“The End”


36 Yogananda — Sandy Hook, Connecticut

Just before noon on December 10th, Nancy’s iPhone buzzed. It was a text from the guy she had been dating recently, asking how her morning was going.

She tapped a message back, saying something had happened with her son:

I was off to a rough start. [He] bumped his head (really badly) and we were dealing with blood at 5:30 in the morning :-(

The boyfriend apparently asked how it looked, or if it was really that bad. Nancy texted back:

bloody, bloody, bloody.

He is ok… It looked worse than it actually is

She didn’t elaborate. And she never told anybody else about any mishap. (Though she did have an entry written in her planner for that day, something ending with “(AM)”, that she had scribbled out.)

The boyfriend wrote back, wanting to see her before she left. Nancy replied:

I REALLY wish I could but I have so much to do and want to spend a little extra time with him before I go. Also, lots of cooking to do because I like to leave him with all his favorites.

Nothing else is known about what either resident of 36 Yogananda did that day.


Omni Mount Washington Resort — Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Nancy checked in at ten minutes after noon. If she didn’t stop in Kingston on the way, she would have had to leave Sandy Hook by about 7:30am that morning.

A grand, crystal chandelier hung over the lobby where Nancy checked in. The Mount Washington is a luxury skiing resort, nestled in the New Hampshire mountains, and advertised as “a favorite New England retreat of presidents, poets and celebrities.” In 1944, it hosted the Bretton Woods Conference, where the Allies met to establish what would be the financial structure of the post-war world.

But Nancy wasn’t there to take in its historical significance; she wanted to be pampered. The porter brought her luggage up to her room, H265.

At 8:19pm that night, Nancy went for dinner at Stickney’s, a restaurant in the hotel. By all appearances, Nancy ate alone; she ordered the mussels and sausage, some crab cakes, bread pudding for dessert, and three glasses of Kendall Jackson chardonnay. She closed her tab at 9:43pm, tipping $20, and her room was billed $107.20.


36 Yogananda — Sandy Hook, Connecticut

The user at 36 Yogananda sent an email. It was in reply to an online acquaintance, one who had apparently asked him something about the Aurora shooter, sometime back.

I didn’t really look at the emails you sent earlier, so I guess I ought to respond now. About the Chinese mass stabbers, they blend together in my mind too much for me to say much. Although I guess that should make it even easier to talk about them… I don’t know. Who am I to even say anything on the topic? The inexplicable mystery to me isn’t how there are massacres, but rather how there aren’t 100,000 of them every year. So when it comes to rates and such, causes and consequences, domestic or forging (sic), in whatever context, I’m just going to be completely making things up because I apparently don’t understand any of it.

Regarding the Aurora shooter (whose grad school application had leaked online, and included a photo of himself posing next to a llama) he was similarly detached. The precedent had been set way back at the McDonald’s in San Ysidro:

Well, the .gif of him dancing on a llama was cute. I guess that’s all I can say about the whole [fandom] thing since I can’t really relate to it. I don’t understand why there weren’t the “he’s just a poor misunderstood puppy who needs help” type flocking around [the 2011 Safeway shooter] since that spiel ostensibly applied to him more. And speaking more generally, I don’t really understand why [the Aurora shooting] was considered such a big deal all-around, as if such a thing had never happened before. It’s not like its 1984.


North Conway, New Hampshire

Nancy went shopping on the 12th. She’d been visiting North Conway for this dose of retail therapy since the 90’s, and she still loved it. Her credit card activity shows her shopping at the Polo store, and then at the Coach outlet, and finally at Brooks Brothers just before 6pm.

She was back at Stickney’s for dinner at 7:30pm. A salmon salad, chocolate mousse for dessert, and two glasses of chardonnay. Again, it appears she ate alone.

Her iPhone buzzed. Facebook notification. It was her friend Josh from My Place, the one who had gone with her to get the turkey back in its coop, and he was asking how the retreat was going. Nancy tapped a reply back:

I am sitting at dinner at a place that requires formal attire, the young couple next to me dressed to kill but covered in tattoos. Too funny!

A shimmery evening dress looks less formal with daggers and skulls peeking out.

Josh said he and Nancy should get together for dinner during the coming holidays.

That would be fun. Let me know. Just be forewarned: tattoo girl has talked me into a dragon tattoo.

Josh laughed. Nancy’s sense of humor.

She settled her bill at 9:43pm, tipping the waiter ten dollars, and went back to room H265.

* * *

The actions of the individual at 36 Yogananda on this day are not known. If he left the house, he didn’t turn on the GPS.


36 Yogananda — Sandy Hook, Connecticut

The GPS unit came on at 9:09am on December 13th, and logged a trip. It was very much like the one it had taken back on May 22nd: it left the garage at 36 Yogananda at precisely the same time of day, and turned left out of the driveway, down into Sandy Hook, turned right at the T, and headed up Riverside Drive. The driver passed the sign for Sandy Hook Elementary School, but did not turn up the driveway at the firehouse; they continued past the turn-off a ways, then pulled over in the same spot where they had back in May.

The car turned around, and went back to 36 Yogananda. This time, it didn’t take the detour past St. Rose of Lima on the way.

When he got back home, the driver removed the GPS unit from his car — along with the Honda’s paperwork from the glove box, some burned CDs, and “handwritten notes regarding addresses to local gun shops” — and put them in a white plastic garbage bag. He left the bag in the gun safe, in the computer room upstairs.


