The Werdens also live close to the home of the shooter, also believed to have shot his mother several times in the head before he went to the Sandy Hook school Friday morning.
"If he was pissed at his family, why did he feel like he needed to go to the school and kill all those kids?" Werden said. "I can't understand it. Nobody will be able to understand it."
-- Washington Post
Anne Marie Murphy, Age 52
Special-education assistant Anne Marie Murphy — mother of four, protector of so many more — died trying to save her students, according to her father. Hugh McGowan said Murphy was found in a classroom, shielding a group of her beloved children.
"A first responder said she was a hero," McGowan told Newsday.
Of course she was, said her friend Amy Potucek. "She was so selfless," said Potucek, who worked at Sandy Hook until moving recently to another school. "I know that Anne Marie was doing everything she could to keep those kids safe, to protect them, because she loved them."
"We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy," a statement from the family of shooting victim Dylan Hockley said. "Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day."
At her funeral Thursday, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan compared Murphy to Jesus for giving up her life to protect others.
"Like Jesus, Annie laid down her life for her friends," Dolan said. "Like Jesus, Annie's life and death brings light, truth, goodness and love to a world often shrouded in darkness, evil, selfishness and death."
About 15 people arrived at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Katonah, N.Y., in a yellow school bus with "Newtown" written on its side. The church quickly filled and about 100 mourners waited outside.
Murphy, 52, was raised in Katonah, about half an hour away from Newtown, where her parents still live. She had six siblings and a serious joie de vivre. Her mother, Alice McGowan, told Newsday that her daughter was "a happy soul" who was devoted to her work and family.
The youngest of Murphy's four children is a senior in high school; the others have gone on to college and into adulthood. But always, they reconvened at the family home on Great Ring Road. Reached there Sunday, her husband, Mike Murphy, an engineer, said his emotions were too raw for him to talk. "It's too early, too soon," he said.
The Murphys' home is about five miles from the school, near the end of a rural road, by a pond where the kids ice-skate every winter. Anne Marie Murphy tended to brighten the bucolic place, a neighbor said. "She's a lovely lady, always very pleasant and very upbeat," said Gerald George, who has lived next door for about 15 years. They would always exchange pleasantries and chat about town news.
"It's just horrific, what's happened," George said. "I can't fathom the idea that she's gone and won't be pulling into the driveway next door, waving and smiling."
Murphy was a certified teacher who began volunteering at Sandy Hook when her children attended the school, friends said. She settled on working as an educational assistant at Sandy Hook "to be close to and available to her husband and to her children," Potucek said. "She was the absolute rock in that family."
She loved walking outdoors, and she loved going to the movies — though she usually avoided the violent ones. And she never saw anything when it was new, always waiting until it landed at the Edmond Town Hall theater, a second-run cinema on Main Street. "It's only $2 to get in," Potucek said. "And she had four kids."
She laughed. It felt right.
"Anne Marie was always so positive," Potucek said. "She would take any situation and make it happy. She would turn it around and look for the good."
On Saturday, Murphy had planned to get together with some of her friends for a holiday cookie exchange. They would have eaten too much and laughed even more, and they would have had a great time, friends said. They always did.