HARTFORD, Conn. — After a week of intensive investigation following the massacre of 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary, normally promising lines of inquiry have turned up little if anything to shed light on what motivated Adam Lanza, the reclusive, 20-year-old gunman, to kill.
A preliminary examination of his cellular telephone showed that he had made or received few, if any calls, investigators said. No information has yet emerged on any possible text messages he may have sent or received.
Lanza appears to have spent much of his time during the weeks before the shooting in the basement of the home he shared with his mother, Nancy, playing violent video games on his computer, investigators believe based on interviews. His XBox, an electronic game playing device that might have led investigators to Lanza's game playing partners across the Internet, apparently was not used.
The thin, withdrawn, young man — a computer tech club member while in high school — destroyed his home computer in a fashion that experts believe may have left it worthless to forensic examiners, as if he had set out to erase clues to his thinking, or whom he may have communicated with, before he set out to commit mass murder.
Before shooting his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Lanza also repeatedly shot his mother, Nancy, killing the only person with whom he is believed to have interacted, the only person who knew him well and knew what made him tick.
State police detectives returned to the home on Yogananda Street home he shared with his mother Wednesday night. They have been combing the 4,000 square-foot house since moments after the gunfire stopped inside the school.
Lanza had two bedrooms in the house, including one in the basement in which he kept his computer, his computer video games and other possessions.
Lanza had thousands of dollars worth of video games as well as an XBox, although it appears he rarely if ever used it, preferring to play violent video games on his computer with other anonymous gamers, investigators told the Hartford Courant.
The basement also is where Nancy Lanza, a gun enthusiast and target shooter, kept her collection of weapons in a locked box. She had at least five weapons: two handguns a semi-automatic rifle, a .22-caliber rifle and a shotgun. Lanza had all the weapons except the .22 with him when he drove to the school.
If Lanza destroyed his hard drive, investigators will not be able to trace what games he was playing, whom he was playing with and, more importantly, whether he gave any warning of the horrific violence he planned. Anything he may have written on his computer that could have provided a glimpse into Lanza's thinking also would be irretrievable.
Depending how the metallic disk at the center of a computer hard drive is broken or cut into pieces, it can be difficult or even impossible to retrieve information, said Eric Friedberg, New York-based, co-president of Stroz Friedberg, a computer forensics and investigations firm.
"It is hard to put Humpty Dumpty together again," Friedberg said. "I have never actually seen this done — but the physics would say that you could do it. If it is in three or four pieces the physics suggest that it is conceivable."