Nothing will bring Robbie and Alissa Parker's 6-year-old daughter back, but learning more about the shooter who took Emilie’s life at Sandy Hook Elementary might help ease their pain.
That mission led the grieving parents to a recent face-to-face meeting with the gunman’s father.
"I felt strongly that I needed to tell him something, and I needed to get that out of my system," Alissa Parker told CBS News. "I felt very motivated to do it, and then I felt really good about it and prayed about it. And it was something that I needed to do."
Peter Lanza’s estranged son, Adam, shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. The 20-year-old gunman committed suicide as police were closing in. Adam also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home before going to the school. His parents had divorced in 2009 after a long separation.
Reported motives for the rampage have focused on Adam’s mental health, his obsession with violent video games and a fascination with mass killers.
The Parkers, who didn’t reveal what Peter Lanza shared with them during their emotional meeting, said there are still a lot of unknowns, but that they don’t hold him responsible.
“Were there missteps in the raising of his son? Possibly,” Alissa Parker told CBS News in the exclusive interview.
Some have pointed fingers at Nancy Lanza for reportedly not seeking more help in dealing with Adam’s social and psychological struggles and allowing him to be near guns.
“Looking from the outside in, it’s hard to not think that there were things that she could have seen,” Alissa Parker said. “Do I think it was her fault? I’m sure that there were things that she’s going to have to be accountable for, but again, it’s not my burden to carry.”
The Parkers said they weren’t mad at Peter Lanza. Instead, they believe he holds the keys to preventing another similar tragedy.
“I wanted to tell him that there was a lot of hope and opportunity to gain from this,” Allisa Parker said. “Because there was information and things to be learned from what happened, and without his cooperation, it would go nowhere.”
The day after his daugther’s death, Robbie Parker showed compassion for the shooter’s family, telling reporters, “I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you and I want you to know that our love and our support goes out to you as well."
A spokesman for Peter Lanza told Yahoo News that Robbie’s “emotionally brave gesture” help set the tone for the parents to meet.
“There was a deep level of appreciation, that given the Parker family’s trauma, that they would still see fit to reach out to Peter,” said Errol Cockfield, the spokesman.