The Lancaster Country Day School community is “perplexed” and “deeply saddened” after one of its students allegedly killed her sister at their family’s Manheim Township home Monday.
“Everyone is wholly, utterly surprised by this,” head of school Steven Lisk told LNP | LancasterOnline Tuesday.
Claire Elaina Miller, a 14-year-old ninth-grader at the 550-student private school, called 911 after midnight Monday and told police she stabbed her sister, 19-year-old Helen Miller, who died despite life-saving measures by emergency responders.
Lisk described the last 36 hours as “extraordinary” as the school uses this time to bring students, faculty, staff and parents together and learn to cope with what Lisk called a “human tragedy.”
Students at the school attended classes virtually due to snow on Monday, but students, faculty and staff also held virtual meetings Monday to discuss what happened, how to feel about it and how to move forward, Lisk said. Back in-person on Tuesday, the school held several moments of silence throughout the day. Counselors were made available at the school for anyone who needed emotional support.
The grief, he said, is compounded by the pandemic and its impact on social gatherings.
“People are just trying to make sense of this,” Lisk said, adding that students, faculty and staff need to “check themselves” and seek help when necessary.
Lisk said he stopped by the Miller's house, which is just down the road from the school, with assistant head of school Todd Trout on Monday, but the parents weren’t home. They later spoke by phone twice that day.
Lisk described the conversations as “very human.”
“Parents everywhere love their children, and any parent — I know myself, included — the idea that your life turns on a dime and changes is just a horrifying reality for a parent,” he said. “So our hearts collectively go out to them.”
Lisk said there are several families with the last name Miller and another, unrelated Claire Miller attending Lancaster Country Day.
Helen Miller was enrolled at Manheim Township School District. Marcie Brody, the school district spokeswoman, said her death was “tragic and unexpected.” While Helen Miller was receiving educational services from the district, Brody said, she hasn’t been in one of the district’s school buildings “for quite some time.”
“We have communicated with our staff who had direct involvement with the Miller family and have offered counseling services to these individuals,” Brody said.
Lancaster County coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni confirmed Tuesday that Helen Miller had cerebral palsy.
Helen Miller attended the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy in Philadelphia, the school's president, Thomas Quinn, confirmed to ABC27.
When an LNP | LancasterOnline reporter called the school Tuesday, a woman said she received guidance not to speak with anyone and took the reporter’s phone number, and Quinn did not return a request for comment.
Under Pennsylvania law, students with special needs can attend high school up to the age of 21.