- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 8, 2006

NICKEL MINES, Pa. (AP) — Curiosity seekers left flowers and messages of sympathy Sunday near the one-room Amish schoolhouse where a man killed five young girls and wounded five more before committing suicide.

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.

Ken Urbany, 57, a prison guard from Philadelphia, had hoped to stop at the school to offer a prayer for the victims but kept driving because of the restrictions.

“It doesn’t matter. The Lord will hear my prayer in my hotel room.”

But visitors 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 Mrs. Roberts was staying at the home but offered: “All things considered, they are doing very well.”

Roberts stormed the school last Monday, releasing 15 boys and four adults before tying up and shooting the 10 girls, killing five of them. 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 also was angry at God for the Nov. 14, 1997, death of the couple’s first child, a girl named Elise Victoria who lived for 20 minutes.

The funerals for the five slain girls — Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12; Marian Fisher, 13; Naomi Rose Ebersol, 7; and sisters Mary Liz Miller, 8, and Lena Miller, 7 — were held Thursday and Friday.

County Coroner G. Gary Kirchner said one of the survivors, 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 Mr. Kirchner, referring to speculation that the girl’s condition had gotten better.

“My guess is that if she has survived this long, she will continue to be in this state with a mortal head wound,” he said.

Churches throughout Lancaster County were asked to ring their bells in remembrance of the victims today at 10:45 a.m., the time the siege began.

At Georgetown United Methodist Church, in whose cemetery Roberts was buried, the Rev. Michael Remel prayed yesterday for “less violence, less hatred, less evil in the world” — and asked God to “let the world learn the lesson of forgiveness that came from our friends, the Amish.”

The church’s youth pastor, Tom Erb, who attended the viewing for Anna Mae last week, told the congregation that her father showed extraordinary grace.

“He said he was so blessed to have Anna Mae for 12 years,” Mr. Erb, his voice breaking. “I’m very thankful for the strength of the Amish, the forgiveness they have.”

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