If no one really died at Sandy Hook School on December 14th, 2012, and it was all just a “drill” as some have claimed, then what became of the twenty young victims? If they’re all still alive, where did they go? Why hasn’t anyone seen them in the years following the shooting? But a number of believers in this particular theory insist that we have, performing at Super Bowl XLVII of all places.
Less than two months removed from that terrible day in Newtown, an anonymous donor generously paid for twenty-five members of Sandy Hook School’s fourth grade choir to travel to New Orleans to perform “America the Beautiful” alongside Oscar and Academy Award winning performer Jennifer Hudson during the pre-game ceremonies of Super Bowl XLVII. While it was a touching moment for most, many of those who believe the shooting was a staged event saw it as proof positive that the victims were indeed alive and well, brazenly trotted out in front of over 108 million American television viewers, plus the over 70,000 in attendance. Like many of these theories, the reason for doing this is not immediately obvious, though some adherents believe it was done for no other reason than to “mock” them.
In addition to the fact that almost none of these choir members bear more than a passing resemblance (Caucasian, brown hair) to the victims they are alleged to be, they also somehow managed to age three to four years (this being the fourth grade choir while the child victims were all in the first grade) in the seven weeks that passed between the shooting and the performance. This is of course totally inconceivable. So how do the people propagating this particular claim explain such a feat? By stating without evidence that all available photos and video of the twenty adolescent victims are actually three to four years older than claimed, and that it’s perfectly normal for children to drastically change appearance in that time.
In order to determine whether or not there is any truth to this claim, let’s start with an extremely high resolution photo of the entire Super Bowl choir, taken on February 3rd, 2013 at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. I’ve circled five children not at random, but because they were the most easily identifiable across all three reference photos of Sandy Hook’s 2012-2013 fourth grade choir that I will be using in this entry:
And now two photos that capture the very same event – a fourth grade concert which took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 12th, 2012 – but come from different sources. The first was printed in the December 21st, 2012 edition of The Newtown Bee…
Caption: “Sandy Hook School’s Fourth Grade Winter Concert was held on Thursday, December 13, but before the big event, fourth grade students also performed their Winter Concert for their fellow students during a school assembly on Wednesday, December 12, under the guidance of music teacher Maryrose Kristopik.”
While the second comes from Dawn Hochsprung’s Twitter feed:
Caption: “Sandy Hook students enjoy the rehearsal for our 4th grade winter concert – a talented group led by Maryrose Kristopik!”
By locating and highlighting these same five children across all three photographs, we see that at least some of the choir members seen performing with Jennifer Hudson in New Orleans are demonstrably the very same children that had been performing with the choir for many months, with photographic documentation of some members dating back to November 12th, 2012, when the choir performed for Sandy Hook’s annual Veterans Day Breakfast:
This alone isn’t meant to be bombshell evidence of anything, though it does further solidify the fact that not only was the school open and functional well into late 2012, but that the photos available on both Dawn Hochsprung’s Twitter as well on The Newtown Bee’s website are accurately timestamped, and not from years earlier, as is sometimes claimed.
