“Nobody Died At Sandy Hook”
By “Dr. Eowyn” aka Maria Hsia Chang
“Infowars reporter Dan Bidondi said (5:45 mark), “The school’s been closed down for God knows how long. [Neighbors] can’t understand why there were kids in that building because it was condemned.” pg. 30
Dan Bidondi, washed up professional wrestler and “reporter” for Alex Jones, one of the most profitable conspiracy cranks on the planet, predictably does not name a single one of these “neighbors”. The fact is that you can find a number of interviews with area residents all over the place, and none of them seem to be even the slightest bit confused by the fact that children were at the school. Certainly if the school had been closed for some time, as Fetzer claims, someone would ask what they were doing there.
Additionally, if the building were truly condemned, there would be a paper trail. To the contrary, a school facilities survey from August of 2011 gives the building mostly excellent marks:
“In 2004, the Newtown Board of Education was told “there were serious problems with the Sandy Hook elementary school roof.” pg. 30
Which is probably why a new roof was installed three years later, in 2007. From a July 13th, 2012 article in the Newtown Bee:
Work on the Sandy Hook School roof began in earnest last week as materials for the $180,000 project were set in position. The project to replace the school’s entire roof won the school board’s nod over a $70,000 offer by Barrett Roofing and Supply Inc to repair leaks in the roof. The town has filed a lawsuit against Barrett for $15,000 in damages after the flat-style roof on the elementary school began leaking. The roof was installed five years ago.
Why would they waste $180k on a new roof for a school that they, according to Jim Fetzer, were planning on abandoning a year later?
“Four years later, in 2008, there was yet more bad news: SHES was contaminated with asbestos.” pg. 30
This is simply not true. There was no asbestos “contamination”. From the 2010-2011 Sandy Hook Elementary School handbook:
We have a Tools for Schools indoor environmental resource team that works in coordination with district efforts to monitor and improve air quality. Our building is inspected every 6 months as required by § 19a-333-1 through 13 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, “Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools”; to determine any changes in the condition of identified asbestos-containing building materials. Additionally, the school will be reinspected every three years by an accredited inspector following the same basic criteria as stated in the original plan. Sandy Hook School maintains in its Main Office a complete updated copy of the asbestos management plan. It is available during normal business hours for inspection. The designated person for the Asbestos Program is Gino Faiella and can be contacted at 203-426-7615. We remind you that this notification is required by law and should not be construed to indicate the existence of any hazardous conditions in our school buildings.
“On October 5, 2013, nearly 10 months after the massacre, a city referendum passed by over 90% in support of the demolition and rebuilding of SHES with a generous $49.25 million grant from the State of Connecticut. The reason given for the demolition was ‘asbestos abatement’.” pg. 30
The state of Connecticut offered Newtown a $49,250,000 grant in order to build a new elementary school. Newtown allowed all registered residents – via a referendum – to vote on whether they should use the money “for architectural and engineering services for the design of a new elementary school in Sandy Hook, demolition of existing school and for the construction of said school and the acquisition of two parcels of land for the purpose of relocating the entrance of said school”. If they had voted “no”, Newtown would lose the grant and they would be forced to find “other alternatives would have to be found for the entire elementary school population of Sandy Hook”. Not surprisingly, the referendum passed with 89% approval.
The reason given for the demolition was not “asbestos abatement”. That doesn’t even make much sense as asbestos can be abated (lessened or removed entirely, which is the literal definition of “abatement”) without demolishing the entire building. In fact, that was explored as a possibility. The actual reason for the demolition was the cost of making the necessary repairs to the school as well as bringing it up to code, etc., would have been too expensive for the small town. From the referendum Q&A:
Analysis of the renovate vs. build new by the Advisory Committee showed that costs to renovate this 56 year old building, bring it up to code, eliminate the portables, make it energy efficient, provide necessary safety features, and more, generated a cost almost at the same level of new building construction.
The asbestos abatement is for hazardous materials removal, so that the building can be safely demolished without spreading asbestos everywhere.
