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Charles Carl ROBERTS IV

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Amish school shooting
Number of victims: 5
Date of murder: October 2, 2006
Date of birth: December 7, 1973
Victims profile: Naomi Rose Ebersol, 7 / Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, 13 / Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12 / Lena Zook Miller, 7 / Mary Liz Miller, 8
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 

 

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Charles Carl Roberts IV (December 7, 1973 Ė October 2, 2006) was an American milk truck driver who murdered five Amish girls before killing himself in an Amish school in the hamlet of Nickel Mines, in Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on October 2, 2006.

Personal life

Charles Carl Roberts IV was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His father is retired from the local police force. In 2004, his father applied to the state for a special license to provide paratransit service to the Amish. Charles earned a diploma through a home-school association, and neither he nor his family were Amish.

In 1990, Roberts worked as a dishwasher at Good 'N Plenty Restaurant in Smoketown, PA. Two of his co-workers were Lawrence Yunkin and Lisa Michelle Lambert, both of whom would be convicted in the December 20, 1991 murder of 16-year old Laurie Show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Roberts was a commercial milk tank driver, employed by North West Foods.

Amish school shooting

On October 2, 2006, Roberts entered the one-room West Nickel Mines School at approximately 9:51 a.m. with a 9 mm handgun, 12 gauge shotgun, .30-06 bolt-action rifle, about 600 rounds of ammunition, cans of black powder, a stun gun, two knives, a change of clothes, an apparent truss board and a box containing a hammer, hacksaw, pliers, wire, screws, bolts and tape. He used 2◊6 and 2◊4 boards with eye bolts and flex ties to barricade the school doors before binding the arms and legs of the hostages.

He ordered the hostages to line up against the chalkboard and released the 15 male students present, along with a pregnant woman and three parents with infants. The remaining ten female students he kept inside the schoolhouse. The school teacher contacted the police upon escaping at approximately 10:36 a.m. The first police officers arrived about nine minutes later and attempted (unsuccessfully) to communicate with Roberts using the PA broadcasters in their cruisers.

Police had to break in through the windows when shots were heard. The gunman apparently killed himself along with five school girls. Three of the girls died at the scene, with two more dying the next morning from related injuries. Five girls were in the hospital in critical condition. Reports have stated that the girls were shot execution style in the head. The ages of the victims ranged from 6 to 13. Roberts fired at least 13 rounds from his 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

Roberts was last seen by his wife at 8:45 a.m. when they walked their children to the bus stop to go to school in Bart Township. When his wife returned home at 11:00 a.m., she discovered four notes he had left to her and their children. Roberts reportedly contacted his wife while still in the schoolhouse and stated that he had molested two young female relatives (between the ages of three and five) twenty years ago (when he would have been 12), and had been daydreaming about molesting again. Both of the relatives in question have denied these claims. Among the items he brought to the school was a tube of KY Jelly, which investigators surmised he might have intended to use as a sexual lubricant. His suicide notes stated that he was still angry at God for the death of a premature infant daughter nine years prior.

Amish response to the crime

Although the Amish community grieved deeply about the terrible incident and certainly were very shocked about the tragedy they also believed it was right to forgive. The Rev. Schenck reports a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls said of the killer on the day of the murder: "We must not think evil of this man."

Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, explained to CNN: "I do not think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts."

Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.

Dozens of Amish neighbors attended Charles Roberts' funeral on October 7, 2006. He was buried in an unmarked grave in his wife's family plot behind Georgetown United Methodist church, a few miles from the one-room West Nickel Mines schoolhouse. One mourner stated that Roberts' wife was touched by the outward gesture of forgiveness by the Amish community. The schoolhouse was torn down eleven days after the tragedy.

Wikipedia.org


The Amish school shooting occurred on the morning of Monday, October 2, 2006, when a gunman took hostages and eventually killed five girls (aged 7Ė13) and then killed himself at West Nickel Mines School, a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States.

Police report that the gunman was Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year-old milk-tank truck driver who lived nearby.

Shooting

Roberts entered the school at approximately 9:51 a.m. EDT with a shotgun, a handgun, wires, chains, nails, and flexible plastic ties which he used to bind the arms and legs of the hostages, and several stout wooden boards which he used to barricade himself inside.

