- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

QUARRYVILLE, Pa. — The gunman who killed five girls in an Amish schoolroom confided to his wife during the siege that he molested two relatives 20 years ago when he was boy and was tormented by dreams of doing it again, authorities said yesterday.

Investigators also said that Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, plotted his takeover of the school for nearly a week and that the items he brought — including flexible plastic ties, eye bolts and sexual aids — suggest he may have been planning to violate the Amish girls before police closed in.

“It’s very possible that he intended to victimize these children in many ways prior to executing them and killing himself,” said Col. Jeffrey B. Miller, the state police commissioner. But Roberts “became disorganized when we arrived,” and shot himself in the head.

Holding up a copy of the gunman’s suicide note at a packed press conference, Col. Miller also suggested that Roberts was haunted by the death of his prematurely born daughter in 1997. The baby, Elise, died 20 minutes after being delivered, Col. Miller said.

Elise’s death “changed my life forever,” the milk truck driver and father of three wrote to his wife. “I haven’t been the same since it affected me in a way I never felt possible. I am filled with so much hate, hate toward myself hate towards God and unimaginable emptyness it seems like everytime we do something fun I think about how Elise wasn’t here to share it with us and I go right back to anger.”

The state police commissioner identified the demons in Roberts’ head a day after the shooting rampage shattered the sense of calm in Lancaster County’s bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where the Amish live a peaceful, turn-the-other-cheek existence in an 18th-century world with no automobiles and no electrical appliances.

“He certainly was very troubled psychologically deep down and was dealing with things that nobody else knew he was dealing with,” Col. Miller said.

The death toll rose to six — including the gunman — when two more girls died of their wounds in a hospital, authorities said yesterday.

The victims were identified as Naomi Rose Ebersole, 7; Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12; Marian Fisher, 13; Mary Liz Miller, 8; and her sister Lena Miller, 7. Anna Mae’s sister was among the wounded.

Four other girls were in critical condition, and one was in serious condition. They ranged in age from 6 to 13.

During the standoff, Roberts called his wife on his cell phone from the one-room schoolhouse and told her that he molested two female relatives when they were 3 to 5 years old, Col. Miller said. Roberts would have been about 11 or 12 at the time. In a suicide note left for his family, he said he “had dreams about doing what he did 20 years ago again,” Col. Miller said.

Police could not confirm Roberts’ claim that he molested two relatives. Family members knew nothing of molestation in his past, Col. Miller said. Police located the two relatives and were hoping to interview them.

Roberts had planned the attack for nearly a week, buying plastic ties from a hardware store on Sept. 26 and several other items less than an hour before entering the school, Col. Miller said. The girls left in the room were shot at close range shortly after police arrived, he said.

“We’re quite certain, based on what we know, that he had no intention of coming out of there alive,” Col. Miller said.

At the time Roberts’ wife received the phone call, she was attending a meeting of a prayer group she led. The group prayed for the community’s schoolchildren.

Church members visited with the victims’ families yesterday, preparing meals and doing household chores, while Amish elders planned the funerals. An Amish woman who helped comfort family members said they were being sustained by prayer.

“It’s a tragedy we’ve never seen before,” said the woman, whose father was a church bishop. Like many Amish, she declined to give her name. “They said it was a happy school. The children were happy; the teachers were happy.”

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