Threats to grieving dad
A crime horrified the world, and sheer cruelty followed
A ll that the parents of little Noah Pozner – murdered in the worst mass shooting in US history – wanted was to grieve in peace. Yet they faced sick claims from conspiracy theorists, then death threats… THE STORY
On the morning of Friday 14 December 2012, Lenny Pozner dropped his three kids at Sandy Hook primary school in Newtown, Connecticut. ‘Have a great day,’ Lenny called as 6-year-old Noah jumped out, wearing his Batman jumper and Spider-man trainers, followed by his twin sister Arielle, and big sister Sophia, 7. But, just 30 minutes later, little Noah was dead. Adam Lanza, 20, had burst into the school, gunned down 20 children, all aged 6 and 7, and six staff before shooting himself. Hearing the news, Lenny and his wife Veronique raced to the school. To their relief, Noah’s sisters, who’d been in different classrooms, were alive. But Noah had been shot 11 times, his jaw and left hand blown off, his Batman top soaked in blood. Noah had only recently turned 6, had just lost his first tooth. He had a cheerful smile, big brown eyes, and his teacher described him as bright, inquisitive. For the Pozners, the loss of their little boy was unbearable.
Just days later, the world was still reeling.
The family, still in utter shock, thought they’d seen the worst of humanity.
But then a band of wicked conspiracy theorists crawled out of the woodwork – so-called Sandy Hook ‘truthers’ who alleged the massacre had never happened.
They claimed Noah and the other victims had never existed.
Before they’d even buried their son, the Pozners were accused of being paid actors who were part of a huge government hoax staged to build support for gun control.
At Noah’s funeral, Veronique insisted on an open casket, a blanket covering his catastrophic injuries.
‘I want the world to see what they did to my baby,’ she wept.
Gun control quickly became a hotly debated topic.
Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists created websites, targeted grieving families.
It wasn’t enough that the Pozners had lost their son. Now they had to defend themselves.
Some sick ‘truthers’ insisted that they and other Sandy Hook parents exhume the bodies of their children to prove they existed.
They demanded birth certificates.
Determined to debunk these wild theories, Lenny Pozner confronted the conspiracy theorists over e-mail, phone and social media.
He uploaded Noah’s birth certificate, report card, even his death certificate.
But Internet trolls didn’t care about Noah’s teacher’s kind words or if he’d been born a healthy 7lb 2oz.
‘They’d find a typo or spelling error and pick it apart,’ Lenny told the Press.
So, in 2015, he set up Honr Network (www.honr.com) – an organisation that took legal
‘Truthers’ claimed Noah had never existed
action against harassers of Sandy Hook survivors and their families.
That December, the Pozners wrote an open letter to a US news website.
The heartache of burying a child is a sorrow we would not wish upon anyone. Yet, to our
horror, we have found that there are some in this society who lack empathy for the
suffering of others, they wrote. But, a month later, in January of last year, Lenny, then living in Palm Beach County, Florida, received voicemails and e-mails from
a woman. Death threats.
‘You gonna die, death is coming to you real soon,’ she said in one.
‘Look behind you, it is death!’ she screamed in another.
Also, ‘There’s nothing you can do about it.’ Beyond cruel.
Detectives tracked the voicemails to a woman called Lucy Richards.
And, days before the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, she was arrested for four felony counts of transmitting threats.
Lucy Richards, 57, from Tampa, Florida, appeared at Fort Lauderdale federal court wearing furry slippers and using a walker.
She pleaded not guilty, and was bailed.
But, in March, she failed to show at court. A warrant was issued, she was arrested and held on remand.
Finally, in June, Richards pleaded guilty to interstate transmission of a threat to injure in communications with Lenny Pozner.
The court heard she’d made four voicemail and e-mail threats after viewing Internet sites claiming the shooting was a hoax aimed at building a case for gun control.
One article had included Lenny’s phone number.
Richards’ defence team attested that she suffered from agoraphobia, OCD and anxiety disorder.
‘I don’t know where my heart and head were that day, but they were not in the right place. It was the worst mistake of my life and I am truly sorry,’ Richards said in a statement.
Yet District Judge James Cohn said she couldn’t blame her behaviour on mental illness.
‘Your words were cruel and insensitive. This is reality, and there is no fiction. I’m sure he [Lenny] wishes this was false, and he could embrace Noah, hear Noah’s heartbeat and hear Noah say, “I love you, Dad”,’ Judge Cohn said. Richards was jailed for five months, and given a further five months’ house detention and three years’ supervision.
She was also barred from accessing a list of conspiracy theory websites.
Lenny has vowed to continue his fight against the evil conspiracy theorists.
As he says, it’s the only way to protect the memory of his beloved son.
She couldn’t blame her behaviour on mental illness
Lenny with Noah
Scene of the atrocity
Radio host Alex Jones Lucy richards