In search of Dawn.

Where lie the remains of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, former principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, reported to be slain by Adam Lanza during the Sandy Hook massacre of December 2012?

The answer isn’t found in Mrs. Hochsprung’s obituary, which lists the burial site as “unknown.”

We hit another impasse in a Huff article about Mrs. Hochsprung’s funeral on December 19, 2012. We’re told that it took place at Munson-Lovetere Funeral home in Woodbury, Connecticut, but the funeral and burial were “private.”

That left us with our assignment, one that took us to Broadalbin in Fulton County, New York during two trips earlier this year. Broadalbin is where George and Dawn Hochsprung built their dream home prior to the massacre.

It seemed as good a place to begin as any. As aging Sandy Hook researchers, we were tired of Newtown, Woodbury and the looming haunts of Fairfield Hills. The search supplied impetus for a much-needed change. So off to Broadalbin we went with our hopes, our fears and our suspicions.

The friendly village. The village of Broadalbin is where Dawn Lafferty’s mother, Cheryl, is said to have grown up. It’s small and navigable and mostly on the way to other places. It boasts one very elegant inn, but lacks the mountain views and tourist attractions found farther north.

Our first impression of Broadalbin and its environs was disappointing. Obama economics has bitten down hard on the area, which depends on middle-income vacationers passing through en route to Lake George. “One home, One store for sale” reads a sign on a boarded-up gift shop we passed on one of Fulton County’s many straight, seemingly endless two-lane highways. Dreams are costly here, and die quietly.

Despite the sign that reads “Broadalbin, the friendly village” as you enter town, we met no cheery locals. All seemed busy scratching out a living or en route to destinations that require a full tank of gas. Nearby Saratoga Springs was about to begin its biggest horse race and we imagined the cars that passed us wanted to get there first.



During our visit, Broadalbin was having a village-wide yard sale with items ranging from the sad to the sentimental and serviceable. A walk away from lawns where household goods were being tagged, we found the Masonic Temple of Broadalbin on North Main. You just can’t miss it, and just can’t avoid it either.


Dawn’s former home in Broadalbin is not in the village, however, but on a particularly desirable stretch of Great Sacandaga Lake property. We visited it during the first day of our stay in Broadalbin.

Dream home. The Great Sacandaga Lake is not “remote” as it has been misrepresented to be by the mainstream media in their reports about Dawn and George’s lakeside dream home.

Sacandaga Lake is very much in your face. It’s huge: stretching five miles wide by 29 miles long, it offers 125 miles of shoreline. Compared with most lakes of that size, it’s thinly settled, and that may be because its boating community has a shortened season. The lake is drained in the early fall to feed the Hudson River, transforming the shoreline. Unless you live up on a hill, as George Hochsprung does, you’d have a view problem.

In 2011, George and Dawn Hochsprung, according to the official story, began building their dream home on the hill right next to Mother Cheryl Lafferty’s summer home on the Sacandaga Lake.

For privacy reasons, we will not include any photos of these residences.

Across the street from both houses is the Broadalbin Boat Launch Site, where the Hochsprungs have a private beach and dock, according to this article.

This is a key article, because of what George is purported to have said in it, but also because it links to photos of George Hochsprung strolling along his private lake beach and other somewhat strained photographic proofs of his property ownership and marriage to Dawn (a close-up of his wedding ring, for instance).

We wanted to walk down and see the beach, but the “PRIVATE” signs start near the parking area. Here it is, taken from a safe distance, below. One of the lake islands appears as a Lilliputian refuge from the world.


A dead end? From the same Connecticut Post article comes this quote: “On many days, George walks with Bella [his dog] two miles to the cemetery where Dawn is buried.”

Now, this is odd because, there is only one public cemetery two miles from the lake house: Union Mills Cemetery in Broadalbin. But it doesn’t list Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung among its residents. Click here.

You’ll see, as we did, that Dawn Hochsprung is not listed among the deceased at the Broadalbin Union Mills Cemetery.

In fact, Dawn Hochsprung is not listed by any cemetery in the U.S., according to Once again, see for yourself. Go here and fill in the blanks with Dawn’s full name (Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung), date of birth (1965), date of death (2012), country (US) and any state. No headstone exists for Dawn in this database.

Contradictions from another news source. Equally odd is the fact that this New York Daily News article implies that Dawn was buried in Connecticut, not New York, making it impossible for George and Bella to visit her grave on foot.

In that article appears the famous photo of Dawn’s daughter, Erica Lafferty Smegielski, kissing the top of her mother’s headstone on her wedding day. You can find that image here in the New York Daily News article. Or visit the photographer’s site at Sarah Beck.  For Beck’s article about the photo, go here.

