Adam Lanza’s mother by accounts divorced well — but Nancy Lanza was different from a lot of attractive divorced moms.
A lot of single women keep guns for protection, but Lanza’s love went beyond that. She was a woman with a serious gun collection that included an assault rifle, and even in a town where there were a lot of gun enthusiasts, this slim blonde women stood out when it came to her weapons.
And it was one of those guns that her troubled son used to blow off her face Friday before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he used her beloved guns to slaughter 26 more people, including 20 children ages 6 and 7, before shooting himself.
1. She Had at Least Five Guns
Nancy Lanza’s arsenal consisted of two powerful handguns, two hunting rifles and a semiautomatic rifle like the ones used by the military. Adam took the handguns and rifle to the school.
2. Her Guns Were Legal
Connecticut is one of the most strict states in the nation when it comes to gun control, and Nancy Lanza bought her guns legally and registered them.
3. She Lived Alone in Her House with Adam
She’d been divorced since 2008 from Peter Lanza, a General Electric executive. Her older son lives away from home, but Adam had a developmental disorder that left him withdrawn, and he still lived at home with mom.
4. She Home-Schooled Adam
Adam Lanza went to school in the Newtown school district, but she pulled him out when he was in high school, saying she wasn’t “satisfied with the school.” A classmate, Alex Israel, said the boy was “supersmart” but awkward, but his mother was very nice:
He was always different — keeping to himself, fidgeting and very quiet. But I could always tell he was a supersmart kid, maybe just socially awkward, something just off about him. The same went for when I went to his house. His mother was always nice to me; she was a kind, typical suburban mom as far as I remember.
5. She Never Worked at Sandy Hook Elementary
Initial news reports said Lanza worked at the elementary school, but Saturday the school superintendent said there was no evidence she’d ever worked there, and authorities now aren’t clear why her son picked that particular school for his rampage.
6. She Liked Good Beer, Jazz Music and Landscaping
Ms. Lanza often hung out at a local restaurant and music spot, attending craft beer tastings. An acquaintance, Dan Holmes, who owns a landscaping company in Newtown, said she often talked about her guns.
She had several different guns. I don’t know how many. She would go target shooting with her kids.
7. Nobody Really Knew What She Did For a Living
Her brother said at one time, she was a stockbroker. However, she wasn’t working when she was killed, but many around Newtown noted she volunteered in different places, and there was some speculation that while she wasn’t employed by Sandy Hook School, she may have volunteered there.
She likely didn’t have to work, however. Her husband agreed, as part of the divorce settlement in 2008, to pay her $240,000 a year, more than enough to keep her comfortable financially.
8. She Was Kindhearted but High-Strung
Jim Leff, a musician who knew her, told the New York Times she was kind and warm but seemed a bit high-strung. And he said he felt a distance from that was explained when he heard about the shootings and he heard “how difficult her troubled son,” Adam, “was making things for her.”
She was handling a very difficult situation with uncommon grace.
She was “a big, big gun fan,” he added on his Web site.
9. Her Son Was Withdrawn But She Wasn’t
Her neighbors said she often attended picnics and ladies nights out for bunco. But one said while they rotated houses for their parties, she never had the games at her house.
10. She Loved Landscaping and Gardening
Her neighbor, Rhonda Cullens, told the New York Times Lanza often talked about gardening, but asked typical questions such as whether maintenance was worthwhile, since her house sat back from the street.