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Disturbing Details Revealed in Amish School Killings; Foley Scandal Leads to GOP Split

Aired October 03, 2006 - 13:05   ET


DON LEMON, CO-HOST: Don Lemon and Kyra Phillips here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Some very disturbing details coming out of the press conference being held by Jeff Miller, the corporal, the police, the state police there in Pennsylvania. As I said, very disturbing details about what this man may have been thinking.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: Well, we have been talking a lot yesterday about this rambling suicide note that the shooter we now know as Charles Carl Roberts had left in his home for his wife and his three kids. We're now getting a picture of him. We're now finding out what was exactly in that letter.

We heard a little bit yesterday from the commissioner that he said he was seeking revenge for something that had happened 20 years ago when he was 12 years old. This is what we're learning.

According to police, he said that he had molested relatives and dreamed of doing it again. Charles Carl Roberts, the man who killed five Amish schoolgirls and himself yesterday, actually told his wife that he had molested several young female relatives when he was 12 and had dreams of committing this type of molestation again.

From the range of materials that was found at the shooting site, it included chains, clamps. And it is possible that he had even planned to sexually victimize these young girls that were in this schoolhouse before he killed them execution-style.

Thirty-two years old, Charles Roberts, is.

Police commissioner said, though, when he arrived to the scene it appeared that he had become disorganized, disoriented, therefore, was not able to carry out exactly what he had planned.

An ironic twist, it was just a week prior, you may remember, once again, we had the breaking news story about Duane Morrison, the man who had stormed in a local high school, had told the boys to leave, kept the girls in there, sexually molested them, and then opened fire, as well.

Now a week, almost two later, we're seeing the same thing unfold with Charles Roberts here in Pennsylvania, in this part of Amish country.

We're told that the relatives that he had molested -- police have obviously been investigating this suicide letter, investigating what he had said to his wife before he killed himself. Those relatives were between the ages of 3 and 5 at the time that he molested them when he was 12 years old.

There's no evidence that the victims that were killed in this schoolhouse here in Pennsylvania were sexually assaulted in any way. That's according to the police commissioner.

And meanwhile the investigation continues. Finally, for the first time we're hearing what was in that suicide note and exactly the motive behind what he did yesterday.

LEMON: Of course, we were both here. All of us were here yesterday when this situation first started. CNN, here from the very beginning with this story.

Why don't we go now to our very own Jason Carroll, who's been covering it, as well, since the very beginning?

And Jason, certainly this man's past is a mystery even to those who were closest to him. That information seems to be coming out of that press conference today.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Don, a lot of information coming from those two notes that you talked about there. One coming from the suicide note he left behind to his wife. Another coming from a checklist that police found in one of his pickup trucks.

If I can just flush out a little more about what came out of that press conference that we've just been listening to there. Interestingly enough, one of the points that he referred to in the suicide note had to do with the death of his infant girl. She died nine years ago. Her name was Elise. She only lived for about 20 minutes.

He said in the note that he hated himself, that he hated God after that had happened. Apparently, according to his wife, this was something that he just could not get over.

So that was something that he referred to in that rambling suicide note, as well. In addition, you heard about the fact that he had also mentioned to his wife.

Now, he mentioned this to her when he was on the phone with her shortly before the shooting took place. He said that he was trying to seek some sort of revenge.

And what he was referring to was something happened 20 years ago, apparently saying at that point to his wife that he had molested some of his relatives at that point 20 years ago. And that he had dreams -- he wrote this in the note that his wife found later -- he said that he had dreams about doing it again.

In addition to that police also found a checklist, very disturbing what they found here. A check list in his truck. In that checklist it referred to many of the hardware that he ended up bringing with him. You know, at one point, it said, you know, bullets, guns, binoculars. Check, he had checked that off. Ear plugs, batteries, candles, wood, some of the items that he planned to bring with him.