Omni Mount Washington Resort — Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Nancy called for room service to bring her a muffin. She paid four dollars, plus a $1.50 service charge.

She may have been listening to a podcast while she re-packed her suitcase; her iPhone recorded her opening the “notepad” app sometime before 1pm that day. She made a number of notes in that file — apparently, things to look up later:

Haber nitrogen gas

Chlorine gas German Jew

On radio lab

Her notes indicate that she had listened to — or perhaps spoke to someone who had listened to — a segment from WNYC’s Radiolab podcast. Specifically, it was an episode called “The Bad Show,” where the show’s hosts “wrestle with the dark side of human nature, and ask whether it’s something we can ever really understand, or fully escape.” The episode begins with “a chilling statistic: 91% of men, and 84% of women, have fantasized about killing someone.” (A later segment concerned German chemist Fritz Haber, who won a Nobel Peace prize for Chemistry in 1918 for his research on nitrogen fixation. The process enabled the production of a new fertilizer, saving untold lives from famine. But, after Haber died, the state he served used the same research to create Zyklon B, which claimed millions of lives in Nazi concentration camps. The hosts posed the question: was it fair to consider Haber responsible? For something his creation did, but that he was not even alive to see?)

Nancy headed downstairs, and checked out. She had plans for lunch (though not with her aunt, and there’s no indication that Nancy met with any family members during this trip, despite what she told her friend back in Newtown.)


Three Tomatoes Restaurant — Lebanon, New Hampshire

Nancy drove south, to an Italian restaurant about an hour outside of Kingston. Strolling into the dining area, she scanned the room for an old, familiar face; the identity of her lunch companion that day has never been released, but it was a male, and he later told investigators he had known Nancy since sometime in the late 1970’s, when she was still in high school. The man was also friends with Nancy’s mother Dorothy at that time. But Nancy and her guest had not seen each other in more than thirty years; she had contacted him out of the blue that summer, online, and they had agreed to catch up sometime. That Thursday was the day.

They talked over lunch. Nancy told him how she had ended up marrying her high school boyfriend, but it hadn’t worked out. She spoke of her two sons, one of whom was living in New Jersey; the younger one had “disabilities,” and still lived at home. “Some sort of autism,” he remembers her saying.

Nancy added that she was very proud of her youngest son’s accomplishments; he had even helped her plan the trip that brought her back to New Hampshire that week. She said it was an “experiment” between the two, to see how he fared with the house to himself for a few days. (She thus left out the many such strips she had bragged to other friends about taking over the course of the past year or two — then again, she had thirty years to cover in one lunch conversation; some condensing was inevitable.)

As they dined, Nancy’s companion could tell that her life had seen trials since moving from Kingston. But, he also got the impression that she was courageous, and “handling everything.” Nancy “accepted the obligations” of caring for her son, and had no intentions of ever remarrying. And Nancy didn’t express any plans to leave Newtown; she only talked about how happy she was to be living there.

Nancy and her old contact then parted ways, with tentative plans for him to someday come visit her in Newtown, along with his wife. Nancy left the restaurant at about 2:30pm, heading south.

* * *

On her way home, she stopped at a liquor store in Claremont, New Hampshire, and purchased five bottles of wine. She got back on the road, and continued south.

Returning to Connecticut around 7:30 in the evening, she stopped at a Whole Foods in Hartford, and bought some groceries.

36 Yogananda — Sandy Hook, Connecticut

It appears the downstairs was clean and empty of activity when she came home. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Nancy brought her suitcases upstairs to her bedroom. The shopping bags and groceries and wine boxes she brought into the kitchen, and left on the floor.

She took the receipts from her trip — Brooks Brothers, Whole Foods, etc. — into the study, and left them on her desk, next to her laptop.

At approximately 10:22pm, Nancy called her boyfriend. Just a brief check-in before bed. She said she had gotten home okay, and they made plans to see each other soon. She left her iPhone on the ottoman in the living room, and went upstairs.

She took a shower.

There was only one event in her daily planner for the 14th: a 2:00pm appointment with her friend the dressmaker, for a fitting.

In another of her notebooks, where she listed her around-the-house tasks, she wrote that she needed to get the first quarter of her Christmas cards filled out and sent, clean her room, unpack, and “balance checkbook.”

Her checkbook was downstairs in the kitchen, where she had left her purse. Check #462 was already filled out, written to her son: the amount has not been released, but in the memo section, she wrote “CZ83” — a model of 9mm semiautomatic pistol. In the date field, she wrote “Christmas Day.”

Nancy dried her hair with a green-and-orange striped bath towel, and put on a set of Victoria’s Secret silk pajamas. Pink with black polka dots. She got under the covers.

Her bedtime reading was Train Your Brain to Get Happy. Her last bookmark was in the chapter “Think Your Way to Happiness,” on a page that began, “We all lead incredibly busy lives, and multitasking has become essential when it comes to coping with all the complex details that fill our lives. Living in this state can overload our brain, with negative thoughts drowning out positive thoughts.” The book recommended staring into a candle’s flame, in order to focus one’s mind.

She left the book on the floor, next to her black slippers, and turned out the light, lying face-up, with the green and orange bath towel spread out between her hair and the pillow. Then, Nancy fell asleep.

* * *

The next morning, sometime before 9:00am, a neighbor who lived on Yogananda street heard what sounded like three or four rifle shots, one right after another. The shots did sound unusually close; he figured it was just a hunter, out in the woods, who had lost their way.