Let’s role play for a second. You’re a cop. A school shooting just happened in your quiet town killing 20 kids, 8 adults and wounding 2 other adults. It is an extremely high profile case. Not just for your department, but the whole world. This case is what nearly the whole planet is talking about. You’re under a microscope. You need to get it right. You want to get it right. Given the size of the crime, the crime scene, lack of security cameras and witnesses that got to watch it unfold, it’s been extremely hard to map out the events. Did your suspect go to room A or B first? Did he go to A to B to A again? Finally, a tip comes in. A man says he was on the phone with a faculty member that day, and it sounds as if he was on the phone with her when the shooting began. And, he actually used to work at the school and has information regarding the shooting that he’d like to share with you. Seems to good to be true. Your phones have been flooding with so called “leads” all week. But you do your job and get in contact with him. He’s a bit reluctant to talk over the phone. He’s not certain you’re really a cop. Maybe just normal skepticism, or perhaps he really knows something. So you check him out and he’s the real deal. He says he’s out of state but flying in and is willing to meet and give you an interview. Awesome! Maybe this is the lead you were hoping for. The big break in the case. He flies in and contacts you like he promised.
What do you do?
A.) Give him the interview, see what he has to say.
B.) Tell him you have already heard from the female he was on the phone with and deny the interview
If you chose A, you’re a human being with logic. If you chose B, sounds like you could have a semi promising career working for Connecticut police!
I really wish I could say that the above scenario was nothing but a theoretical one. Unfortunately it is not fiction at all. In fact, this is EXACTLY what happened.
CFS 1200704559 Book 8 00098615 (12/15/12 approx. 1403 hours) “A call was received at the Newtown Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from a man named [redacted]. The call was answered by Fairfield Police Officer Kevin McPadden of the Connecticut intelligence Center (CTIC). [redacted] told Officer McPadden that this morning, he was speaking to a man he knows named [redacted] said that [redacted] told him he was a former janitor at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and that he had specific information and details about the shooting at the school. On Tuesday, December 18, 2012 I was assigned to contact [redacted] and see what information he could provide and see if I could obtain information for [redacted]. At 1705 hours, I spoke to [redacted] via telephone. [redacted] stated that he was having coffee with a few friends when one of them [redacted] mentioned that he used to be a janitor at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. [redacted] also said that the teacher in the first classroom was named [redacted] and that [redacted] [redacted] told [redacted] that he spoke to [redacted] who told him that she heard gunshots. She also told him that there was a substitute teacher in the second classroom and that she was fumbling for a key in an emergency folder. [redacted] gave me a phone number of [redacted] so that I could call him and get further information”
CFS 1200704559 Book 8 00006266 “On December 18th, 2012, Det. Gogalucci contacted me by phone and referred a lead to me for follow up. He stated that he spoke with [redacted] by phone and [redacted] is claiming to be [redacted] boyfriend. Det. Goglaucci stated that the phone interview with [redacted] struck him as strange. Meaning, [redacted] used to work at Sandy Hook School in [redacted], but has been living in [redacted] ever since. [redacted] also stated that he is flying into Connecticut to see [redacted]. Det. Gogalucci asked that I verify [redacted] is who he says he is. At approximately 2048 hours, I contacted [redacted] by phone. [redacted] stated that the last he knew [redacted] were engaged and she is aware that he is flying in to see her.”
CFS 1200704559 Book 8 00098624 “On Saturday December 15, 2012, at approximately 1403 hours, a call was received at the Newtown Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from a man named [redacted]. The call was answered by Fairfield Police Officer Kevin McPadden of the Connecticut Intelligence Center (CTIC). [redacted] told Officer McPadden that this morning, he was speaking to a man he knows named [redacted] said that [redacted] told him he was [redacted] at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and that the had specific information and details about the shooting at the school. On Tuesday, December 18, 2012, at approximately 1700 hours, I spoke to [redacted] via telephone. [redacted] did not believe that I was a law enforcement officer and was unwilling to share much information. [redacted] told me that he used to be [redacted] at the Sandy Hook Elementary School [redacted] Vest said that he currently lives [redacted] but would be returning to Connecticut [redacted] I asked [redacted] to contact me when he arrived in Connecticut so that he could confirm my identity and we could find out if any of the information he had was pertinet to the investigation. [redacted] advise me that he would call me upon his arrival in Connecticut. After speaking to [redacted] I confirmed that there was a teacher named [redacted] at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and confirmed that she had already been interviewed and provided a written statement detailing her involvement in and knowledge of the shooting at the school. I also confirmed that [redacted] was [redacted] and that she was expecting a visit from him on [redacted]. When [redacted] arrived in Connecticut, I advised him that since [redacted] had already provided a writen statement, we did not need to interview him as we already had the information he had provided us from the source he cited.”