Another interesting point here, apparently, they also found, you know, some sort of evidence that seemed to suggest in this checklist that he had plans to possibly molest these girls that he had taken hostage.

And the reason why police say that is because he focused in on the youngest of the girls, the youngest, 16, the oldest, 13. They also, at this point during the press conference, went over the ages of the girls who were killed during this horrific event. One was 7. One was 12. One was 13. One was 8. Another just 7 years old.

So, Don, a lot of details coming out about the motive surrounding this. But even with all this information, you realize there, Don, and I'm sure you heard it, police were also saying that, even with all the information they have, they still may not be 100 percent sure in terms of this motive.

Because you ask yourself, why on earth would this man do this again? Why would revenge seek him to want to harm young girls again? Just still a lot of mystery here, even with all the information that we had received.

LEMON: Yes, still a lot of mystery.

Jason, let's talk real quick about the suicide note. Not just one suicide note, a suicide note apparently to his wife and to each of his three children. Am I correct?

CARROLL: Sorry, Don, I missed that. One more time.

LEMON: It's a suicide note to his wife and to each of his children, as well?

CARROLL: That is correct. Suicide note to his children, as well. He has three children. So he wrote something to them, as well, at this point.

Just, once again, very interesting in terms of, you know, what he was able to say, what he was able to get across in these notes. What a lot of people, though, are trying to find out, though, is what more information police will be able to gather from more interviews with the wife, possibly from other -- from other co-workers. Maybe they'll be able to get some more information about motive from there.

LEMON: Yes, yes. Jason Carroll, thank you very much.

And let's go back, just a few moments ago, as we mentioned, Police Corporal Jeff Miller held a press conference. Let's listen to a little bit more of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MILLER: Roberts mentioned suicide -- in his suicide note that he was having dreams of molesting again. Some of the motives are reasons again -- we cannot tell with any degree of like 100 percent certainly what he was thinking, but we're trying to piece together from the information he left behind and the evidence we gathered a better picture of what was going through his mind.


LEMON: All right, so there you go. And in just a few minutes, I'll speak with a man whose children attend Amish schools. He's a member of the community in Pennsylvania and can tell us how they're coping there today -- Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: And of course, we've been following all the details now from this rambling suicide letter, try to figure out why somebody like this 30-year-old -- 32-year-old shooter would even want to do something like this, specifically to children and in this manner.

On us -- with us now, Dr. N.G. Berrill, professor of forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, joining us on the phone.

Dr. Berrill, first of all, were you able to hear part of or all of this news conference on behalf of the commissioner?


PHILLIPS: All right. So first of all what stood out to you? What did you pay attention to as somebody who specializes in forensic psychology, as we learned more about this shooter and this suicide letter?

BERRILL: Well, what you hear is that the shooter was clearly a tortured individual. I mean, he'd been carrying around countless years -- it sounds like a mixture of guilt and remorse: guilt for his own actions, remorse, grief over the loss of his own infant daughter. And perhaps in his own confused mind, not able to recognize any of these powerful feelings or feelings of guilt, at least.

You know, clearly, over time, he's -- I guess eroded his reality testing, his capacity to put the brakes on. Seems obviously to have eroded, culminating in a very, very peculiar act, one that really doesn't seem sensical (sic).

But from a twisted person's perspective, perhaps -- perhaps lashing out at these kids as a way of objectifying, if you will, the guilt that he has about his own behavior and his -- perhaps he couldn't have his infant daughter. Then these other families couldn't have their infant daughters, their young girls. You know, these seem to be the -- motivation and I don't think it's fair or realistic to ask for this to make any sense. PHILLIPS: So obviously, it is hard to make sense of something like this, because you or me or anybody else that -- has been watching this story would think, how could somebody do something like that?

So let me just -- let me ask you, let me kind of go into the psychology part of this with you, maybe on a different level. You talk about that he was probably a tortured individual, felt a lot of guilt, felt remorse, that it sort of eroded his reality.

Let me ask you about this then. Is this somebody that had a mental illness that he just did not know how to deal with, didn't realize he had, and he should have been someone that should have been locked away from the beginning?

Or are you saying that this is somebody who could have recognized and confronted that guilt and that sort of tortured soul or those demons he was battling and received therapy and admitted that he was having these thoughts? Is this somebody that could have been helped?

BERRILL: Yes, my guess is -- and this is the rub, when you get into these catastrophic events. You know, the idea of molesting young girls is a horrible one, and living with the reality that one is -- you know, has engaged in that kind of activity, particularly someone who might be actively involved in a church, you're talking about all kinds of conflicting values and tucking stuff away and compartmentalizing, hiding even from one's self the truth of one's impulses.

So yes, I mean, if by some miracle someone had alerted authorities or talked to his minister -- if he had the courage to have stepped forward years ago and sought some help, perhaps even discretely. You know, obviously, one would think that a catastrophic event like this could have been averted.

I mean, but -- but because of the obvious embarrassment, the guilt, et cetera, this fellow was able to -- maybe not so artfully, but nonetheless effectively for many years hide the reality of his -- let's say pedophilic impulses, overwhelming guilt.

And as I said, they probably intertwine in ways that make no real linear sense, but in twisted mind and reality, they make some sense. And you know, you don't talk, you don't let people know you're in trouble. Then at the end of the line you get this kind of bizarre, seemingly coming out of nowhere.

But this didn't come out of nowhere. This was slow to build and has taken years and layers of life's experience and I should say internal pain, subjected to stress and self-loathing to come to this place.

PHILLIPS: I think it's making a lot of people look deeper inside themselves and just taking what you said in many different ways.

Dr. N.G. Berrill, professor of forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Truly appreciate your insight, Doctor, thank you. BERRILL: Sure.

LEMON: And up next, much more on this story. They hearken back to a simpler time of horses and buggies, modest dress, peace and quiet. Ahead in the newsroom, inside the Amish way of life.

PHILLIPS: Plus, the Foley fallout. Will the disgraced former congressman be the only casualty of the page scandal on Capitol Hill? Some conservatives hope not. The latest, straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Scandal on the Hill. A split among conservatives and now a call to silence the speaker of the House. A conservative newspaper wants Dennis Hastert to give up his speakership over his handling of the Mark Foley scandal.

Congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel joins us now with the latest -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, congressional leaders in the House, Republican congressional leaders, have been trying to contain this growing political storm and to try to keep it from spiraling out of control in recent days.

We've seen any number of comments, of public events that have been put forward by the Republican leadership to illustrate how they are jumping on this story and trying to make sure that it never happens again and handle it in a very aggressive way.

As you mentioned today, first, earlier this morning, we had that editorial that came out of the conservative "Washington Times", a newspaper that's known for supporting the Republicans. They came out calling -- not just criticizing Speaker Hastert, but calling for him to step down immediately from his speakership.

Then you had another development later today, which was equally stunning, you could say, as well. It shows the first split within the Republican leadership in the House. John Boehner, the majority leader, the No. 2 official, basically gave an interview to a radio station in Cincinnati in which he pointed the finger of blame squarely at Speaker Hastert.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MAJORITY LEADER: I believe I talked to the speaker, and he told me it had been taken care of, and in my position, it's in his corner. It's his responsibility.

The clerk of the House who runs the page program, the page board, all report to the speaker, and I believed that it had been dealt with.


KOPPEL: Now, at the same time that -- or shortly thereafter, the majority leader also sent a letter following up on that "Washington Times" editorial, sent it to "the Washington Times", saying, "I disagree with the editorial board of the 'Washington Times'."

We've tried to speak with the majority leader's spokesman, with his staff, to try to get a handle on these seemingly conflicting signals that are being sent right now.

But clearly, the majority leader is saying Speaker Hastert should stay in that job, but at the same time, trying to create some distance.

