Coroner: Amish Schoolhouse Shooting Scene Was 'Horrible'

As this tiny Amish community prepared to bury five young female victims of a gunman with a grudge who took hostage a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County this week, coroners detailed what they found while investigating the horrific scene.

Reporters on Wednesday were allowed to take photographs and video of the outside of the West Nickel Mines Amish School where the shooting took place. The windows were boarded up with wood, and the Amish had placed "No Trespassing" signs around the property.

Deputy county coroner Amanda Shelley said that when she arrived at the school where 10 children had been shot, she found blood on every desk, every window broken and the body of a girl slumped beneath the chalkboard.

"It was horrible. I don't know how else to explain it," Shelley said Wednesday. "I hope to never see anything like that again in my life."

Three females were shot and killed instantly by Charles Carl Roberts IV before he turned the gun on himself on Monday in a county where the Amish live an 18th-century lifestyle with no automobiles and electricity.

When Roberts died, he was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a button-down shirt, Shelley said. He had stationed weapons around the schoolhouse and it "really appeared he had planned on staying there a few hours," said Shelley, 30.

Several others victims were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds; two of them died Tuesday. The victims ranged in age from 6 to 13.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on Wednesday reported that one of the three children they were treating was downgraded to serious condition. The 12-year-old girl being treated for arm and leg injuries appeared to make progress the day before, but took a turn for the worst overnight. The other two girls being treated there — ages eight and 10 — remain in critical condition.

Click here to visit's Crime Center's Amish Country shooting photo essay

The Penn State Hershey Medical Center also said that at the request of the victims' families, it would not release any more information about the six-year-old and 12-year-old being treated there.

Pennsylvania state police continued to investigate exactly why Roberts, a local father of three, planned a siege and tried to kill females in the school before killing himself.


• The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., planned to boycott funerals for the victims Thursday and Friday but later canceled the protests in exchange for media airtime. The church claims on its Web site that the shooting spree was carried out by a "mad man" in retribution for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's "blasphemous sins against WBC." The site says Rendell "slandered and mocked and ridiculed and condemned Westboro Baptist Church on national Fox TV" and that he "revealed a conspiracy to employ the State's police powers to destroy WBC in order to silence WBC's Gospel message."

Both Amish and non-Amish "English" residents of Lancaster County vowed to not let any protester get anywhere near the funeral services.

• Police probe whether Roberts' allegations that he sexually molested two young female family members 20 years ago are true. Family members said they knew nothing of any past molestation. Police located the two relatives and were hoping to interview them.

• Police raised the possibility that Roberts, who brought lubricating jelly with him, may have been planning to sexually assault the Amish girls. A piece of lumber found in the school had 10 large eyebolts spaced about 10 inches apart, suggesting that Roberts may have planned to truss up the girls and sexually assault them, they said.

Sensing Trouble

The forensic experts who responded to the schoolhouse found a disturbing scene, Shelley said.

Underneath a sign that read "Visitor's Brighten People's Days," they found Roberts face-down next to the teacher's desk, Shelley said. All the other victims had been removed, said Shelley, an on-and-off criminal justice student who isn't attending school right now.

Deputy Coroner Janice Ballenger described to the Intelligencer Journal of Lancaster the horrific task of examining 7-year-old Naomi Rose Ebersole, who weighed about 50 pounds. "Kneeling next to the body and counting all the bullet holes was the worst part," Ballenger told the newspaper.

Emma Mae Zook, 20, who was teaching German and spelling at the school, told the Intelligencer Journal she sensed trouble when Roberts came to her classroom door, wearing a baseball cap.

"He stood very close to me to talk and didn't look in my face to talk," she said.

Zook and her mother, Barbie Zook, who was visiting the school, managed at one point to dart outside, run to a nearby farm and call police.

At least three prayer services were held Tuesday night, attracting more than 1,650 people, who observed moments of silence, sang mournful hymns and listened to Bible readings.

"Set your troubled hearts to rest," the Rev. Douglas Hileman said from the pulpit of Georgetown United Methodist Church. "May we be able to forgive as God has already forgiven us."

Church members visited with the victims' families, preparing meals and doing household chores, while Amish elders planned funerals.

Sam Stoltzfus, 63, an Amish woodworker who lives a few miles away from the shooting scene, said the victims' families will be sustained by their faith.

"We think it was God's plan and we're going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going," he said. "A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors."

Police: Roberts a 'Very Troubled' Individual

Police said Roberts started buying supplies for a siege six days before, and made a checklist of what to bring and wrote out four suicide notes. The checklist was later found in his truck. He brought with him items including: Three guns, a stun gun, two knives, change of clothes, rolls of clear tape, toilet paper, a pile of wood for barricading the doors, and a bag with 600 rounds of ammunition.

Roberts, 32, left separate notes for his wife, Marie, and each of his three children, who are all 6 years or younger, at their home in Bart, State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said. In the notes, Roberts not only referenced something he did 20 years ago, but also said he was haunted by the death of his prematurely born daughter in 1997. The baby, Elise, died 20 minutes after being delivered.

Elise's death "changed my life forever," the milk truck driver 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."

During the standoff, Roberts told his wife in a cell-phone call that he molested two female relatives when they were 3 to 5 years old, Miller said.

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

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

FOXNews' Todd Connor and The Associated Press contributed to this report.