Peter Lanza Tells His Story

Says he wishes son Adam had never been born

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 10, 2014 7:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than a year after his son killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Peter Lanza is talking. Lanza met with Andrew Solomon six times starting last fall, and the result is an extensive, nearly 7,600-word profile in the New Yorker in which Lanza says of son Adam, "You can't get any more evil." He goes so far as to say that he wishes Adam, whom he hadn't seen for two years at the time of the shootings, had never been born. But when Adam was a child, he and his father were exceptionally close; Adam was "just a normal little weird kid," Lanza says. In fact, as Adam grew older and his mental health deteriorated, Lanza and wife Nancy, who were in the process of divorcing, didn't look for any explanation beyond Adam's diagnosis of Asperger's. "Let's keep in mind that you expect Adam to be weird," Lanza says. But now, he wonders if that diagnosis "veiled a contaminant," some more dangerous problem: "I was thinking it could mask schizophrenia," he says.

As Lanza tells it, Adam was relatively happy while attending Sandy Hook, though he exhibited some strange behavior (he wrote a book, with a friend, about an old lady who shoots people using a gun in her cane; one of the characters says, "I like hurting people ... especially children."). He once used his savings to buy Christmas presents for needy kids. But things rapidly deteriorated starting in middle school, when he was overwhelmed by changes to the structure of his school day. From then on, Lanza says, he and Nancy—especially Nancy—attempted to accommodate Adam as much as possible, but the situation only got worse. Adam wouldn't even admit he had Asperger's and wasn't open to therapy or drugs. He stopped speaking to his father when they disagreed over how many classes Adam should take at a community college. Lanza continued trying to see his son, but Adam wouldn't even return his emails, and Nancy downplayed how bad things had gotten at home. "She wanted everyone to think everything was OK," Lanza says. It was not: It ended with Adam shooting her four times. "One for each of us," Lanza surmises. "One for Nancy; one for him; one for [brother] Ryan; one for me." Click to read the full profile.

Jessica Henderson, 19, walks past a sign with a bouquet of flowers to lay at a memorial at The Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012.
Jessica Henderson, 19, walks past a sign with a bouquet of flowers to lay at a memorial at The Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012.   (AP Photo/Allen Breed)
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Peter said, ‘It’s Peter. I think it’s Adam.’ I didn’t recognize his voice. And he just said it again: ‘It’s Peter, it’s Peter, it’s Adam.’ And I still didn’t understand him. And he said, ‘I think it’s Adam, it’s Adam.’ - Shelley Lanza on the phone call from her husband on the day of the shootings

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