Newtown gunman obsessed with violence and socks, but motive still puzzling

Newtown gunman Adam Lanza wrote obsessively about destruction and violence, was labeled “emotionally paralyzed” by a clinical nurse specialist at Yale University as early as 2006, and changed his socks 20 times a day.

His father, Peter, had been researching Lanza’s disorder before his son killed his mother and then gunned down 20 children and six educators last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School — a scene that one first responder said was the most horrific thing he’d ever seen.


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But a recently unveiled yearlong investigation, while it provides more insight into Lanza’s background and his struggles with mental-health issues, does not change the overall conclusion from a truncated version released last month: there was no clear motive for the attack.

What is clear from the thousands of pages of documents, including police reports completed throughout the investigation, photographs, audio recordings and video recordings, is that both of Lanza’s parents were aware he had mental health issues.

Mr. Lanza told police his son had Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism not typically associated with violence. Eventually, the relationship between the two “deteriorated” at the end of 2010. Mr. Lanza still emailed his son six to eight times a year, though Adam Lanza had stopped responding at about that time.

Kathleen Koenig, a clinical nurse specialist at Yale University who had four face-to-face meetings with Lanza between Oct. 24, 2006 and Feb. 7, 2007, described him as “emotionally paralyzed.”

Ms. Koenig prescribed Celexa, an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety drug and recommended that Lanza participate in follow-up visits, but mother Nancy Lanza’s response to her recommendations was “non-compliant,” according to investigators. Ms. Koenig considered Lanza to have suffered from “severe, debilitating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.”

Dr. Robert A. King of the Yale Child Study Center, who analyzed Lanza on Oct. 24, 2006, and contacted Ms. Koenig about him, told authorities “that during my brief meeting with (the shooter), while I was concerned clinically with his rigidity and social constriction, I noted nothing in (the shooter) which would have made this unfortunate outcome foreseeable.”

A friend of Nancy Lanza’s met with her about two weeks before the shooting and heard Nancy tell her that Adam Lanza was becoming “increasingly despondent,” that he hadn’t left his room in three months and that they only communicated through email despite living in the same house.

“The recent storm Hurricane Sandy put Adam over the edge after they had lost power,” wrote one investigator. “While the power was out for several days, Nancy tried to convince Adam to leave the house to stay at a hotel or in a recreational vehicle to no avail.”

On the morning of Dec. 14, Lanza killed his mother before heading to Sandy Hook Elementary. A day planner found in her home indicated that Nancy Lanza had planned to travel out of state for several days starting on Dec. 11, 2012.

She checked into the Omni Hotels Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H., on Dec. 11 and checked out on Dec. 13, according to the report. She met with an unidentified person — the name is redacted in the reports — at “Three Tomatoes” restaurant on Dec. 13, and the person said they spoke about Nancy Lanza’s son with “disabilities,” according to the report.

But investigators said they cannot draw a certain link between any of the mental health issues and the shooting.

“It is important to note that it is unknown what contribution, if any, the shooter’s mental health issues made to his attack,” State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said in an earlier report. “Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.”

Lanza, who lived with his mother, was particular about the food he ate, including its arrangement on the plate and what dishes could be used, and reportedly hated the thought of drinking alcohol or taking drugs, either prescription or otherwise.

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