Ohio Amish girl shot and killed

Sad story: late last week a 15-year-old Amish girl was shot and killed while returning home by buggy in the Holmes County, Ohio Amish settlement.

Rachel M. Yoder was coming back from a Christmas party for employees of the produce business she worked for. The shooting apparently happened a few miles east of Fredericksburg, near the Holmes/Wayne County border.  Police are treating her death as a homicide.

This seems as bizarre as it is terrible. Why a teenager in a buggy?  Though not unheard of, Amish are rarely touched by murder.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Holmes (330-674-1936) or Wayne County sheriff’s offices. The shooting happened Thursday night sometime after 10 pm.

It’s been a few days, but as of yesterday, not much had been determined.  No bullet holes were found in the buggy, nor any bullet casing at the scene.

It has also been speculated that the shooting was an accident, perhaps involving a hunter.  Lacking any evidence of mishap, authorities are investigating this as a murder case.

Here’s a short video giving more details on the incident:

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    1. SharonR

      Ohio Amish girl shot

      Oh so sad to hear this! I hope this is only an accident and not intentional!! Feel awful for the family; my heart goes out to them in this tragedy. SharonR

    2. Marilyn from NY

      I read about this yesterday and it I felt so sorry for the family and friends. I, too, hope it was an accident. Sure hope that people come forward. Marilyn

    3. Lanore

      So very sorry for this family….will be praying for the family. Praying it was an accident and the person comes forward.

    4. Robin Miller

      Heartbreaking for this family who so recently also suffered the loss of their mother in the fall. May God hold them in his hands, giving them strength to get through these very difficult times.

    5. Michigan Mary

      We Were There

      Darrell and I had spent Thursday night at our O.O. friends house, just one mile south of the scene, with the intentions of having a joyous holiday weekend with friends. It turned quite other way when we all woke up to the news that Rachel had been shot. Our friends don’t know Rachel or her family as they are 1 level more conservative from the O.O. people we know. Rachel’s mother had been killed just last September in a horrible auto accident up in Wooster that involved Rachel’s older sister, aunts and grandmother. They all survived, with injuries, but Rachel’s mom was in the passenger seat of the transport van and was killed instantly. Now this – her family is just reeling! It has the community on the north end of Holmes County quite on edge as can be expected. The only way it could have been a hunting accident at 10:30 at night is if someone was coon hunting, but then there should have been a hole in the buggy if it was a stray bullet. There is alot of mis-information going around (the weekend was rife with it) at this point. Should I hear anything from Mary or her husband, I will certainly post it. Please keep them all (her father and 10 remaining siblings) in your prayers…. it’s going to be a rough holiday season for the entire community.

      1. Mary, thanks for sharing this. I thought about you after reading this since I knew you were visiting Holmes County. From what you say it sounds like Rachel’s family might be from the Andy Weaver (Dan Church) group.


        I hope I am wrong but the accident theory seems a bit hard to believe especially with the lack of holes in the carriage. It seems like it would have to be a very freak occurrence for that to happen. It sounds like they are doing tests on the bullet now to find out the model of gun, distance when shot, etc.

        All in all a terrible thing. This community has already experienced a murder within the past few years (within the Dan Church as well). No doubt people are on edge.

        1. Michigan Mary

          REPLY TO ERIK

          Erik, yes, it is the Dan Church (Andy Weaver Order) that Rachel and her family are a part of… not only did they have a murder a couple of years ago, they are also reeling from the Sam Mullett (hair and beard cutting) situation from this past summer and fall. It has been a very hard year for the Amish folks in Ohio. Depending on the outcome of Rachel’s death, it is very possible that there will be a settlement-wide call to step back from the world as Holmes County has become fairly progressive and easy going about their interactions with the English. No matter the outcome it doesn’t bode well for the community as a whole. There were also several incidents in Berlin lately; one armed robbery at a local business, one forced entry at Boyd and Wurthman’s restaurant after hours and several cases of petty theafts in the general area…. sighhhh – just keep on praying that the insanity stops.

