FREDERICKSBURG, Ohio—Members of a close knit Amish community gathered Saturday night to mourn the death of a 15-year-old girl, who was shot to death under circumstances that are shrouded in mystery.
David Zuercher, a friend of the family of 15-year-old Rachel Yoder, told Fox 8 News, "Just total disbelief and shock. I just couldn't believe it. I thought it was a joke, that it was not so."
Relatives initially believed that Rachel suffered a head injury while on her way home from a Christmas party for employees at a produce shop.
The girl was discovered on the ground near her buggy Thursday night at the family farm in Fredericksburg, but when she was flown to Akron City Hospital, doctors discovered the teenager had been shot in the head.
Authorities said the girl's horse had instinctively galloped home after the shooting, and Wayne County authorities traced a trail of blood from the Yoder farm back to Holmes County's Salt Creek Township, and the intersection of County Road 229 and Township Road 614.
"To think that somebody would do something like that to a sweet, innocent young lady," said Zuercher, "I mean, she didn't have a care in the world to anybody, and no problems to anybody."
There are several theories about the shooting, including the possibility that the Amish buggy was targeted, or that Rachel was accidentally shot by a hunter.
"Somebody unloading a weapon, coming home from muzzle loading, hunting or something like that," said Zuercher.
The Yoder family's grief is compounded by the fact that Rachel's mother, 54-year-old Mary Yoder, was killed in September, when the van she was riding in was hit by a flatbed truck.
"Oh, it's terribly difficult. The impact on the family is just unimaginable, said Zuercher. "I mean, the hurt will never go away."
The death of Rachel Yoder is being investigated as a homicide; however, investigators are not sure if it was an accident or not.
Anyone with information on what happened is asked to call the sheriff's office in Holmes or Wayne counties.