Town Heals and Remembers

Mediator: Mom Didn't Like to Leave Conn. Shooting Gunman Alone

Adam Lanza, 20, has been described as extremely intelligent but remote

Monday, Dec 17, 2012  |  Updated 4:48 PM EDT
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    A mediator who worked with Adam Lanza's parents during their divorce in 2009 says his mother said she didn't like to leave him alone and that his parents went out of their way to accommodate him.

    Lanza killed his mother before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday morning and killing 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.

    Marriage therapist Paula Levy recalled Monday that during about 10 two-hour sessions, Nancy and Peter Lanza were respectful of each other and concerned about their son's needs.

    She says the couple told her Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autism-like disorder, and they spent considerable time talking about how to provide for his well-being.

    Levy says the Lanzas agreed how to divide caretaking responsibilities and as a result said little about Adam's problems.

     

    When they divorced in 2009, their legal documents offered no hints of an acrimonious split and make no mention of any lingering mental health or medical issues for the then-teenage boy. 

    Under the terms of the divorce, Nancy Lanza received $289,800 in alimony this year. There is no evidence of bitterness in the court file, no exchange of accusations or drawn out custody disputes. 

    Nancy and Peter Lanza had joint legal custody of Adam but he lived with his mother. The parents agreed to consult and discuss major decisions affecting Adam's best interests. In instances where the parents couldn't agree, Nancy Lanza "shall make the final decision," Judge Stanley Novak wrote on Sept. 24, 2009. 

    The couple married in June 1981 in Kingston, N.H. The divorce file said the marriage "has broken down irretrievably and there is no possibility of getting back together." 

    As part of the divorce, Nancy Lanza was ordered to attend a parenting education program. The provider, Family Centers Inc., certified that she completed the program on June 3 and June 10, 2009. The document says only that Lanza "satisfactorily completed the program." 

    The documents say Adam Lanza lived his entire life at the Newtown home where he shot his mother to death. 

    Authorities pored over computer, cellphone and credit card records trying to piece together the Lanza family's days leading up to the shooting. Peter Lanza, in a statement this weekend, said that like everyone else, he could not comprehend what had unfolded.

    "We too are asking why," he said. "We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired."

    Adam Lanza shot all the victims in the school multiple times with a high-powered weapon before turning the gun on himself, officials have said. Authorities said Sunday that evidence suggested he had planned an even more gruesome massacre but was stopped short.

    Gov. Dannel Malloy said Lanza shot himself when he heard police coming. Authorities said they found multiple 30-round magazines and hundreds of bullets at the school, enough ammunition on him to carry out significant additional carnage.

    "There was a lot of ammo, a lot of clips," State Police Lt. Paul Vance. "Certainly a lot of lives were potentially saved."

    As detectives sift through evidence and people who knew Lanza come forward, a more complete picture is beginning to emerge of the shooter, who has been described as extremely bright but remote.

    Paul Steinmetz, a spokesman for Western Connecticut State University, said Lanza took classes at the college when he was only 16. Steinmetz said he earned a 3.26 grade point average while a student there. He dropped out of a German language class and withdrew from a computer science class, but earned an A in a computer class, A-minus in American history and B in macroeconomics.

    Lanza participated when called on by the teacher in his evening course on introductory German, according to Dot Stasny, who was one of about a dozen other students in the class in the spring of 2009. She said she and a classmate once invited him out to a bar but he declined, saying he was only 17.

    "We attributed him being quiet to him being so much younger than the rest of us," said Stasny, 30. "I assumed he was this super smart kid who was just doing extra course work."

    Stasny said she saw him later when he came in as a customer at a video game store where she was working. She said she shared a laugh with him about how difficult the German class was. She told him she failed one of the exams, and he mentioned he got a D.

    "I just remember him as a nice, quiet kid," she said.

    Steinmetz said Lanza took his last class in the summer of 2009 and didn't return.

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