          1. Carol

            Question for Michigan Mary

            Mary, As an “English” person with Amish friends in Holmes County, I was very saddened to see your comment that the Amish might be called to step back from interactions with the English. May I ask what the reason for that would be…is it because the English are perceived as bringing about these evils, or is it because the Amish might believe that God was punishing them for not maintaining more separation? Or could it be for an entirely different reason? We greatly enjoy our times in Holmes County and bringing harm to anyone, Amish, English or whatever culture, would be the absolute farthest thing from our minds. I hope you will be able to clear this up for me. Thank you.

            1. Mary in Michigan

              Carol, thanks for asking a very sound question. The comment I made was probably more than premature to say the least. Over the course of the weekend many of us that were together to celebrate an early Christmas had a discussion about the “what ifs” of the situation: what if it was not an accident, but deliberate; what if it were caused by a non-amish person as opposed to an Amish person; what if it is found to be something that could/would happen again. After all of the conversations, the question was posed about the need to, as you so eloquently put it, “step back” from the world. One of our friends who is a deacon for his church said that it was something that would certainly be talked about by the bishops and ministers IF they feel that doing so would help to reduce the upswing of incidents in their community. I didn’t get the feeling that it had to do with “them” preceiving “us” as being the root cause of anything or about God punishing them, but more about them studying where they are at in relationship to the world and that perhaps a greater level of security may be found in the form of retreat back from where they are currently. For what it’s worth, our friend assured us that most likely nothing will change and at the most current relationships would not suffer, but that future interactions, future acceptance of technologies, would be a little slower in coming to them.

              1. Carol

                Thank you, Marilyn, for taking the time to explain this in such detail. I hope the mystery of this young girl’s death will soon be solved and that peace may once again settle over the area. My prayers are extended for her heartbroken family.

                Thanks again. I really appreciate the information.

            2. Sergio

              Amish seperation

              Carol, I don’t think God would be punishing but this may be a choice to separate from the outside world. Am sorry this is my very first time ever searching or reading about Amish Communities, feel they would feel safer to only interact within own community am also sure everyone would agree with me if I say “At times we judge others not realizing we are not innocent as we all think we are” We are also quick to pass judgement especially for those that are different than us.
              Again am sorry if i seem uneducated on Amish Way of life, my condolences go out to the Family & Friends.

      2. Lissa Holder

        So sorry to hear about this. So much tragedy for this community. My prayers go out to her family and the community for protection and healing. ~Blessings,Lissa

    6. Melissa

      How heartbreaking! I’ll be praying for the family and community during this tough time.

    7. Alice Aber

      This is such sad news. Praying here for the family, friends and neighbors. Also praying it was an accident and the truth will come out.


    8. Ohio Amish girl shot and killed

      This is tragic. I will pray that the truth will win out and the facts of the case will be made clear!!! I’m keeping the family in my prayers.

    9. Leigh

      This is such a sad, tragic story. I didn’t know Rachel’s mother had been killed, as well. I will definitely keep the Yoder family in my prayers and I hope they can find out why this happened. I’m sure the family will forgive the shooter, but the state of Ohio will likely not be so forgiving if this was intentional.

    10. Alice Mary

      This is yet another one of God’s mysteries that we mere mortals cannot understand. May this family and community find peace in the days and months ahead. All are in my prayers.

      Alice Mary

    11. Susan F

      So terribly sad

      I am so very saddened to hear this, and even more so knowing the family’s previous difficulties. I agree with you, Erik, that this would have had to have been a very freak accident that late at night. It seems strange that these are the same people being singled out by the Mullet group. I pray for God’s hand to be upon them.

    12. The Andy Weaver people are actually 30+ church districts so it is quite a sizeable group within the Holmes Co Amish (around 4500-5000 people).

    13. Leigh

      I hate to say this, but I hope law enforcement is investigating the Mullet group for this.

    14. lisa kuhn

      so sad

      this poor family! what a test of faith. who is the mullet group? and yes, what a terrible way to bring in christmas. i add my prayers to the others’.