Police found a length of two-by-six wooden board with ten pairs of metal eyehooks, presumably to secure the ten hostages. Provisions for an extended overnight stay, such as candles, toilet tissue, and a change of clothes were found at the scene. Two tubes of sexual lubricant were also later discovered at the scene, and Roberts indicated to his wife over the phone that he had dreams about molesting children, but police have found no signs that any molestation occurred.

He ordered the hostages to line up against the chalkboard, and sent away from the classroom a pregnant woman, three parents with infants and all fifteen male students. One female student escaped: nine-year-old Emma Fisher (whose two older sisters stayed inside).

The nine-year old, who had just started to learn English, left with the male students because she did not understand the gunman's orders. She had been sitting beside her brother and followed him out when he left. The gunman, a father of three children (two boys and a girl), remained inside the school house with the remaining ten female students. The school teacher, Emma Mae Zook, contacted the police upon escaping at approximately 10:36 a.m.

The first police officers arrived approximately nine minutes later and attempted to communicate with Roberts via the PA system in their cruisers. The 911 call transcript shows Roberts ordered the police that if they didn't pull back within two seconds, the children would be dead and he began firing when they did not comply.

Police broke in through the windows when shots were heard. The gunman killed five girls and himself. The oldest girl, 13-year-old Marian Fisher, appealed to Roberts to shoot her first, in an effort to spare the younger girls, according to her younger sister who survived. The younger sister, Barbie, appealed to him to shoot her next. She received 9mm bullet wounds in the hand, leg, and shoulder.

Three died at the scene and two more died early the next morning, with five more girls left in critical condition. Three girls were admitted to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, four to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and one to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, state police said.

Reports have stated that most of the girls were shot "execution-style" in the back of the head. The ages of the victims ranged from six to thirteen.

Roberts was last seen by his wife at 8:45 a.m. when they walked their children to the bus stop before leaving. When his wife returned home at 11:00 a.m., she discovered four suicide notes ó one addressed to his wife, and one to each of his children.

Roberts reportedly contacted his wife while still in the schoolhouse and stated that he had molested two young female relatives (between the ages of 3 and 5) twenty years ago, and had been daydreaming about molesting again.

One note Roberts left indicated his despondency over his daughter who died shortly (roughly 20 minutes) after birth nine years earlier, and cryptically stated that he had "been having dreams for the past couple of years about doing what he did 20 years ago and he has dreams of doing them again", according to State Police Commissioner Colonel Jeffrey B. Miller, apparently alluding to his later phone admission to sexually molesting two family members when he was younger.

On October 4, 2006, the two relatives whom Roberts said he molested 20 years ago told police that no such abuse had ever happened, throwing a new layer of mystery over the gunman's motive and mental state during the shooting.

Miller said there was no evidence any of the Amish children had been molested.

Roberts was a resident of nearby Georgetown, another unincorporated area of Bart Township.

On October 12, 2006, the West Nickel Mines School fell to the bulldozer; the school had been boarded up since the shooting occurred. The Amish plan to leave a quiet pasture where the schoolhouse once stood.

According to the Washington Post, Police and coroner accounts of the children's wounds differed dramatically. Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller said Roberts shot his victims in the head at close range, with 17 or 18 shots fired in all, including the one he used to take his own life as police stormed into the school through the windows. But Janice Ballenger, deputy coroner in Lancaster County, Pa., told The Washington Post in an interview that she counted at least two dozen bullet wounds in one child alone before asking a colleague to continue for her.

Inside the school, Ballenger said, "there was not one desk, not one chair, in the whole schoolroom that was not splattered with either blood or glass. There were bullet holes everywhere, everywhere." When questioned, a state police spokeswoman said that she could not immediately explain the discrepancy.

Victims

Fatalities

  • Naomi Rose Ebersol, aged 7, died at the scene October 2, 2006.

  • Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, aged 13, died at the scene October 2, 2006.

  • Anna Mae Stoltzfus, aged 12, was declared dead on arrival at Lancaster General Hospital, Lancaster, Pennsylvania October 2, 2006.

  • Lena Zook Miller, aged 7, died at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania on October 3, 2006.

  • Mary Liz Miller, aged 8, died at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware on October 3, 2006.

