Allen G. Breed
and Michael Biesecker
Adam Lanza was fascinated with chimpanzees because of their capacity for empathy, but could show little or none himself.
He could write stories that struck horror into a teacher’s heart, then turn around and craft a poem so beautiful it moved listeners to tears.
As a kid growing up in Connecticut, he rode bikes, played baseball and saxophone, and kept hamsters. As a man, he taped black garbage bags over his bedroom windows, retreating into a world of violent video games, guns and statistics on mass murder.
Despite the release Friday by Connecticut state police of thousands of pages of interviews, photographs and writings, the man who gunned down 20 first-graders and six adults at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, remains an enigma.
Some of the most tantalizing evidence of the inner workings of the 20-year-old Newtown man’s brain appears to be contained in writings that the police chose not to release.
An eight-page document titled simply, “me,” is described in a police inventory as “detailing relationships, ideal companion, culture, voting, personal beliefs, describes doctors touching children as rape.” Another, named “tomorrow,” apparently contains details about the author’s “desires, list of the benefits of being thin and negative connotations associated with being overweight, list of goals ...”
What the files do show is a deeply troubled young man, living with a single mother who was either unable or unwilling to accept the depths of his illness.
The picture most people have of Adam Lanza is the skeletal, blank face from photographs released by police following the massacre. Childhood photos show a smiling boy who could look into a camera, but signs of trouble — if not violence — emerged early.
In his preteen years, Lanza had difficulty with speech and was “being followed medically for seizure activities,” investigators found.
“In preschool his conduct included repetitive behaviors, temper tantrums, smelling things that were not there, excessive hand washing and eating idiosyncrasies,” prosecutors said in one report.
Lanza’s real problems appear to have begun after his parents’ separation in 2001, when he was 9 years old.
Adam had attended Sandy Hook Elementary. In fifth grade, he turned in a cute story about a “chicken tree” whose hen fruit “contains everything you ever will need to live like calcium and water.”
“It spits out seeds every four hours by using its long chute,” he wrote in a slanted, choppy block script.
That same year, Lanza produced a more disturbing work.
According to a boy who worked on it with him in class, “The Big Book of Granny” was supposed to be a “comic-style book” in the vein of Calvin & Hobbes. It was far from it.
In a section of the book labeled “Granny’s Clubhouse of Happy Children,” typed as dialogue from an imaginary television show, Granny and her son, “Bobolicious,” terrorize a group of children. In one episode, Bobolicious tells the children they’re going to play a game of “Hide and go die.”
Granny uses her “rifle cane” to kill people at a bank, hockey game and Marine boot camp. She also goes back in time and murders the four Beatles, according to a police synopsis.