Sandy Hook deniers believe that they have identified these five highlighted children as the following Sandy Hook Elementary School students:
1) Anna Mattioli
2) Jessica Rekos
3) Olivia Engel
4) Jack Pinto
5) Daniel Barden
6) Avielle Richman
Of that bunch, the only choir member they were successful in identifying is Anna Mattioli, who is the older sister of victim James Mattioli. However, in doing so, they’ve taken tremendous strides in debunking their own claim…
Take a look at the following photo of James and Anna:
Although we’re seeing it from behind, the lone candle on the cake – which reads “Happy Birthday James” – is in the unmistakable shape of a 6, placing this photo on or around James Mattioli’s sixth birthday, which was on March 22nd, 2012. Remember that this claim hangs on the idea that the victims of Sandy Hook were actually nine years-old at the time of their reported deaths in 2012, and not six. But if that were true, then this photo would have to have been taken in March of 2009, and all it takes is one look at Anna to realize that couldn’t possibly be true. No one who has ever spent any time around children would compare Anna’s appearance here, at her brother’s sixth birthday party, to her appearance at Super Bowl XLVII and believe that three whole years (as opposed to eleven months) had passed:
Even more damning is this photo of James and Anna at Sandy Hook together in the Sandy Hook cafeteria, posted to Dawn Hochsprung’s Twitter feed on October 18th, 2012:
Those who continue to back this claim have doubled-down on this blunder by also successfully identifying Nate Wheeler, the older brother of six year-old victim Benjamin Wheeler. This is especially puzzling because they also somehow believe that a now nine year-old Ben performed right alongside him, as seen in the following image (Nate is in top row, 2nd from the right while the boy alleged to Ben is also in the top row, 2nd from the left):
Like the Mattioli siblings, Nate is about three years older than Ben, which is something that is rather apparent in photos of the two boys together:
However, according to this claim, Ben Wheeler miraculously caught up to his older brother in age as well as size just in time to join the fourth grade choir and perform on one of the largest stages in the world:
Surely this would constitute some sort of record growth spurt.
But what may be even more incredible than that is the fact that while his brother is plainly still the same child, this “Ben Wheeler” (who is in reality not Ben Wheeler) no longer even looks like himself. Compare three photos of the “Benjamin Wheeler” alleged to have performed at the Super Bowl to three publicly-available photos of the real Benjamin Wheeler:
And here’s a birthday announcement from The Newtown Bee, published on September 7th, 2007, that corroborates Ben’s age at the time of his death:
Now let’s do some quick and easy math: if David Wheeler turned a year old on September 12th, 2007, that would make him six years old on December 14th, 2012.
Another pair of siblings alleged to have performed together at the Super Bowl are six year-old victim Caroline Previdi (2nd image) and her older brother, Walker (1st image):
Similar to the Mattioli and Wheeler siblings, Walker is also roughly three years older than his sister. Here are a couple of photos of them together, demonstrating an obvious difference in age and development:
Yet we’re expected to believe that somehow, in February of 2013, at Super Bowl XLVII, the Previdi siblings are now magically the same age, with Caroline having aged three whole years while Walker barely looks a day older than he does in the above photos:
From what I can tell, Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists have thus far failed to explain these obvious disruptions to the space time continuum. And it’s only one of many.
If Caroline Previdi was actually nine years old at the time of the Super Bowl, then any photos of her as a six year-old would have had to have been taken sometime between September 2009 and September 2010. But if that were the case, how did an obviously five year-old Caroline manage to find herself in a photo with a newspaper reporting on an incident that didn’t take place until December of 2011?
If the conspiracy theorists are right, then she would have been eight years old at the time of this photo.
Of course this isn’t the only evidence we have that Caroline Previdi was six years old at the time of her death.
During the summer of 2011, Newtown’s C.H. Booth Library hosted weekly craft programs for children aged 4-9. As reported in the August 5th, 2011 edition of the Newtown Bee, Caroline – five years-old at the time and only one month away from her final birthday – was in attendance for the second-to-last event of the year:
Caption: “Ellie Boni, left, and Caroline Previdi created Mardi Gras masks during the library’s Crafts Around the World program on Monday, August 1.”
The above photo’s Exif data shows that it was taken on August 1st, 2011.
Here is another photo of Caroline, posing with her friend and classmate, Catherine Hubbard, in the now familiar and ever-changing lobby of Sandy Hook Elementary:
Notice the dry erase board in the back shows the date as Wednesday, June 20th, 2012. This was graduation day for the school’s Kindergarten students, and we can see a diploma/certificate rolled up in Catherine’s right hand. A very similar diploma/certificate can be seen in this photo of Charlotte and Joel Bacon, taken the very same day:
Note the date, location, and caption of the photo.
Of course Charlotte Bacon is another girl alleged to have performed at the Super Bowl as a fourth grader (a little more on that later), yet we have proof of all three girls graduating from Kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary School in June of 2012.
