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Father claims Newtown shooter's remains; final destination unknown

A December 2012 photo of the home of Adam Lanza, the man suspected of going on a shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn.
December 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The body of the man who fatally shot 26 people in Connecticut was claimed by his father Thursday. The destination of the remains was not expected to be revealed.

Like families of other mass killers, Adam Lanza's father has to balance his own mourning with consideration for the victims, intense media scrutiny and the risk that a public gravesite could be desecrated.

Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy, inside their Newtown home on Dec. 14 before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary School, shooting his way in and gunning down 20 first-graders and six school employees. He committed suicide as police arrived. The massacre claimed more lives that any school shooting in U.S. history, except for the 2007 Virginia Tech rampage that left 33 people dead.

Lanza's father, Peter Lanza, of Stamford, Conn., claimed his son's body Thursday, and there were "private arrangements" over the weekend, according to the family spokesman. He would not elaborate on what those arrangements were.

For some in Newtown, it would be just fine to not have any public reminder of Adam Lanza.

"People are sad enough around here," said Robin Houser, 52, who was working at a center coordinating Newtown volunteers. "I would have donated his body to science and let them see what made him tick inside. And then have them take care of it."

A private service was held earlier this month at an undisclosed location in New Hampshire for Nancy Lanza, who was divorced from Peter Lanza. Briggs said a public memorial service is also planned for her sometime in the spring.

Concern about gravesite vandalism has weighed on the families of other notorious killers, including one of the gunmen in the 1999 Columbine High School attack in Colorado.

James Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University, said it is not unusual for notorious criminals to be buried in undisclosed locations to keep away the media, protesters and potential vandals. He said there could be an increased risk of a gravesite becoming a target in Lanza's case because he took his own life and was not punished.

"There is the potential for people to express anger, hostility, rage at the symbol of a person's grave if it were known," he said.

In a statement issued a day after the Newtown massacre, Peter Lanza said the family was struggling to make sense of what happened and "trying to find whatever answers we can." He also expressed sympathy for the victims' families.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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