“Bestech will spend this weekend beginning demolition, working wing-by-wing as asbestos is removed from each section of the school, according to WTNH. First Selectman Pat Llodra told WTNH no materials from the old school building would leave the site.
“It might become part of the base for the new road or the foundation, or you know, the contractors will make the decision how best to use those materials,” she said.
Llodra told Patch abatement, which began earlier this month, is necessary before demolition can begin.
“We have to get rid of the hazardous materials on the site before we can do anything else,” she said.
“Classrooms and hallways were used for storage, jammed with furniture and office supplies.” pg. 32
I want to start out by discussing the 2nd/bottom photo included on this page first, which “Dr. Eoywn”/Maria Hsia Chang (erroneously) claims is of a hallway being used as “storage”. Firstly, it’s important to note that Walkley’s scene photos are presented in chronological order and there are 760 pages total. That places this particular photo, found on page 759, very far along in the investigation process. An almost identical photo, taken of the same area at around the same time, can be seen on page 953 (of 970) of Tranquilo’s back up scene photos #2 (also included in the “22 Assorted Files” archive). Just like Walkley’s photos, Tranquilo’s are also in chronological order.
Here is a much larger, far more readable version of Walkley’s photo – the one that “Dr. Eowyn” presented entirely out of context – with some annotations provided by me to act as reference points. Again, this is page 759 of 760. As is the case with all of the photos here, you can click to enlarge in a new tab.
From this perspective, the odd numbered rooms are on the left and the even numbered rooms are on the right, with the numbers ascending as they get closer to the lobby. I’ve labeled the height markers that were posted on the lower half of the wall between rooms #3 and #5 as well as the “Warm up to a good story” display between rooms #10 and #12, for future reference:
A blue tarp has been hung between the lobby and hallway while red biohazard bags can be seen on the floor between rooms #10 and #12. Some of the other items here can also be seen in earlier photos: white and blue portable storage racks, like the one seen on the very right, can be seen in Walkley’s scene photos, pages 161-162 (in room #10, which is Victoria Soto’s 1st grade classroom). They can also be seen in Tranquilo’s back up scene photos 1, on pages 167 and 200. Those same photos also show what are likely the same two desk chairs (as well as accompanying computer desk) seen on the left.
Here is the view seen above, represented on Sandy Hook’s floor plan:
And here’s what that hallway actually looked like on December 14th, 2012, not long after the shooting took place. This is page 88 of the Walkley scene photos, cropped slightly in order to make it look more like the photo on page 759. Walkley took that photo while standing between rooms #6 and #8 (or rooms #3 and #5), and this photo was taken a little further away from the lobby, between rooms #4 and #6 (or room #3 and the hallway). You can see the height markers between rooms #3 and #5. I’ve also circled one of Adam Lanza’s clips on the floor and placed a yellow star right around where the photograph on page 759 would have been taken. Mary Sherlach’s body can faintly be seen in the distance:
Visible on the floor by room #5 is SWAT gear (including a helmet), a LifePak 15 defibrillator/monitor, an EMT’s backpack, and a bag containing MCI (mass-casualty incident) equipment.
Here’s a closer look at the above, as seen on page 70 of Tranquillo’s back-up scene photos 1. Again, I’ve labeled the height markers between rooms #3 and #5, circled the cartridge, and marked where Walkley would have been standing when taking the picture used by “Dr. Eowyn”/Chang:
It should be obvious at this point that the photo used by “Dr. Eowyn”/Chang was taken while these rooms were being emptied out, their contents temporarily stored in the hallway, so that investigators could continue their work inside of the rooms, unobstructed. An example of this can be seen in Walkley’s scene photos, pages 563-574, as well as Tranquillo’s back up scene photos 2, pages 151-152, which show a nearly empty room #8. This is corroborated by CFS 1200704597, 00118939.pdf:
Just in case the above was not enough, here’s a photo from Sandy Hook’s 2011-2012 scrapbook, which shows this exact hallway as it was on January 23rd, 2012. There are no boxes, chairs, or bags to be found anywhere:
There can now be no question that the school’s hallways were absolutely not being used for storage. “Dr. Eowyn”/Maria Hsia Chang and James Fetzer simply presented these photos out of order. With a reported nine researchers collaborating on this book (including five alleged PhDs), what’s the more likely explanation: that this book was so poorly researched and edited that such an obvious error slipped right by every last one of them or that you’re being lied to? Which one’s worse?
