Group: Adam Lanza's Documents Report: hc-558-608
The following is from the book “The Sheltered Storm” by Matthew Nolan.
Something truly unexpected happened in Adam’s fifth grade year: he made a friend. With his shyness, this alone would have been positive news, but even better, his new friend happened to live right in the neighborhood.
Years later, a peculiar document would be recovered, from an unspecified location inside 36 Yogananda. It is a custom-made, spiral-bound book, with a purple cover, bearing a title “The Big Book of Granny” across the top. At the bottom is Adam’s name, and that of his friend — the authors. In the middle, there is a crude MS Paint-style drawing of a human figure with a bell-shaped torso, her hair in a bun, her face in an angry expression, and holding her cane out to the side by its handle, as if the cane were a gun. This is, clearly, “Granny.”
When investigators eventually opened the Big Book of Granny, years after it was printed, they were shocked at what they found. The homemade book is, in the words of the Child Advocate, “a very dramatic text, filled with images and narrative relating child murder, cannibalism, and taxidermy.” Their reports would repeatedly emphasize the book’s excessively graphic content: “Clinical reviewers of this work have noted that the violence depicted far exceeds that typically found in the drawings and creative writing of boys of this age.”
As cataloged into evidence, the Big Book of Granny is divided into four sections.
The first section of the book is three pages long, and consists of 85 “Granny Jokes” — each of them a “degrading statement beginning with ‘Granny!’”
The second section appears equally innocuous: a list of advertisements for “Granny Products of the Future,” such as “Granny Action Figure” and “Granny Oats,” complete with prices for each product, and a phone number for ordering.
The third section of the book is labeled as “Granny’s Clubhouse of Happy Children.” It consists of “typed dialog from an imaginary TV show,” starring the character of Granny, her son who uses the stage name “Bobolicious,” and “several children.” The premise of the show appears to be that the “Granny” character is so aged that her speech is unintelligible, but the reader/viewer can infer what she is saying from the reactions of other characters, who are able to understand her. It’s a comic setup somewhat reminiscent of Han Solo and Chewbacca — but the similarities end there. In the world of The Big Book of Granny, all of the child characters hate and torment Granny, and Granny is a cruel person who uses her gun to shoot at seemingly anyone who appears on the show.
The final section of the Big Book of Granny is entitled simply “Adventures of Granny.” There are eight chapters, all of which involve a dialog between Granny and “Granny’s Son” (now without the “Bobolicious” stage name), with other characters dropping in and out.
There are conflicting accounts regarding the circumstances behind the Big Book of Granny’s creation. The state police write vaguely that the book was “related to a class project,” and the way it was printed and bound shows the creators had access to the same kind of equipment that the Newtown School District did indeed own, and had made available for elementary school assignments at the time. Still, it is not clear if the book itself was ever turned in — or, if the two boys instead created it by themselves, outside of the Sandy Hook school curriculum. There are only clues.
The text contains several meta-jokes, in which the characters censor themselves, in a manner suggesting that the authors wrote it to be shared.
Whatever the case, Adam’s parents were aware of the book at the time, if not its exact contents; Peter Lanza would later give a lengthy interview to writer Andrew Solomon, and would tell him that Adam “tried to sell copies of the book at school and got in trouble,” while the Child Advocate would claim in their own report that Adam “may have attempted to ‘sell’ the book to peers for 25 cents, and that a school administrator spoke to Mrs. Lanza about the matter.” (Also among the documents later seized from 36 Yogananda, along with the Big Book of Granny, is an undated holiday card, which includes a hand-drawn depiction of the same “Granny” figure — this time wishing Nancy a happy Mother’s Day.)
Even to Connecticut’s team of seen-it-all child psychologists in 2014, the book would stand out, “a text marked by extreme thoughts of violence that should have signed a need for intervention and evaluation.” But if indeed a school official had ever looked at the Big Book of Granny, there’s no sign that they brought it to the attention of the school psychiatrist at Sandy Hook, nor any other mental health professional.
It is difficult, in retrospect, to quantify exactly what level of concern would have made a difference; the book’s contents may have been interpreted in any number of ways. But to the doctors working with the Child Advocate’s office, the book showed “a boy who is struggling with disturbing thoughts of extreme violence that seem to have poured out in the form of stories and visual images of a caregiver and child-like character who are alternately victimized by and victimizers of each other.” This suggests that “on some level,” by age ten, Adam Lanza was “deeply troubled by feelings of rage, hate, and (at least unconscious) murderous impulses.”
Eventually, in 2013, the authorities would track down the co-author of the Granny book. The boy (now a young man) appeared to have a quite detailed memory of the day he and Adam began writing the Big Book of Granny: he said that the book had been created as part of a “group” assignment, involving several other students, all pitching ideas to Adam for inclusion in the story. The co-author remembers that they had all agreed to write the story in a “Calvin and Hobb style,” and that he drew the cover art himself. In his memory, the book was turned in, an actual assignment — the school did the binding, and he and Adam each received a grade.
The co-author sharply deviated from his own mother’s testimony, in a major aspect: he had never, he claimed, been to Adam’s house, and Adam had never been to his. They were not friends, and never rode bikes together — they never interacted outside of school at all. He simply could not account for his mother’s markedly different recollections about his friendship with the boy in the yellow house.
This 2013 interview would be conducted at the former student’s assigned probation office; the book’s co-author had experienced his own problems since those days in 2002, and he was now living “in a group home under constant supervision,” having been diagnosed with a mental illness as the result of an unrelated case, involving unspecified “motor vehicle charges.”