As the funeral processions unfolded this week across Newtown, Conn., laying to rest the 26 victims of last week’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the massacre’s often-uncounted 27th victim was quietly memorialized Thursday: Nancy Lanza, the killer’s mother.
An official source in New Hampshire confirmed that a private funeral had been held for Lanza, 52, at an undisclosed location, attended only by her family.
“It was private, family only. About 25 family members attended,” said Donald W. Briggs Jr., police chief in Kingston, N.H.
The service probably occurred near Kingston, where Lanza grew up, married her high school boyfriend and bore the couple’s two sons before moving to Connecticut in 1998.
Her family in New Hampshire has kept a low profile since the killings catapulted them into national scrutiny.
Lanza’s mother, Dorothy Hanson, a 79-year-old former school nurse, broke down and could not speak when contacted by a reporter. Her brother James Champion, a longtime law enforcement officer in Kingston, had planned to read a statement to the media but found himself unable to do so. Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing read the statement instead.
“The family of Nancy Lanza share the grief of a community and the nation as we struggle to comprehend the tremendous loss that we all share. Our hearts and prayers are with those who share in this loss, the families, teachers, staff and students of Sandy Hook Elementary School,” the statement said. “We reach out to the community of Newtown and express our heartfelt sorrow for the incomprehensible and profound loss of innocents that has affected so many.”
FBI officials in New Hampshire interviewed Nancy Lanza’s family for clues in the early days of the investigation. Separately, law enforcement officials interviewed her surviving son, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, an accountant in Manhattan, and her ex-husband, Peter Lanza, whom she divorced in 2009.
Adam Lanza was not buried with his mother, and state medical examiners in Connecticut did not say what plans were in place for the disposal of his remains.
Briggs said the family expects to make a decision “in the near future” about where Nancy Lanza will be buried. Adam Lanza’s burial, he said, would be unlikely to occur right away, and might be delayed until spring.
[For the record, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 20: An earlier version of this post said Nancy Lanza was buried on Thursday. Actually, her funeral was held, but she has not been buried.]