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Monday, December 17, 2012 - 10:27am
Newtown, CT — The 26 people killed by a gunman at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school Friday included six women who worked there and 20 students. Of the 12 girls and eight boys shot to death inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, 16 were 6 years old, while the other four turned 7 in just the last few months, according to an official list of the victims released by state police Saturday.
The victims included:
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47
Hochsprung, who became Sandy Hook Elementary School's principal two years ago, was "really nice and very fun, but she was also very much a tough lady in the right sort of sense," friend Tom Prunty said. And the students loved her. "Even little kids know when someone cares about them, and that was her," Prunty said.
"I never saw her without a smile," said Aimee Seaver, mother of a first-grader.
Hochsprung lived in Woodbury, Connecticut, with her husband, two daughters and three stepdaughters.
The longtime career educator majored in special education for her bachelor's and master's degrees in the 1990s and had just entered the Ph.D. program at Esteves School of Education at the Sage Colleges in New York last summer. Hochsprung led a school district's strategic planning panel and was the recipient of a national school grant.
Her accomplishments included overseeing the installation of a new security system requiring every visitor to ring the front entrance's doorbell after the school doors locked at 9:30 a.m.
Mary Sherlach, 56
Sherlach, Sandy Hook Elementary's school psychologist, was with Hochsprung when they heard a "pop, pop, pop" sound around 9:30 a.m., a parent with both women at the time told CNN. Sherlach was shot to death after heading into the hall to find out what was happening.
"I ... am always ready to assist in problem-solving, intervention and prevention," Sherlach wrote on her website.
Sherlach earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at SUNY Cortland and a master's degree at Southern Connecticut State University. She worked as a rehabilitation assistant at a group home for disabled adults and as a community mental health placement specialist before becoming a school psychologist. She worked in three Connecticut school systems before moving to Sandy Hook Elementary in 1994. During her time in Newtown, Sherlach kept busy as a member of numerous groups such as the district conflict resolution committee, safe school climate committee, crisis intervention team and student instructional team.
Sherlach and her husband for more than three decades lived in Trumbull, Connecticut, and, together, they were "proud parents" of two daughters in their late 20s. Her website listed her interests as gardening, reading and going to the theater.
Lauren Russeau, 30
Russeau, a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, "wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten," her mother said in a written statement Saturday. "We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream," Teresa Russeau said.
She grew up in Danbury, Connecticut, and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Bridgeport.
Russeau "worked as a substitute teacher in Danbury, New Milford and Newtown before she was hired in November as a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown," her mother's statement said.
Victoria Soto, 27
Soto, a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, moved her students away from the classroom door when she heard gunfire, which students initially "thought were hammers falling," according to the father of one of her students.
Her students were huddled behind her in a corner of the classroom, her family said.
"That's when the gunman burst in, did not say a word, no facial expressions, and proceeded to shoot their teacher," said Robert Licata, whose 6-year-old son Aiden escaped by running past the shooter.
"She instinctively went into action when a monster came into her classroom and tried to protect the kids that she loved so much," her cousin, James Wiltsie, said. "We just want the public to know that Vicki was a hero."
While Soto had no children of her own, she did love her dog. The black lab Roxie spent Saturday wondering around Soto's apartment, apparently looking for her, relatives said.
Emilie Parker, 6
Emilie "was the type of person who could light up a room," her father told reporters Saturday. His oldest daughter was "bright, creative and very loving," and "always willing to try new things other than food," Robbie Parker said.
"Emilie Alice Parker was the sweetest little girl I've ever known," her aunt, Jill Cottle Garrett, said. The family is devastated that "someone so beautiful and perfect is no longer going to be in our lives and for no reason," Garrett said.
"My daugher Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing up and giving her love and support to all of those victims, because that is the type of person she is," her father said. She was "an exceptional artist and she always carried around her markers and pencils so she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for someone."
She placed one of her cards in the casket at the funeral of her grandfather, who recently died in an accident, Parker said.
Emilie's "laughter was infectious," he said. "This world is a better place because she has been in it."
Her father, who works as a physician's assistant in the newborn unit at the Danbury hospital, said his last conversation with his daughter was in Portuguese, a language he was teaching her.
"She said that she loved me and I gave her a kiss and I was out the door," he said.
Emilie was a mentor to her two younger sisters -- ages 3 and 4 -- and "they looked to her when they needed comfort," her father said.
A Facebook page was created to collect donations to help pay expenses to take Emilie back to her native Utah for burial, her aunt said.
Rachel Davino, 29; Anne Marie Murphy, 25; Charlotte, 6; Daniel, 7; Olivia, 6; Josephine, 7; Ana, 6; Dylan, 6; Madeleine, 6; Catherine, 6; Chase, 7; Jesse, 6; James, 6; Grace, 7; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Jack, 6; Noah, 6; Caroline, 6; Jessica, 6; Avielle, 6; Benjamin, 6; Allison, 6.