketed for 100-and-something miles an hour on a town street in Newtown. And I went, “Well, OK, that was my mistake.”

JOSH KOVNER: You own firearms.

RICHARD NOVIA: Yes I do.

JOSH KOVNER: And you believe shooting with Ryan and Adam was a mistake?

RICHARD NOVIA: Yes I think it was a mistake on her part. And it cost her her life. And that’s the sad thing. It cost her her life, that mistake.

NARRATOR: Having left Newtown High, Adam — who is still only 16 years old — begins taking classes at Western Connecticut State University. The email from a family member says Nancy was pleased to see him in a more adult environment. But soon Adam withdraws from that school, too.

JOSH KOVNER: What we’re looking at is, like, this string of changes, and we understand that change wouldn’t have sat well with Adam because of his disposition, his disorder. I think we know his life was marked by change. Nancy struggled, it seemed, to find an educational fit— public school, private school, public school again, home school, high school, no high school, college, no college.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: 2009, the divorce happens after years of being separated. 2010 comes, and Adam cuts off his relationship with his dad.

JOSH KOVNER: He didn’t have much to do with Ryan after that, either. You know, so there is some isolation there.

NARRATOR: After Adam leaves college, information about his life is hard to come by.

JOSH KOVNER: This part of his life was difficult to get a fix on because he wasn’t in a place where others could say, “Yeah, I saw him,” “Yeah, I did this with him,” “Yeah, he did that.” We understand that he worked at a computer shop. We haven’t been able to find the one that hired him.

MAN IN STORE: No, I didn’t see him in here.

JOSH KOVNER: But it could have been someone’s house. It could have been a small shop.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: We did learn that Nancy was working to make her son more independent. She was going on trips and leaving Adam at home. She was very excited at the fact that he got his driver’s license in 2010.

JOSH KOVNER: She was the dominant and perhaps the only significant relationship in his life until the end.

NARRATOR: The Courant has learned that investigators have speculated privately that Adam may have carried out the shooting in a manner consistent with video gaming, changing his weapon’s magazine frequently, even though it was not empty.

Federal agents have told reporters that Nancy and Adam visited shooting ranges together as recently as several months ago.

JOSH KOVNER: She was doing a lot of work on her house. We talked to a contractor who spoke about Nancy taking the boys to the range. She excitedly showed him a rifle that she had acquired, in a case, a beautifully crafted piece that he said she was very enthusiastic about.

NARRATOR: Starting in 2010, she purchased guns that Adam would use at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the Bushmaster assault rifle. But guns were nothing new for Nancy Lanza.

MARVIN LaFONTAINE, Friend: Nancy knew how to use guns. Her father trained her. I have 35 acres and I’ve got a— I’ve got a sand pit out there, and I have rifles, and we’d shoot together. In fact, one of the activities at the Cub overnight weekends was shooting .22s at a rifle range. I think that was the first exposure the kids had to a firearm. And they found it’s fun. You know, target shooting is fun.

JOSH KOVNER: Did Adam shoot?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: Yeah. They all did. And Adam aspired to be like his uncle.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Really?

MARVIN LaFONTAINE: Yeah. He was in the military and she was very proud of that, and she allowed him to believe that, “Yeah, you’re going to be like your uncle” and— depending on how he turned out. Sometimes people could overcome that with, you know, medication, counseling, whatever. They can. They can and do. And I think maybe she was hoping for that. And then one day, I think she realized, probably not too long ago, there’s no way this kid can do this. He’s going to— you know, it’s not for him. And when she realized that, I think she started to discourage him.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Nancy had a group of friends that she hung out with at a restaurant in Newtown, and many in that group feel that Nancy has been forgotten in all of this. And Mark, the owner of the restaurant, he said there were about four friends that probably would be willing to talk to us. And John is one of them.

Are there any other posts we could look at that Nancy wrote?

JOHN BERGQUIST, Friend: She did not post a lot.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: She didn’t. Huh.

JOHN BERGQUIST: She posted on my page, but they’re so far—

NARRATOR: John Bergquist first met Nancy at My Place two years ago.

JOHN BERGQUIST: You know, it was a media frenzy. You’d see a lot of things, you know, pop up on your TV or in the papers that just— I think, you know, they rushed to get, you know, these facts out that weren’t accurate. She’s been described as some sort of gun nut or survivalist, and you know, maybe another misconception that she was a bad mother. I mean, she did everything she could.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: And did she talk to you about Adam?

JOHN BERGQUIST: She did.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Did she ever specifically tell you that he had Asperger’s?

JOHN BERGQUIST: Yes, she told me— she told me that he had Asperger’s.

JOSH KOVNER: But did you get a sense, John, that it was time-consuming or emotion-consuming?

JOHN BERGQUIST: You know, she was always very positive. She never talked about having a rough day. You know, and that could be she— when she, you know, came into the bar, that was her release and maybe she didn’t want to talk about things like that. But you know, I can’t ever remember Nancy having a rough day, and you know, just unloading on me.

JOSH KOVNER: John, was it your impression that not a lot of people went into the house, not a lot of visitors, even friends? Or did they go into the house?

