Connecticut school shooting

Family holds quiet funeral for gunman's mother in New Hampshire

Family of Nancy Lanza pay their last respects in New Hampshire as other victims are laid to rest

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2012, 3:44am

As the funeral processions unfolded this week across Newtown, Connecticut, laying to rest victims of last week's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the massacre's often-uncounted first victim - memorialised: Nancy Lanza, the mother of the killer - was quietly remembered.

An official source in New Hampshire confirmed that a private funeral, attended only by her family in an undisclosed location, had been held for Nancy Lanza, 52, on Thursday.

"About 25 family members attended," said Donald Briggs, police chief in Kingston.

The service probably occurred near Kingston, the New Hampshire town 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 of 20 first graders, six school staff, and Lanza herself 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 was 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 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.

State medical examiners in Connecticut did not say what plans were for the disposal of Adam Lanza's remains. Briggs said the family expects to make a decision "in the near future" about where Nancy Lanza would be buried. Adam Lanza's burial, he said, might be delayed until spring.

Funerals were also held for a half-dozen other victims on Thursday. Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral for Benjamin Wheeler, six, filing into the grey stone Trinity Episcopal Church past two rows of Boy Scouts who lined up outside as a flag-bearing honour guard.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy called for residents of his state to observe a moment of silence at 9.30am yesterday, a week after the shootings, and his fellow governors, from Maine to Kansas, followed suit.

Additional reporting by Reuters