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Suspect’s aunt: ‘Why would anybody do this?’

Nancy Lanzmother Connecticut school shooting suspect Adam Lanza.   |  Provided~Facebook photo

Nancy Lanza, mother of Connecticut school shooting suspect Adam Lanza. | Provided~Facebook photo

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Updated: January 17, 2013 6:46AM



Marsha Lanza’s ears perked up Friday morning at the name Sandy Hook — the grade school in Newtown, Conn. besieged with bullets some 900 miles from her own home in Crystal Lake.

Nancy lives there, she said to herself.

She dashed off an email to Nancy Lanza, her sister-in-law, who lives in the tiny town. Both women married Lanza brothers — Marsha the eldest, Nancy the youngest. They even kept in touch across the country after Nancy and P.J. divorced.

The message would go unanswered, Marsha Lanza said Saturday morning as she cried on her front porch.

“I couldn’t stop crying. I have a gut feeling this is my family,” she said she told a friend Friday. “My intuition tells me that it is.”

Within hours, Marsha Lanza called her own husband working in North Carolina with heartbreaking news: his brother’s ex-wife was dead; their son, Adam Lanza, was the suspected shooter of her, five other adults and 20 small children.

“Why would anybody do this, especially somebody in their own family?” Marsha Lanza, 57, said Saturday. “What would have caused it?”

Police initially named Adam Lanza’s brother as the shooting suspect.

“I thought Ryan, no. Never would have thought him, no.”

And Adam?

“I wasn’t sure,” she said of the nephew she hadn’t seen since he was about three. “I wasn’t sure because I knew she [Nancy Lanza] had issues with him.”

Police said Adam Lanza used the guns his mother kept in her tony home to be, as Marsha Lanza described it, “prepared for the worst.”

Nancy Lanza feared the economy might tank — and she lived alone, Marsha Lanza said.

“I knew she kept ‘em [the guns]. I didn’t know that they would be used on her.”

Nancy Lanza, 52, had grown up on a farm in New Hampshire, a few towns over from Marsha’s hometown. She was strict with her boys ­— but you have to be, said Marsha Lanza, who raised five sons.

“Any mother of boys rides a mean broom,” she said. “Kids walk all over you as long as you let them. You draw that line and say no more. You hold that line; you have to.”

Nancy also had been a loving mother, the woman at family get-togethers sitting on the floor with all the children while the other adults drank a beer in the kitchen.

“That’s who she was, she loved the kids,” Marsha Lanza said.

As ex-wife of a successful General Electric executive, Nancy Lanza didn’t need to work. When her younger son, Adam Lanza, had “issues” at school, his mother home-schooled him, Marsha Lanza said.

His mom believed her sons weathered their parents’ divorce well after about 20 years of marriage, she said.

Their dad, Peter Lanza, known as P.J., has since remarried.

Since the shootings, he has not yet contacted his older brothers, including Michael Lanza, living in North Carolina for work since losing his job in Illinois three years ago.

His Illinois relatives are still waiting, waiting to check on P.J., waiting for all the sons to come home, Marsha Lanza said, waiting for answers.

Meanwhile, they’re all mourning.

“My heart goes out to the families who’ve lost kids. I’ve lost two,” said Marsha Lanza, who lost a boy to cancer at 3 1/2 years old and a 37-week-old stillborn baby.

“There’s nothing worse than losing a child. I’m just devastated by the whole thing. It’s a family’s nightmare. It’s a mother’s nightmare.”

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