Kyra, you've got an -- a furious Republican base, conservative Republicans are up in arms over this story. We had one of them, Richard Vigory (ph), on our air earlier today, who also called for Speaker Hastert to set down -- we're just -- to step down.

We are just five weeks out from midterm elections and Republicans, in many districts, feel that every single vote is going to count, and they are hearing from their constituents who are, again, up in arms about this and feel that this is a story that affects every family. Teenagers who work on Capitol Hill and who should have been protected.

I can tell you also tell you, Kyra, that my colleague, Dana Bash, spoke with one of Speaker Hastert's longtime allies. This is another Congressman, Ray LaHood from Illinois, who also signaled that Hastert is the one who was responsible. He said, in effect, this happened on Hastert's watch.

So, Kyra, there is so many anger right now and so much concern...

PHILLIPS: Let me ask you about that anger and that concern, because everybody's pointing the finger at Hastert. Right. What about John Shimkus, the head of the page program. There are -- a number of these men are coming forward saying, well, we kind of knew there was a problem and there was talk from other pages that, you know, the behavior, on behalf of Foley, wasn't necessarily appropriate.

I mean, is Hastert the only one to blame here? It seems there are some other people that should be held responsible, as well.

KOPPEL: Well, there are certainly others who knew about it before Speaker Hastert did. And one of them, as you correctly point out, is the Republican chairman of this page review board, this...

PHILLIPS: Jim Shimkus, right? Not John Shimkus. Forgive me. Jim Shimkus?

KOPPEL: No, I think it is John.


KOPPEL: You were right. He knew about it beforehand. But they all felt that it was innocuous. And they were acting, they say, on the guidelines given to them by this young, former page's family, by saying to Congressman Foley, "Look, knock it off, stop the communication." They didn't get into specifics there.

Nevertheless, what they're trying to do, Kyra, as well, is to draw a distinction between the e-mails, the -- what they say is innocent e-mails, exchanged, asking for a picture, asking what he wanted for his birthday. That was back in the fall of 2005. And the much more sexually explicit instant messages that we learned about last week, when ABC News reported this story.

And that is what all of these Republicans, including Congressman Shimkus, is saying: they had no idea about those sexually explicit e- mails when they were dealing with this situation last year. They said they thought it was over friendly e-mails that were being exchanged.

PHILLIPS: Andrea, Representative Ray LaHood came forward, and he's quoted as saying, "This is a political problem, and we need to step up and do something dramatic."

You sort of wonder what he's talking about, what he means. He's even recommended to abolish the page program.

KOPPEL: Right.

PHILLIPS: What's the reaction? What are your thoughts on that? And also, aren't there a lot of very successful politicians that they went through that page program, and that's what inspired them to become a leader?

KOPPEL: Absolutely. In fact, I was talking to Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut yesterday, a Democrat, who said that he himself had been through the program, that he had nieces and nephews who had been through the program.

There's a long list of lawmakers who have been pages themselves. John Boehner's children had been pages, the majority leader. So it is -- it is a very highly regarded program.

But, remember, there was another sex scandal back in 1983 that involved a member of Congress and a young female page at the time. So this is not new, which is what Congressman LaHood is getting at.

They also know the political calculation in this, Kyra. They are five weeks away from these midterm elections in which they stand the possibility of losing their control over the House for the first time in 12 years. They want to appease their conservative religious base right now, Kyra, and do whatever is necessary to put a lid on it.

PHILLIPS: Well, we'll keep talking about it, that's for sure, because my assumption is this will continue to bring up a lot of other issues, as well. It's going to get deeper. Andrea Koppel, appreciate it so much.

Well, with all the political fallout, it's easy to forget who is at the center of that scandal, a 16-year-old boy. It was Mark Foley's e-mail to the former congressional page that drew suspicion to him in the first place. And it was a Louisiana congressman, Rodney Alexander, the boy's sponsor, who drew attention to some of the e- mails.