First question we should ask, is did law enforcement have any legit reason to reject his interview?
While law enforcement should ALWAYS keep their minds and ears open, they are allowed to reject interviews on the basis of witness contamination. Say you have a witness that originally states that the suspect was wearing all black. And in every single interview the witness gives the same account every time. But then a second witness comes along and states that the suspect was really wearing brown. You then question the first eyewitness, asking them if they really saw black or brown. The eyewitness now begins to doubt their own story, sometimes entirely. “Was he really wearing brown then? Was I wrong? What if I was wrong about everything else? What if I saw a totally different person?” This eyewitness has now been compromised. Putting them on the stand would be a bad idea for both the defense and the prosecution team.
But does this logic apply to Mr. Vest? Well, let’s examine what he did get to say. First, he was talking to a female teacher in the first classroom whom was engaged.
Here’s a photo of the school’s room assignments:
Because the photo is a bit unclear, here is a newsletter from August 28, 2012 which lists the teachers in each grade and categories. I would like to examine the teachers that are in the first classrooms in each hallway to determine who he was talking to. Starting from the top hallway at room 19. To the left top corner, Rooms 29, 26. Down to rooms 42 and what should be 44 (print is a bit blurry). To the right at rooms 2 and 3 then up to room 12. Because there were no reports of any teachers in the portable classrooms stating that they heard gunshots and I do not believe there were any subs in that area, I will be skipping those classrooms entirely. If I am wrong for doing so, please correct me.
Room 19 is Dawn Ford/2nd grade. She can be immediately eliminated because she has been married for 33 years. http://www.crossroadsculturalcenter.org/speakers-archive/ford-dawn.html
Room 29 is Kristine Feda/math & science. She was in the conference room #9 with Hochsprung, Hammond and Sherlach (although some articles state that this meeting was in the main office like this one). Despite her being right in the hub of the whole event, I believe we can eliminate her. This article from the Newtown Bee in the year 2000 refers to her as MRS. Feda. As you can see in the 2010-2011 handbook she is still a Feda. And in this newsletter from 2017, her name still hasn’t changed. She is still a teacher there, and based on the school’s current site, she is still a Feda. I would assume that her name would have changed if she had gotten divorced and remarried.
Room 26 is Connie Sullivan/3rd grade. I believe we can eliminate her. Her and her HUSBAND had moved to Newtown around 2003, as you can see in this article http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2012/12/sandy_hook_teacher_i_will_stay_here_for_the_rest_of_my_career.html. Of course one could argue that this doesn’t mean she didn’t get a divorce and remarry. If you look at the 2010-2011 handbook she is listed as a third grade teacher/ level leader. She is now a fourth grade teacher at Sandy Hook, and as you can see from the school’s current site, she is still a Sullivan. http://sandyhook.newtown.schooldesk.net/Staff/Staff-Directory
Room 42 is Liesl Fressola/4th grade. She too can be eliminated because Fressola is her married name. Her maiden name was Buechler as you can see from her FB page. (please DO NOT harass her as a result of me providing you with this link. I DO NOT want anything to do with any form of harassment. That is NOT the point of my research whatsoever). In 2014 she received the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. As you can see, same name. She then went on to teach at Hanna Woods Elementary School in Manchester, MO where she still teaches. And as you can see on her teacher site, she is still a MRS. Fressola.
What should be room 44 is Ted Varga/4th grade. Do I really have to explain why we can eliminate HIM?
Room 2 can be immediately eliminated because it was empty.
Room 3 is Kelly MacLaren/special education. Based on Maclaren’s short bio on the school’s website, I believe we can eliminate her. She states that she is married and has kids. Her oldest is 9. However, this is not proof itself that she was married at the time of the shooting. But like Feda, I’d find it weird that her name wouldn’t have changed. http://myschooldesk.net/newtown/teachersite.aspx#site.7380_pid.31506_mid.56089. In the room assignment photo it also lists Christine Lamas. But she is not listed in the August newsletter. Nor is her name on the sign by the classroom door. Just Maclaren’s.
