Skip to main content

Geneticists studying Connecticut shooter's DNA

By Caitlin Hagan, CNN
updated 5:40 AM EST, Fri December 28, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spokeswoman: University of Connecticut Health Center geneticists are studying the DNA
  • Genetics experts say no single gene or mutation will emerge to explain Adam Lanza's acts
  • Lanza murdered 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook school on December 14

(CNN) -- Geneticists have begun studying the DNA of Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza, a spokeswoman for the University of Connecticut Health Center said Thursday.

The geneticists were asked to join the investigation by the state medical examiner's office, spokeswoman Carolyn Pennington told CNN. She said there is no specific genetic marker the team is looking for, and that lab results and a complete analysis of the DNA "are not expected for several weeks ... probably the end of January."

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said it is unlikely investigators will be able to find a genetic clue for what motivated Lanza, who fatally shot 26 people, including 20 children, in the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14. Lanza, who had also killed his mother before the school massacre, took his own life with a gunshot to the head.

Newtown: No more gifts, please

"There's no clear-cut sort of ... genes identified with the types of illnesses, mental illnesses, that may cause this sort of behavior," says Gupta.

Lanza buried in undisclosed location
What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Not only that, Gupta said, but "there are people who carry these genes who don't have the behavior still. I think it's very hard to sort of put those two things together."

Experts in genetics agree. Although there are genetic components to many mental illnesses, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of genes involved. Most believe that no single gene or mutation could be the smoking gun that foretells violent acts like those committed by Lanza.

"There's nothing you could look at that would give an answer," said Steve Warren, chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at Emory University.

"We don't know a gene that says 'this person has schizophrenia.' There's no way to come up with a conclusion that way."

Opinion: Predicting mass killings impossible

CNN's Caleb Hellerman contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:58 AM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Horror struck Newtown, Connecticut, in such a disturbing way that the nation still struggles with its impact a year later.
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
Fifty miles from Newtown, workers hate that their products fall into the wrong hand. But the Second Amendment is sacred here.
Rabbi Shaul Praver says people in Newtown have grown weary of syrupy condolences.
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
Congress may have defeated tighter gun laws, but states have been passing bills of their own in the wake of Newtown
Details continue to emerge about what precisely happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Here is a timeline of events that compiles the latest reporting.
An interactive tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
updated 1:12 AM EDT, Sat May 25, 2013
The public school district will receive $1.3 million to help the community recover from the , U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
Police released new documents related to the shootings last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, but a motive for the attack by the troubled young man remained elusive.
updated 11:26 AM EST, Tue January 15, 2013
His parents remember Dylan Hockley as such a happy child.
updated 10:17 AM EST, Wed December 19, 2012
Amid the chaos that first-responder Ray Corbo witnessed on Friday, there is one image that he will never forget.
updated 10:02 AM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
In many ways, Josh Stepakoff's childhood came to an abrupt halt at 10:49 a.m. on August 10, 1999.
updated 9:40 AM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
When Lauren Rousseau's boyfriend wakes up, he can smell her perfume.
updated 10:30 AM EST, Tue December 18, 2012
Placing yourself in the path of flying bullets to protect innocents. It's a job description fitting for a soldier or police officer, but not for a school teacher.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT