'Shoot Me First,' Amish Girl Said to Ask

Friends of victim say schoolgirl tried to divert killer from classmates


Oct. 5, 2006 — -- The oldest of the five Amish girls shot dead in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse is said to have stepped forward and asked her killer to "Shoot me first," in an apparent effort to buy time for her schoolmates.

Rita Rhoads, a midwife who delivered two of the victims, told ABC News' Law and Justice Unit that she learned of 13-year-old Marian Fisher's plea from Fisher's family.

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What's more, Fisher's 11-year-old sister, Barbie, who survived the shooting, allegedly asked the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, to "Shoot me second," Rhoads said.

"They were amazing," Rhoads said, "absolutely amazing. There was a tremendous amount of calm and courage in that schoolroom."

"Marian, the oldest one, did ask to be shot first," Rhoads said. "The faith of their fathers really was embedded in them. … How many adults are willing to do that? Not many."

Marian Fisher is being buried today, along with Naomi Rose Ebersole, 7, and sisters Mary Liz Miller, 8, and Lena Miller, 7.

Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12, is to be buried on Friday.

Rhoads' revelations come as the mystery surrounding the alleged motivation behind Roberts' attack deepens.

Roberts entered West Nickel Mines Amish School on Monday and shot a total of 10 girls before turning the gun on himself.

Rhoads said that before killing himself, Roberts uttered three words -- "Pray for me."

Her account of Roberts' final words matched an account attributed to another named source in The New York Times.

"He asked the children to pray for him, and that's kind of interesting because he said he hated God," Rhoads said. "He must have recognized the faith in them, God in them."

Cathy Saunders, another friend of the Fisher family who met with them on Tuesday, the day their daughter Barbie was taken off a ventilator, said that the girl's first words were "where's Marian?"

But when the family told her her sister had died, Barbie was insistent that she be taken home to view the body.

"She wanted to be home to see her sister," Sauders said. "Viewing is a big part of the [Amish] culture." Despite being shot in the hip and shoulder, Barbie "really wanted" to see her sister one last time, Saunders said.

Investigators believe Roberts, who brought lubricating jelly and plastic restraints with him, may have been planning to sexually assault the Amish girls.

In notes left behind to his family and a cell-phone call to his wife, Roberts said he was haunted by memories of molesting two young relatives 20 years ago, according to police.

Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, also said he had dreams of molesting children again.

However, investigators said that the two relatives, who would have been 4 or 5 at the time of the alleged attack, had told them that the abuse never happened.

"Both of them have no recollection of being sexually assaulted by Roberts," state police trooper Linette Quinn said. "They were absolutely sure they had no contact with Roberts."

Meanwhile, two relatives of Marie Roberts, the killer's wife, told ABC News that she was not yet emotionally prepared to meet with the families of her husband's victims.

"In a couple weeks, she's going to meet with all the families," said Shirley Girvin, Marie Roberts' great-aunt. "That's her intention."

Jacquie Hess, Marie Roberts' aunt, said that she and her father, Lloyd Welk, the widow's grandfather, had met on Tuesday with the Fisher family.

"They told my father there were no hard feelings. There is forgiveness," Hess said.

She added that to this day she still had a hard time believing what Charles Roberts had done.

"I have asked to see his body," she said, "because, I said: 'I do not believe it was him.'"

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