Now Alexander told a higher-ranking Republican, Congressman Tom Reynolds, about those messages, but he tells CNN he wishes more had been done to protect that boy.


REP. RODNEY ALEXANDER (R), LOUISIANA: Again, my job was to do what I could to protect the young man and his parents' interests. And I failed, and I apologize for that.

The parents have had a horrible week. The young man is beginning to get some threats. The media has been aggressively seeking his conversation at school, his home. And that's the most disturbing thing. It's just simply not fair. The young man has gotten caught up in something that -- and he's getting bruised for something that he should not be a part of.


PHILLIPS: Alexander says that the boy's parents did not want to pursue the matter further at that time.

LEMON: North Korea, flexing its vocal cords again. Is its threat to conduct a nuclear test a bluff? A live report from the United Nations coming up in the newsroom.

PHILLIPS: Plus, a developing story from the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has broken its all-time intraday trading high: 11,750.28. More from our Susan Lisovicz live from the New York Stock Exchange.


LEMON: More propaganda or real threat? For the first time, North Korea is warning it will carry out a nuclear test, citing what it calls an extreme threat of nuclear war from the United States. Now, as you'd expect, and maybe as Pyongyang intended, that set off alarm bells at the United Nations and around the world.

CNN's Richard Roth live at the U.N. for us for the very latest on that -- Richard.

LEMON: Don, the Security Council was going to meet anyway, and this provided the icing on the cake, you might say, for its October program of work. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton was quickly advocating strategy discussions, not some sort of paper statement, but he does want the security council to react to North Korea's announcement.


JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMB. TO U.N.: What I urge today was that the security council actually engage in something we talk a lot about, but don't do very much of, which is preventative diplomacy, to come up not just a knee-jerk reaction to the North Korean announcement, but to develop a coherent strategy to prevent -- to convince them that it's not in their interest to engage in nuclear testing.


ROTH: But China, on the Security Council with veto power, has always been at odds with the U.S. on policy regarding North Korea, though the two countries work together with four others, forming that so-called six party talks with North Korea. But Pyongyang walked away last year, once again, from those discussions.


WANG GUANGYA, CHINESE AMB. TO U.N.: I think the six-party talks is the best channel. This is the position of all sides, including all the six countries. If the six party talks cannot do anything about it, I don't think the Council is the way to do it. But of course I think we have to discuss it tomorrow.


ROTH: The security council will do that tomorrow morning. Japan's ambassador calls it a provocation, but they're not going to come up with any grand scheme. They're already on the books, Don, with a resolution passed in July, warning North Korea against further action just like this, including an underground nuclear test -- Don.

LEMON: And obviously South Korea raising its threat level there. This isn't the first time that North Korea has said it would do such things, but no precise date. They haven't given a date for this, have they?

ROTH: No, they're not big on warning the world of exact dates of missile launches. Check July 4th for diplomats who had their holidays interrupted in America for multiple missile launches.

LEMON: All right, Richard Roth, live at the U.N., thank you very much for that.

PHILLIPS: Let's get to a developing story now. A hijacked Turkish airliner is currently on the ground in Brindisi in southern Italy. Officials said the flight with 113 onboard was headed from Tirana, Albania to Istanbul when two hijackers entered the cockpit. One airline spokesperson said the two are not armed and have indicated they would surrender.

The men are said to be angry about the Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Turkey, and they want a message delivered to the pope.

Stay tuned to CNN. We'll have the latest on the high jacking drama as it develops.


PHILLIPS: Let's get straight to the NEWSROOM, Betty Nguyen working details on a developing story -- Betty. NGUYEN: Yes, actually we have some good news to tell you about, Kyra, there was a search going on since 6:00 p.m. yesterday in Aspen, Colorado for four people, a mother and three 9-year-olds. Well, we have just learned that Mountain Rescue Aspen has located all four of these people, including a Jack Russell terrier named Nick Nick Nick. Don't know why it's named that.