      1. Mary in Michigan


        Lisa, the Sam Mullett “group” is a complex issue about a group of people that at one time were Amish (Andy Weaver church)but decided to follow a man named Sam Mullett into a situation that became a “cult” in eastern Ohio. It’s a long long story, but if you Google his name you will find a ton of stuff to read about the Hair and Beard cutting attacks that his group perpetrated on other bishops (and their families) of the Andy Weaver church. Let me know if you need any clarification or have questions. I got the low-down on the whole sorrid mess this past weekend.

    15. Barbara Landsberg


      The family has my deepest sympathy!! No family should have to endure the tragic loss of a loved one. I know their faith will bring them thru this horrible time. Heartfelt prayers are with them.

    16. George

      So sad that one so young and innocent should be taken from all of us. It reminds us, once again, how fragile life is.
      I will pray for Rachel’s family to give them strenght.
      None of us will comprehend her passing, but God.
      God loves you Rachel and so do I.

    17. Leigh

      Lisa…the Mullet group is a radical group of Amish that broke away from the Old Order Church and have recently been breaking into the homes of Amish in that area and cutting the men’s beards…I think they even cut one woman’s hair? Some have been arrested. I don’t know the reasons behind them doing this but their bishop is a man named Mullet who also has been accused of sex crimes…it is a very messed up business. Maybe someone else can shed more light in the Mullet group? Their behavior has been crazy…not sure if they would accelerate to gun violence but I’m sure police have considered it, in light of Rachel’s death.

      1. Mary in Michigan

        More on Mullett

        Okay – I’ll try to put a little more info out about this. Sam Mullet was born in MIddlefield, Ohio. When he was an adult he moved to Fredericktown, OH. He was born and raised in the Andy Weaver Church (one level more conservative from the Old Order Amish). He eventually became a bishop for his district. He felt that the order was not conservative enough so he bought 800 acres of land east of New Philadelphia, Ohio (close to the PA border)and decided to move there with any families that wished to follow him. This was many years ago – I am not sure how many, but at least 10-15 years ago. 20 families (mostly his children’s families and extended relations families) moved there with him. Not long after moving to the 800 acres, some families came to realize that Sam’s idea of a more conservative church was not at all in keeping with Amish ideology and they decided to leave his “church” to move back to the Andy Weaver area of Fredericktown and/or Holmes County. When they left his “compound”, he put those families into the “bahn”, or shunned them or excommunicated them – all 3 mean the same thing. This is a terrible thing for the Amish; to be shunned. But the other Andy Weaver bishops knew that what Sam was up to was not their shared religion and decided not to uphold the bahn and welcomed the families back into the Andy Weaver church without any consequences. For some reason it took Sam along time to get around to his form of vengence, but this last summer/fall it came to a head when he sent his sons and other staunch members out to cut the beards of those bishops that had lifted his bahn on the families that left his “church”. The cutting of wives hair was just a bonus if they were found to be at home at the time of the attacks on the bishops. There are many things that have been said that Sam did that was pure evil: taking other members’ wives to his bed, locking up “sinners” in chicken coops for 2 weeks, tieing up “sinners” to telephone poles and leaving them out in the elements for extended periods, etc. The most disturbing thing is that it has been said that what got him finally arrested is that a phone tap caught him saying that he was going to take out an Amish school that would make Nickel Mines look like a walk in the park…. no matter what is true or not, it’s a good thing this guy has been locked up!

      2. Pat

        I knosw the Mullet group claims to be Amish, but my friends that are Amish would never hurt anyone. I feel that the Mullet clan hides behind the Amish name for some reason. They truly do not know the meaning of being Amish and the peaceful nature of the Amish faith.

    18. Anne


      This is indeed terrible news. I agree with Erik that it seems a stretch to imagine it as an accident. Hope they get some clues soon. Praying for all…Anne

    19. Leigh

      Mary, thanks so much for the thorough explanation…Do you think it’s possible that one of his followers could be involved in the shooting of Rachel?

      Something that is really trivial but caught my eye, was that Rachel had a middle name apparently, since a middle initial, M, was given. I didn’t think the Amish gave more than one name to their children?

