HARTFORD, Conn. — Toxicology tests show that Adam Lanza had no alcohol or drugs in his body when he shot and killed 20 first-graders and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
The tests were conducted as part of the autopsy by Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II. Sources said his final report has been turned over to state prosecutors and investigators. Law enforcement sources familiar with the test results said that Lanza, 20, had no traces of alcohol or any illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana in his body. The sources also said that there is no trace of antidepressants or anti-psychotic medications.
A toxicology exam searches for trace amount of hundreds of drugs — from aspirin to antidepressants. Sources said testing for marijuana is a specific, separate test that Carver ordered in this case.
It is unclear whether Lanza took medication or used illegal drugs or alcohol. Search warrant records released by state police do not indicate whether drugs or alcohol were found when investigators searched the Newtown home Lanza shared with his mother. Lanza shot and killed Nancy Lanza in the home before he went to the school.
The warrants do indicate that unspecified medical records were found. Law enforcement sources have said that Lanza received some psychiatric care at an unspecified point and that state police obtained those records.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner in New York City, said it could take a few days or more for drugs to leave a person’s system. Anti-psychotic drugs would take the least time, with some drugs such as marijuana taking longer, he said. Baden said the clean test for Lanza would seem to indicate no drugs were involved in the planning of the shooting.
“Whatever made him do this there weren’t drugs involved,” Baden said. “It was something else that made him decide to act out what was on his mind and start planning it.”
Former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole said she wasn’t surprised to learn that Lanza had a clean toxicology test, noting that shooters in other recent mass killings also tested clean. Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho, for instance, had been prescribed Prozac but had no traces of the drug in his system after the attack, she said.
O’Toole said that other mass shooters have had histories of antidepressant use but acknowledged going off their medications because they “wanted to have a clear head” during their attacks.
O’Toole said Lanza’s test results support the theory that Lanza’s attack was focused and well planned.
“His thinking was not blurred or flawed in anyway,” O’Toole said.
O’Toole said the absence of anything in Lanza’s system is consistent with someone thinking that “I want to kill as many people as I can.”
Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky has said he expects a final report on the state police investigation into the shooting to be released by the end of June.
Lanza shot his mother four times in the head with a .22 rifle. Her body was found in her bed. He then drove her Honda Civic to the Sandy Hook school, put in ear plugs, loaded hundreds of rounds of ammunition into his military vest and shot his way through the glass windows at the front entrance.
In all he fired 154 shots as he move through the school, all but one from a Bushmaster AR-15 that belonged to his mother.
Lanza first killed Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach in the hallway before entering the classroom of substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau and killing her, a teacher’s aide and 15 students. One girl survived by playing dead.
He then backtracked into the classroom of Victoria Soto and killed her, a teacher’s aide and five students. Six students escaped when Lanza’s gun either jammed or he had difficulty reloading it, dropping live bullets on the floor. Five students survived after Soto hid them in a closet.
Lanza shot and killed himself with a handgun as police were entering the building.