In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, families are clinging to whatever details bring some sense of peace.
For Ian and Nicole, it is knowing that when their 6-year-old died in a hail of bullets, he was cradled in the arms of his favorite teacher, Mrs. Murphy.
Theresa Moretti, grandmother to 6-year-old Dylan Hockley, describes the phone call she received from her daughter Nicole on the day of the shooting.
“She kept saying, ‘Mum, how do you tell an 8-year-old his 6-year-old brother is dead and not coming back?”
Dylan’s parents moved to Newtown after living in the UK for 18 years. Attracted to the close knit community at Sandy Hook Elementary, they moved onto the same street as Nancy Lanza in January 2011. The family lost their 6-year-old son when Nancy Lanza’s son, Adam, invaded the school, killing 20 children and 6 staff members.
The family released a statement regarding their son’s untimely death: “We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy. Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day.”
Murphy, 52, a mother of four children and wife to husband Michael, was a special education teacher in Dylan’s classroom at Sandy Hook. Her obituary notes, “She will be remembered for her love of the arts, walks in the outdoors and most importantly: her family.”
Of their families choice to move to Newtown, Dylan’s parents said, “We do not and shall never regret this choice,” adding, “Our boys have flourished here and our family’s happiness has been limitless.”
The family mourned their son while praising the staff and teacher who also died that day.
“We cannot speak highly enough of Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, exceptional women who knew both our children and who specifically helped us navigate Dylan’s special education needs,” Dylan’s family added. “Dylan’s teacher, Vicki Soto, was warm and funny and Dylan loved her dearly.”
Hochsprung, 47, the school principal, and Sherlach, 56, the school psychologist, died lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overpower the 20-year-old. Soto, 27, Dylan’s first-grade teacher, ushered her class in to a closet, shielding them with her body. She was found huddled with her students.
“Though our hearts break for Dylan, they are also filled with love for these and other beautiful women who all selflessly died trying to save our children,” the family reported.