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  • 17 December 2012, 11:08

Sandy Hook Shooting: The Victims' Stories

The Sandy Hook victims most of them just six or seven years old, have been described as "beautiful", "sweet" and "angels".

As police released a list of the names of the 20 children and seven adults killed by gunman Adam Lanza, including his mother, friends and relatives paid tribute to some of those who died.

:: Jessica Rekos, six

"Jessica loved everything about horses," her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos, said in a statement. "She devoted her free time to watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about horses."

When she turned 10, they promised, she could have a horse of her own. For Christmas, she asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and a hat.

Her parents described their first born in the family as a "creative, beautiful little girl who loved playing with her little brothers, Travis and Shane".

They added: "She had an answer for everything, she didn't miss a trick, and she outsmarted us every time. We cannot imagine our life without her."

:: Benjamin Wheeler, six

Music surrounded Benjamin as he grew up in a household where both his mother and father were performers.

They left behind stage careers in New York City when they moved to Newtown with Benjamin and his older brother Nate.

"We knew we wanted a piece of lawn, somewhere quiet, somewhere with good schools," Francine Wheeler told the Newtown Bee.

Nate, also a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was not harmed in the shooting.

:: Caroline Previdi, six

People who knew Caroline have added their condolences to the Facebook page RIP Caroline Previdi. Many of them described her as "precious" and a "little angel".

:: Olivia Engel, six

Olivia had been due to play an angel in the nativity play at her local church. "Now she's an angel up in heaven," Monsignor Robert Weiss said.

Dan Merton, a long-time family friend, described Olivia as a "teacher's pet" and said that she had "perfect manners".

"Her only crime," he said, "is being a wiggly, smiley six-year-old".

:: Emilie Parker, six

Emilie was studying Portuguese with her father Robert before school on the morning she died. He had left after hearing her say "good morning" in the language.

He said: "She was beautiful. She was blonde. She was always smiling." He added: "I'm so blessed to be her dad."

He said he would now struggle to explain to her two siblings, aged three and four, what had happened.

:: Avielle Richman, six

Avielle liked riding horses, and her trainer Annette Sullivan said she would "giggle when she trotted" and liked to wear pink cowboy boots.

Ms Sullivan said she wanted an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas "because she wanted to be able to make her mom cookies".

She added: "Her smile could get her out of anything. She was the most delightful little girl you ever met in your life."

:: Dylan Hockley, six

Dylan, who was born in Hampshire, England, had been living in Newtown since 2011 with his mother Nicole, father Ian and older brother, Jake.

The family lives in a house opposite killer Adam Lanza's home with his mother Nancy.

Mrs Hockley, an American, had recently told the local newspaper that she was happy with life in the community, saying: "Newtown is a wonderful place to live."

Family friend Theresa Moretti said: "Dylan was a lovely boy. He had dimples and blue eyes and a mischievous grin."

:: Charlotte Bacon, six

When she went to school on Friday, Charlotte had begged her mother to wear a new pink dress and boots that were supposed to be for Christmas. It was the first and last time she would wear the outfit.

Her parents, JoAnn and Joel, had lived in Newton for around five years with Charlotte and her older brother Guy. He also attended Sandy Hook, but was not injured in the shooting.

Charlotte's uncle said that she could "light up the room for anyone".

:: Jack Pinto, six

Jack was a sport enthusiast who loved wrestling and football.

He was one of the youngest members of the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association, and the organisation said its members' hearts "ache for his family".

He idolised New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, and Jack's parents are considering burying him in a replica of the player's jersey.

The NFL star wore cleats with the child's name written on during the side's Sunday night game against Atlanta, in honour of the six-year-old.

:: Ana Marquez-Greene, six

Ana had only been at the school for a few months after her family moved to the area so her father, Canadian jazz musician Jimmy Greene, could take up a job as a music professor.

Described by a family friend as "vivacious and affectionate", Ana had been the subject of a song on her father's 2009 album Mission Statement, called Ana Grace.

Ana attended the school with her older brother, who was not hurt in the shooting.

:: Noah Pozner, six

Noah Pozner attended Sandy Hook school with his twin sister. He was killed, but she survived the attack, as did his older sister.

Their mother, a nurse at the local hospital, completely broke down when she learned the news of her son's death.

Rabbi Shaul Praver, of Congregation Adath Israel, told MSNBC: "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and his little body could not endure so many bullets like that."

:: Grace McDonnell, seven

Described by her babysitter as a "beautiful, sweet girl", Grace lived near killer Adam Lanza's house.

Neighbours say Grace, whose father Christopher, 49, is a business executive, was "utterly adorable".

She had an 11-year-old brother, Jack.