Injured

All of the hurt Amish schoolgirls were hospitalized.

  • 6 year old female (Rosanna King) was removed from life support at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and sent home at the request of her family on October 4, 2006. Some reports claim the child showed signs of recovery and was sent back to the hospital.

  • 8 year old female (Rachel Ann Stoltzfus)

  • 10 year old female (Barbara Stoltzfus "Barbie" Fisher)

  • 12 year old female (Sarah Ann Stoltzfus)

  • 13 year old female (Esther King)

Rachel Ann Stoltzfus, Esther King and Barbara Stoltzfus "Barbie" Fisher returned to school in the fall of 2006, although some have had to miss class time due to rehabilitation or surgeries. Sarah Ann Stoltzfus returned to school just before Christmas and despite a serious head wound, she is doing well in school. The youngest victim, Rosanna King, 6, remains in a semicomatose state although she appears to be improving.

Victims' plea

After the shootings it was uncovered that Marian Fisher, age 13 stepped forward and asked Roberts to, "shoot me first," in an apparent effort to bide time for the other, and younger girls being held captive. Following her plea, Fisher's younger sister Barbie who survived however, with injuries, also commissioned to be shot second.

The findings of the pleas became comforting in the aftermath of the tragic shootings, and both girls were subsequently hailed as heroes.

Amish respond with forgiveness

CNN reported a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls said of the killer on the day of the murder: "We must not think evil of this man."

Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, explained: "I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts," he told CNN.

The Amish have reached out to Roberts' family. Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.

An article in a Canadian newspaper the National Post stated that the Amish have set up a charitable fund for the family of the shooter.

The Amish do not normally accept charity, but due to the extreme nature of the tragedy, donations were being accepted. Richie Lauer, director of the Anabaptist Foundation, said the Amish community, whose religious beliefs prohibit them from having health insurance, will likely use the donations to help pay the medical costs of the hospitalized children.

Also amazing to some was that the fathers of the Amish girls who had been shot went to the killer's parents and asked what they could do to help them.

Aftermath

The school was demolished on October 12, 2006 and a new school, the New Hope School, has since been built near the original site, It opened on April 2, 2007, precisely six months after the shooting.

911 transcripts

On October 10, 2006, the 911 transcripts were released.

Transcript of 911 calls made October 2, 2006 in connection with gunman Charles Carl Robert IVís siege at an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa. The callers identified in the transcript are Amos Smoker, who first reported the presence of a gunman at the school; Roberts; and Robertsí wife, Marie.

The tapes of the calls were transcribed by Lancaster County District Attorney Don Totaro. In some cases where the transcript indicates the line went dead, it is because the call was transferred to state police and was not recorded by Lancaster County, the prosecutorís office said.

10:35:29- During this time, a pregnant woman, three parents with infants and all fifteen male students were told to leave the school by Mr. Roberts, The school teacher, Emma Mae Zook, contacted the police upon escaping at approximately 10:36 a.m. The first police officers arrived approximately nine minutes later and attempted to communicate with Roberts via the PA system in their cruisers.

911 Dispatcher: Lancaster County 911, do you need police, fire or ambulance?

Mr. Smoker: Yes, this is Amos Smoker.

911 Dispatcher: OK.

Mr. Smoker: Thereís a, thereís a guy in the school with a gun.

911 Dispatcher: OK, what, what, what school, where at?

Mr. Smoker: White Oak Road.

911 Dispatcher: What city, township or borough is that in?

Mr. Smoker: Howís that?

911 Dispatcher: What city, township or borough is that in?

Mr. Smoker: Bart Township.

911 Dispatcher: OK, stay on the line, itís state police.

Mr. Smoker: OK.

(Call being transferred to State Police)

State Police PCO: State Police Dispatch Center.

Mr. Smoker: Yes, this is Amos Smoker. (Line goes dead)

10:41:35

911 Dispatcher: Lancaster County 911.

Caller: Did someone call in for police at a school?

911 Dispatcher: What school, what school was it?

Caller: West Nickel Mines School.

911 Dispatcher: Nickel Mines School, somebody with a gun?

Caller: Yes.

911 Dispatcher: Hold on one second, did you call before? We transferred to State Police.

Caller: OK, someoneís coming out.

