"And you wouldn't get an answer. … But I had a gadget [like a Palm Pilot] with me at one time, where I handed him the gadget, and put it down and he wouldn't take it. But at some point, he started to play with it. And that actually … got him to start to come back and interact and be ready to go take part in the events. No answer, but physically getting up and going. So I would be determined to succeed at helping him."
Novia called Nancy Lanza only once to come to the school, but other administrators frequently requested her presence. She could be at the high school as many as two or three times a week dealing with Adam's behavior issues, Novia said.
But as Adam entered his sophomore year at Newtown High School, Novia thought the boy was making progress.
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Newtown, CT, USA
Adam "would master [technical tasks] very quickly. But still to get him to speak one or two words, it was very, very hard," Novia said. "But over time I was able to get closer and closer to him, to a point where I felt that I could sit next to him and he wouldn't pull away."
He said Nancy Lanza recognized the progress and acknowledged it.
"Yes, she did. She saw it working," he said. "Not just her. Administrators, teachers, all the students that were around him would report that slowly, but surely, he was coming out."
Novia left the Newtown school district after 15 years of service in July 2008. He established a private-investigations company in Spring Hill, Tenn. He said he was stunned to learn after the shootings at Sandy Hook that Nancy Lanza had removed Adam from high school following the boy's sophomore year.
"So suddenly, when she pulls him out of there, he loses all those support groups," Novia said. "He loses the tech club team he was involved in. He loses friends that he had made to a limited degree. He loses his special ed, he loses his school psychologist, he loses the devoted school administrators."
According to a person who has been in touch with Peter Lanza recently, Nancy Lanza never told Adam's father about any frustration with the school. The person spoke on the condition that he not be named.
Novia said he was also surprised that Nancy exposed her son to firearms.
"It's a serious mistake, first of all," he said. "If you have a child in the home with mental disorders, or learning disabilities, to have involved him with guns in the first place would be bad."
Novia owns several firearms and has taught shooting classes, and he carries a concealed pistol at certain times. He said that even shooting with Adam in the controlled environment of a shooting range was a mistake for his mother, given Adam's psychological conditions.
"For healthy people, this is a perfectly fun activity," Novia said of activities at the range.
He said the guns and the violent video games Adam played may well have been an unhealthful combination for a troubled boy.
During a search of the Lanza home after the deadly school shootings, police found thousands of dollars worth of graphically violent video games.
And detectives working the scene of the massacre are exploring whether Adam Lanza might have been emulating the shooting range or a video-game scenario as he moved from room to room at Sandy Hook, spewing bullets, law enforcement sources have told The Courant.
Before he killed his mother and set off for Sandy Hook Elementary, Adam Lanza destroyed the hard drive on his computer, which probably kept some of the records of the games he played and who he played with. He also may have destroyed any chance to see if he had a manifesto or had written down anything indicating that he planned the shootings, or why he chose the elementary school.
A Period Of Change
Adam's life after high school was marked by change. His parents divorced in the fall of 2009 after a separation that — according to those close to both sides of the Lanza family — started in 2001. In divorce records on file in Superior Court in Stamford, the couple cited irreconcilable differences. Peter Lanza remarried in 2011.