Just ahead of the six-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, newly released personal documents offer disturbing insights into the troubled mindset of 20-year-old killer Adam Lanza. Following a successful lawsuit, the Hartford Courant obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents from the Connecticut State Police, including hundreds of pages of Lanza’s own writings and a spreadsheet in which he detailed over 400 incidents of mass violence that seemingly inspired him to first kill his mother, Nancy Lanza, followed by 20 first-graders and six educators before taking his own life on December 14th, 2012.
The mass of writings, records, and computer files were seized by detectives from Lanza’s home after the murders and were withheld from the public, but after a five-year legal battle led by the Hartford Courant, the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered their release. The records shed light on his early developmental challenges, including a sensory disorder and delayed speech, increasingly anti-social behavior and disdain for relationships, and his obsessive fascination with the human capacity for committing violence and murder. According to the Hartford Courant, the documents span 15 years and indicate that while Lanza’s problems were apparent to his parents, teachers, counselors and psychiatrists, “It is evident now that no single person grasped the full picture of what he was becoming.”
Lanza’s tendency towards isolation began before the age three, when ongoing developmental speech delays made communicating and relating to other children his age all but impossible. Frustration led to behavioral problems like “hitting, spitting and crying” at first, but Lanza quickly stopped trying to communicate in groups at all. Lanza claimed he was “molested at least a dozen times” by doctors during exams, all with his parents’ knowledge, and in fifth grade, wrote a screenplay centered around “the beauty in the romantic relationship between a 10-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man.”
As a teenager, his sensory aversions to certain textures, sounds and movements further isolated Lanza from his peers, who made noises and dressed in ways that he found intolerable. Lanza traded high school for at-home tutoring under the state’s Homebound program; usually reserved for students with temporary physical limitations, Nancy Lanza thought the program was good for her son, who she said “was much more relaxed at home.”
However, Lanza spent most of his time at home locked inside his bedroom, which his mother was barred from entering. By then, Lanza’s social interactions were mostly limited to online gaming chat rooms, and at age 14, a Yale psychiatrist determined he was well on his way to becoming a “homebound recluse.” Lanza spent countless hours playing violent video games, and at times expressed his dark, disturbing worldview to the few like-minded acquaintances he made online.
“I incessantly have nothing other than scorn for humanity,” Lanza wrote in one undated message to a fellow gamer. “I have been desperate to feel anything positive for someone for my entire life.”
“All of them are typical detestable human beings, and it bred an aura of innumerable negative emotions for me,” Lanza went on. “You were a respite from that. Early on, you referenced serial killing multiple times in ways people normally don’t. That immediately appealed to me.”
Also recovered from Lanza’s computer was a spreadsheet produced between 2006 to 2010 which contained complex details about over 400 mass killings dating to 1786. Rather than organizing the incidents in alphabetic or chronological order, Lanza’s spreadsheet was sorted according to the number of victims.
In total, the newly released documents serve to underscore a report issued by Connecticut’s Office of Child Advocate in 2014, which determined that Lanza’s deteriorating mental health, obsession with violence and access to his mother’s guns “proved a recipe for mass murder.”