Charles Carl Roberts IV – The Amish Schoolhouse Massacre


Charles Carl Roberts IV 

Charles Carl Roberts IV with wife Marie.

Charles Carl Roberts IV with wife Marie

In October of 2006, 32 year old Charles Carl Roberts IV walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse in West Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, brandished a handgun and shot ten female students, all of whom were under the age of 13.

  • Mass Murder
  • The Amish Schoolhouse Massacre
  • October 2, 2006
  • The Victims: (Fatalities) Naomi Rose Ebersol, age 7, Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, age 13, Anna Mae Stoltzfus, age 12, Lena Zook Miller, age 7 and Mary Liz Miller, age 8.
  • (The survives): Rosanna King, age 6, Rachel Ann Stoltzfus, age 8, Barbara Stoltzfus “Barbie” Fisher, age 10, Sarah Ann Stoltzfus, age 12 and Esther King, age 13

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Charles Roberts

Charles Carl Roberts IV with wife Marie

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Charles Carl Roberts IV was born on December 7, 1973 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was home schooled and, after completing his studies and earning a diploma, he took employment at North West Foods as a milk-tank truck driver, working the night shift. He married and had 3 kids, who were, at the time, all under the age of seven. The family lived in the tiny village of Georgetown, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia, just a short drive from the Amish schoolhouse.

Charles Carl Roberts IV was considered, by all who knew him, a quiet, hard-working, church-going soccer dad. A real family man who had no fear of changing a diaper. His wife of ten years said Charles was “loving, supportive and thoughtful. All the things you’d always want and more.”

The Amish Schoolhouse Massacre

Charles Carl Roberts IV

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On Monday, October 2nd, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV and his wife, Maria, walked their children to their bus stop. It was a routine he followed most mornings. But this particular Monday morning was a bit different. This morning Charles called the children back from boarding the bus. He called them back to tell them that he loved them just one more time. (Marie would later say that she didn’t think much about this at the time, but a day later came to realize that Charles was telling his children goodbye for the very last time. And he knew it.)

After seeing the children on to the bus, Charles said he was off to collect some wood for a project and Maria headed to a bible study class. It would be the last time Maria would see her husband alive.

Amish schoolhouse massacreThe Crime

Around 9 a.m., driving a borrowed vehicle, Charles stepped out of his normal, almost predictable, routine and drove to the entrance of the rural West Nickel Mines Amish Schoolhouse just a few miles down the road from his home.

At approximately 9:51 a.m., Charles entered the one-room schoolhouse, threatening with a 9 mm handgun. He ordered the young females to line up against the chalkboard. He then demanded the 15 male students present, along with a pregnant woman and three parents with infants, to get out of the building.

A nine-year old little girl, Emma Fisher, who had just started to learn English, escaped with the male students because she did not understand the gunman’s orders. She had been sitting beside her brother at the time and quickly followed him out of the building when he escaped. Their two older sisters remained trapped inside with the gunman  and  the remaining eight other female students.

Charles Carl Roberts IV

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The school teacher likewise took her opportunity and raced out of the building, along with the boys and little Emma, and quickly made her way from the premise. She immediately contacted the police after escaping at approximately 10:36 a.m. The police arrive just 9 minutes later. They attempted to communicate with Charles Roberts, using the PA broadcasters in their cruisers, but they got no response. 

The Motive

Marie Roberts had gone to her bible study after seeing her children onto the bus and when she finished, she called Charles, inquiring as to his whereabouts. He would not tell her where he was but did say he would never be coming home again. He also said the police were there. Then he states, “I molested some minor family members. Family members that were 3 and 4 years old, 20 years ago.” He told her that he’d been dreaming about molesting again. He also went on to state that “he’s getting revenge for something that occurred in his life.” (Maria believes that her husband was angry with God. They had lost a child and Charles had not been the same since.)

Charles Carl Roberts IV then tells his wife where his 4 suicide notes are located within their residence. He ends the conversation and the line goes dead.

Amish Schoolhouse Massacre

Charles Carl Roberts IV

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Charles Carl Roberts IV had entered the Amish schoolhouse with a shotgun, a handgun, wires, chains, nails, and flexible plastic ties which he used to bind the arms and legs of the young hostages. He had several wooden boards which he used to barricade himself inside.

Shots Ring Out

The first police officers arrived approximately nine minutes after being called and attempted to communicate with Roberts but to no avail. He did however speak briefly with a 911 caller and transcripts revealed that Charles said that if the police “did not pull back within two seconds, the children would be dead.” Moments later, when they did not comply and retreat, shots rang out.

Police immediately advanced and broke in through the windows when shots were heard. The gunman shot all ten of the little girls (some execution style) and then himself (when he realized the officers were coming in through the windows). The ages of the victims ranged from six to thirteen.

Amish girlsThe oldest child, 13-year-old Marian Fisher, appealed to Charles Carl Roberts IV to shoot her first, obviously in a courageous effort to spare the younger girls, once she realized the dire situation they were all truly in. According to her younger sister, Barbie, who survived, she too then stepped up and asked him to shoot her next, in her own valiant attempt to buy the other little girls time to be rescued. Charles complied with her wishes and took aim. She received 9 mm bullet wounds in her hand, leg, and shoulder.

Three children died at the scene (one of whom died in the arms of the police officer who was trying to save her) and two more died early the next morning, with five more girls left in critical condition. Three girls were admitted to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, four to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and one to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware.

What Triggered Charles Carl Roberts IV

After the facts, police found a length of two-by-six wooden board with ten pairs of metal eye hooks, presumably to secure his ten hostages. There were also provisions for what have could have been an  extended stay on the scene, such as candles, toilet tissue and a change of clothes. Two tubes of sexual lubricant were also discovered at the scene. (Charles had indicated to his wife over the phone that he had, over the past several years, been daydreaming about molesting children and that he wanted to do it again.) Police found no evidence that any of the children were molested during this crime and in fact have never been able to find any child molestation in his passed (as he said there was). To this day, the true motive behind these murders remains relatively unknown.

The Suicide Notes

Maria discovered the four suicide notes — one addressed to her, and one to each of his children, indicating to the law, that Charles had indeed been contemplating this crime for some time.

In one of the notes, Charles indicated his despondency over the daughter who died only minutes after her birth nine years earlier. He was angry with God and he had never gotten passed it. He had also written about “having dreams for the past couple of years about doing what he did 20 years ago and he has dreams of doing them again,” apparently alluding to his admission of sexually molesting two family members when he was younger, in the last conversation he had with his wife. (On October 4, 2006, the two relatives Charles insisted he molested 20 years ago told police that no such abuse had ever happened, throwing a new twist into the gunman’s motive and mental state during the shooting.)

Amish Forgiveness

Charles Carl Roberts IVThe Amish community said as a whole, “We must not think evil of this man. I don’t think there’s anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.” True to their words and faith, Amish neighbors moved to comforted the Roberts family within hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them, offering help anyway they could.

Aftermath

The school was demolished on October 12, 2006 and a new school, the New Hope School, was built near the original site and reopened on April 2, 2007, precisely six months after the shooting.

credit – murderpedia

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