Pa. Amish burying 5th girl killed in school shooting; another victim in grave condition

Friday, October 6th 2006, 6:16 am
By: News On 6

GEORGETOWN, Pa. (AP) _ Horse-drawn buggies splashed along country roads in a steady, cold rain Friday as the Amish gathered for another funeral for a young victim of the schoolhouse attack.

Bearded men in black suits and women in dresses and bonnets attended services Thursday for the four other girls killed during Monday's shootings, two of them sisters.

The funeral Friday was for 12-year-old Anna Mae Stoltzfus, who was to buried at the same hilltop cemetery as her friends.

A sixth girl shot during the attack was reported in grave condition. County coroner G. Gary Kirchner said he had been contacted by a physician at Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey who said doctors expected to take the girl off life support.

State troopers blocked off all roads into the Nickel Mines village during the funerals Thursday.

A procession of horse-drawn buggies and black carriages holding the girls' hand-sawn wooden coffins passed the home of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the 32-year-old milk truck driver who took the girls hostage, tied them up and shot them before killing himself.

``They were just little people,'' Benjamin Nieto, 57, said he watched the processions from a friend's porch. ``They never got a chance to do anything.''

The funerals Thursday were for 13-year-old Marian Fisher, 7-year-old Naomi Rose Ebersol and sisters Mary Liz Miller, 8, and Lena Miller, 7.

The girls, in white dresses made by their families, were laid to rest in graves dug by hand. Amish custom calls for simple wooden coffins, narrow at the head and feet and wider in the middle. Amish funerals are conducted in German and focus on God, not on commemorating the dead. There is no singing, but ministers read hymns and passages from the Bible and an Amish prayer book.

The attack was so traumatic that there is talk in the community that the schoolhouse may soon be razed. Many of the Amish have embraced Roberts' wife and three young children, focusing on their belief in forgiveness.

Roberts' wife, Marie, was invited to attend the funeral by the family of Marian Fisher; it was unclear whether she attended.

Donors from around the world are pledging money to help the families of the dead and wounded. Amounts ranging from $1 to $500,000 have been received and could help defray mounting medical bills.

At the behest of Amish leaders, a fund was also set up for the killer's widow and children.