|September 1, 1999|
She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall is a memoir by Misty Bernall about the life of her daughter Cassie Bernall who was killed during the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999.
The book was published a little over four months after the death of Cassie Bernall in the Columbine High School Massacre.
The book details the life of Cassie Bernall and her family's grieving process in the aftermath of her death. The book's title is a reference to Bernall's final moments in the wake of the shooting. Eric Harris had asked Bernall if she believed in God and when she responded with "yes", Harris shot and killed her.
Multiple reliable sources, including eyewitnesses who were with Bernall when she was shot, the teen who initially reported that she had been the one asked about belief in God, an audio recording and the FBI, determined within months of the massacre that Bernall was never asked the question at all.
Craig Scott, a student who was in the library, where Bernall and 11 others (including the two killers) died — and the brother of Rachel Scott, the first victim killed in the incident during the massacre, told investigators that he had heard one of the shooters ask a victim whether or not they believed in God during the shooting, and the female victim answered, "yes." Scott, hiding under a table at the time, did not see the exchange, but told investigators the voice was Bernall's. However, months later when Scott visited the library with investigators, he identified the wrong location for Bernall, pointing instead to where survivor Valeen Schnurr had been hiding.
Schnurr lay on the floor, injured. When one of the shooters, Dylan Klebold approached her, she said, "Oh, my God, oh, my God, don't let me die." Klebold asked her if she believed in God. She said she did, and when he asked why, she responded, "Because I believe and my parents brought me up that way." Klebold did not shoot her again.
In addition, Columbine student Emily Wyant, who was hiding beneath a table next to Bernall, told investigators that Eric Harris had shot her without asking her any questions at all. He merely knocked on the table twice and said, "Peekaboo." Another student hiding in the same location confirmed Wyant's account. Wyant told Bernall's parents that their daughter had not spoken to either killer prior to the publication "She Said 'Yes'," written by Misty Bernall.
Investigators were aware that Bernall had not spoken with the killers early in the investigation, and even had an audio recording of what actually happened, courtesy of an art teacher.
Despite the preponderance of evidence suggesting that Bernall was not the person asked about God, and never spoke to the killers, the book continues to sell well. Some in the Christian community have openly said it does not matter whether she spoke the words or not.
"You will never change the story of Cassie," said Dave McPherson, pastor at the Bernalls' church. "The church is going to stick to the martyr story. It's the story they heard first, and circulated for six months uncontested. You can say it didn't happen that way, but the church won't accept it. To the church, Cassie will always say yes, period."
The story has persisted even decades later. In 2015, Rick Santorum used the scenario during a Republican presidential debate, saying "16 years ago this country was tremendously inspired by a young woman who faced a gunman in Columbine and was challenged about her faith, and refused to deny God."