911 Dispatcher: Well, I donít know, Iím going to transfer you, OK, I donít dispatch them here, hold on, does anybody need an ambulance do you know?

Caller: I donít know.

911 Dispatcher: OK, hold on, is he in the school?

Caller: I donít know nothing, I donít know.

911 Dispatcher: Alright, hold on.

(Call being transferred to State Police)

911 Dispatcher: Is this Amish school?

Caller: Yes it is.

911 Dispatcher: In Bart Township?

Caller: Yes.

Pennsylvania State Police PCO: Pennsylvania State Police, PCO Campbell, hello..

911 Dispatcher: Go ahead sir.

PCO Campbell: Sir, go ahead, State Police. (Line goes dead)

10:55:38- During this time, while the boys, teachers, parents and Emma fisher wondered what was going on inside, Roberts ordered the hostages to line up against the chalkboard and here he tells the dispatcher that if state police were not off the property in two seconds, he would kill the children. A few moments later, shots rang out.

911 Dispatcher: Lancaster County 911, do you need police, fire or ambulance? Hello.. Your cell phone is cutting in and out. Do you have an emergency?

Mr. Roberts : Yes.

911 Dispatcher: OK, whatís the address of the emergency?

Mr. Roberts : Itís on White Oak Road. I just took, uh, ten girls hostage and I want everybody off the property or, or else.

911 Dispatcher: OK, alright.

Mr. Roberts: Now.

911 Dispatcher: Hold on a second.

911 Dispatcher: Hello.

Mr. Roberts : Yeah.

911 Dispatcher: OK, whatís the problem there?

Mr. Roberts: Donít try to talk me out of it, get em all off the property now.

911 Dispatcher: Sir, I want you to stay on the phone with me, OK? Iím going to let the State Police down there, I need to let you talk to them, OK, can I transfer you to them.

Mr. Roberts: No, you tell them and thatís it. Right now or theyíre dead, in two seconds. 911 Dispatcher: (To unidentified person at County-Wide Communications): He wonít let me transfer.

(To Mr. Roberts): Hang on a minute, weíre trying to tell them, OK.

Mr. Roberts: Two seconds thatís it. 911 Dispatcher: Sir, listen to me. Listen... (Line goes dead)

10:58:39- At this point Mr.roberts wife called 911 just seconds after Charles Carl Roberts IV killed 5 kids and hiself to discover suicide notes on the kitchen table.

911 Dispatcher: Lancaster County 911.

Ms. Roberts: Yes, my name is Marie Roberts, my husband just called me on his cell phone and told me that he wasnít going to be coming home and that the police were there and not to worry about it. And I have no idea what he is talking about, but I am really scared. And I wondered if, how I find out whatís going on?

911 Dispatcher: OK, where are you calling me from?

Ms. Roberts: Iím calling from my home.

911 Dispatcher: And whatís that address?

Ms. Roberts: 1084 Georgetown Road.

911 Dispatcher: What township, city or borough is that?

Ms. Roberts: Bart Township.

911 Dispatcher: OK, and your husband didnít tell you where he was?

Ms. Roberts: No, he didnít.

911 Dispatcher: He called you on his cell phone?

Ms. Roberts: Yes he did.

911 Dispatcher: OK, and, and all he said to you was that...

Ms. Roberts: Iím not coming home, um, he was upset about something that had happened twenty years ago, and he said he was getting revenge for it, I donít think he was getting revenge on another person, Iím worried that maybe he was trying to commit suicide.

911 Dispatcher: OK, hang on the line, Iím going to transfer you to the State Police, OK? Ms. Roberts: Thank you.

911 Dispatcher: Hang on a second..

(Call being transferred to State Police)

PCO Bowerman: State Police Dispatch PCO Bowerman

Ms. Roberts: My name is Marie Roberts, my husband just called me and said that he wasnít coming home and that the police were there and that he left notes for myself and my children and Iím worried that he tried to commit suicide somewhere. And...

PCO Bowerman : Whatís his name?

Ms. Roberts: Charlie Roberts.

PCO Bowerman: OK, whatís, let me ask you a question, hold on for one second please.

Ms. Roberts: Yeah.

PCO Bowerman: You said your name again was?

Ms. Roberts: Marie Roberts.

