Archive for Monday, October 9, 2006

Curiosity seekers visit scene of Amish shooting

October 9, 2006


— Curiosity seekers left flowers and messages of sympathy Sunday near the one-room Amish schoolhouse where a quiet milkman killed five young girls and wounded five more.

Along the road leading to the West Nickel Mines Amish School, authorities posted dozens of "No parking or standing" signs to encourage people to keep moving.

Survivors of the shooting probably will receive lessons at home for the rest of the school year, and the schoolhouse will be torn or burned down and rebuilt elsewhere, according to Daniel Esh, who said he learned of the plans from a nephew who attended a meeting on the matter.

"It would just be asking too much of them to go back," said Esh, whose three grandnephews were inside the school when the rampage began.

Ken Urbany, 57, a prison guard from Philadelphia, had hoped to stop at the school Sunday to offer a prayer for the victims but kept driving because of the restrictions. He said, "It doesn't matter. The Lord will hear my prayer in my hotel room."

But visitors also stole up to the grave of gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who killed himself in the rampage and was buried Saturday in his wife's family plot a few miles from the school. They also drove past the house of his widow, Marie, and their three children.

Randy Fischer, 51, a Roberts family friend, stood at the end of their driveway, trying to keep people away. He declined to say whether Marie Roberts was staying at the home but offered: "All things considered, they are doing very well."

Roberts stormed the school a week ago, releasing 15 boys and four adults before tying up and shooting the 10 girls, killing five of them. Roberts had come armed with a shotgun, a handgun and a stun gun.

Roberts' suicide notes and last calls with his wife reveal a man tormented by memories - as yet unsubstantiated - of molesting two young relatives 20 years ago. He said he was also angry at God for the Nov. 14, 1997, death of the couple's first child, a girl named Elise Victoria who lived for just 20 minutes.

County Coroner G. Gary Kirchner said one of the surviving Amish girls, whose parents took her home to die late last week, was returned to Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey. He said her prognosis remained extremely poor.

"People want to latch onto this 'improving' business, and it is just not so," said Kirchner, referring to speculation that the girl's condition had gotten better.

"My guess is that if she's survived this long, she will continue to be in this state with a mortal head wound," he said. "It is horrible because it will remind (her parents) every minute of the day of this whole God-awful mess."


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