In Memoriam

Newtown’s Fallen: Photos and Bios of the Shooting Victims (PHOTOS)

The Daily Beast profiles the children and adults slain Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Ana played the piano. Jesse was learning to ride horseback. When Grace last saw her mother, she was blowing Mommy kisses from the bus. As more information about and photos of the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., trickle in, The Daily Beast will update this gallery remembering the victims.

Richman Family Photo/AP

Avielle Richman

Avielle, called Avie by her parents, celebrated her sixth birthday in October with friends at a local horse stable where she took riding lessons. Avielle moved to Connecticut from San Diego with her family a few years ago and was known as her parents’ “California girl.” “When they first moved here, it was hard to keep shoes on Avielle because she was so used to running barefoot on the beach in San Diego,” a family friend said. Avielle’s father chronicled her childhood—from a recent Thanksgiving Day parade to her summer vacation—on his blog, Avielle’s Adventures.

The Gay Family/AP

Josephine Gay

Josephine, known as Joey, celebrated her seventh birthday just three days before she was killed. Joey was born in Maryland and grew up a Baltimore Ravens fan. She loved the color purple and tried to wear something purple every day. Joey was autistic and could not speak, but was often smiling and loved hugs. She played with Barbies, her iPad, her computer, and her swings, and loved to swim. Her family has established a fund in Joey’s name at the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism.

The Hockley Family/AP

Dylan Hockley

Dylan died in the arms of his special-education teacher, Anne Marie Murphy, who tried to shield him from harm. Dylan, who was autistic, was prone to flapping his arms up and down. He once told his mother that he did it because he was “a beautiful butterfly”. Dylan had bright blue eyes and loved the movie Shrek.

Tim Nosezo/Engel Family, via AP

Olivia Engel

Olivia Engel was precociously perfect. “Her only crime,” said family friend Dan Merton, was “being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.” She “lit up a room and the people around her,” her uncle, John Engel, said in a family statement. Full of life, she was a tennis and soccer player, took art classes, swam, took dance lessons in both ballet and hip-hop, and was a Daisy Girl Scout. Olivia took pride in helping her mother take care of her little brother, Brayden. “It was so cute to see these two little siblings,” Merton said. “She was supposed to be an angel in the play,” Msgr. Robert Weiss told congregants at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Saturday. “Now she’s an angel up in heaven.”


Ana Marquez-Greene

“Come thou almighty king,” Ana Marquez-Greene, just 6 years old, sings enthusiastically as her older brother, Isaiah, plays along on the piano in a heartbreaking home video that surfaced in the days after the young girl was killed. “Ana’s love for singing was evident before she was even able to walk,” said her father, jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene. Her abundant affection was perhaps even more evident. She would, unsolicited, often leave notes saying “I love you Mom and Dad” on her parents’ pillows, and when her dad bent over to kiss her, Greene said, “she would take a step backwards, poke out her lips and wait for me to lower my cheek—she made it clear that she wanted to do the kissing.”

Eliza Hallabeck/Newtown Bee, via AP

Dawn Hochsprung

“When I learned that she actually tried to take the gunman down, it was no surprise to me at all,” said Melanie Buhrmaster-Bunch about her “5-foot-2 raging bull” cousin, Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung. The 47-year-old had been principal of the school for two years, and made her first priority making Sandy Hook safer for students. She was killed after instinctively running into the hall to stop Adam Lanza after she allegedly heard him fire his first gunshots. Days after the shooting, Hochsprung’s daughter, Erica Lafferty, revealed that her mother often wrote her “Just Because” letters to express her love. Tearfully, she read one of the last letters on the Today show Tuesday: “Today I stopped and thought what a wonderful daughter I have. And I thought I’d tell you.” The letter’s sign-off: “Remember this in your darkest times. You are never alone. Your mum.”


Jesse Lewis

Jesse Lewis was leading other children when he lost his life. “He ran into the hallway to help when he heard the shots,” the 6-year-old’s family said in an obituary. “In our hearts we already knew because that was the way he lived his life—fearless, full of courage and strength. He was learning to ride horseback, and the morning of his death, enjoyed his favorite breakfast—hot chocolate and bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich at the neighborhood deli. “If you met Jesse once, he would leave an indelible mark on your heart,” his family said in the obit. “The picture that remains etched in our souls is one of him in his boots, no socks, ripped jeans and a t-shirt, an army helmet strapped to his head, a smudge of dirt on his cheek, tromping through the pasture on his way from one adventure to another.”

Courtesy of the McDonnell Family/AP

Grace McDonnell

When Lynn McDonnell last saw her daughter Grace, the child was waving and blowing kisses from the bus. “I take comfort that she’s with friends, and she’s up there with her wonderful principal,” McDonnell told Anderson Cooper. Grace loved to paint, said McDonnell, who gave one of her daughter’s favorite pictures—a cerulean and lime-green painted owl—to President Obama when he visited Newtown after the massacre. He said he’d cherish it forever. “Grace was like a little doll,” neighbor Dorothy Werden said. “She was utterly adorable … She had blonde hair and blue eyes—she was just like a little Barbie doll.” Eerily, Grace’s family lived in a home just one street away from where the alleged shooter, Adam Lanza, lived.

