NEWTOWN -- Colorful holiday decorations disappeared here Saturday, replaced by somber black bunting, flags at half-staff and dozens of candles set in a hastily created shrine honoring the 26 Sandy Hook Elementary School victims mercilessly gunned down by an armed madman the day before.

By late Saturday afternoon, State Police had released the names of the 12 little girls and eight young boys slaughtered by Adam Lanza, 20, with a powerful, military-style assault rifle, adding another layer of pain on a community already reeling from Friday's bloodbath.

The list of the dead also included six adult women -- teachers, counselors and administrators -- at the kindergarten through fourth-grade school in this close-knit suburb that was once a fertile farming community.

One of the children killed was Emilie Parker, 6, whose father Robbie said she "brightened up" every room she entered and delighted in teaching her two younger sisters to dance and read.

"I'm blessed to be her dad," he said, choking back tears.

Parker, who moved to Newtown just eight months ago to take a physician assistant job in Danbury Hospital's newborn intensive care unit, amazingly said he bore no ill will towards the Lanza family.

"Our family's love and support go out to you as well," he said. "I can't imagine how hard this experience has been on you."

Late Saturday, Peter Lanza, the mass murderer's father, responded with his own thoughts.

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured," he said. "Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We too are asking why."

It remained unclear why Lanza, a former honor student who had trouble making friends, went on the killing spree after fatally shooting his mother and before finally killing himself.

"This is an active case," said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance. "We are still pursuing leads."

Vance said investigators found in evidence at the Lanza home at 36 Yoganada Drive in Newtown that will help them determine "how and more importantly, why this occurred."

But another law enforcement source told the Associated Press, no note or manifesto typically left behind by similar mass murderers had been found.

What investigators do know is that the guns found near Lanza's body, a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle which killed all of the school victims, and Glock and Sig Sauer handguns, were bought legally by his mother, Nancy Lanza, who was an avid target shooter who often practiced with her son, according to a New York Times report.

Time to grieve

The grieving spread across the U.S. and the world.

At every NFL game Sunday, there will be a moment of silence for the victims.

In Atlanta, the New York Giants dark blue helmets will contain the letters SHES - for Sandy Hook Elementary School

And President Barack Obama will arrive in Newtown to meet with devastated parents of the victims, thank traumatized first responders and attend a 7 p.m. interfaith vigil.

Many of the town's 27,000 residents sought comfort Saturday in houses of worship or at impromptu memorial vigils.

"Yesterday morning changed our town forever," said David Baxter standing outside the Newtown United Methodist Church.

For many, there will be no festive holiday - just funerals.

"In my neighborhood people feel guilty about it being Christmas," said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychiatrist. "They are taking down decorations."

Forty-two miles away in Farmington, Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver II and his staff of four doctors and 10 technicians spent the morning completing the grisly but required job of performing autopsies on the 20 children

"We did not bring the bodies and the families into contact," he said. "There's another time and place for that."

Instead, Carver's staff took photographs of the children's faces and showed those to parents.

"I felt it was best to do it that way," said the doctor, of 31 years. "That's easier on the families."

By 1:30 p.m., the tiny bodies were delivered to funeral homes.

"All of the wounds I know of were caused by the long weapon," said Carver, who performed seven autopsies find as few as three and as many as 11 gunshot wounds.

He said the bullets pierced all areas of the bodies, causing devastating injuries. Only two were shot at close range.

When asked if the victims suffered, Carver replied "if so, not for very long."

On Saturday afternoon, the task shifted to the six adults killed at the school.

Carver said he personally would conduct the autopsies on Lanza and his mother sometime today.

Asked how many bullets were fired, Carver said, "I'm lucky if I can tell you how many I found."

The victims

When Lanza blasted his way into the school, spraying death down a hallway and in two first grade classrooms, he shattered families forever.

He killed Dawn Hochsprung, the school's principal and Mary Sherlach, its psychologist, as they rushed to confront and calm him.

His bullets ripped through the body of Vicki Soto, a first-grade teacher from Stratford who sacrificed herself to spare the terrified students that she'd hidden in closets and cabinets seconds earlier.

He murdered Lauren Rousseau, a new first-grade teacher, who told anyone who asked, that this "was the best year of her life."

And his bullets ripped through children -- some shot unsuspecting, others killed cowering in fear.

The children came from all walks of life.

There was little Emilie Parker, whose father said she carried a box of markers and colored pencils "and never missed the opportunity" to draw. "If she saw someone who felt sad and frustrated, she rushed to find a piece of paper" to draw them a picture to cheer them up.

There was Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, the niece of Jorge L. Marquez Perez, Maunabo, Puerto Rico's mayor and daughter of Jimmy Greene, a renowned saxophonist. She was due to undergo an operation repairing a problem with her heart.

Vance said a trooper has been assigned to each victim's families to help protect their privacy.

Marsha Moskowitz, who has been driving students to the Sandy Hook school on her bus for the past 13 years, knew at least two of the child victims.

One of them, a girl, was on her last stop.

"I used to sneak her a lollipop," Moskowitz said.

Heroes

The list of child victims could have been much longer if n