Governor’s Newtown Panel Stymied by Lanza’s Missing Mental Health Records

January 6th, 2014 | Blog

Sandy Hook Advisory Committee Stymied by Lanza’s Missing
Mental Health Records

Say it isn’t so.  The Chairman of the Sandy Hook Advisory Committee, Scott Jackson, doesn’t have the medical/mental health records of Adam Lanza, which are necessary for his committee to make appropriate recommendations for changes to the State’s mental health system.

This is really old news to Ablechild.  Having spent nearly a year utilizing every legislative and legal avenue available to make public the toxicology, medical and mental health records of Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, Ablechild was stymied by State officials at every step.

Yes, Ablechild is empathetic to the difficulties Jackson is having obtaining this important information, which is key to making – or not making – changes to the State’s mental health system.

Interestingly, Jackson has hired a law firm to comb through the thousands of pages released by the State Police. What law firm and at what cost to Connecticut taxpayers?  It only took Ablechild three days to review the redundant and heavily redacted documents within the State Police Report.  Nevertheless, Jackson apparently has read enough of the report to start asking questions.

According to Jackson, “one of the things that we really talked about quite a bit was that we need to understand the story of Adam Lanza and Nancy Lanza and we really don’t have it.” In particular, Jackson said “in order to understand how we got to where he was from a treatment standpoint, they’re going to need a little bit more.”

“A little bit more?”  With all due respect, the Committee needs more than a “little bit” of information.  Other than providing a few psychiatric diagnoses, and the mention of one psychiatric drug prescribed to Lanza, there are no specifics provided about the shooter’s mental health treatment.

In fact, it’s fair to say that more is known about the mental health records that were destroyed by Lanza’s primary psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Fox, than what mental health treatment Lanza received.  Worse still, the last five years of Lanza’s mental health services is nonexistent.

According to the data provided by both the State Attorney’s office and the State Police Report- literally thousands of pages – there is zero mention of any mental health services provided to Lanza after 2007. Why?

And, with what little information is provided, why are physician treatment “summaries” provided in the recently released State Police Report?  Wouldn’t the actual comments of those psychiatrists treating Lanza be of more help to the Committee than a detective’s summation?

Dr. Harold Schwartz, psychiatrist and member of the Committee, understands the importance of hearing directly from the “horse’s mouth.”  “It’s better,” said Schwartz, “than nothing to have these summaries, but these summaries are not by clinical people.”

Schwartz opines that it may be necessary to contact the shooter’s father, Peter Lanza, to obtain the necessary records.  Why?  Wouldn’t the investigative bodies already have requested and obtained these records?  If not, it seems odd that both investigations would conclude they were unable to find a motive for the attack without first having considered Lanza’s complete mental health treatment record.

Additionally, in May of 2013, Peter Lanza signed a PeterLanzaConsent PeterLanzaConsent form allowing the State Medical Examiner to make public his son’s toxicology report.  Why, then, has the full toxicology report been withheld?

Furthermore, it may serve the Advisory Committee members well to speak with Assistant Attorney General, Patrick B. Kwanashie, who explained during the Ablechild Freedom of Information hearing that the reason for withholding Lanza’s toxicology report was because it “would cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications.”

Sounds like Kwanashie has the inside track on Lanza’s mental health records.  But if that avenue fails to produce results, given that it was his idea to set up the Advisory Committee, perhaps Governor Malloy could pull some strings with his own agencies.

The bottom line is that without reviewing Lanza’s complete mental health record, there is no way the Advisory Committee can, or should, make any decisions about instituting changes to the State’s mental health services.

 

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