She did work there though. Here is the 2010-2011 handbook. She is listed as a behavioral analyst. My assumption at the moment is that she was originally on the roster but left after the class assignment was already made but before the newsletter. I could be 100% wrong though. If I am, please correct me. Finding her has proven to be a bit harder than I’d like. But here is what I have been able to find. Perhaps someone out there can work with what I got. According to this Lamas is her maiden name. She received a scholarship in 1999. She attended Fairfield University and Florida State University and worked as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with the Newtown Public School System. She is currently working for Cooperative Educational Services in Trumbull, Connecticut. And according to this site, the Florida campus she attended was in Panama City. However, I have not been able to find a Christine Lamas on the CEST site. But there is a Christine Peck. https://www.ces.k12.ct.us/page.cfm?p=3471. However, as of 2017 there was a Christine Lamas who was a behavioral analyst in Connecticut. So, if this is the same person and she was there during the shooting, it is possible that she just had a really long engagement and married just recently. But I believe that all of the evidence thus far demonstrates that she was not at the school that day. Again, if I am wrong, please correct me.
Last on this list, room 12. Which would be my favorite character, Kaitlin Roig/1st grade who was engaged at the time of the shooting (now goes by Roig-Debellis). But does this mean it was actually her? He stated that she heard gunshots. Roig herself stated she heard gunshots
CFS 1200704559 Book 5 00005509 “she heard what she described as “rapid fire shooting” outside of the school, right outside of her classroom.”…….. “while in the bathroom, she heard the sound of rapid fire shooting which appeared to be coming from the hallway area outside of her classroom. The shooting sounds continued for what Roig guessed to be a 10 minute time period.”
CFS 1200704559 Book 5 00091247 “Roig stated that she heard rapid fire shooting from a warfare type gun, that was what it sounded like to her.”
He then states that she said a substitute teacher in the second room was fumbling for keys. Unfortunately this does not match with the official narrative. In the second room was Vicki Soto and Anne Murphy. Both were not substitutes. However, in room 8 there was Lauren Rousseau who was a sub and Rachel D’Avino who wasn’t a sub, but had only been working there for about a week. Maybe it’s possible that he misheard her? Maybe she said second one down from her. Maybe her wording gave him the impression the sub was in the second classroom? If so, it’s still impossible. The official story states she was in her classroom when the shooting began. If she was inside her room at the time, she would have only been able to see inside room 10 via the adjoining door. There was no adjoining door between rooms 10 and 8. So the idea that there were 2 adjoining doors open and she could see in room 8 through her classroom would be wrong.
Here is a photo of the back of room 8. To the far left you can see the side of the sink that is just outside the bathroom. See! No adjoining door.
For the sake of being thorough, they note that there is no adjoining door between 10 in 8 in the scene processing report.
However, the idea that she wasn’t in her classroom really isn’t that far fetched. In the beginning it was said that she was in a meeting at the time it began and she ran into her classroom and hid her students. This narrative has since changed into her in a morning meeting with her students inside her classroom. Unfortunately because of sites updating their articles or just deleting them altogether (along with videos) it is getting harder and harder to accumulate enough sources to prove this. Here’s at least one. And a screenshot in case this too gets deleted or altered.
Some have theorized that if it was really Roig he was talking to, that perhaps this would be the reason why she was so concerned about her phone (remember the search team looking for her phone for a couple of hours?). To erase evidence that she was talking to some guy (a possible ex) and that it corroborates with the idea that she wasn’t in her classroom. Possibly leaving her students unattended. Maybe she created the story that she thought a suspect had stolen her phone in order to create an urgency to find it.
Regardless, if it was Roig, I personally believe that denying Mr. Vest an interview was a HORRIBLE choice. The worry of contaminating the eyewitness does not apply in this situation. She’s already tainted. The woman has more narratives than a alternate ending version of a Final Destination movie. She has no doubt proven to be an unreliable witness.
In her book, she says that after she was evacuated she went to grab for her phone and remembered it was in her classroom. No mention of a search team. You can read that here. She also states in her book that there were expended shells that had come through underneath the adjoining door into her classroom. But a sketch report of ballistic evidences debunks this.
Honestly, I do not want to list them all here. I will do a separate post about Roig and all her stories in the near future.
So, if he was proven to be the real deal, Roig was not consistent with her narrative (therefore contamination should not be a concern) what really was the reason they denied him an interview? Something in my gut tells me that it was because he conflicted with the narrative they had already chosen to stick with. Roig not in her class? A sub fumbling with a key while the official story states that subs weren’t given keys? (which was brought up in a recent failed wrongful death/negligence lawsuit filed against Newtown). Maybe they knew or thought they knew what else he was going to say and they didn’t want to hear it. Plausible deniability.
I’d say we should ask the officers themselves, but I highly doubt we’d ever get an honest answer from any of them. So here’s hoping that someday Mr. Vest comes forward and fills in the blanks.
Here are some resources to learn about eyewitness contamination:
Download all available police audio, video, documents and photos here: