Pa. Killer Had Prepared for 'Long Siege'
Wednesday, October 4, 2006; 1:00 PM
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."