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More funerals held as Newtown schools resume

Classes resumed in Newtown, Conn., on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012.
December 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Newtown returned its students to their classrooms Tuesday for the first time since last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The day also held another round of heartbreaking goodbyes as more funerals were held for young children. Memorial services and wakes were also held for some of the adult victims.

See the complete list of victims' names released by Connecticut police

Funerals were held for two more children, a 6-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, back-to-back funerals were held for first-graders James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos, the third and fourth so far and the first of eight to be held in the coming days at the church.

A motorcade led by police motorcycles arrived for the funeral of James, who especially loved recess and math, and who was described by his family as a "numbers guy" who couldn't wait until he was old enough to order a foot-long Subway sandwich.

"It was very somber, it was very sad, it was very moving," said Jame's mother, Clare Savarese, who taught the boy in preschool and recalled him as "a lovely little boy. A sweet little angel."

Jessica was the firstborn in her family. Her parents described her as the rock of their home. She loved playing with her little brothers, Travis and Shane. She also loved everything about horses. Her parents had promised her that when she turned 10, she could have a horse of her own. For Christmas, she asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and a hat.

"We are devastated, and our hearts are with the other families who are grieving as we are," her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos, said in a statement.

Three other shooting victims, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden and teacher Vicki Soto, were also laid to rest Tuesday. The body of 6-year-old Emilie Parker returned with her family to her home in Utah.

See photos from the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut

The resumption of classes at all of the schools in Newtown except Sandy Hook brought a return of familiar routines broken by the shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Gene Rosen, who lives near the school, said that on Friday he found six terrified children and a bus driver on his lawn after they escaped from a classroom. He said the kids told him their teacher was dead.

"I could not take that in. I could not accept that, and I just kept listening to them, and then they talked more, and the boy said, 'Oh no, it was a big gun and a small gun.' And then I knew, and then they said that there was blood...then they said her name, and I prayed that it wasn't that teacher, and it was," Rosen recalled.

That teacher was 27-year-old Soto, who reportedly shielded her students in the corner of the room to protect them from the gunfire. At a wake for Soto, hundreds of mourners, many wearing green-and-white ribbons, stood in a line that wrapped around a funeral home in nearby Stratford, Conn.

The U.S. Postal Service has created an outlet for people wanting to send letters and care packages. Anyone wishing to send condolences can do so to P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470

Security at schools will be increased. On Tuesday morning, Newtown police said Head O'Meadow Elementary School, which was supposed to resume, was closed for the day for "precautionary purposes," though they did not release any details.

A vacant middle school in a neighboring district is being prepared for the Sandy Hook students and staff.

The gunman, Adam Lanza, is being described as a bright, but painfully awkward student. His mom, Nancy, who was apparently the first slain by him Friday, shared his emotional and behavioral problems with friends, saying he hadn't left the house in the last few months.

It's believed Lanza shot himself in the front of the head. The medical examiner is waiting for results of toxicology tests performed on his body to see whether he was on any medications or drugs that may have potentially triggered the deadly rampage, and to see whether he was correctly diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome or whether anything else was at play.

To make a contribution to the Newtown Memorial Fund please visit: http://www.newtownmemorialfund.org/

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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