Here’s yet another photo of Caroline Previdi (back row, 2nd from the left), and it’s her Kindergarten class photo, taken during the 2011-2012 school year:
Along with a number of other victims alleged to have performed at the Super Bowl as nine year olds in February of 2013, we can see Noah Pozner seated on the right. Noah is wearing a red “Ready 4 Games” shirt by Nintendo, which was trademarked and sold in 2011:
That means that this class photo, which features what is unmistakably a group of five year-old Kindergarten students, could not have been taken at any point prior to 2011. Yet again, this theory cannot work unless these children were 7-8 years old at the time that this photo was taken.
Finally, just in case the above wasn’t enough, here’s another birthday announcement from the Newtown Bee, this one published one week after Ben Wheeler’s, on September 14th, 2007:
Again, if Caroline were a year old in September of 2007, that would make her six-years-old in December of 2012.
While she is not alleged to have performed at the Super Bowl (and it is never quite explained why this luxury was only extended to some of the children), the above class photo also features a five year-old Catherine Hubbard. For further proof that Catherine was in fact six years old at the time of her death, we turn to The Newtown Bee’s “Bee Lines”, a reoccurring, weekly feature in which reporters ask Newtown residents, including schoolchildren, some fairly mundane questions. “Bee Lines” (which we’ll see again shortly) caught up with Catherine and her mother in April of 2012, and asked them what they think makes people turn out to vote:
Caption: “Newtown Bee: What do you think makes people turn out to vote? Jenny Hubbard and Catherine Hubbard, right: The issues.”
The photo’s Exif data confirms the photo was taken on April 24th, 2012.
Taken just a couple of weeks later, this photo shows Catherine and her mother at a Sandy Hook school function. The date on the paper clipped to the whiteboard behind them indicates it is May 9th, 2012:
Catherine would also celebrate her final birthday less than one month later.
Some believers of this theory have focused their attention on one member of the fourth grade choir in particular, which has led to them harassing the pre-teen girl and her family. They insist that she is actually murdered first-grader Avielle Richman, now alleged to be living under a new name. Again, this is in spite of a three year age difference as well as a great many physical differences. But these people march on unabated, steadfastly maintaining their position that all photos of Avielle are actually three years older than claimed. This is of course false, and can be proven so with a single photo, showing a five year-old Avielle with her parents around Christmas of 2011:
That is plainly not a nine year-old girl, but how do we know that this photo was taken in 2011? Simple: The Williams-Sonoma “The Cookbook For Kids” shown on the floor, which we can reasonably assume was given to Avielle as a Christmas gift, was not released until February of 2011:
That makes it an extremely unlikely gift for Christmas of 2010 (unless they were celebrating six weeks late), and sadly, young Avielle did not live to see Christmas of 2012. That means that this picture could only be from Christmas of 2011, or less than a year before the shooting. While at least one person has baselessly claimed that the book has been “Photoshopped” in, that is also false.
Then there’s also the physical differences between the two girls.
Firstly, rather than comparing a photo of a five or six year-old Avielle to those of a girl that’s at least three years older and asking you to imagine how a child may age, why don’t we just compare photos of the two girls at approximately the same age?
Obviously that’s Avielle on the left and the girl from the Super Bowl choir on the right. It’s crystal clear that these are not the same children, but let’s break it down further:
Like fingerprints, human ears are unique, and are still used as a means of forensic identification to this day. And while two people may have very similar features (not even identical twins look 100% alike), if the ears do not match, then they cannot possibly be the same people; you do not have to waste your time by looking any further. And if you know what you’re looking at, then there can be no question that Avielle’s ears (left) are markedly different from those of the girl in the choir (right):
This is not a 100% perfect view, but it is absolutely good enough for a solid comparison. Now, for reference, let’s take a look at the anatomy of the outer ear:
As you can see, the ear on the left – which belongs to Avielle Richman – is much less prominent (closer to the head) than the one on the right. The ear on the right also has a much rounder antihelix, and the shape as well as size of the earlobe – or lobule – is very different. Those are the most obvious, most striking differences, though I’m sure that you can spot more. These are unmistakably different ears and therefore they belong to different children. No reasonable argument can be made to the contrary.
