Charles Carl Roberts
|Charles Carl Roberts IV|
December 7, 1973|
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||October 2, 2006
Bart Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Date||October 2, 2006
|Location(s)||Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania|
|Target(s)||Amish school students|
Charles Carl Roberts IV (December 7, 1973 – October 2, 2006) was an American milk truck driver who murdered five Amish girls and injured five others before killing himself in an Amish school in the hamlet of Nickel Mines, in Bart Township, Pennsylvania on October 2, 2006.
Charles Carl Roberts IV was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His father is retired from the local police force. In 2004, his father applied to the state for a special license to provide paratransit service to the Amish. Roberts earned a diploma through a home-school association, and neither he nor his family were Amish. In 1990, Roberts worked as a dishwasher at Good 'N Plenty Restaurant in Smoketown, Pennsylvania. Roberts was a commercial milk tank driver, employed by North West Foods.
West Nickel Mines School shooting
On October 2, 2006, Roberts entered the one-room West Nickel Mines School at 9:51 a.m. with a Springfield XD 9×19mm handgun, a Browning 12 gauge shotgun, a Ruger .30-06 bolt-action rifle, about 600 rounds of ammunition, cans of black powder, a stun gun, two knives, a change of clothes, an apparent truss board and a box containing a hammer, hacksaw, pliers, wire, screws, bolts and tape. He used 2×6 and 2×4 boards with eye bolts and flex ties to barricade the school doors before binding the arms and legs of the hostages. He ordered the hostages to line up against the chalkboard and released the 15 male students present, along with a pregnant woman and three parents with infants. The remaining 10 female students he kept inside the schoolhouse. The school teacher contacted the police upon escaping at approximately 10:36 a.m. The first police officers arrived about nine minutes later and attempted (unsuccessfully) to communicate with Roberts using the PA system in their cars. Roberts called 911 and told the dispatchers that if police did not get off the "property", he would kill the hostages.
Police had to break in through the windows when shots were heard. The gunman apparently killed himself along with five school girls. Three of the girls died at the scene, with two more dying the next morning from related injuries. Five girls were in the hospital in critical condition. Reports have stated that the girls were shot execution style in the head. The ages of the victims ranged from 6 to 13. Roberts fired at least 13 rounds from his pistol and at least three rounds from his shotgun.
Roberts was last seen by his wife at 8:45 a.m. when they walked their children to the bus stop to go to school in Bart Township. When his wife returned home at 11:00 a.m., she discovered four notes he had left to her and their children. Roberts reportedly contacted his wife while still in the schoolhouse and stated that he had molested two young female relatives (between the ages of three and five) 20 years ago (when he would have been 12), and had been daydreaming about molesting again. Both of the relatives in question have denied these claims. Among the items he brought to the school was a tube of KY Jelly, which investigators surmised he might have intended to use as a sexual lubricant. His suicide notes stated that he was still angry at God for the death of a premature infant daughter nine years prior.
Amish response to the crime
The Rev. Schenck reports a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls said of the killer on the day of the murder: "We must not think evil of this man."
Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, explained to CNN: "I do not 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."
Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.
Dozens of Amish neighbors attended Charles Roberts' funeral on October 7, 2006. He was buried in an unmarked grave in his wife's family plot behind Georgetown United Methodist Church, a few miles from the one-room West Nickel Mines schoolhouse. One mourner stated that Roberts' wife was touched by the outward gesture of forgiveness by the Amish community. The schoolhouse was torn down eleven days after the tragedy and was re-built in a nearby location.
- "He was a lean man with a retreating line of sandy hair, his wire-rimmed glasses presenting an almost owlish countenance.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. October 7, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-07.[dead link]
- Brett Lovelace (October 3, 2006). "The riddle of Charles Carl Roberts IV". LancasterOnline. Archived from the original on October 9, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-03. External link in
- "Local Man Kills Three Amish Girls in School". SolancoNews.com. October 2, 2006. Archived from the original on November 16, 2006.
- Kocieniewski, David (October 3, 2006) "Man Shoots 11, Killing 5 Girls, in Amish School." New York Times.
- "A father of three, a killer of schoolgirls", The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 03, 2006 Archived November 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Police: School killer told wife he molested family members". CNN. CNN, October 3, 2006
- "Partial text of suicide note by Charles Carl Roberts IV", International Herald Tribune, October 3, 2006 Archived October 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Amish grandfather: 'We must not think evil of this man'" CNN, October 5, 2006. Archived October 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Amish mourn slain girls", The Mercury News, October 6, 2006[dead link]
- "Dozens of Amish Mourn Schoolhouse Killer" at the Wayback Machine (archived October 20, 2006), iWon News, October 8, 2006