From that same New York Daily News article, we have this: “Lafferty visited the Connecticut cemetery on July 6, hours before she married her fiancé, Christopher Smegielski, at her mother’s lake house in the Adirondacks.”

There it is: “Connecticut cemetery.” While that statement turns out to be 100% incorrect, Cinderella discovered that pictures do not lie as easily as mainstream media reports.

A clue from the photograph. The kiss photograph gave us the only clue we were likely to receive from the mainstream media. In its background you’ll find a chain-link fence bordering a sandpit. By doing a Google map search of Broadalbin Union Mills Cemetery on Union Mills Road, we came away with this marvelous screen shot:


{Imagery 2016 © DigitalGlobe, Map Data © 2016  Google }

(The shot has been enlarged and cropped to give you a better view of the chain-link fence and sandy area in the background.)

It appeared that our quarry was in the Broadalbin Union Mills Cemetery after all. And one hot, dusty ride later, we were able to confirm it with photos of our own.

Found: One headstone. While paying our respects, we took photos of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung’s remarkable resting place. Besides the chocolate sign, now heavily rusted, the top of which also appeared in the famous kiss photo, the grave is now embellished with various other mementos: a basket of artificial flowers, an urn, a decorative dove, candle holders, metal wings and stars. Note the words from a famous Irish blessing on the front of the headstone: “May the Wind Always be at your back.”   And the other words on the back: “Your light will continue to inspire the human spirit.” It seems odd to this researcher that there is no more personal epitaph noting Dawn as the beloved teacher, devoted mother and wife she was acclaimed to be.


Front of headstone


Back of headstone


Close-up view of chocolate sign

Further confirmation. The caregiver of Broadalbin Union Mills Cemetery was happy to share these facts about the grave site of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung:

  • Date of interment: December 20, 2012
  • Specifics on location of the headstone: Section 3, Lot 113, Grave #2
  • Specifics as to nature of interment: Full burial in casket
  • Funeral Home: Halgas Funeral Home, Broadalbin, NY

Note that the funeral home listed here is not the one specified in the Huff article referred to in the intro of this post (Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home in Woodbury, CT). We put a call in to Halgas Funeral Home to question this and were told that Mrs. Hochsprung’s body was transferred from Woodbury, Connecticut to Broadalbin, New York after the December 19th funeral at Munson-Lovetere. No further information was obtained from that source.

Still missing: Burial transit permit and death certificate. In New York State, according to public health law 4145, “No person in charge of any premises on which interments, cremations and other disposition of the body of a deceased person are made shall inter or permit the interment or other disposition of any body unless it is accompanied by a burial, cremation or transit permit, as provided in this article.”

A copy of such a permit (and the rules that apply) may be found here.

Likewise, the State of Connecticut has laws governing the transfer of bodies over state lines. From a Word doc titled “Transportation of Bodies of Deceased Persons,” found here:

Sec. 19-49-1: “Transit permits, as required by section 7-69 of the general statutes, shall be secured in duplicate, one copy being designated as a transit permit to be attached to the coffin or casket. Information for transit permits, other than what is contained in the death certificate, shall be supplied to the registrar in writing on forms furnished by the state department of health.”

We put a call in to Broadalbin’s town clerk (518-883-4657) to request a copy of the burial transit permit for Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, deceased in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012 and buried in the Broadalbin Union Mills Cemetery on December 20, 2012. The friendly clerk searched the records and called us back. “I’m sorry, but there is no burial permit or death certificate for Dawn Hochsprung,” she said. Her voice reflected her bewilderment.

We explained that Mrs. Hochsprung’s body was transferred from Connecticut to New York prior to interment. “Could that be the reason for the missing documents?” we asked.  “No,” she said. “If she’s buried in Broadalbin, I should have both documents.” She asked us to get in touch with her if we were able to obtain a death certificate.

Cinderella isn’t willing, at this time, to risk her life with Debbie Aurelia Halstead, the town clerk of Newtown, who once denied journalists access to any death certificates for six months. Perhaps you are willing, however, and, if so, be my guest. To request a copy of Mrs. Hochsprung’s death certificate, go here.

You will need to enclose a copy of your driver’s license, a postal money order for $20 and this completed form.

Are Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung’s remains beneath the headstone at the Broadalbin Union Mills Cemetery? Without a full legal exhumation,* one can only speculate.

But at least one person knows it’s possible for someone to fake one’s burial. His name is Donald J. Trump. See his fake headstone here.

Many thanks for going on this journey with us.

*Cinderella wishes to make it absolutely clear that, apart from a legal court-ordered exhumation, digging up a grave post-burial is a criminal act. In no way does this blog suggest that such actions be taken. ~C.