While the demonstration above is more than enough to dismiss this one outright, we can also compare the eyes of these two girls and (again) see that there are again a number of major differences:
Avielle’s (top) eyes are almond-shaped, whereas the eyes on the bottom are downturned. The difference here is not subtle. There’s also a much more prominent crease in the lid of the eyes on the bottom. Lastly, the face on the bottom has wider-set eyes, different brows, and freckles (which Avielle does not have). I’m sure those who still stand by this claim will simply say that they were tattooed on later.
And while I’m confident in my analysis and ultimately my conclusion, I wanted an expert opinion, so I reached out to to Joelle Steele, anthropometrist/biometricist, and author of “Face To Face: Analysis and Comparison of Facial Features to Authenticate Identities of People in Photographs”. In addition to literally writing the book on the subject of identifying people through photographs, Joelle offers a paid facial analysis service through her website, which is something I thought I could take advantage of.
When I initially contacted Joelle, I introduced myself as a blogger who has spent a lot of time researching the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. I wasn’t sure if she was aware that the shooting was the subject of so many conspiracy theories, so I explained the situation, and the Super Bowl angle in particular. And while I felt it was important that I tell Joelle where I stood on the subject, I also told her that I wanted her honest, unbiased opinion, and that I was more than happy to pay her up front for it. Joelle wrote back and said that she was willing to do the work, but would need at least three high-quality photographs of each subject so that she can enlarge them for analysis, as is her standard procedure. In return, I sent over six of the absolute best, publicly-available photographs that I could find – three of each girl – for her approval:
Shortly thereafter, Joelle wrote back. This is her reply, in its entirety:
From: Face Comparisons
Subject: RE: Hi, Joelle. Some questions…
This is a real no-brainer. I don’t even have to measure anything to tell you these are not the same girl. I can see at a glance how far off they are in terms of appearance. And age has nothing to do with this comparison at all. The face lengthens and teeth can change with age, but those are irrelevant in this comparison. Here’s what I immediately see:
Ears don’t match in shape, pattern, and placement on head.
Jaws don’t match, most evident in smiling views.
Chins don’t match and don’t look alike either.
Eyes don’t match in orbits and lids.
Pupil distance proportions don’t match.
Forehead proportions don’t match.
Nose length and width proportions don’t match.
Brow ridges don’t match.
With the exception of the ears, these are all based on the bones, the infrastructure of the face. If they don’t match, it’s not the same person. Period. And I would rule out a match based on ears alone, but the overwhelming number of non-matches back that up.
Pretty damning stuff, I think.
Next up is Olivia Engel. In addition to Catherine Hubbard, The Newtown Bee’s “Bee Lines” spoke to little Olivia twice, first in November of 2010:
Caption: “Newtown Bee: With Thanksgiving coming up, what are you thankful for? Olivia Engel: My blanket.”
The Exif data for this photograph, published in the November 19th, 2010 edition of the paper, shows that it was taken on November 12th, 2010. This means that Olivia would have been four years old at the time this photo was taken ,and not only does she look like a four year-old, but it’s clear that she is being photographed in her preschool classroom. Furthermore, her “Born To Dance” shirt is from Gymboree’s fall 2010 “Dance Team” collection, which of course wouldn’t have been available prior to that:
The same month Olivia appeared in the Newtown Bee, the Engels participated in their annual family photoshoot, which took place at the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club in Westport, CT. Out of respect for the photographer, I will not republish their work here, but there were over two dozen photos taken that day:
If you’d like to view them for yourself, they can be found here, at this blog entry on the photographer’s site (which has been archived here, in case it disappears), which was published on November 13th, 2010. And as you look through these photos, please keep in mind that if the Sandy Hook victims were actually fourth graders aged between 8-9 years old when they performed at the Super Bowl, then Olivia would be somewhere around 7-8 when these family photos were taken. How could anyone in their right mind ever believe that? Furthermore, most of these photos also include Olivia’s younger brother, Brayden. And if Olivia was seven years old at the time of this photoshoot, then Brayden, who was three years younger than his sister, would have been four years old. But it’s incredibly obvious from these photos that he is actually much younger than that.
