Nancy Lanza, mother of mass murderer Adam Lanza, is being described by her friends and family as a paranoid "survivalist" in numerous published reports. That is, she believed, accepted and embraced the eschatological worldview that “the end is near,” that the world stands on the precipice of imminent, violent, economic, irreversible collapse.
Her preparations for “the end” included, but were not limited to, stockpiling of food, water and, ominously, guns of all description in the expansive $1.6 million home she shared with 20-year-old Adam, in Newtown, Conn.
Referred to as a "prepper" because she was readying for a complete societal breakdown, Nancy Lanza was obsessed with guns and made sure her two sons Adam and his older brother Ryan knew how to handle and shoot them. Reports from various news organizations said hey often visited gun ranges for target practice.
Nancy Lanza’s sister Marsha has said Nancy was "self reliant" and that they often discussed her (Nancy’s) preparations for the coming economic collapse. Marsha also added that Nancy was meticulous to a fault about never leaving guns out in plain view, but that she did not hide the fact that she had them -- lots of them.
The arsenal included not only the two handguns and semi-automatic assault rifle used in the killings but also two traditional hunting rifles. She even bragged about them in a local watering hole, and proudly displayed them to her landscaper.
Dan Holmes was her gardener. "She told me she liked the single-mindedness of shooting," he said. He also offered that Nancy Lanza would target shoot with both boys "pretty often."
Holmes also revealed that Lanza never allowed people, including him, to see inside her home. “I would ring the bell on the front door and she would come out the side and meet me," he said. "It was a little weird. It’s stranger now thinking back on what happened."
In 2008, she was divorced from Adam’s father, Peter, a wealthy senior executive at a financial services company. Reportedly, Nancy Lanza was receiving over $200,000 a year as part of the divorce settlement. She collected close to $298,000 for this year alone.
As for Adam, he has been described as a virtual “ghost” – an autistic genius. His schoolmates said that he was also an obviously “deeply disturbed” young man. Indeed, even many of his closest relatives had not seen him for years on end.
Nancy Lanza regularly partook of a dice game with her neighbors. They, too, said they never actually saw the inside of her home. Indeed, in 15 years of playing together at each others’ homes, Mrs. Lanza’s house was always skipped at her request, according to neighbor Rhonda Collens.
Other players and neighbors called her a “generous” but very reserved person, a "nice lady" who was devoted to her own and their gardens.
Still others detected that beneath her calm exterior, she was tightly wound and appeared to be trying to "hold herself together."
And, just like her gardener, they never once met Adam. He appeared to be a complete recluse with no friends to speak of. He stayed in the house at all times, glued to his computer, playing violent video games.
That Nancy Lanza was a paranoid “survivalist” is probably an important causative factor in her son’s murderous rampage. Surrounded by guns and a mother who apparently trusted no one, not even enough to invite decades-old friends into her home, is it any wonder that her “nerdy,” autistic son might someday go over the edge?
The mentality that fosters and nurtures the notion that the world is composed of only two types of people – “us” and “them" – may account for Adam’s heartlessness, his effortless ease in mowing down little children with his mother’s semi-automatic rifle.
The real question is: How many other Nancy and Adam Lanzas are out there?