But what about the “jammed” classroom shown at the top of that same page? Not surprisingly, this one has a similar explanation: intentional deception on the part of “Dr. Eowyn”/Chang and ultimately James Fetzer, as this is his book.
What the book doesn’t mention is that this is a picture of room #6, which was the special education classroom. The picture is taken from page 249 of Walkley’s scene photos. “Dr. Eowyn”/Maria Chang purposely chose a picture of the most cluttered area, located at the back of the room, by the teacher’s desk. Other photos of the same room show that there was plenty of room to run a class. In fact, here’s a composite that I created using those photos, found on pages 249-251 of Walkley’s scene photos. These are the three photos that come directly after the one “Dr. Eowyn” used, so they can’t claim that they didn’t see them:
Not really as described, is it? Unfortunately for “Dr. Eowyn”/Chang, the second composite that I created using four photos taken from the other side of the room, just inside the door (Walkley’s scene photos, pages 244-247), make the room look even less cluttered:
You can see in both composites that there is absolutely no fire hazard here as “Dr. Eowyn”/Maria Chang claims. There is a clear, unobstructed path to the door. Furthermore, personal effects, such as jackets and water bottles, can be seen everywhere in both photos. There even appears to be coffee brewing to the left of the previous composite photo as well as a December, 2012 calendar just right of center. Overall, there’s plenty of evidence here that this was indeed an active classroom and school.
So what we’re left with are three distinct possibilities, listed here in order of probability (in my opinion, of course):
- “Dr. Eowyn”/Maria Hsia Chang and James Fetzer intentionally and disingenuously presented photos out of order and out of context in order to create a false narrative and sell some books.
- Despite having access to the same exact resources that I did while debunking this claim, “Dr. Eowyn”/Maria Hsia Chang still managed to make an enormous and embarrassing mistake that went undetected by James Fetzer and his team of “researchers”.
- The Sandy Hook shooting was a very elaborate hoax and the quietly abandoned school, which had been in use as storage for four years, was made to look like a legitimate crime scene for the sole benefit of crime scene photos that A) included a large number of incriminating mistakes, B) were presented in reverse order, and C) were made available to the public. Additionally, the scene would have had to have been staged in such a way that it looked authentic, with notebooks and papers scattered throughout, seasonal decorations hung, and personal effects (including water bottles and fresh coffee) strewn about.
“Then there is this photo of a pile of dust underneath an alleged bullet hole in a wall outside Room 1C, which looks suspiciously like the debris from someone drilling a pretend “bullet” hole into the ceramic wall-tile.” pg. 32
I’m actually a bit confused as to what “Dr. Eowyn”/Chang is implying here: is she suggesting that a bullet striking ceramic tile would not produce dust whereas a drill would? I don’t understand how this could only be made with a drill. Were the numerous bullet holes and dings noted in my article on chapter one also made with a drill? Wouldn’t that be incredibly time consuming? Why not just use a real gun? After all, if the school is abandoned, what’s the harm?
“Although the CNN image on the next page shows a wheelchair symbol painted on a parking space closest to the school’s front door, it is not painted in the now-familiar blue and white colors that have become ubiquitous certainly by 2012…
But aerial images of SHES’s parking lot, including the CNN image, show no blue-and-white signage for designated handicap parking spaces, which would make the school in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the subsequent ADA Amendments Act of 2008 that broadened the meaning of disabilities.” pg. 32
Chang’s source for this claim is… myparkingsign.com. Myparkingsign.com is – you guessed it – a website that sells parking signs. Why would a former professor cite a niche retail website rather than the actual, original ADA standards, which are easily found on the ADA website? Probably because they make no reference whatsoever to paint colors when describing either the symbols of accessibility (section 4.30.7) or parking spaces (section 4.6.3), which would explain why almost none of the handicapped parking spaces located at Newtown’s other public schools were painted in such a manner:
Newtown High School, whose parking lot was renovated and repainted in 2010, is the only school in the entire district to have had blue and white handicapped parking spaces in March of 2012, when these satellite photos were taken:
Satellite photos taken before renovations were completed show that Newtown High School’s handicapped parking spots were, like Hawley, Reed, and Newtown Middle School, simply painted white:
Are we expected to believe that only one of Newtown’s eight public schools – including all four elementary schools and both intermediate/middle schools – were non-compliant in 2012, and therefore non-operational? What about the former Chalk Hill Middle School, the building the Sandy Hook School students are alleged to have been secretly moved to prior to the shooting? Surely their parking lot has blue and white parking spaces, and is therefore ADA compliant, right?
So the blue and white paint claim is a total fabrication on the part of Fetzer and Chang, confirmed as such not only by my own research but by an ADA trainer and information and outreach specialist from the aforementioned New England ADA Center who told me via e-mail:
“The ADA Standards for Accessible Design do not specify the color of the lines and markings at accessible parking spaces.”
Again, that is straight from the New England ADA Center.
But what about the signs? The above satellite photos aren’t as useful in this case, though if I were to make a guess based on visible shadows (of lack thereof), there do not appear to be any signs posted at Head O’Meadow or Reed Intermediate. Luckily we don’t need to guess based on shadows as the same New England ADA Center employee mentioned earlier was kind enough to also shed some light on the actual requirements for handicapped parking signage:
“If the parking lot was built or has been paved or restriped since January 26, 1992, accessible parking spaces that comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design are required. The ADA Standards for Accessible Design do not specify the color of the lines and markings at accessible parking spaces. White is permitted. The Standards specify a sign on a post that is 60” min. to the bottom of the sign.
If the last work on the parking lot was completed before the ADA went into effect on January 26, 1992, only state law that was in effect at that time would apply. We do not have information on Connecticut requirements for parking lots that far back.”
There is no evidence that I could find that the Sandy Hook School parking lot has been paved or restriped since January, 1992. However, if you look at satellite photos taken of the school between August, 2010 and March, 2012, you’ll notice that stripes were added to the fire lane. Does that count as restriping? Not according to our ADA trainer and information specialist, who writes:
“Striping a previously unstriped yet existing fire zone by itself would not be considered restriping a parking lot.”
So there is no proof that the parking lot at Sandy Hook Elementary School was not ADA compliant in December of 2012. Or ever for that matter. It’s a silly claim to make in the first place as deniers like Fetzer, Chang, and Wolfgang Halbig do not dispute that the school was open and fully operational prior to 2008. And if signs are required without exception by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (which went into effect in January of 1992), then they tacitly acknowledge that the school would have been non-compliant for seventeen years. What’s four more at that point?
Of course that’s not the case. Even if it were, and the school had been non-compliant, what exactly would that mean? Can an elementary school be in violation of the ADA and remain open? A two-year federal investigation found that 83% of New York City’s elementary schools were in violation of the ADA, but obviously they did not shut them all down. So I once again asked the expert what non-compliance actually means in real life:
“An individual could file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice or the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The agency would review the complaint. In a settlement, the district would agree to fix the identified issues, and there could be a fine. A school would not be closed due to the violation.“
“Arguably, the most compelling evidence that SHES had long been abandoned before the 2012 massacre is the testimony from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine of the school’s lack of of Internet activity from the beginning of 2008 through all of 2012.” pg. 34
Wow. Old people and the Internet, am I right? “Dr. Eowyn”/Maria Hsia Chang attributes this particular piece of gibberish to either “Jungle Server” or “Jungle Surfer”, though I’m not sure which one is correct because she writes both. How many people had eyes on this thing again?
So what is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (“The Wayback Machine”)? From Wikipedia:
The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet created by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization, based in San Francisco, California, United States. The Internet Archive launched the Wayback Machine in October 2001. It was set up by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat, and is maintained with content from Alexa Internet. The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time, which the archive calls a “three dimensional index.”
Since 1996, they have been archiving cached pages of web sites onto their large cluster of Linux nodes. They revisit sites every few weeks or months and archive a new version if the content has changed. Sites can also be captured on the fly by visitors who are offered a link to do so. The intent is to capture and archive content that otherwise would be lost whenever a site is changed or closed down. Their grand vision is to archive the entire Internet.
Hopefully you caught that. The Wayback Machine revisits sites “every few weeks or months”. This concept is reiterated later in the same article:
The frequency of snapshots is variable, so not all tracked web site updates are recorded. Sometimes there are intervals of several weeks or years between snapshots.
And just in case it wasn’t already incredibly obvious, this is again stated very plainly – as a disclaimer – right there on their calendar view page:
I can’t stress this enough: archived versions of websites, sporadically crawled by the Wayback Machine, are not at all synonymous with “Internet activity”. This claim demonstrates a level of technological ignorance best described as “absolutely staggering” (although it’s still not as egregious as the commenter who claimed “all internet connections” were “severed”, as if someone had walked into the school’s networking closets with a pair of gardening shears and just went to town).
“The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the Internet which uses a special software to crawl and download all publicly accessible World Wide Web pages. It was Jungle Server who first discovered that the Wayback Machine shows an absence of Internet activity from SHES since 2008 — the same year when the school was found to be contaminated with asbestos.” pg. 34
There is absolutely no evidence that Sandy Hook Elementary School was any more “contaminated” with asbestos in 2008 than it was in 1956, which is when the school was built. Just as my own home was no more contaminated with asbestos when I had the original siding replaced a few years ago than it was when it was built, which was sometime in the mid-50s (when asbestos building materials, including siding, were commonplace).
Since the book predictably does not provide a source for the asbestos claim, I was forced to trace it back to an entry on Maria Hsia Chang’s completely wretched (and thankfully now long gone) blog, “Fellowship Of The Minds”. Chang’s source is a single, short paragraph from the Newtown Bee’s website, published on November 7th, 2008. While no longer available at the provided URL, it is still accessible via – you guessed it – the Wayback Machine. You can view it for yourself here.
The asbestos levels in Newtown schools pose no threat to the health or safety of those using the schools, according to Superintendent John Reed. The areas in the schools where there is evidence of asbestos — the ceiling above the high school pool, areas of the upstairs floor of the Middle School A wing and the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms, are also considered acceptable and safe.
Hopefully your reading comprehension is not as poor as Maria Chang’s, but if you’re at all confused, I’ll reiterate: in November of 2008, the asbestos levels in Newtown schools – which presumably included Sandy Hook Elementary, although it is not mentioned by name – presented no threat to students or faculty. So Chang’s own source does not corroborate her claim. And if Sandy Hook was “contaminated” enough to be closed (which it wasn’t), then where did that leave the high school and middle school, which were specifically called out for showing “evidence of asbestos”?
Furthermore, Sandy Hook Elementary School was given a 4 (out of a possible 4, indicating that there was “Not a problem”) for “Asbestos remediation” in the Connecticut Department of Education’s 2011 school facilities survey:
“To verify Jungle Surfer’s claim, I searched for SHES’s website, http://newtown.k12.ct.us/~sh” pg. 34
Here’s where things really go south: Sandy Hook’s website has not been located at http://newtown.k12.ct.us/~sh since the summer of 2006 (and it would change again in 2011). That’s when the webmaster for the Newtown public school district changed the address of every school’s site, not just Sandy Hook’s. And if you search The Wayback Machine for any of those old addresses, it returns very similar – if not even more extreme – results:
That Newtown changed the addresses for all of their school’s websites is not particularly difficult information to find – which I’ll show you in a moment – and it once again hammers home just how incompetent or deliberately dishonest this book’s researchers really are. They simply cannot be trusted to report the truth to their readers, and this is especially egregious when so much of this book is dedicated to vilifying the mainstream media.
Even though the address for Sandy Hook School is incorrect, the website for all of Newtown’s public schools was in fact http://www.newtown.k12.ct.us back in 2008. And plugging that into the Wayback Machine returns the following results:
The first thing that likely jumps out at you is – with the exception of a single snapshot taken in January of 2010 – a gap that exists between November of 2007 and July of 2011. I’ll explain the reason for this later, but for now, if you take a look at the very last snapshot before the break (taken on November 20th, 2007), you’ll see that the link provided for Sandy Hook Elementary School is http://www.newtown.k12.ct.us/shs:
This address is corroborated by the earliest edition of “The Sandy Hook Connection” (Sandy Hook’s official newsletter) that I was able to find, which is dated January 8th, 2009:
When you enter that address – the correct address – into the Wayback Machine, you got the following results:
This narrows the gap considerably, whittling it down to April of 2008 (April? Do these goons think they closed the school with two months left in the school year?) through October of 2010, or a full year and a half shy of the original claim of four full years. But even taking into consideration the inconsistent nature of the Wayback Machine, two and a half years still seems like kind of a long time between snapshots. So what gives? As is usually the case with these things, there’s actually a very simple, technical explanation. From The Wayback Machine’s FAQ:
How can I have my site’s pages excluded from the Wayback Machine?
You can exclude your site from display in the Wayback Machine by placing a robots.txt file on your web server that is set to disallow User-Agent: ia_archiver. You can also send an email request for us to review to email@example.com with the URL (web address) in the text of your message.
And what is a robots.txt file? From Wikipedia:
The robots exclusion standard, also known as the robots exclusion protocol or simply robots.txt, is a standard used by websites to communicate with web crawlers and other web robots. The standard specifies how to inform the web robot about which areas of the website should not be processed or scanned.
Sure enough, we can see that on June 4th, 2008, the webmaster for Newtown’s public schools added the following to their robots.txt file:
And what do those two lines do?
This “User-agent: *” means this section applies to all robots. The “Disallow: /” tells the robot that it should not visit any pages on the site.
Once those changes were made, the Wayback Machine – by design – stopped crawling and archiving the sites for every school in the Newtown public school district, not just Sandy Hook. This is not up for debate, and anyone with a few minutes of free time can easily replicate the steps I took above and achieve the exact same results. And unlike the unscrupulous contributors to this cretinous book, I fully and enthusiastically encourage you to do exactly that.
If this is truly the “most compelling evidence” that Sandy Hook Elementary School was shuttered in 2008 in preparation for an imaginary drill, what hope is there for the rest of his claims?
Of course there are still some that have talked themselves into remaining unconvinced, like alleged IT professional Ruth Teltru, who writes:
Still very suspicious that it just so happens Sandy Hook Elementary is the only school in CT. that had the internet archive issues.
First of all, as explained as well as demonstrated in this very article, this is patently false: the site for every school in Newtown’s public school district produced similar results during this time period due to the fact that the robots file was applied at the root level, therefore impacting everything below it. So we’re off to a pretty rough start with this comment. But it gets worse (as it usually does), because even if you replace “Sandy Hook Elementary” with “Newtown Public School District”, it’s still wrong. I know that because unlike Ruth here, I actually checked the Wayback Machine results for the site of every school district in Connecticut before running my mouth.
Of those districts – and there were a lot of them to go through – nineteen districts had a gap of over thirty months. That’s nineteen districts that had a gap exceeding Newtown’s. Three districts had gaps of four years or more:
So once again, a Sandy Hook denier not only fails miserably in challenging my work, but makes another demonstrably false claim in the process. Will they ever learn?
More: Why “The Most Compelling Evidence” In “Nobody Died At Sandy Hook” Is A Bust, Part Two
Additional reading: “When The Internet Archive Forgets”
Next: Chapter Three
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