Investigators find motive elusive for Newtown shootings

 

Newtown, Connecticut

State police officials said Thursday that it will take months to determine why Adam Lanza massacred students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as investigators struggle to assess his mental state before the shootings.

In the initial hours after the killing rampage one week ago, investigators said they had uncovered "good evidence" that would provide clues into what prompted Lanza's rampage.

But since then, police officials have become more guarded, bracing the public for a lengthy investigation that will stretch well into the new year. The extended investigation means Lanza's motive may not be known before President Barack Obama make a push for new gun control regulations.

Investigators are struggling to uncover clues in the case as relatives of the victims are burying the dead, which include the shooter's mother. On Thursday afternoon, 25 relatives gathered in New Hampshire to remember Nancy Lanza, who was shot multiple times in the head by her son before he killed 26 people and then took his own life at the elementary school.

Donald Briggs, chief of the Kingston Police Department in Nancy Lanza's hometown in New Hampshire, said the family will determine at a later date where to place her cremated remains.

Adam Lanza's body remains in the custody of the Connecticut Medical Examiner's Office as officials piece together the final weeks of his life.

"At some later date, there will be information about him," Briggs said.

Investigators' initial optimism for quickly identifying a motive in the case dimmed as it became apparent that Lanza had been reclusive, leaving few witnesses who knew him well.

Police also are trying to recover information from a computer hard drive that was found smashed in the home he shared with his mother.

"We don't have any smoking gun to say this is why it occurred, at least not yet," said J. Paul Vance, a Connecticut State Police spokesman. "We are moving forward and working with our partners, and as you can assume with multiple deaths, we are looking at several months before we really have our arms wrapped around this."

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. traveled to Newtown on Thursday to meet with first responders and law enforcement officials. Officials declined to characterize the nature of the meetings.

Holder's visit comes as the Obama administration frames its response to the Dec. 14 shootings, including pushing for new gun-control measures next year.

Before visiting Newtown, Holder attended a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials to begin developing proposals that Obama plans to submit to Congress as early as next month.

"The president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act," said Biden, who is heading the working group. He said that Obama will push for a ban on assault weapons and added, "We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, promised Thursday to "take under advisement" any suggestions to curb gun violence put forward by the Biden commission.

"When the vice president's recommendations come forward, we'll certainly take them into consideration," Boehner told reporters. "At this point, our hearts and souls ought to be thinking about those victims" of the school shooting.

Holder visited Newtown on the same day that funerals caused gridlock on city streets. With hundreds of mourners arriving for viewings, local officials have said that managing the funerals is their top priority.

Police officers from across Connecticut are in town to direct traffic and provide security at funerals and makeshift memorials. On Wednesday, a local state representative asked the media to "please leave" Newtown because "the story is over," underscoring the community's growing frustration at the public spotlight.

Investigators have not released any information publicly about the case since Sunday, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said police are not likely to make any disclosures until all the funerals have been held.

But some new details about Lanza and the investigation are trickling out, most of which suggest that police have been hampered in their efforts to establish a clear motive.

A friend of Nancy Lanza's told the Connecticut Post that Adam Lanza dreamed of becoming a Marine. His mother nixed the idea, fearing a son who didn't like to be touched would be a poor fit for the armed forces, the friend said.

The Hartford Courant also reported Thursday that investigators believe Lanza's computer hard drive may be "worthless" because he attempted to destroy it before he went on his shooting spree. The newspaper also reported that investigators have discovered that Lanza made few calls from his cellphone in the weeks leading up to the incident.

But Vance said investigators remain confident that they can still recover clues from the damaged hard drive.

With Lanza reportedly obsessed with video games, Vance said "all electronics" from his house are in police custody.

"State police have a very comprehensive crime laboratory, and the FBI has the same capability," Vance said. "Any electronic equipment that was seized is going to be examined, and we are certainly believing there is information that is going to be helpful to us in this case."

Vance said investigators will work through the holidays "dissecting the shooter from the day he was born to the day he died."

"We spent countless hours going through every stitch of that house we could uncover," Vance said.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said "the hunger for information" about the Lanza family and Adam Lanza's motive is "overwhelming" around the state.

But Courtney, a former public defender who represents eastern Connecticut, said elected officials and residents remain confident that police and federal officials are working as fast as they can, "given the fact some of the key witnesses lost their lives."

"I have some understanding how difficult it is to piece something like this together," Courtney said. "They want to be careful about not making bad conclusions. . . . This is about as large as it gets, so I still give them some slack and time."

- - -

Peter Finn, Michael Rosenwald, Philip Rucker and Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing specialist merchant co...

SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'