JOHN BERGQUIST: No, not a lot of people went into the house. You know, Nancy was very particular, just like me. You know, I’m a little bit of a neat freak and I just assumed that she was towards the more extreme end. But I don’t think that was it. Maybe that was a little bit of an excuse, and I think that Adam was, you know, uncomfortable having too many people around.

JOSH KOVNER: Do you think it would have been reasonable to question whether the firearms and his exposure on the range and the shooting was anything but enjoyable to him, or anything that he appeared not to want, that she would have continued?

JOHN BERGQUIST: That thought never crossed my mind because he was never violent. She never feared him. It was a way for them to bond. I think it was one way that she could connect with Adam because, you know, they have a very hard time connecting with people, and maybe finding an activity that they both enjoyed was, you know, her way of bonding with her son.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Did you ever get the sense that she was in denial of his Asperger’s, or do you think that she fully embraced the diagnosis?

JOHN BERGQUIST: I think she fully embraced that diagnosis, and she was taking it on the way that she thought was best, making sure that he was going to lead as normal a life as possible.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: How do you know that?

JOHN BERGQUIST: I know she was planning on, you know, going wherever he wanted to go in the country to go to college. She was talking about Washington state. I don’t know a specific school. But I don’t think it was against his will. I think it was either his decision or something that perhaps they discussed. And I don’t think it was a factor in causing him to snap. If he said that he didn’t want to go, she wouldn’t have insisted.

NARRATOR: Planning for the move was in advanced stages, according to Mark Tambascio, owner of My Place, who declined to speak on camera.

MARK TAMBASCIO, My Place Owner: She used to say, you know, “Mark, I really hope he gets to the point where he can take care of himself and I don’t have to be there all the time.” She’d been looking for a school for him, a special school so he could finish out his college.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Has she told you that?

MARK TAMBASCIO: Yeah. For a couple of years, she’s been looking.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Did she actually find something rock solid?

MARK TAMBASCIO: I think so. She said she had sold her tickets—

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Sold her— anything— any—

MARK TAMBASCIO: She sold her— she was, like, the biggest Red Sox fan ever.

NARRATOR: Nancy loved the Boston Red Sox. She and Peter had season tickets and split them, one of the few things spelled out in their divorce agreement.

FRONTLINE and The Courant have made numerous attempts to identify which school Nancy was planning to enroll Adam in but were unable to confirm.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: Since the tragedy in Newtown, we’ve heard from so many. And obviously, none have affected us more than the families of those gorgeous children and their teachers and guardians who were lost.

JOSH KOVNER: Change would not sit well with him. Something as profound as moving from Newtown would be disturbing for a kid who has trouble walking down a crowded hallway. A contractor told us that she had wanted to sell the house for a couple of years, so I don’t think that’s something that came up, this idea of moving, right before the tragedy. The question is, was he driving it or was she driving it?

ANDREW JULIEN, Editor, The Hartford Courant: Everything we’ve heard points to the fact that they were getting ready to go someplace. We really don’t know if he wanted what she was planning. Has anyone raised the possibility that he shot her because he didn’t want to go where she was taking him? Has anybody addressed that issue?

JOSH KOVNER: No, I don’t think anyone’s said that point blank.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: No one’s ever talked about it, but she really wanted him to get a degree. And surprisingly, he didn’t want to major in science or computers, he wanted to major in, of all things, history. When a family member questioned, “You’re going to move out of New England?” and she told the family member, “You never turn your back on your kids.”

JOSH KOVNER: She was a decisive woman. She chose, we think, not to be involved in the groups in Newtown of parents that have autistic and Asperger’s kids.

ANDREW JULIEN: Well, wouldn’t you think that would be to both his and her benefit—

JOSH KOVNER: You would.

ANDREW JULIEN: —to get involved with those groups?

JOSH KOVNER: You would.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: It could have been an issue of ignorance. It could have also been an issue of denial.

ANDREW JULIEN: So do we know anything about the few days leading up to Sandy Hook, leading up to the Friday as far as Adam went? Nothing. What about Nancy?

JOSH KOVNER: We do know that she was in a fine dining room of a hotel. She Facebooked her friend, John Bergquist.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: So I’ll read it to you, Josh. She says “I am sitting at dinner at a place that requires formal attire, the young couple next to me dressed to kill but covered in tattoos. Too funny!” Exclamation point.

And then John mentions, “Hopefully, we can get together soon for dinner during the holidays.”

And then she says, “That would be fun. Let me know. Just be forewarned, tattoo girl has talked me into a dragon tattoo.” So was she considering getting a dragon tattoo?

JOHN BERGQUIST: No, that was her humor.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: Oh.

JOHN BERGQUIST: I’m sure she didn’t even talk to the couple, but you know, she was just being funny there.

ALAINE GRIFFIN: I see. I see.

JOHN BERGQUIST: She had an excellent sense of humor.

NARRATOR: The following day, Nancy came back from New Hampshire to the house she still shared with her 20-year-old son. What happened next is still a mystery — the investigation may take months — but that night, Nancy went to sleep in her own bed. At some point before she awoke, Adam went to her gun collection. Passing up the semiautomatic weapons he would use later, Adam picked up Nancy’s .22-caliber rifle, the kind of gun he first learned to shoot, and at close range while she slept, he shot the woman who raised him four times in head.

Then he got in the car his mother taught him to drive and headed towards his old elementary school.

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