She later confided in LaFontaine that she also was suffering from a potentially fatal autoimmune deficiency, an unspecified disease that seemed to come and go. She told LaFontaine that she hadn't even revealed her illness to family members
When her husband landed a job with General Electric in Connecticut in 1998, Lanza agreed to the move because she believed it would be good for the boys.
"I was shocked when they were going to Connecticut," LaFontaine said. "It was her husband's idea and she didn't want to go at first. … She didn't want to leave because her baby brother lived right next to her in town here and she was close to him."
In the end, she made the move because of the educational opportunity it afforded the boys, LaFontaine said. "She thought the schools in Connecticut were better, and I'm sure I'm going to have to agree with that."
Doing Well In School
Nancy Lanza would settle in quickly at her new address, 36 Yogananda St., a spacious home in Newtown's Sandy Hook section.
Her elder son, Ryan, 10 at the time, found niches early in Newtown. He joined the basketball, karate and debate teams. And there was good news about her younger son, Adam, who had been diagnosed with the sensory disorder before she left New Hampshire. Adam had a birthday party, with 26 "new friends."
By May of that year, Adam was even performing in plays.
"Adam has taken it very seriously, even practicing facial expressions in the mirror!" Lanza wrote in an email to LaFontaine.
In spite of those activities, Adam Lanza had difficulty relating to others, even as a young child.
In kindergarten back in Kingston, he had been "coded," or identified, as needing an "individual education plan" and extra attention, both in the classroom and at home, LaFontaine said.
"There was a shyness and a learning thing and they were trying to unravel it," he said of Adam, whom Nancy Lanza would bring along to Ryan's Cub Scout meetings.
"Adam was a quiet kid. He never said a word," LaFontaine said. "There was a weirdness about him and Nancy warned me once at one of the Scout meetings … 'Don't touch Adam.' She said he just can't stand that. ... He'd become teary-eyed and I think he would run to his mother."
LaFontaine recalled that at one of the Scout meetings in Kingston, Adam, a slight child with a mop of curly brownish-red hair, became immersed in a crafts assignment but still exhibited the signs that would define his life: He was withdrawn, said next to nothing, was resistant to touch, and tended to exist in his own world.
On that day, LaFontaine watched Nancy Lanza approach Adam. LaFontaine knew virtually no one could touch Adam without the boy recoiling.
His mother leaned down and whispered something in the boy's ear. Then she kissed him gently on the back of his head. The boy did not say anything, or move or acknowledge the kiss in any way. But he did not draw back.
"He didn't seem to mind that," LaFontaine recalled thinking.
At Sandy Hook Elementary in 1999, Lanza expressed concerns about Adam's interaction in class, said Wendy Wipprecht of Newtown, a writer and editor who met Nancy that year.
Wipprecht's autistic son, Miles, and Adam were in the first grade together at Sandy Hook Elementary. The two mothers would share stories about their sons, Wipprecht said, and Miles was one of more than 20 classmates who attended Adam's 6th birthday party at a duckpin bowling center in Danbury.
"I guess she was worried that he had … some kind of neurobiological condition," Wipprecht recalled. "I thought it was his shyness and uncomfortableness … in large social situations. I mean, a class of 20 people is a lot for a 6-year-old to handle."