Notes & Sources

On Official and Primary Sources

There were several official investigations into the Sandy Hook shooting, the records from which constitute most of the evidence this narrative relies upon: first is Connecticut’s Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the shooting, which was based on the Connecticut State Police’s investigative files, and released in November 2013. This is generally cited below as “The CSP Official Report,” or similar.

Next is the “Child Advocate Report,” released by Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate in November of 2014, under the title “SHOOTING AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.” This report focuses on the childhood development of the Sandy Hook shooter, whereas the CSP report consists more of witness interviews and physical and digital evidence collection, and thus portrays the latter portion of the shooter’s life.

Meanwhile, there were also a handful of journalism pieces published in the years immediately after attack that reported a great many of the events portrayed in this story: “Raising Adam Lanza” by PBS Frontline and the Hartford Courant (including the unedited supplemental interviews and the e-mails Nancy wrote to Marvin LaFontaine) and Andrew Solomon’s interview with Peter Lanza, “The Reckoning,” published in The New Yorker in March 2014.

More recently, there was the FBI’s investigative files, from the support the bureau lent to Connecticut for their 2013 report, and which were finally released more fully in October of 2017. In addition to several entirely new revelations, these pages also served to confirm the accuracy of much of the shooter’s online footprint, which had been circulating on the internet for years by that point.

Finally, there are the files released by Connecticut as a result of The Hartford Courant’s legal fight to obtain them through FOIA requests. These are mostly school assignments and digital files from the Sandy Hook shooter, which were redacted from the official CSP report. These are generally noted in-text as being part of that release, and cite the Connecticut court decision requiring their release.

On the Shooter’s Online Identities

As depicted in the last half of this story, the eventual Sandy Hook shooter assumed a number of online identities over the course of his adolescence and adult life. This writing of this story arose from an effort to track those online identities.

There are three primary identities that the shooter used, which appear in Part IV and Part V of this story: Blarvink and Kaynbred were both initially revealed in stories published by the Hartford Courant in the summer of 2013, when the first details from the official investigation leaked.

The official report was finally released in late 2013, and the username Smiggles was first revealed in its supporting exhibits. By that time, I had started the research blog Sandy Hook Lighthouse, and had submitted membership requests to a number of “Columbine Forums” in an effort to find the one that the shooter had allegedly used, according to the official investigation’s summary report. In January 2014, I was granted access to the then-current version of the “Columbine Discussion Forum” — two versions removed from the one that the shooter used — and from a subject line in that forum, learned that a user “Smiggles” had posted to something called a “SCMRPG discussion forum.” I went looking for that forum, learned about the RPG game and its associated forum, posted about it, and didn’t give the manner of my finding it any more thought.

Years later, second-hand, I would learn that the host of the “New” forum felt slighted when I posted the “Smiggles” story without mentioning their contribution; this user, “Jenn,” likely does deserve credit for having first connected “Smiggles” to the Sandy Hook shooter. I do not lay claim to having done so; however, they would also contend with a New York Daily News reporter who claims to have preceded us both. I’m not aware of any clear resolution to this issue, but regardless, the FBI’s files would later show that none of us were “first” to make the connection — the bureau found it just days after the shooting.


Part I: Over the Horizon

Preface through Chapter 10: Snowdrop

Part II: Tide & Season

Chapter 11 through Chapter 23

Part III: Thin Air

Chapters 24 to 37

Part IV: The Gathering Eye

Chapters 38 – 55

Part V: Landfall

Chapters 56 – “December 14, 2012”

Part VI: Still Waters

Chapters 73 – Epilogue