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Wife got custody of son who became mass killer

8:50 AM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
This undated photo shows Adam Lanza posing for a group photo of the technology club which appeared in the Newtown High School yearbook.(Photo: AP)
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NEWTOWN, Conn. -- When Nancy and Peter Lanza divorced three years ago, Nancy Lanza got $240,000 a year in alimony and primary custody of the teenage son who last week committed one of the most gruesome crimes in U.S. history.

Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot his mother in her bed Friday before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killing 20 children and six adults. He shot himself in the head as police arrived.

On Monday, the community buried two of the young victims: Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both 6. Sandy Hook Elementary remained closed and could remain closed for months as police continue their investigation. Police have not revealed whether Lanza, who had no criminal record, had a particular connection with the school or why he would shoot his mother.

Nancy Lanza, 52, filed for divorce from Peter Lanza on Dec. 9, 2008, in Stamford, Conn., saying "the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and there is no possibility of getting back together." The couple had already separated, and Peter Lanza was living in an apartment in downtown Stamford.

The Stamford law firm of Piazza, Simmons & Grant, which represented Nancy Lanza in the divorce, said in a statement Monday that she "was always courteous and polite. She was an intelligent woman who we were pleased to represent."

Nancy Jean Champion and Peter John Lanza married June 6, 1981, in Kingston, N.H. Their oldest son, Ryan John Lanza, 24, an accountant now living in Hoboken, N.J., was born seven years later on April 10, 1988.

Adam Peter Lanza was born April 22, 1992.

In the divorce, Nancy Lanza asked for a fair division of property, alimony, child support, support for the boys' college educations and joint legal custody. The divorce became final Sept. 23, 2009.

Peter Lanza, 54, is tax director and vice president for taxes at GE Energy Financial Services in Stamford, according to his LinkedIn profile. He previously worked as a senior tax manager at Ernst & Young. He has since married a university librarian and lives in Stamford.

At the time of the divorce, Peter Lanza earned $8,556 a week. He agreed to pay annual alimony in 2010 of $240,000 with increases each year. In 2012, Lanza paid his ex-wife $289,800. After 2016, Nancy Lanza would get annual cost-of-living increases based on the 2015 alimony payment of $298,000 a year until Peter Lanza retires.

There seemed to be nothing excessively acrimonious about the divorce. Peter Lanza agreed to maintain a $3 million life insurance policy with his ex-wife as the beneficiary.

The couple also divided their nine-game season ticket plan for the Boston Red Sox, with Nancy Lanza having the two tickets for five games on odd years and four games on even years. The couple agreed to divide any post-season tickets "fairly as they have done in previous years," court papers noted.

Peter Lanza transferred ownership of their Yogananda Street house in Sandy Hook to Nancy Lanza. The court instructed Nancy Lanza to either sell the house or refinance the mortgage so that her husband was no longer liable for it.

Nancy Lanza "did not have to work," Gregory McAvoy, a local radio host, said. McAvoy chatted with her often at My Place, a restaurant and bar that Lanza frequented. "She did a lot of charity work. Nancy was just a regular person."

She talked occasionally about her kids, McAvoy said.

"She was proud of them. She said how well they did in school," he said. "She talked about how much time she had to spend with the one who needed special help, but she said it was time well spent."

Friends of the family have described Adam Lanza as highly intelligent, but withdrawn.

The couple agreed that Adam Lanza, then 16, would live primarily with his mother, but that his father would have "liberal visitation and vacations." Court papers indicate Adam had lived in Sandy Hook since birth.

The judge gave the parents joint legal custody and noted that the parents agreed they must "consult and discuss with each other major decisions" affecting Adam, including decisions related to education, living arrangements, religion and non-emergency medical care.

In the end, if the parents could not agree, the judge said Nancy Lanza would make the final decision.

In the divorce, Lanza agreed to pay the entire cost of his sons' college and graduate school education. In addition to college expenses, Peter Lanza also agreed to provide a car for Adam. Nancy Lanza would cover insurance and maintenance.

USA Today

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