- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

PAMPLIN, Va. | The Rev. Mark Niederbrock was a man devoted to God who struggled with his teen daughter’s fixation on macabre music, friends and church members said after his funeral Thursday.

Mr. Niederbrock was buried in front of his modest white church in Appomattox County nearly a week after he, his wife, their daughter and the girl’s friend were found bludgeoned to death at his wife’s Farmville home. Mr. Niederbrock and his wife, Longwood University professor Debra Kelley, were separated.

Their daughter’s boyfriend, 20-year-old aspiring “horrorcore” rapper Richard “Sammy” McCroskey III, is charged in Mr. Niederbrock’s slaying. Authorities said they expect to charge him soon in the deaths of Mrs. Kelley, Emma Niederbrock, 16, and Melanie Wells, 18, of Inwood, W.Va.

Following a graveside service, Mr. Niederbrock was laid to rest near a towering oak tree outside Walker’s Presbyterian Church, where he had been pastor for six years. A couple of people fainted from the heat and emotion and required treatment.

Friends said Mr. Niederbrock was concerned about his daughter, who had become immersed in the online underground world of horrorcore music, which sets lyrics about torture, rape, murder and mutilation to hip-hop beats.

During a sermon last month about the Ten Commandments, Mr. Niederbrock stopped when he got to the discussion about only worshipping the one God and said he was concerned about his daughter’s exposure to the music and some of the people she was associating with, said Billy and Barbara Dickerson, members of the church. They did not go into detail about Mr. Niederbrock’s comments.

Despite his concern, Mr. Niederbrock and Mrs. Kelley drove the girls and Mr. McCroskey to an all-day horrorcore concert in Michigan on Sept. 12, one of several they had taken her to in the past year or so. Friends said they did it to protect Emma.

“I don’t know whether he knew exactly what this stuff could wind up doing,” said Luther Glen, an elder at the church. “I think the biggest thing is his daughter was probably in control. Whatever she wanted, she pretty much got.”

Mr. Niederbrock and Mrs. Kelley had been separated for about a year, and the family was going through counseling.

In online posts, where Emma was known as RagDOll, she bragged about drinking and smoking marijuana. In her postings, she also professes her love for Mr. McCroskey, who recently started rapping under the name “Syko Sam.”

Mrs. Dickerson said besides her dark clothes and habit for dying her hair bright colors, she didn’t see any cause for concern when she last saw Emma last year. Instead, the Dickersons remember her as a sweet, quiet girl with a beautiful face who sometimes came to church with her father and used to participate in youth activities and Christmas plays.

About three years ago, Mr. Niederbrock and Emma took part in a 13-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail with the Dickersons and other church members. When her father fell behind, Emma either stopped and waited for him or doubled back to walk with him, Mr. Dickerson said.

“Her daddy would have done anything for her,” Mrs. Dickerson said.

Mr. Niederbrock was always quick with a self-deprecating joke but had become a fantastic preacher since graduating from the seminary three years ago, friends said.

Police have said only that each died of blunt force trauma, refusing to discuss other injuries. It is not clear when final autopsy results will become available.

Mr. McCroskey remains in jail without bond. He has refused to talk to police.

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