PCO Bowerman: Marie Roberts, thank you.

PCO Bowerman: Maíam, let me ask you a question, what kind of vehicle does your husband drive?

Ms. Roberts: He was using my grandpaís pick-up, itís a GMC.

PCO Bowerman: Color.

Ms. Roberts: Blue.

PCO Bowerman: Blue GMC.

Ms. Roberts: Yeah.

PCO Bowerman: One second. OK. maíam, whatís your husbands name?

Ms. Roberts: Charlie Roberts.

PCO Bowerman: Charlie Roberts. And what does he look like?

Ms. Roberts: He is six foot two, short brown, you know like buzzed brown hair, um, he is thirty-two years old, wears glasses, I guess heís like maybe 195 pounds.

PCO Bowerman: OK, you say he left notes?

Ms. Roberts: Yes.

PCO Bowerman: What did the notes say?

Ms. Roberts: Like, the thought of not my children, not seeing them grow up, like, letís see, uh, Iím not even sure, here it is, my daughter Abigail I want you to know that I love you and Iím sorry I couldnít be here to watch you grow up, thatís how the notes start.

PCO Bowerman: OK, hold on one moment. (Line goes dead)


Family man who killed little girls

Douglas Birch and Josh Mitchell, Pennsylvania

Theage.com.au

October 4, 2006

TO THOSE who thought they knew him, he was a soccer dad ó a quiet, hard-working, church-going family man who did not flinch at changing nappies.

So when Charlie Roberts was named as the suicidal gunman who marched into a tiny Amish schoolhouse shooting 11 girls, execution-style ó killing three at the scene, with a fourth and fifth dying later in hospital ó and then committing suicide, there was nothing but shocked disbelief.

"The man who did this today is not the Charlie that I've been married to for almost 10 years," said Marie Roberts, 28, the gunman's widow, in a statement released to the media. "My husband is loving, supportive, thoughtful, all the things you'd always want and more."

Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, held a steady job working nights driving a truck that picked up milk from area dairy farms. A driver who worked with Roberts said he picked up milk from some of the farms where the children in the school lived.

"I imagine he knew some of these kids," said Ray Shirk, 60.

Roberts, his wife and three children ó two boys and a girl, all under seven ó lived in the tiny village of Georgetown, Pennsylvania, 88 kilometres west of Philadelphia and a short drive from the school.

After taking his school-aged children to their bus stop on Monday, as usual, Roberts drove a borrowed pick-up to the entrance of the rural West Nickel Mines Amish School around 9am. The shootings occurred about 10.45am ó the third such deadly incident in a US school in a week.

Roberts took revenge for what he said in a rambling suicide letter to his family was a 20-year-old grievance.

State police officers stormed the building at the sound of shots ó some of the bullets aimed at them ó to discover the doors barricaded by desks and timber. They broke windows and climbed inside to find Roberts and three girls dead, and eight children badly wounded. Authorities have not released the names of the dead or wounded.

"Clearly, he wanted to attack young female victims," said Jeffrey Miller, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. Roberts came prepared for a siege, Mr Miller said. "He was angry with life and was angry at God Ö There may have been a loss of a child at some point in his life," Mr Miller said, declining to elaborate.

Discussing the state of the wounded victims, Mr Miller said: "It would be a miracle if we were somehow able to have no further loss of life."

Found with Roberts' body were a nine-millimetre pistol, a shotgun, a rifle, a stun gun, knives, and 600 rounds of ammunition. He also brought a bucket filled with tools that included a hammer, a hacksaw, pliers and rolls of clear tape, and a change of clothes.

"It is clear to us that he did a great deal of planning," Mr Miller said.

The tragedy stunned this peaceful, largely Amish community, where descendants of settlers of Swiss-German descent have preserved a religious lifestyle that shuns aspects of modern life like cars and electricity.

In her statement, Marie Roberts called her husband "an exceptional father" who took his children to soccer practice, played ball in the backyard and took his seven-year-old daughter shopping. She pleaded for people to pray for the families of the slain, as well as her own.

The White House said President George Bush, troubled by the recent rash of school shootings, would convene a conference of law enforcement authorities and education officials next week to try to determine what the Federal Government could do to stop the problem.