      1. Mary in Michigan

        2 Part Question

        Second question first – use of a middle initial. It is very common for the Amish to use a middle initial. It doesn’t always have a name associated with it; sometimes it’s just an initial. The reason is that there are SOOOOOO many folks with the same last name that it is very common for there to be 15 to 20 Rachel Yoders in one settlement the size of Holmes County. Adding a middle intial helps to solve the mystery of which Rachel Yoder one would be talking about – especially if her father has a middle intial too.

        First question second – Mullett involved in Rachel’s death. No one that I spoke with over the weekend thinks the Mullet situation is related for a couple of reasons. 1.) Her father is not a bishop 2.) her family is not related to any part of the Mullett/anti-Mullett situation 3.) the worst of the Mullet group is behind bars, the rest are under surveillance and the remaining families that were “trapped” in the middle have (or are) returning to standard Andy Weaver districts. 4.) if someone wanted to make it seem like it was Mullett related they would most likely not have picked a 15 year old girl, but rather a father of an entire family. All this being said, our friend, the deacon, pointed out there is no accounting for sanity if this was deliberate and intentional. All we can do at this point is pray and wait.

        1. Leigh

          Thank you so much for your answers. I didn’t know that about the middle initials…I knew it was common for them to differentiate between different, say Rachel Yoders by saying the father or husband’s name in a possessive form, such as “Luke’s Rachel” or “Luke Rachel”, but I didn’t know they used middle initials.

          I wonder if Rachel WAS targeted, if the shooter even knew it was a young girl driving the buggy? It could have just been a random thing, just that it was an Amish buggy and perhaps the shooter assumed it would be a man driving, that late at night. You are right in that all we can do is pray and wait. Thank you again for your knowledgable responses.

          1. Lee

            Middle initials with the Amish

            Amish, Hutterites, and many Mennonites traditionally have not fallen in with using middle names like “English” people until the last couple decades.

            The middle initial a person has will come from the first initial of your father’s name.

            Example: your Father was named Mose Yoder, then all your children would use M as their middle initial. Say this Mose Yoder has a son named Joe. He would then be Joe M. Yoder. This not only differentiates him from Joe S. Yoder, Joe D. Yoder, etc.. but by that middle initial it gives people that understand the system of figuring out where you belong.

            Like, Oh, he’s Joe M. Yoder, he must be Mose’s boy!

    20. Barbara Miller

      Barb from KY

      I was raised Amish and actually went to school with Sam Mullet’s sister. Amish often give children, as a middle name,the initial of the first letter of their father’s name.Her father’s name was Marvin hence the middle initial of M. I too hope and pray it was an accident.

    21. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      This is a sad thing to have happened. We ought to pray for the family of the victim, pray for the family of the killer (and pray for the killer itself), accidental or not, it occurs to me that this would be the Amish thing to do and would be a fitting tribute to the victim and her faith.

    22. Lee Ann

      I feel for Rachel’s family. To lose one family member is hard, but to lose two in the same year is harder. Worse yet to have this happen so close to the holidays.

      Its best for everyone to pray for the family and as “Slightly-handled-order man says” Pray for the killer as well. He will need forgiveness for his crime. So sad. The amish are such kind loving people. We should all be examples like them and forgive what has happend and pray for the family to have the strength to carry on.

      That church area has had more than its share of trouble recently. Hopefully this will be the end of it, and they find more peace and quite in their lives.

      We as English need to show our love and concern for them and let them know not all English are out to harm them.

    23. Ariane

      This is so awful and unfortunate. I believe one of the commenters mentioned that the little girl’s family was just getting over the death of her mother. My deepest condolences to them and their friends. I hope whoever did this is caught.

    24. Tragic.

      I am trying to understand why so much violence towards the Amish; if from outside groups or from within. Instead of being my own investigator of the shooting incident I’m trying to understand why all the hate.
      We have our faith, family, and friends to go through the grief process. We again rely on God for answers.
      This is another tragic story that I soon hope ends. I’ve read and heard too many. Enough is enough.
      May 2012 bring PEACE among all.

