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‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling writes to teen who survived shooting, quoted Dumbledore

Cassidy Stay stands with her grandfather as she addresses the crowd during a memorial service. (Daniel Kramer/Reuters)

At a memorial service for her family last month, 15-year-old Cassidy Stay — the lone survivor of a Texas shooting that left her mother, father and siblings dead — stood before a crowd of mourners and quoted Albus Dumbledore, a character in author J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.

Rowling heard about Stay’s words, according to the Daily Telegraph, and reached out.

“I can confirm that a personalised letter and package was sent to Cassidy Stay by J.K. Rowling,” Rowling’s spokeswoman, Rebecca Salt, wrote in an e-mail to The Post on Thursday. “It was a private letter so we are not disclosing any further details of its contents or how it came about.”

Stay family spokeswoman Mary Flood said she could not confirm the letter, which the Telegraph reported was “believed to be written from the perspective of the character Professor Albus Dumbledore.” Stay quoted Dumbledore — the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — at the service for her parents, two brothers and two sisters just days after the July 9 shooting.

“I really like Harry Potter,” Stay said on July 12. “In the ‘Prisoner of Azkaban,’ Dumbledore says ‘Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.'”

Cassidy Stay, the 15-year-old sole survivor of a shooting that left her parents and all four siblings dead, spoke at her family's memorial service Saturday in Houston. She quoted the character Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" series: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." (Reuters)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is the third installment of Rowling’s seven-book “Potter” series. Here’s Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) delievering the line in the 2004 film:

Authorities believe Ronald Lee Haskell tied up Stephen Stay, his wife Katie, and their children, in their suburban Houston home before shooting them in the back of the head. Cassidy Stay played dead, then called 911. She’s expected to make a full recovery, according to a family statement.

Haskell was reportedly searching for his ex-wife, who was Katie Stay’s sister. He’s now facing capital murder charges.

A campaign to bring together the author and the teenager is also underway on Facebook and Twitter.


This isn’t the first time Rowling has corresponded with fans. In 2006, Rowling responded to a teenage fan whose parents were murdered. (“I cannot tell you how moved I was by what you wrote,” she wrote, “nor how sorry I am to hear about your parents.”) She also reportedly read passages from an unfinished Potter book to a girl dying of terminal cancer.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.



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