Peter Lanza also told The New Yorker magazine in a series of interviews that he believes Adam would have killed him, too, if he had the chance. And he often contemplates what he could have done differently in his relationship with Adam, although he believes the killings couldn’t have been predicted.
“Any variation on what I did and how my relationship was had to be good, because no outcome could be worse,” Peter Lanza told the magazine. “You can’t get any more evil. ... How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he’s my son? A lot.”
He said he hadn’t seen his son in two years when Adam killed 20 first-graders and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012. Adam killed himself as police arrived. He also fatally shot his mother, Nancy, in their home before going to the school.
Peter and Nancy Lanza separated in 2001 and divorced in 2009. He last saw Adam in October 2010 and wanted to maintain contact with him. But Nancy Lanza wrote him an email saying Adam didn’t want to see him, despite her efforts to reason with him.
Peter Lanza said Adam was 13 when a psychiatrist diagnosed him with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. But he believes the syndrome “veiled a contaminant” that wasn’t Asperger’s.
“I was thinking it could mask schizophrenia,” said Peter Lanza, who lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is vice president for taxes at a General Electric subsidiary, GE Energy Financial Services.
Lanza told the magazine when his son was a young child, he was “just a normal little weird kid.”
But as he grew older, Adam’s mental health problems worsened, according to Connecticut State Police documents. A Yale University professor diagnosed Lanza in 2006 with profound autism spectrum disorder, “with rigidity, isolation, and a lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications,” while also displaying symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the documents show.
Peter Lanza said his and Nancy Lanza’s concerns about Adam increased when he began middle school.
“It was crystal clear something was wrong,” he said. “The social awkwardness, the uncomfortable anxiety, unable to sleep, stress, unable to concentrate, having a hard time learning, the awkward walk, reduced eye contact. You could see the changes occurring.”
After the killings, police investigators discovered that Adam Lanza had written violent stories as a child and later became interested in mass murders.
Peter Lanza believes his son had no affection for him at the time of the shootings.