60 Minutes Recap: Sandy Hook Killer Had Asperger’s? (12/16/12)

60 Minutes interviews the school nurse who saw the Sandy Hook killer’s legs. Ever since its accident, the Costa Concordia has been sitting on two underwater mountain peaks. Floating and towing the 951-foot luxury liner away is now the biggest maritime salvage operation. Lesley Stahl reports. Producer: Richard Bonin.

Due to the NFL going overtime by half an hour, 60 Minutes has been shortened.

Sandy Hook Massacre

Sally Cox, Sandy Hook School nurse for 15 years, heard a popping sound and fear in the voice of the secretary, which made her not check out the sound. She saw the killer from the knee down. Her secretary called 911 and said that there was a shooter, and to send help. Then they kept on hearing the popping sounds when they hid in the big supply closet, where they stayed for four hours.

What are the security measures at Sandy Hook? At 9:10, they do their pledge of allegiance. Then the doors are locked. You have to buzz in, in view of a camera, to get in. In addition to high wind, fire drills, they’ve had lockdown drills. From her office, officers guided her to the car and told her to close her eyes, which she did. Out of the 26 killed, 20 were kids.

60 Minutes also interviews a girl who sat behind Adam Lanza. She said that Adam would bring a briefcase to class, and he was uncomfortable when asked to talk in class, even though he was intelligent.

His mom, Nancy Lanza, told friends that her son was brilliant but disabled, that he had Asperger’s Syndrome, which is characterized by repetitive behavior. Nancy, 52, devoted herself full-time to home-schooling her son. She also did charity work, and grew up enjoying shooting sports. She was the first victim of the murder weapon, an automatic weapon variation of the M16.

60 Minutes interviews Robert Fine and Bryan Vossekuil, who studied killers in prison. In terms of awfulness, this continuum lone attacker incident is out there. Before an attack, a shooter would practice beforehand. In many instances, the shooter would have told someone about his plan. These are extremely rare incidents. Schools have become safer over the years.

Costa Concordia

Ever since its accident, the Costa Concordia has been sitting on two underwater mountain peaks. 30 people died, 2 are still missing. Nick Sloan of South Africa , the salvage master tells Stahl that what is visible above the surface is 35% of the ship. They plan to roll the 60,000-ton ship.

The salvage team consists of Sloan’s group and Micoperi, an engineering company. The salvage team has to create more buoyancy for the ship. A team of engineers thought of attaching Lego-like hydraulic pulleys, which have to be welded so that there are two inches of space between the pulley and the ship. Lifting a vessel this way has never been done before. It is the biggest ship ever wrecked. Costa Concordia had 1500 luxury cabins, 4 swimming pools and a casino.

On a Friday the 13th, the ship, sailing too close to shore, hit a 96-ton rock.

Because of the angle of the ship, the workers had to take a four-day course in mountain-climbing. There are 111 specially-trained divers. Every diver has a support team of five up on deck, who stand by in case of emergency.  Divers are lowered in cages. A dive master, Dwayne Monster Murster (spelling?), directs the diver because the latter could be disoriented. A diver can only stay underwater for 45 minutes max. Although they speak different languages, they work as one.

This operation costs $400 million plus. The ship sits on a marine park and a coral reef, with protected species like dolphins, and rare mussels, so blowing up the ship is not an option.

Once placed on a platform, the ship will travel by barge 15 days to a shipwreck–doesn’t she mean a shipyard? The platform’s legs are 8 feet in width. Once the rotation starts, the one-chance effort cannot be stopped. Steel will be snapping. The ship will be towed for two years to Sicily, for scrap.

Next week:

60 Minutes profiles vocal artists. Anderson Cooper talks to Adele, who sold 25 million copies last year, about the vocal cord surgery that saved her voice. Produced by John Hamlin.

Singer-songwriter Rodriguez‘s song was critically acclaimed but bombed. After 40 years of obscurity, a film and South African fans he never knew he had, make him a star. Bob Simon reports. Produced by Marvin Gavshon.

With “Mean” in the background, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Taylor Swift tells Lesley Stahl that it is her responsibility to know that she is a role model. 60 Minutes follows her backstage as she runs in and out of quick-change rooms, and catapults to the stage. Produced by Shari Finkelstein.

Check out our 60 Minutes archives HERE.

Image Credit: 60 Minutes


  1. Charles Ufarlei says

    “an automatic weapon variation of the M16″

    To the best of my knowledge and military training, All M-16s are automatic weapons (though some variants are limited to 3 round bursts).

    Did you mean to say “semi-automatic variant”? As in a civilian AR-15?

  2. Aspie Aunt says

    What is your reasoning for the title of your recap? Are you trying to perpetuate the irresponsible idea that Asperger’s alone caused the shooter to do this. My nephew has Asperger’s and is a nerd — so on some level I would think you would want, as a fellow nerd, to NOT put something out there that gets people wondering if “Aspies” are people/nerds to be feared.

    • says

      Aspie Aunt, thank you for your comment. I should have realized that yes, rightly or wrongly, this could give the wrong image of Aspies, and yes, if I were in your place, I might feel bad. I thought that a fellow nerd would understand. After all, a nerd is the only person who has the right to call someone else a nerd, right? It’s just that, with all the stuff that’s out there about Lanza, we all want to know why. He was the “typical” killer we know, someone who couldn’t blend in. And Asperger’s is the new info on him.

      I’d like to add what I should have included in my recap, that people who have Asperger’s usually are the victims of crimes.

      Of course, we all know people who don’t fit in, but who have not committed any acts of violence.

      In all my post titles, I try to include an action item in them, or something that would lead to an action item. Titles have limitations. It’s hard to say that it’s a combination of Asperger’s and something else, since we don’t even know what the something else is. We don’t even know if Asperger’s had anything to do with it.

      I hope that my reply has comforted you a bit, and I apologize for any effect that the title has caused to all Aspies and their families.

      Through this reply, I’m asking our Ed-in-Chief Kyle Nofuente to change the title to “Sandy Hook Killer Had to Buzz Into the School.” As a pseudo-/semi-nerd, I have no title change powers. I hope that the title will point out to authorities that their security measures are not sufficient.

      In the long run, though, I wish that the US could come up with measures to monitor people with certain characteristics. Something like Minority Report without jail time. Like coming up with a profile that the authorities can disseminate to schools, and counselors monitoring and reporting certain kids to a law enforcement task force that specializes in some special branch of crime prevention. And ways to prevent kids from being socially withdrawn in the first place. In Century City, people are genetically engineered to be un-shy. Don’t laugh. Science fiction does become fact sometimes. Ask Jules Verne. Not Sheldon Cooper.

    • says

      Aspie Aunt, I had been re-watching Sherlock Season 2 the past few weeks and thought only today to point out to you that he had Asperger’s. Does that make you feel better? It makes me feel better about the title of this post, and clarifies for me what Asperger’s can be.