A dose of good Hogwarts magic, charmed by the outpouring of support on a Facebook page, apparently has come to the sole survivor of a shooting spree that left her parents and four siblings dead.
According to news reports, Cassidy Stay received a letter handwritten in purple ink, a wand and an acceptance letter to Hogwarts from public-shy author J.K. Rowling earlier this week. The brave teenager quoted one of the Harry Potter book and movie series' most popular characters, Albus Dumbledore, at the family's memorial service three days after the tragedy.
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light," the 15-year-old read the quote at the memorial service.
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light," the 15-year-old read the quote to the hundreds gathered at the July 12 service. She also commented, "'I know that my mom, dad, Bryan, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place, and that I'll be able to see them again one day.' "
Three days later, the "We Want JK Rowling to meet Cassidy Stay" Facebook page appeared online with the mission statement, "After witnessing the murder of her entire family, Cassidy Stay optimistically quoted JK Rowling. We want JK Rowling to visit this brave girl."
Last month, 33-year-old Ronald Lee Haskell came to the Stay's home in Spring in search of his ex-wife, Cassidy's aunt. Haskell shot and killed Cassidy's father, mother and four siblings. Cassidy was shot in the head, but played dead until Haskell left.
Despite suffering a bullet fracture to the skull, Cassidy called police to report what her uncle had done and warned that he was headed to her grandparent's home. She is credited with saving the lives of countless others and is being heralded as a hero.
Members of the immediate community — and beyond — have donated almost $400,000 to the "Stay Family Tragedy - Cassidy Stay Fund" online campaign to assist the surviving teenage girl.
The Stay's spokewoman Mary Flood said the family declined to confirm reports concerning Rowling and asked the media to respect Cassidy's privacy. Rowling's spokesperson, Rebecca Salt, confirmed to the Houston Chronicle that Rowling sent a personal letter to Cassidy but declined further details.
A meeting between the Cassidy and Rowling hasn't happened yet, but the Facebook page, now with more than 5,000 likes, recently made another announcement, along with confirming Cassidy did receive the gifts.
'This afternoon, I talked to a friend of Cassidy's who confirmed that JK Rowling did, in fact, write her a personalized letter from "Dumbledore" (hand-written with purple ink)," the Facebook page notes. "She was also sent a wand, an acceptance letter to Hogwarts with a school supply list, along with the 3rd book with JK's autograph. I'm so excited and ecstatic that we were all able to make a difference! How wonderful.
"However, I still really want JK Rowling to actually meet her. We might just have to keep this page going until that actually happens."