But indeed they were found just in the nick of time, because they had been on this mountain since yesterday. They were found above the tree line, about 11,000 feet up, and 25 ground searchers and a dog team had been hunting for this woman and these three children since yesterday. Although it's been very difficult for them, because it's been raining. Lots of snow and fog has made the search extremely difficult.

And on top of that, a county spokesperson says it's very likely that because they were found just today, that they spent the night in 30 degree temperatures, with some sleet in the area.

But the good news is they have survived, they've made it through. A woman and three 9-year-olds, including a Jack Russell terrier, are alive and well today. They said really no major injuries. They're just thankful to have been found and be alive. It's amazing, really.

PHILLIPS: All right, Betty, thanks.


PHILLIPS: Just getting word now, the president of the United States finally responding publicly, we are told, from Stockton, California, where he's out there fund-raising for two events, two congressional events. He was at a congressional breakfast.

Coming forward and commenting on the Foley fallout. President Bush saying he is, quote, "shocked and dismayed" about the e-mail scandal on Capitol Hill involving teenage pages. Bush says he supports House Speaker Dennis Hastert's call for an investigation. As you know, the house speaker calling for an investigation on how exactly this happened, how long it was going on, more on the background concerning Congressman Foley. But at the same time, leaders coming forward asking for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign because they feel he ignored this issue.

So the president coming forward, saying he's shocked and dismayed about this e-mail scandal on Capitol Hill. But also showing his support for the house speaker, as others are calling for his resignation.

Well, to get your "Daily Dose" of the latest political news, you can click on to CNN's new political ticker. Just go straight to

LEMON: I have a feeling this is just beginning, just beginning with the Foley thing. All righty.

Well, back off broccoli and step aside, Swiss chard. Spinach returns to the supermarket shelves, but are you ready to dig in? Lots of food for thought, just ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Well, it's back. Spinach gets a green light at the supermarket, the Feds say it's safe. But are you still buying it?

CNN's Judy Fortin with the produce prognosis.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Spinach is going back on the supermarket shelves nearly three weeks after it was removed when linked to an outbreak of E. coli. The Food and Drug Administration identified the source of the contamination, a large producer of greens in California.

DR. DAVID ACHESON, FDA: There is no reason at this point for concern over that in the context of the consumers.

FORTIN: Still, some retailers say they will wait until they can be certain the spinach they sell is not from California. Others will stock spinach in bunches but not in bags, which can act as incubators for the bacteria. Giant Foods and Stop n' Shop, an East Coast chain, will sell bagged spinach grown in Colorado or Canada, but some consumers are wary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have to wait for a while. I can't -- I'm not going to rush up on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And until I hear a lot of people actually buying it, and they are OK off it, that's when I will probably start buying it.

FORTIN: Food experts say risks of contamination increase when part of the processing is done in the field, rather than in a factory. Another problem, bags don't always show where the spinach was grown.

ACHESON: It's very difficult for a consumer to know where -- where was this grown, you know, is it -- is it OK for me to eat this?

FORTIN: The FDA says half of E. coli outbreaks in the last decade have been traced to central California, and it wants growers and processors to develop a plan to minimize the risk of another outbreak in spinach and other leafy greens

ACHESON: The industry needs to step up to the plate and to do more to correct the problem and demonstrate to consumers that they have done more, because that's what's going to restore consumer confidence in this.

FORTIN: There's not much the consumer can do but rely on best practice from growers, grocers and restaurants -- or boil their spinach.

Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: Eating spinach?

PHILLIPS: Still afraid.

LEMON: You're still afraid? Yes, it was on the menu at the restaurant the other night, and I said, no, I'll take something else. You don't know.

PHILLIPS: No, and depending on what grocery store you go to, some still have warning signs up and some don't. So I'm still confused. We'll keep talking about it.

