Why Adam Lanza Killed Those 20 Children

Names of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School are seen on crosses at a memorial in Sandy Hook Village in Newtown, Connecticut, December 18, 2012. Alleged gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 6- and 7-year-olds and six adults in a rampage at the elementary school on December 14 2012. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Adam Lanza made news again last week, more than a year after he shot himself after killing 20 students at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The tabloid headlines were about a creepy audio recording of Lanza sharing his views on Travis, a chimpanzee who became famous after tearing the face off of a woman in 2009.

On December 20, 2011, Lanza posted the audio clip on a mass-killer website, Shocked Beyond Belief, devoted in large part to the Columbine shooters. But lost in the public expressions of horrors at hearing the articulate, deliberate voice of the infamous killer for the first time, are his nearly 300 other postings on that site, which, along with that audio recording, provide the clearest answer yet to the question many have been asking since that horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012: Why?

We all know now that Lanza was twisted with mental illness. In my book, Newtown: an American Tragedy, I document, through almost a decade of his mother's emails, his downward spiral as he gradually lost his tenuous connection to reality. In 2010, his illness became so severe he broke off relations with almost everyone in his life and secluded himself in his bedroom, where he spent lonely hours playing violent video games and obsessing over mass murderers.

Lanza "displayed a profound autism spectrum disorder with rigidity, isolation and a lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications," a Yale psychiatrist who treated Lanza concluded, according to state police records. However, what remained unknown was the harrowing depth of the despair and paranoia that fueled his delusions.

Lanza never accepted his diagnosis and refused to take any medications.

He joined the mass-killer website, Shocked Beyond Belief, creating the screen name "Smiggles" on December 29, 2009. It wasn't long before he began to express his paranoia, and his belief that society was trying to manipulate him into following an immoral value system that led millions to both mental and physical sickness.

When Lanza talked about that chimp's act of violence that nearly killed a woman as an enviable act of self-liberation during his call-in on Anarchist Radio, a counterculture Oregon radio station, on December 20, 2011, less than a year before he walked into Sandy Hook, he also laid out his justification for mass shootings:

"Look at what civilization did to [Travis]. It had the same exact effect on him as it has on humans," Lanza told the host in a steady, machine-like voice. "And his attack wasn't simply because he was a senselessly violent, impulsive chimp, which was how his behavior was universally portrayed. He knew that [his owner] was trying to coax him back into his place of domestication, and he couldn't handle that, so he attacked her, and anyone else who approached them."

Lanza later said society's pressure to conform to its immoral value system could make any living creature snap, and perhaps commit a mass shooting to express their outrage:

His attack can be seen entirely parallel to the attacks and random acts of violence that you bring up on your show every week, committed by humans, which the mainstream also has no explanation for, and - and, actual humans... I just - just don't think it would be such a stretch to say that he very well could have been a teenage mall shooter or something like that.

Lanza understand, felt, that chimpanzee's anger and frustration over being forced to conform. Lanza, whose illness made bright lights, loud sounds and certain textures unbearable, never had the opportunity to experience the best of what society had to offer. Instead, he believed the human race was trying to control him, even confessing in one of his posts that his "wet dream" was "living in the wild with apes."

In another post Lanza writes:

[The] entire philosophy behind education: the brutal indoctrination of pristine minds so as to propagate some delusional system of cultural values.... Is it really so ideal to have good and efficient citizens? All they'll do is be more effective at propagating the system you hate.

Lanza's alienation from himself and all around him was nearly absolute. He hated the sun. He hated holidays, with the exception of Halloween, which he reasoned "is the only widely observed holiday with the potential for despair." Not even ice cream was immune from his scorn.

On February 26, 2012, Lanza posted this:

I hate how life-apologists say 'Life isn't all suffering. What about the simple pleasures, like eating ice cream?' They always use that example. Even if I didn't recognize the flaws in their assertion, when I think of ice cream, I can only see a repugnant lump of pus crushed out of cows' bloody nipples, who spend their entire lives confined in filth, where they're periodically raped so that they're incessantly pregnant... I always ride the pessimism train down different tracks until it inevitably leads me to contemplating over 500 million years of animals cannibalizing each other. Excuse me for not being thrilled by the extra jimmies on my ice cream cone.

He believed that an increasingly controlling and immoral populace was pushing more and more people to commit mass shootings. In another post, he speculated about the increase in mass murders, and hinted at another possible motivation: fame.