It will undoubtedly be claimed that the dates of the photos have been fudged, and that they were taken much earlier than November of 2010. However, in the fourth photo from the top, you can see a 2011 registration sticker on the boat on the right:
A little over a year after the photoshoot at the yacht club, “Bee Lines” spoke to Olivia for a second time, in December of 2011:
While there’s no caption included for this photograph, the Exif data shows that it was taken on December 6th, 2011. That would make Olivia five years-old in this photo, which again lines up perfectly with the official story. But those pushing the Super Bowl theory would prefer you believe that this picture shows a seven or maybe eight year-old girl. They would also like for you to believe that, a little over a year later, she became the girl on the left (for comparison, an actual picture of Olivia from 2012 is included on the right):
These girls have unmistakably different noses, eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, foreheads, hairlines, etc. The girl on the left is also freckled, which is visible in photos that I was able to find of her online after I made positive identification (note: for privacy and safety reasons, I will absolutely not be sharing her name here or anywhere):
But there are no freckles visible anywhere on any photo of Olivia. There are also Olivia’s very prominent dimples, which are absent on the other girl. Additional photos show that they also have different ears, most noticeable in the lobes (Olivia’s are what’s called “free” and stick out from her head while the other girl’s are attached):
When comparing ears, this kind of difference is insurmountable.
Those who subscribe to this Super Bowl theory have claimed that this is victim Emilie Parker as she appeared on February 3rd, 2013:
However, many of these same people (such as “Dr. Vivian Lee”, who contributed a chapter to James Fetzer’s book of Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, “Nobody Died At Sandy Hook”) have also at least implied that it was actually Emilie, and not her four year-old sister, Madeline, who met with President Obama on December 16th, 2012, just seven weeks before the Super Bowl:
This claim is more explicitly made on page 108 of that same book, by a man named Paul Preston (who mistakenly refers to Emilie Parker as “Sarah Parker”):
“And I’ve see a lot of the pictures and so on, and some of the pictures don’t match up, especially the one of the Parkers in the White House. And it looks like to me that’s Sarah Parker sitting there that’s, you know, supposed to be a victim.” pg. 108
So how do those that claim the Emilie Parker who met with Obama in December of 2012 is the same Emilie Parker that performed at the Super Bowl less than two months later? What possible explanation could there be for such a striking difference in physical appearance between the two?
- Did a very small six year-old Emilie Parker meet with Barack Obama in December of 2012, but then age three years within seven weeks in order to perform along the Sandy Hook fourth grade choir at Super Bowl XLVII?
- Did Barack Obama dye his hair grey and pose for photos with a very small six year-old Emilie Parker (as well as a very small four year-old Madeline Parker) back in 2009 in order to sit on the photo for three years?
- Or did Barack Obama dye his hair grey and pose for photos with a four year-old Emilie Parker and her two year-old sister Madeline all the way back in 2007 – two years before becoming President – so that, should he win the election, they could then use the photo in 2012?
Even if you were to ignore this impossibility, you’re still left with the fact that these are obviously not the same children:
Different ears (just look at the lobes) noses, eyebrows, eye shapes, etc. Even in situations where confirmation bias demands you see a resemblance, from a purely anatomical perspective, it is outright impossible that you are looking at the same child in both photos.
