BARTOW (FOX 13) - The Bartow police chief said he believes two girls in middle school fully intended to carry out an attack on their classmates, using knives, blades, and other sharp weapons.
Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall said the girls never said their plot was a joke. So how do two kids get to a point of plotting to kill and claiming they worship Satan?
A child psychologist, who is not involved in this case, says a number of factors, from social rejection to what they see online, can contribute to actions like these.
Two girls, 11 and 12 years old, mapped out their plan and then waited in the school bathroom Tuesday, before being stopped by school staff, police say.
"They noted that they wanted to kill at least 15 people and were waiting in the bathroom for the opportunity to find smaller kids that they could overpower to be their victims," Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall said in a news conference Wednesday.
A Bartow Middle School student got wind of the alleged impending attack and spoke up. Tuesday, deputies and police officers stood guard.
When one of the girls didn't show up to class, they were quickly tracked down, hiding in a bathroom with knives, scissors, a pizza cutter, and goblet.
Chief Hall said the girls made comments "that they were willing to drink blood and maybe possibly eat flesh."
They told investigators they're practicing Satan worshippers and planned to commit suicide after the attack in hopes it would bring them closer to Satan.
Dr. Wendy Rice doesn't know the girls. She's never examined them but she offered insight on what could lead kids down a dark path.
"When kids feel disenfranchised or they don't feel like they fit in or maybe they're in a rejected peer group because they're not doing so well with other kids, sometimes, they look to extremes to try to find a place to be included," Dr. Rice told FOX 13 News.
She says unsupervised internet use can have a huge influence on developing brains.
"Some kids will see stuff that's creepy and develop an anxiety disorder and some kids will see stuff that is creepy and say, 'Oh, I want to do that, I want to play in that,'" she warned. "Their concept of death or permanence and all of that is a little bit different than adults.'"
But they're not adults and though they now face serious consequences, Dr. Rice says there's hope.
"Brains are plastic. With help and with good therapy, things can really turn around," she said. "You kind of have to meet them where they're at and try to deconstruct what happened."
The girls face a number of charges, including conspiracy to commit murder. Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd says they will be expelled.