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Lone survivor in Texas shooting looks for hope amid her horror

Posted at 11:19 PM, Jul 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-12 23:19:29-04

(CNN) -- Cassidy Stay has seen the worst -- the brutal killings of her parents and siblings, ages 4 to 13, in their Texas home.

On Saturday, the 15-year-old quoted Dumbledore, the wise man from the Harry Potter series, in hopes of finding some good amid the horror.

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times," Cassidy said, citing J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "if one only remembers to turn on the light."

The remarks -- at a public memorial for her family -- were the teenager's first public comments since she emerged as the lone survivor from the carnage in her family's Spring home.

Authorities say that Ronald Lee Haskell barged into residence on Wednesday demanding to know the whereabouts of his estranged wife.

She was not there, but the Stay family was. And soon, in a barrage of bullets, six of them were dead.

They included Cassidy Stay's parents, Stephen and Katie, as well as her 7- and 9-year-old sisters and 4- and 13-year-old brothers.

Cassidy was targeted as well, with the Harris County Sheriff's Office indicating the shooting left her in critical condition. By Saturday, though, she was not only out of the hospital but standing tall, wiping away tears as people remembered her parents and siblings and offered support to her.

Thanking the first responders, doctors and nurses who'd helped her, the teenager said, "I am feeling a lot better and am on a very straightforward path to a full recovery."

Unfortunately, her family isn't coming back.

Reminders of this were everywhere, including a board that had hearts with their names -- Becca, Brian, Emily, Katie, Stephen, Zach. Cassidy mentioned them too, right after quoting Dumbledore.

"I know that my Mom, Dad, Brian, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place, and that I will be able to see them again one day," she said at the gathering, held outside an elementary school.

Suspect collapses in courtroom

The man who is being held in their deaths is now in a Texas jail.

Ronald Lee Haskell appeared before a judge Friday -- only to collapse as the six capital murder charges against him were read out.

Two law enforcement officials held Haskell for 20 about seconds before sitting him on the floor. They then put him in a desk chair and wheeled him out of the courtroom.

Haskell returned -- in time for the judge to set his arraignment for August 14.

Police in Logan City, Utah, say that Melannie Haskell had a protection order against Ronald Lee Haskell, who she accused in 2008 of dragging her by the hair and hitting her in the head in front of their children.

Haskell's mother, Karla, took out a temporary restraining order against her son earlier this month after he "physically restrained her" after an argument, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.

It's not clear what qualms Ronald Lee Haskell had with the Stays, beyond that they were related to Melanie Haskell.

Roger Lyon, the father of Katie Stay and the grandfather of Cassidy, thinks he could have been next -- if not for Cassidy.

In a statement, Lyon said his family is "in aware of her bravery and courage in calling 911, an act that is likely to have saved our lives" -- suggesting that, if not for Cassidy's call to authorities, Ronald Lee Haskell might have moved on to try to kill him instead of being caught following a three-hour standoff with police.

Between the balloons being released into the sky in the Stay family's memory, in between all of the tears and the hugs among those in the crowd who knew them, Cassidy's actions were not forgotten Saturday.

Her name, after all, was among those on the board with those of her slain family members.

Hers was the only heart that wasn't red. And it was the only one with extra words added: "Our hero."

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin, John Branch, Jason Hanna, Ed Payne, Dave Alsup and Marlena Baldacci contributed to this report.