Moving on, take a look at this photo of Daniel Barden with his sister and mother on 96th Street in Stone Harbor, New Jersey:
Note the boarded-up windows behind them, specifically those in front of Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy (with the green apron) which have been spray painted with “No Candy 4 Irene”. This is of course a reference to Hurricane Irene, which Stone Harbor would have been preparing for back in late August, 2011, making Daniel five years-old at the time of this photo. And he certainly looks five years-old. But again, for this theory to work, Daniel would instead have to be somewhere around eight years old here, as this picture was taken a year and a half before the Super Bowl. Now take a good look at the above photo and ask yourself how in the world that child, in just eighteen months time, could look like this:
Of course those are just some of the children who have been targeted by this libel. While I was unable to find the same breadth of material seen above for all of them, there are enough high quality photographs available online to at least do some quick side-by-side comparisons for the remaining victims:
Here’s Jessica Rekos on the right, as well as the choir member alleged to be her on the left:
Of course they look nothing alike. They don’t even appear to have the same eye color.
Next is a child who is positively not Jack Pinto compared to the real Jack Pinto. These are two more children who really couldn’t look any less alike; just take a quick glance at their ears. Or really anything else:
But what if you truly somehow believed that these differences, as substantial as they are, are simply the result of three years worth of childhood development? Surely if we were able to locate some photos of this boy from 2009, when he was six years old, then it would be obvious that he really is Jack Pinto, right? Well, I was able to do exactly that, and the results are as expected:
That is of course him on the left and Jack Pinto on the right. Clearly they are not the same child.
Here is the boy alleged to be Chase Kowalski and the real Chase Kowalski. Look at the nose, the chin, the upper lip, and the distance between the eyes:
“Allison Wyatt” and the real Allison Wyatt:
Ignoring the very different ears (particularly the lobes), noses, eye shapes, etc, these are two more kids that don’t even have the same eye color. I’m not sure how anyone could think that these are the same girls, separated by any length of time:
Just because this girl is wearing glasses doesn’t mean that she’s Josephine Gay, a child who suffered from Autism, global apraxia, and apraxia of speech, which would make her a very unlikely candidate to perform at one of the largest sporting events in the world:
A young lady who is most certainly not Charlotte Bacon and the actual Charlotte Bacon (who, as we saw earlier, was photographed graduating kindergarten on June 20th, 2012):
Someone who is not Madeline Hsu and the real Madeline Hsu:
Much like many of the other choir members, I had a relatively easy time finding additional pictures of them online, including the following photo of the girl on the left taken back in 2010, when she would’ve been six years old. I’ve placed it side-by-side with Madeline’s school photo, just in case it wasn’t already obvious just how different they really look:
Here are two photos of a child alleged to be Jesse Lewis juxtaposed with two photos of the actual Jesse Lewis:
I mean no disrespect to the boy on the left as he’s just a kid and it’s likely he’s had to deal with some real-life harassment, but one only needs to look at his teeth (or his ears) to realize that he is not Jesse Lewis.
Additionally, here’s a photo of a five year-old Jesse attending the 2011 Veterans Day breakfast with his grandfather, Bob Comfort:
Originally published by the Newtown Bee, not only does the photo’s Exif data confirm that it was taken on November 11th, 2011, but the Highlights “Puzzles & Games” 2012 wall calendar seen in the display case behind them would not have been sold at any other time. However, for Jesse to have appeared at the Super Bowl as a nine year-old fourth grade student, he would have to have been eight years old here.
Finally, here’s a young woman who is absolutely not Grace McDonnell and the real Grace McDonnell. There is a world of difference here in facial shape alone:
An older, clearer photo of the girl on the left that I was able to find on social media again compared to the real Grace McDonnell, for good measure:
Of course Grace could not have been nine years old in February of 2013 anyway as she turned six years old on November 4th, 2011, a fact which is corroborated by The Newtown Bee in a birthday announcement posted that same day:
While it has always been highly improbable, a thorough and truly objective investigation into the evidence beyond the initial low-quality photographs that usually accompany this claim proves that it is simply impossible. Photographs, particularly those that include siblings, show that the reported ages of the children killed at Sandy Hook are accurate. Additionally, the fourth grade students who performed at Super Bowl XLVII, while at times sharing basic physical attributes with some of the victims (such as color hair or a need for glasses), are older children with their own verifiable identities.