KINGSTON – Time does not heal all wounds.
That was the overwhelming message from members of the local chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, who met Tuesday night at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital just one day after a gunman killed five Amish girls in a Lancaster County schoolhouse.
“So many people say to us, ‘stop crying, move on,’ but you can’t stop crying and you never really move on,” said chapter leader Donna Walling before the meeting Tuesday. “One of the worst things you can say is that time will heal. It doesn’t.”
Walling’s 21-year-old daughter, Jamie, was shot in the head by her boyfriend, Mark Say, at the Coolbaugh Township home they shared in Monroe County on Oct. 14, 2000. Every one of the dozen or so members of the group has a similar story, and they all say they will never get over the loss.
The Amish parents of the five slain schoolgirls in Lancaster County, Walling said, are right now in a state of utter shock.
“In the beginning, there’s the numbness—a disconnection from reality,” she said. “And then, weeks down the line when the outpouring of support dies down, that’s when it hits you.”
Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Jeffrey B. Miller said Tuesday that 10 Amish families had students at the West Nickel Mines Amish School in Bart Township. Seven of those families had daughters killed or wounded when Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, stormed the school Monday.
“You could have 10 children, and if you take one of them away, it doesn’t matter how much you love the other nine, they can’t fill the void left by that one,” said James Kline Sr., of Nanticoke, who attends the support group with his wife, Roseanne.
The couple’s 25-year-old daughter, Melissa Kline, was found dead in her Glen Lyon home in February 2005 with a single gunshot wound to the head. Police found her boyfriend, Ron Samuels, dead in a hotel room days later — the same day investigators were set to file homicide charges against him in the slaying of Kline. His death was ruled a suicide.
“Your whole life is shot right down,” Kline Sr. said Tuesday. “And time doesn’t heal. I go to the cemetery every day and put fresh flowers there and take care of the grave.”
Recent news reports from Lancaster County quote Amish community members there expressing forgiveness, not anger, toward Roberts.
That sentiment, however, was not shared by those who met Tuesday in Kingston. In fact, the idea of forgiving your child’s killer astonished the group.
“Their religion must be so strong,” Walling said. “We could never forgive.”