Pa. Killer Had Prepared for 'Long Siege'

By Tamara Jones and Joshua Partlow - The Washington Post

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

BART TOWNSHIP, Pa., Oct. 4 -- Haunted by an ugly secret he claimed to have kept since childhood and recurring dreams of molesting young girls, Charles C. Roberts IV clearly "planned to dig in for the long siege" and torment his young victims in an Amish schoolhouse before executing them and killing himself, investigators said Tuesday.

Five suicide notes the 32-year-old gunman left behind also describe his anguish over the loss of a premature baby nine years ago, police said, and a checklist found in his milk truck offered a sordid blueprint for the mayhem that left five girls dead and five more fighting for life after Roberts stormed into their classroom Monday morning.

Neighbors watched tearfully Tuesday as horse-drawn buggies filled with Amish mourners began to converge on the houses where simple funerals were expected to be held in the coming days for the girls killed in a barrage of bullets that left the county coroner too shaken to keep counting the wounds.

Roberts called his wife, Marie, after barricading himself inside the school with the terrified children, and said that he had molested two young, female relatives when he was 12 and that he had been dreaming about doing it again, Pennsylvania State Police Col. Jeffrey Miller said at a news conference.

Miller said that police were still interviewing members of Roberts's extended family and that they had not been able to determine what happened 20 years ago or to find the alleged victims, who would have been preschoolers at the time.

There is "no evidence" that the girls held hostage Monday were sexually assaulted, Miller said, but the boxes of evidence police carted away from the Nickel Mines school included sexual lubricant and restraint devices.

"It is very possible he intended to victimize these children in many ways prior to executing them," said Miller, who added that Roberts "planned to dig in for the long siege."

Miller identified the victims as Naomi Rose Ebersole, 7; Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12; Marian Fisher, 13; Mary Liz Miller, 8; and her sister Lina Miller, 7.

Three of the other victims, including a younger Stoltzfus sister, remained in critical condition. A fourth victim -- at 13, the oldest of the group -- was reported in serious condition but conscious and able to communicate by blinking her eyes, a spokeswoman for Penn State Hershey Medical Center said Tuesday. A 12-year-old girl who was being treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for arm and leg injuries was upgraded from critical condition to serious condition, a spokeswoman there said Wednesday morning.

Although the Amish restrict the use of modern technology, hospital spokesmen said no religious restrictions interfered with treatment of the children.

Police and coroner accounts of the children's wounds differed dramatically. Miller said Roberts shot his victims in the head at close range, with 17 or 18 shots fired in all, including the one he used to take his own life as police stormed into the school through the windows. But Janice Ballenger, deputy coroner in Lancaster County, Pa., told The Washington Post in an interview that she counted at least two dozen bullet wounds in one child alone before asking a colleague to continue for her.

Inside the school, Ballenger said, "there was not one desk, not one chair, in the whole schoolroom that was not splattered with either blood or glass. There were bullet holes everywhere, everywhere."

A state police spokeswoman said Tuesday night that she could not immediately explain the discrepancy.

Discussing the tragedy at the local post office with another neighbor, their voices falling silent when an elderly Amish woman walked in, Marie Pelliccio described her conversation with a young survivor. He was among the 15 boys Roberts ordered out of the school after lining up the girls in white bonnets and long pinafores against the chalkboard and binding their feet with plastic ties.

Pelliccio said the teenage boy is a neighbor who works as a hired hand at her horse farm. When she stopped by to check on the family Tuesday afternoon, Pelliccio said, the boy told her the gunman had burst into the school and yelled at everyone to line up, then pointed to the boys: "You, you and you and you, get out of here!"

When the teacher fled as well, the boy told his neighbor, the gunman ordered another boy to chase after her, warning, "You go get her, or I'll start shooting!"

Pelliccio's eyes welled as she recalled the boy's quiet account of the horror: "I saw him tying my sister up," he told her.

The 8-year-old girl was shot in the jaw and shoulder, and was one of two children still in critical condition at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.

Several of the families whose children were shot were on Roberts's milk run, Pelliccio said. "He knew them."

