Occasionally things happen that, at least initially, defy understanding, such was the case when Charles Roberts, a 32-year old milk truck driver, family man and supposedly a religious man, walked into a one-room Amish school house on Monday and began the well-thought out process that would end with the murder of five children, all girls, and his own suicide.
News reports, initially full of equal parts of wonder, horror and speculation, are now starting to be filled in with facts . . . facts that appear to illustrate how profoundly the experiences of a child can affect that child’s behavior far into adulthood.
The following is, admittedly, speculation but based on the facts we do know, I think it’s pretty close to the reality that will eventually be pieced together:
Charles Roberts claims to have molested two female relatives when he was just 11 or 12 years old; whether or not his actions at that time were technically, legally, morally or ethically “molestation” matters not a whit! All that matters is that he perceived what he did to be molesting two much younger girls and he has lived with the guilt and shame of the act for 20 years — guilt that, we can speculate, must have been generated by a strong religious background.
Many years later, when his first-born daughter died almost immediately after his wife Marie gave birth to her, Roberts most likely did not see that death as a natural occurrence caused by some defective organ in the newborn; regardless of the actual, medical cause of the newborn’s death, Roberts saw it as his punishment . . . he saw his daughter taken away from him by God to punish him for his act of “molestation” so many years before.
“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.”
Those were his words in his last note to his wife, a note he left while she was at church where, ironically, she and a group of mothers meet regularly to pray for school children.
At this final stage of his life it seems that Roberts had, in his own mind, gone from being a perpetrator to being a victim. He had probably convinced himself through twisted logic that the two little girls he was involved with as a young boy were responsible for seducing him and were therefore responsible for the incident that, those many years later, brought down the ‘wrath of God’ upon him. This is also evidenced by the fact that, in that same note where talked about what he had done, and about being filed with guilt and hate, he also admitted that for the past two years he had been having dreams about “doing it again.” Dreams he no doubt associated with what he now saw as his own victimization by the two young relatives.
Having found the real ‘culprits,’ for all his misery he then set out for revenge — and the rest is well documented in every news media outlet. He meticulously planned what he was going to do which evidently involved “doing it again” as he dreamed he would.
Aside from the murder weapon and other weapons, the police found that Roberts had, over the past week, purchased and otherwise gathered the things he planned to use when he walked into that one-room school house . . . things that included two tubes of K-Y Jelly and devices police feel were going to be used to restrain his young victims.
If you study the early lives of people who became successes, failures, saints and sinners, it becomes apparent that the sum total of a child’s experiences can contribute significantly to the behaviors and thought processes of the adult that child becomes. In the case of Charles Roberts, the experiences of childhood came back to destroy him and, as a terrible consequence, rob five young girls of their chance for a full childhood.
Schoolhouse killer haunted by guilt
Gunman told his wife he molested relatives