What was the demon Adam Lanza locked in that hard drive?

From the beginning, there was a familiar moral tension at the heart of news coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. It’s hard to ponder such a hellish act without wanting to be able to name the demon, to link the actions of the young gunman to some kind of logical motive.

Was religion involved? Maybe. Maybe not.

Did faith play any role in the dramas inside the silent home in which Adam Lanza and his mother Nancy lived those final years of their lives? Her funeral was held in the First Congregational Church of Kingston, N.H., but that could have been a simple matter of convenience — choosing the historic church in the middle of the typical New England public square.

Was evil involved in this tragedy? Yes. But what kind? As I wrote early on, in a post here at GetReligion:

In most cases, debates about massacres of this kind devolve into discussions between gun-control liberals, gun-freedom libertarians and various kinds of cultural conservatives who see evidence of various forms of social decay — from violence in our movies, to splintered homes, to increasingly value-neutral schools, to first-person-shooter video games that resemble the programs our military leaders use to make soldiers more willing to pull triggers in combat. Then there are people like me whose beliefs fall in more than one of these camps.

At the very least, Newtown was another one of those stories that — logically enough — pushes people to ask that ancient/modern question: Where was God? As your GetReligionistas noted at the time, there is a theological name for that puzzle and, tragically, anyone who wants to cover the religion beat needs to know it:

the·od·i·cy noun …

: defense of God’s goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil

The painful, dry New York Times report about the final Sandy Hook report makes it perfectly clear that the investigators have not been able to name that evil and they refused to speculate about Lanza’s motive, even though it it is clear that his actions were premeditated.

If there was a motive, it almost certainly was contained in one particular computer hard drive that Lanza destroyed, doing such a meticulous job that investigators were not able to recover the contents. The lede describes the key location in this story, which was the computer-driven Lanza’s darkened haven from the outside world:

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Haunted story or not? On vampires, Satanism and murder

Day after day, the stunning story of young Morgan Lane Arnold has unfolded in the pages of The Baltimore Sun, with each revelation only making key elements of this bloody crime more and more mysterious.

Here are some of the core details. Sometime after 4 a.m. on May 10, Arnold’s boyfriend allegedly stabbed her father to death. The boyfriend told police that Arnold left a sliding door unlocked and urged him, in a barrage of personal messages, to kill her dad while he slept — so that the youngsters could flee as a couple. The girlfriend of the divorced dad managed to escape the attack.

In a recent update, the Sun team noted — no surprise here, in this day and age — that Arnold had previously been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. Her parents had radically disagreed with one another on the prickly issue of how to treat her condition, in terms of medication, counseling and a strategy for mainstream schooling.

How much of the following information — the overture for this latest chapter in the drama — will surprise readers who have been paying attention to tragic news stories of this kind?

Morgan Lane Arnold, an emotionally frail 14-year-old freshman, navigated the hallways of her Howard County high school each day filled with anxiety, unable because of a learning disorder to decipher the social cues, jokes and emotions of her peers.

Her preferred environment, often accented by a Japanese anime soundtrack streaming through snug earplugs, featured a mix of fairies, mermaids and vampires, according to her mother. They were the protagonists of a digital realm where she said she was “practicing making friends” through role-playing games and social media.

“Her electronic communication devices were her world,” Cindi Arnold said in an interview last week, the first extended comments since Morgan and her boyfriend were charged with murdering her father, Dennis Lane, in his Ellicott City home. “That is how she felt comfortable interacting with her peers.”

So what makes this a GetReligion story? Is there a religion ghost in this tale?

I will say, right up front, that I am not sure. After the initial reports, I kept reading — expecting a religion shoe to drop in this tragedy.

Finally, there was this, via her mother, Cindi Arnold:

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