The horrific nature of this crime rocked a peaceful Amish community in rural Pennsylvania. On 2 October 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, entered the West Nickel Mines Amish School and held hostage 11 girls, between the ages of six and thirteen. He shot at them, critically wounding six and killing five, before ending his own life.

Charles Carl Roberts IV was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on 7 December 1973. His father was a police officer and his mother worked for a Christian organisation staging bible plays. Roberts did not go to school but was educated through a home-schooling association, from which he earned a diploma.

In 1990, at the age of 17, Roberts worked as a dishwasher at the Good ‘n Plenty Restaurant in Smoketown, Pennsylvania. It transpired that two of his co-workers were later convicted in the 20 December 1991 murder of Laurie Show, 16, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They were Lawrence Yunkin and Lisa Michelle Lambert.

Roberts married his sweetheart, Marie, and the couple had three children. The family lived in Lancaster County, where Roberts worked as a commercial milk truck driver. The children attended school in Bart Township, Pennsylvania.