Courtesy of the Parker Family/AP

Emilie Alice Parker

“I’m so blessed to be her dad,” said Robbie Parker, choking back tears at a press conference as he described his wide-eyed, always-smiling girl, Emilie. At that same press conference, he did what many parents of slain children spend years building up to do—he sent condolences to the family of Adam Lanza, the alleged gunman who killed his beloved 6-year-old. Emilie was a budding artist, routinely gifting those who were down with a picture or card. She loved to try new things … except new foods. Emilie was “bright, creative, very loving,” Parker said. “She was the type of person who could light up a room.”

Family Photo/AP

Noah Pozner

When Veronique Pozner, a nurse, would tell her youngest of five children, 6-year-old Noah, that she loved him, he would reply, “Not as much I love you, Mom.” In addition to Noah’s big heart, other relatives remembered the little boy as “smart as a whip,” “extremely mature,” and “extremely bright.” His twin sister, Arielle, who survived the shooting, was his best friend, and his 8-year-old sister Sophia a constant playmate. “They were always playing together, they loved to do things together,” said his uncle, Alexis Haller. “He was just a really lively, smart kid. He would have become a great man, I think. He would have grown up to be a great dad.”


Lauren Rousseau

“It was the best year of her life,” Teresa Rousseau said of her daughter’s recent accomplishments. The 30-year-old had just landed a job as a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook in October, and was thrilled. “She wanted to be a teacher even before she went to kindergarten,” her family said. On the night of the shooting, Rousseau and her boyfriend were planning to see The Hobbit, and she had even made themed cupcakes for the occasion. “I’m used to having people die who are older,” her mother said, “not the person whose room is up over the kitchen.” In 1994, Rousseau was a member of George Hoschsprung’s fourth-grade class. George, the husband of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, considered Rousseau a “family friend,” and he and his wife were instrumental in her landing her new job.


Mary Sherlach

Mary Sherlach didn’t hesitate to react. The 56-year-old school psychologist, along with the school’s principal and vice-principal, heroically ran out of a meeting to confront the shooter and was one of the gunman’s first victims. Sherlach was beloved by students, and today her comforting presence is gone when her school needs it most. “If there ever was a person, by qualifications and personality, to work with children to be a school psychologist, it was Mary,” former school superintendent John Reed said of the 20-year Sandy Hook veteran. She was a Miami Dolphins fan, and relished her visits to the Finger Lakes. She had planned to leave work early that fateful Friday. “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, said. The mother of two was planning to retire this year.


Victoria Soto

“Her life dream was to be a teacher, and her instincts kicked in when she saw there was harm coming toward her students,” police officer Jim Wiltsie said of his cousin, slain teacher Victoria Soto. After hearing shots in the hallway, Soto reportedly hurried a gaggle of her students into a classroom bathroom to hide while she attempted to send gunman Adam Lanza away. “She lost her life doing what she loved,” Wiltsie said. Soto, 27, had been working at Sandy Hook Elementary for five years, and also was working toward a master’s degree in special education at Southern Connecticut State University. “She definitely had a calling for it,” one substitute teacher said before Soto’s wake Tuesday. “I’ve heard stories that she wanted to be a teacher since she was 3 years old.”

Benjamin Wheeler

Benjamin Wheeler grew up surrounded by music. His parents were stage actors in New York City before moving to Newtown with Benjamin and his older brother, Nate, and the 6-year-old picked up that musical gene. At a recent performance, Ben sprinted from his seat to the stage, flawlessly tickled the ivories, and immediately ran back to his seat. “There was no dimmer switch or governor plate on this kid,” his grandfather, Carmen Lobis, said. “He didn’t walk anywhere. He ran.” He was full of unconditional love, grandma Antoinette remembers, “He always blew us kisses and he would say, ‘Catch it and put in your heart.’” His whole family knew Ben was destined for greatness. "He was so exceptional. I said to Francine that he's going to accomplish so many things in his life. He was really going to do something special," Carmen said. "Maybe he won't accomplish it in life, but maybe in death he will."

Family Photo via Benjamin Wyatt/AP

Allison Wyatt

She loved to garden. She liked art so much that she taped her creations on the wall to create an art studio. Allison Wyatt, who was 6 years old, was gifted, kind, and remarkably astute. “She loved to laugh and was developing her own wonderful sense of humor that ranged from just being a silly 6-year-old to coming up with observations that more than once had us crying with laughter,” her family said. “Allison made the world a better place for six, far too short years, and we now have to figure out how to move on without her.”