Well, coming up, we're going to have more on our top story, the Amish school shooting.

LEMON: They shun modern convenience and ways of the outside world. Ahead on the NEWSROOM, the Amish in focus. I'll speak to a member of the community.


LEMON: A man with a troubled and apparently well-hidden past. That's how state police in Pennsylvania describe Charles Carl Roberts IV. He's the man police say stormed into a Amish schoolhouse yesterday morning, well armed and evidently prepared for a long siege. Before he killed himself, Roberts is said to have shot ten children, five of whom are dead, five more in the hospital, all but one in critical condition.

In notes he left behind, Roberts said he was angry at God after the death years ago of his prematurely born daughter, Elise. Investigators believe Roberts may have intended to molest his female victims before killing them and then himself.

A prayer vigil is planned for this afternoon. Pennsylvania's governor has ordered flags lowered to half-staff through the funerals. And Jack Meyer knows quite well those involved in the latest tragedy. He is a member of the Brethren community who works with and lives near the Amish. Jack Meyer, joining us near the site of the shooting. I understand the Amish, Brethren, Mennonite, all of you guys coexist in that community together.

How are you doing today, sir?

JACK MEYER, LANCASTER COUNTY, PA: I think that -- I think that folks in general are doing well. I talked with a number of Brethren this morning -- and I say Brethren, I mean Amish people, and the horse and buggy Mennonite man.

And the community as a whole is very supportive. Even as now as I'm standing here, I'm watching van loads of Amish folks come by here, and I'm sure they're from far away, coming to be with their family or their loved ones, coming to be with their brethren who have, you know, suffered such a tremendous loss, such a shock.

LEMON: Did you know any of the folks involved in this, sir?

MEYER: Well, I did not know any of the children personally. I do know some of the people that were affected by it. I have a carriage service business here. And one of my driver's niece was the teacher. Another neighbor of ours had a nephew in the school, a young man, and he's of course was all right.

LEMON: Here's what's...

MEYER: So I know...

LEMON: Go ahead.

MEYER: Go ahead.

LEMON: Here's what I find interesting about this. It seems that the Amish, this is the very reason they want to be kept separate from the world, because of violence, because of situations like this. There's no Internet, there's no electricity, very little use of that at least, no phones. I would imagine that it's doubly hard in the situation like this.

But it seems, it appears to us here in the media and folks at home watching, it looks like the people here are coping with this as well as you can cope with it, and today offering forgiveness, not only for the man, for his family.

MEYER: Yes, that's true. You know, in forgiveness, there's healing. There's been -- it's a -- it's an understatement to say there's been a terrible hurt. And so many times that folks are hurt, they can become angry. We have a choice. We have a choice to do what Jesus would have done or we might do some other way.

I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive, and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way, but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.

LEMON: That was partially my next question, Mr. Meyer. What about Mr. Roberts, the person accused of doing this horrific act? You have any contact with this family? I would imagine his family is in this community and people are familiar with him and his family. Do you have any contact with him?

MEYER: Well, I did not personally. Two of my daughters called me when this incident was ongoing, and said that they thought they knew who the man was in the schoolhouse, that he was some kind of hauler, and that he had a grudge for a long time.

LEMON: Jack Meyer...

MEYER: So this knowledge, you know, if my daughters got that knowledge from some of the other ladies in the community, then it must have been a common knowledge.

LEMON: Jack Meyer, thank you for joining us. I imagine a very, very tough time for you and for everyone in that community.

The Amish community, today, stressing forgiveness for everyone involved in this entire situation.

Thank you very much, sir.

MEYER: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Well, straight ahead, a bluff or a threat? North Korea puts the world on notice that it plans to carry out a nuke test. We're going to have the fallout straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And more on President Bush's first public comments on Congressman Foley's inappropriate e-mails and the fallout on Capitol Hill.

You're watching the CNN NEWSROOM.