are witnesses and investigators who say that there was no verbal
exchange about God between Cassie and her killer and that it was
actually a different girl who was near Cassie who was asked about her
During the days following the killings in April of 1999, several of the
students who were in the library where Cassie and others were shot said
she had been confronted by one of the gunmen, Dylan Klebold, and asked
whether she believed in God. It was reported that she said
"yes" and was immediately shot and killed. Her story became a spark for spiritual renewal among
many young people around the country and resulted in a best-selling book
written by her mother, Misty Bernall.
On September 23, 1999, Salon magazine published an article that
questioned the story about Cassie, which was quickly followed by similar
stories in both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, two of the
Colorado newspapers who had followed the Columbine killings the closest.
An article in the Rocky Mountain News from September 24 quotes chief
investigator John Kiekbusch of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department
as saying that the question about God may have never been asked of
Cassie. The News says that Cassie was crouched under a table when
she was shot and that another student, 16 year old Emily Wyant, was next
to her. Emily survived the ordeal and says she never heard Cassie
asked about belief in God. She says Cassie was praying and saying,
"Dear God. Dear God. Why is this happening? I just want to go
home." In the article, Emily says she does wonder if Cassie
was singled out because of the fact that she was praying. Klebold
reportedly looked under the table at the girls, said, "Peekaboo,"
then shot Cassie.
The News article says that one of the witnesses to initially tell the
story about Cassie being asked about her belief in God was Craig Scott
whose sister Rachel was among those killed in the rampage. He told
investigators that he heard the exchange about God and thought it was
Cassie's voice that said "yes," but he did not actually see
who had said it. According to the article, Scott was later able to
point to where the gunman was at that time that he heard the exchange, but that he indicated a
table where a different student, Valeen Schnurr, had been hiding.
Schnurr's mother says Valeen was lying wounded on the library floor and
was praying when one of the gunmen approached her and asked if she
believed in God. The News article says she replied by saying,
"Yes, I believe in God." The gunman did nothing more and
Valeen survived. The Salon article says Valeen was saying,
"Oh, my God, oh, my God, don't let me die," when one of the
gunmen asked her if she believed in God. She said "yes"
and was then asked why. She said, "Because I believe and my
parents brought me up that way." Salon says that in the end,
the investigators concluded that Valeen's was the only encounter in the
library where anyone was asked about God. None of those who
thought the question had been asked of Cassie actually witnessed it,
they only heard it and, it is suggested, heard Valeen's voice, not
The News quotes another student who was in the library during the
shootings, Joshua Lapp, as saying he is still sure of his memory of the
event and that Cassie was asked about her belief and did respond by
saying "yes" before she was shot.
The editor of Misty Bernall's book, Chris Zimmerman, says that Cassie's
mother was candid in the book about the fact that there were differing accounts of what
was said in the library and that the crux of the book is the true story of a
troubled American teen-ager who encountered God and experienced a dramatic change that gave
her the confidence to face both her life and her death.