:: Allison Wyatt, six

Allison is remembered as a quiet, shy and loving little girl.

"She was a very shy girl, she was quiet and kept to herself, but she would smile at things," said day care teacher Kate Capellaro.

"If a kid did something funny, she'd be laughing."

:: Chase Kowalski, seven

Chase was looking forward to Christmas and had told a neighbour he was hoping to get his two front teeth back.

The first-grade student, who had two older sisters, loved being outside and playing on a slide or in the family's swimming pool.

He had completed and won his first mini-triathlon. Neighbour Kevin Grimes said: "You couldn't think of a better child."

:: Catherine Hubbard, six

Catherine's parents Jennifer and Matthew released a statement and a picture of their daughter.

In it they said: "We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet and our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have been affected by this tragedy.

"We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy."

:: Jesse Lewis, six

Jesse was supposed to be making gingerbread houses and his father Neil Heslin had been planning to go to Sandy Hook School to watch.

Mr Heslin told The New York Post that his son, who was in Victoria Soto's class, was happy when he dropped him off at the school gates. "That was the last I saw of him," he said.

He was keen on horse riding and had a collection of animals he enjoyed playing with.

:: James Mattioli, six

James is the son of Cindy Mattioli from the upstate New York town of Sherrill.

The mayor, William Vineall said: "Everybody will be there for them, and our thoughts and prayers are there for them."

:: Daniel Barden, seven

Daniel was a budding athlete who was on the swim team and enjoyed playing soccer.

He was described by a family friend as a "sweet boy".

:: Josephine Guy, seven

Josephine had celebrated her seventh birthday just three days before she was shot dead in the rampage.

:: Madeleine Hsu, six

Dr Matthew Velsmid, who was at Madeleine's house on Saturday tending to her stricken family, said: "This is the darkest thing I've ever walked into by far."

:: Victoria Soto, 27, teacher

The teacher died a hero, putting herself between the children in her class and the gunman.

She had always wanted to be a teacher, it was her one goal. "She put those children first. That's all she ever talked about," said her friend Andrea Crowell.

Described by pupils as "really nice and funny", they fondly recalled how Miss Soto had a habit of chewing gum in class.

:: Lauren Rousseau, 30, teacher

Miss Rousseau wanted to be a teacher when she was in primary school and was thrilled to finally realise her dream when she became a full-time teacher at Sandy Hook.

She has been described as gentle, but spirited and active. She planned to watch The Hobbit with her boyfriend on Friday and had baked cupcakes for a party they were to attend afterwards.

Her mother, Teresa Rousseau, said: "Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten. We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream."

:: Dawn Hochsprung, 47, principal

The head teacher was fiercely proud of her school and fiercely protective of it, so much so she died after lunging at the gunman Adam Lanza as he launched his attack.

She had been head of the 700-pupil elementary school for two years and implemented the latest teaching techniques.

Mrs Hochsprung, who had two daughters and three stepdaughters, also installed new safety measures there, with the mantra "safety first".

:: Mary Sherlach, 56, school psychologist

Mrs Sherlach was preparing for her retirement after 18 years at Sandy Hook School.

Married for 31 years, with two daughters, aged 25 and 28, she loved her job and was dedicated to the education of young children.

Her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, said she had planned to leave work early on Friday, but never got the chance. She had died, he added, doing what she loved.

He said: "Mary felt like she was doing God's work, working with the children."

:: Anne Marie Murphy, 52, teacher

Her parents Hugh and Alice McGowan told Newsday their daughter was a "happy soul. A good mother, wife and daughter. Artistic, fun-loving, witty and hardworking".

Authorities told the couple their daughter was a hero who helped shield some of her students from the rain of bullets.

"You don't expect your daughter to be murdered," her father told the newspaper. "It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere."

:: Nancy Lanza, 52

Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr said Nancy Lanza was a kind, considerate and loving person.He added the former stockbroker was also well-respected.

Court records show Mrs Lanza and her ex-husband, Peter Lanza, filed for divorce in 2008. He lives in Stamford and is a tax director at General Electric.

Neighbour Rhonda Cullens said she knew Nancy Lanza from get-togethers she had hosted to play Bunco, a dice game. She said her neighbour had enjoyed gardening.

"She was a very nice lady," Ms Cullens said. "She was just like all the rest of us in the neighbourhood, just a regular person."

:: Rachel Davino, 29

Ms Davino was a teaching assistant at Sandy Hook.

Her grandmother Nicoletta, 76, said she loved to cook, and would visit her and share recipes.

"All of the time, she'd come to my house and say, 'I love you, grandma'. We'd cook together. She liked to cook. She liked all of my recipes."

One message on an online tribute page read: "I will always remember your sweet smile!"

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