He left 27 dead – including himself – but what made Adam Lanza go on a killing spree?


It was Friday, 14 December 2012.

Nancy Lanza, 52, was asleep when her son, Adam, 20, shot her several times in the face.

Then he loaded the car with guns and drove from their home in Newtown, Connecticut, to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In minutes, the murderous misfit had killed 20 children and 6 adults, before turning the gun on himself.

A memorial to those who died that winter's day (Photo: PA Photos)

A memorial to those who died that winter’s day (Photo: PA Photos)

But what turned this shy, bright lad into a mass murderer?

And why was his first victim his mum?

Adam Peter Lanza was born on 22 April 1992.

As a child, he couldn’t bear to be touched, and was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. With this condition, people can appear to lack empathy, as they struggle to read or express body language.

Adam was socially awkward and bullied at school – including Sandy Hook.

Though extremely rare for sufferers to show such extreme behaviour, and AS is not associated with violent behaviour, sufferers can devote all their attention to topics – often to the point of obsession.

Lanza’s obsession began at 11 – he wrote a book about children being killed at school and a boy shooting his mother in the head.

This clearly shows immense anger towards his mum.

Lanza refused to take his medication and struggled with obsessive compulsive symptoms.

PA Photos

Then his parents divorced when he was 17. This may have had a detrimental effect on him.

After the divorce, he lived with his gun-enthusiast mum. When police searched Adam’s home after the shooting, they found his bedroom was stark, windows blacked out with bin bags. Also found were a number of violent computer games. One was called School Shootings.

It seems Lanza’s resentment grew as his mum began to leave him alone more, to encourage his independence. He began refusing to leave his room, only communicating with his mum via e-mail.

On that fateful day, Lanza destroyed his computer hard drive before shooting his mum four times. The number of shots could be significant, indicating the level of anger and hatred.

At Sandy Hook, he shot victims multiple times. Then shot himself in the head.

Though it was never suspected that Lanza could commit such a horrifying crime, could his mental problems have been a telling contribution? Did he get enough support? Did his mother?

But Lanza refused to follow treatment and in spite of his mother’s best intentions, no-one was ultimately able to prevent this tragedy but Lanza himself.