Two local relief groups, the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Mennonite Central Committee are accepting financial donations to assist the community impacted by the shootings. Contributions to the Amish School Recovery Fund will help affected families with medical care, transportation, supportive care and other needs, the websites describing the effort said. Tax-deductible donations can be made by calling the Mennonite Central Committee at (717) 859-1151, or the Mennonite Disaster Service at (717) 859-2210. To donate online, go to mds.mennonite.net or mcc.org .

Police found Roberts's truck where he customarily parked it after his shift ended at 3 a.m.: in a lot across from the intersection the Amish children crossed each day on their way to school.

"We believe this had nothing to do with the Amish," Miller said. "The school was a target of opportunity. It was close by his home. He felt comfortable."

After finishing his milk run, police said, Roberts went home and helped his two older children get ready for school, dropping them off at their bus stop about 8:45 a.m.

Marie Roberts told police she had "absolutely no" clue that anything was troubling her husband when she left at 9 a.m. for the prayer group she leads at a nearby church. The first emergency call about a hostage situation at the school came about 10:36 a.m., from the teacher who had escaped.

Charles Roberts had carried boxes of tools, hardware and lumber with him, Miller said, and he barricaded the front door with a piece of wood, bolted it and piled desks in front of it. A side door was barricaded with a foosball table, a 2-by-4 piece of wood and plastic ties.

At 10:50 a.m., Miller told reporters, Roberts called his wife from a cellphone to say, "I am not coming home. Police are here." He said Roberts then claimed to have molested two family members 20 years ago, when the girls were "3 or 4."

Roberts told his wife where the suicide notes were in their home, one for her and each of their three small children. She began reading them, then called her mother and 911, Miller said.

Miller said Roberts didn't answer when police negotiators attempted to contact him.

His letters describe how he was filled with "hatred for God and hatred for" himself. They refer to an unrelenting grief over the loss of his firstborn child, a daughter named Elise, who lived for just 20 minutes before dying nine years ago.

"He said he had been having dreams about doing what he did 20 years ago and wants to do it again," Miller said. The dreams of molesting girls had been tormenting Roberts for two or three years, according to the suicide notes.

In addition to another suicide note found in his truck, police discovered a checklist of 16 items that "matches evidence" seized at the crime scene, Miller said. Among the items Roberts had listed: bullets, gun, binoculars, candle, earplugs, wrenches, nails, eye bolts and KY Jelly. Two tubes of the sexual lubricant were recovered at the school, Miller added, along with items that made up "a restraint system or kit."

Roberts had planned the attack meticulously, Miller said, and was "extremely organized." He began purchasing items on his checklist at a local Amish-run hardware store six days earlier, then spent a "normal, relaxed weekend with his family, playing with his kids."

The supplies he took into the school included a change of clothes, toilet paper and a bucket, additional indicators that he possibly planned to hold his victims hostage for "a number of hours" but then panicked and became "disorganized" when police arrived, Miller said.

Fred S. Berlin, a Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist and expert on sexual disorders, said it would be a mistake to accept Roberts's statement about molesting children years ago as an explanation for what happened Monday. At most, Berlin said, the molestation, if it occurred, is just one piece of a complicated psychiatric puzzle.

"People can develop a major depression and, in the midst of that, begin to feel very guilty and troubled about perceived bad acts in a way that had not been a problem for them in the absence of depression," Berlin said. "I'm speculating here, but it's possible he became depressed and then began to be preoccupied and ruminative and guilt-ridden about these events that occurred so many years ago."

If Roberts did molest two young relatives 20 years ago, when he was 12, it would not necessarily mean he was bound to repeat the behavior as an adult, Berlin said.

Although many adult pedophiles begin their misconduct as young people, "there's good evidence that a majority of adolescent sexual offenders -- if indeed he was that -- do not go on to be adult offenders," Berlin said. "People assume otherwise, but there's some pretty compelling data suggesting that there are lots of kids who do things of a sexual nature during childhood that they ought not do, and they don't do it again."

If Roberts was suffering from depression and became fixated on his long-ago sexual misconduct, fearing that he would repeat the behavior, that could explain suicide, Berlin said.

"That still leaves a tremendous gap in our understanding of how he got from being troubled and guilty about doing that years ago to, in the end, murdering a number of innocent children," Berlin said. "I mean, there's a tremendous leap there that we would need to transcend in order to have a better understanding of why he did what he did."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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