If you were trying to measure alienation in a society, what could be a more blatant indication? And it's glib to dismiss them as not being indicative of anything just because there have been over a thousand of them instead of over a hundred thousand, or however many you think are necessary, because mass murdering is so ridiculously over-the-top of a response that very few people are prone to do it under any circumstances. But just look at how many fans you can find for all different types of mass murderers and beyond these fans are countless more people who can sympathize with them; and beyond these are millions more who never think of relating the circumstances of their lives to anyone else but instead just go through the motions of life incessantly dissatisfied with their environment.

When Lanza wrote that post, law-enforcement officials believe he had already begun planning his Newtown massacre.

Was Lanza a Pedophile?

In his posts on Shocked Beyond Belief, Lanza may have answered the most perplexing question surrounding this tragedy: Why did he target children?

The conventional wisdom in law enforcement is that he was just trying get the most kills, but his postings suggest another answer. In Lanza's Matrix-like world, children were indoctrinated from a very young age to become part of a sick machine that was self-perpetuating. They were manipulated to live unhealthy lives. In Lanza's deranged world view, they were already doomed to live a joyless world that would use and abuse them. By killing them, he'd be saving them from the hell he was enduring.

On December 7, 2011 in a thread titled "You know what I hate?" he posted this:

Civilization has not been present for 99% of the existence of hominids, and the only way that it's ever sustained is by indoctrinating each new child for years on end. The "wellness" that you speak of is solely defined by a child's submission to this process... When civilization exists in a form where all forms of alienation (among many other things) are rampant... new children will end up "not well" in all sorts of ways. You don't even have to touch a topic as cryptic as mass murder to see an indication of this: you can look at a single symptom as egregious as the proliferation of antidepressants.

A December 20, 2011 exchange between Smiggles and two other posters have led some to conclude that Lanza's attack on children may have been his way of acting out a depraved sexual fetish.

Smiggles: Literature is simply another coping mechanism for children who've been mindfucked by culturapists. They're carried to other worlds in the stream of semen."

Gluth: Doesn't anybody else notice that Smiggles sometimes sends huge 'I AM A PEDOPHILE' signals?"... No offense buddy but children in a semen stream? What the hell did you smoke?"

[Smiggles responds with a smiley face.]

Ivan: "I like Smiggles, he talks about children in a sexual way and is a cool guy."

Inside Lanza's room investigators found "materials regarding the topic of pedophilia and advocating for rights for pedophiles," and a "screenplay or script" titled Lovebound "describing a relationship between a 10-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man."

On December 1, 2011, Lanza posted about a dream in which he tried to kiss a "kindergarten-age" girl, but she rebuked him. Annoyed that she had been "brainwashed," Lanza wrote that he picked her up and tossed her over a railing.

There were other dreams he wanted to talk about, to share. "Today I dreamt a Columbine reference for the first time. I've probably never had one before because I've scarcely ever cared about Columbine," Lanza wrote, explaining that this former classmate tried to recruit Lanza to "go Columbine" with him, because he, like Lanza, had been bullied.

Perhaps most troubling of all was that this severely mentally ill young man, refusing medication, obsessed with violence and surrounded by automatic weapons, who had cut out almost everyone he cared about, made all these terrifying posts on a public forum.

No one said anything, no one helped him, and no one tried to stop him.

There were so many warning signs that a mass shooting was coming:

How about how Mad_Bomber has been here for three years and he still hasn't gone on a rampage? I thought he would've been on my catalog of mass murderers by now. (smile icon).

And this:

I'm still waiting for a mass shooter who eschews 9mm pistols and instead buys an AK-47 pistol, 30 30-round magazines, and 1000 hollow points....

Lanza believed mass shooters were sending a message of resistance. They were declaring that they wouldn't play by society's sick rules. They were fighting back.

It goes without saying that an AK-47 and enough ammunition could do more good than a thousand 'teachers,' if one is truly interested in reforming the system...

Lanza posted that a year before walking into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a Bushmaster XM 15-E2S assault rifle. And there was this:

In short time the children will be brainwashed, pumped full of Xanax and told to conform, until they have been turned into the oppressors.

They (the children) are already dead.

Newtown: An American Tragedy, by Matthew Lysiak

Matt Lysiak is the author of Newtown: an American Tragedy,