Newtown massacre shooter Adam Lanza indulged dark obsessions online
By the time Adam Lanza massacred 26 children and adults at a Connecticut school two years ago, he was living in nearly complete isolation, communicating with no one except an online network of people obsessed with mass murder, a report released on Friday said.
The 20-year-old’s fascination with violence, which came to a head in the December 2012 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was already evident when Lanza was himself in grade school, according to the state’s Office of the Child Advocate.
As evidence, its report cites disturbing images that Lanza used to illustrate a story he wrote in which a raging grandmother shoots with a “rifle cane” and describes children playing a game of “hide and go die.”
“I like hurting people … especially children,” says one of the characters in Lanza’s fifth-grade essay.
By the time of the Newtown shootings, Lanza was so isolated he rarely spoke to anyone and communicated with his mother Nancy Lanza only via email – even though they lived in the same house.
Instead, Lanza communicated almost exclusively with members of a cyber-community, the 114-page report said. “He was closely connected to a small community of individuals that shared his dark and obsessive interest in mass murder.”
Those obsessions eventually exploded in one of the worst massacres in U.S. history. Lanza shot his mother to death before storming into the school and mowing down 20 first-graders and six adults and then killing himself.
The agency attributes Lanza’s growing isolation in part to a battery of mental-health issues, including obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia and multiple learning disabilities.
During his early school years, it says, there were many missed opportunities to treat him. He was evaluated numerous times over the years, including by the Yale Study Child Center, and was diagnosed with some degree of autism.
Lanza and his mother refused recommendations by doctors and other specialists that he take medications to help. His parents were divorced when he was 17, and afterwards he had little contact with his father. In his teenage years, Lanza received virtually no treatment.
Easy access to high-powered assault weapons was also a major contributing factor to the massacre.
In 2012, Lanza began doing online research into mass shootings on the computer.
“His interest accelerated until he appeared to be obsessed with the details and narratives of these shooters,” the report says. “Emails exchanged between (Lanza) and members of this macabre online community offer a rather breathtaking reflection of a negative micro-society within our midst.”
(Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Eric Walsh)