    25. John Stoltzfus

      Latest News


    26. Tragic accident

      I recently heard on the radio that it was an accidental shooting.
      A man a mile away was cleaning his gun at the time of the shooting.
      Witnesses came forward. No charges were filed.

    27. Ann


      My heart and prayers goes out to the family of Rachel. Many prayers are coming their way. This is such a horrible thing to happen to such a young girl that had her whole life ahead of her as well as the person cleaning his gun. That person will have to live with this terrible accident for the rest of his life, even though it was unintentional. Prayers to Rachel’s family.

    28. Ralph in Colorado

      Seems to distant...

      If the man cleaning his gun was really a mile and a half away, I wonder is the bullet would carry that far? Most long rifles will carry only about a mile. I’ve read many accounts of this now and none have stated that they have actually matched the recovered slug back to the long rifle. They are working on this though of course.

      I was taught by my dad as a child to never, ever, shoot a gun into the air. Very sad story. No good ending here.

    29. Amish hunter comes forward

      The latest I’ve read is the Holmes Co. Sheriff is saying that “in all probability” it is an accident. Terrible thing, but at least in all likelihood it wasn’t intentional.

      Here’s the latest post: https://amishamerica.com/amish-shooting-accident/

      I’m wondering why there were no bullet holes, but it may have to do with the buggy.

    30. Kristen Halsey

      This is an extremely tragic event. This poor family has suffered so much. I find it highly unikely that this is a CSS of a gun being fired into the air and traveling 1.5 miles. Especially a muzzle loader. My husband owns one and says it doesnt have that type of range. I think the local police and sheriff are too quick to say thus was an accident. Especially with all that has been going on in that area. This family deserves to know the truth and not theories. Just because this is a peaceful, rural, area where stuff like this never happens, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I live a little over 30 min away from the Nickle Mines school shooting. That area is a very quiet, peaceful, rural area and look what happened there. My thoughts and prayers go out to this girls entire family.

    31. Mary

      Girl shot.

      I am a cousin of the victims deceased mother. I just came home from attending the funeral of Rachel in Ohio. I have the facts straight since I talked with both the victims family and also the father of the 28 yr. old single son who was unloading his musselloader gun in the evening after coming home from a hunt in W.V. It is a long sad story but yes, it was an accident. The bullet traveled 1-1/4 mi. before hitting Rachel on top of her head. Since it was a very windy night they are assuming she had her head down to ward off the wind. The son who shot, along with his father, came to the victims family the morning after the funeral and apoligized profusely while weeping bitterly. The police encouraged them to wait but after telling him they need to go now, were allowed to go. The family forgave, and they are still friends. Both familys are Amish. The shooter has a bro. who is on his deathbed this moment from a rare disease. We are praying for his family as well as my cousins family.

      1. SharonR

        Amish girl shot

        Thanks, Mary, for sharing; still a sad, tragic accident, and hope at some point all families can find peace. I send my prayers.

      2. Lissa Holder

        Mary, I will pray for both families. It is so sad for all. It just breaks my heart to read about this. May God be with them all and send angles of comfort to them. I also pray for the brother that is so Ill. Peace be with them all………~Lissa

    32. Anne


      thanks for telling us the rest of this story. It seems this all just gets sadder and sadder. There is a huge need for prayer here and I know many who have read about this are doing just that. You all must feel deep grief over these events. I wish there was something to be done to “fix” it, but only God can do that. While we celebrate His Advent, we all hope for another coming, in which all these things will be wiped away. We have a deep and real hope!

    33. Susan F

      Thanks Mary

      For providing details to help with the understanding of this tragedy.

    34. Linda

      A 10-year-old Manheim, PA, girl was shot during a New Year’s Eve celebration in Maryland. She attended a Brethren in Christ church. It made me think of what happened to Rachel Yoder.

      1. Linda this story is so sad. I hope the family takes whatever comfort in the fact that her organs will help other children live.

        It is also infuriating. “Celebratory gunfire” that killed her, as it is described, is a third-world concept. Being New Year’s Eve, perhaps alcohol fueled the decision to fire a gun into the air.