Bartow, FL – A bloody stabbing spree at a middle school was just barely averted on Tuesday when authorities found the two would-be killers just moments before they started their attack.
Each of the girls faces several charges, including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Police said two girls, ages 11 and 12, arrived at Bartow Middle School armed with multiple knives on Oct. 23, and planned to kill at least 15 students, WFTV reported.
School officials learned of the planned attack on Monday when a student told a teacher that one of the suspects had told her to steer clear of a certain part of the school building the next day.
Multiple Bartow police officers and Polk County deputies were present and waiting at the school the next morning when the girls arrived, according to WFTV.
Shortly after the start of first period, the mother of one of the suspects got a notification call from the school that said her daughter was not in class.
So she called the school and told them she had dropped her daughter off at school that morning, police said.
At that point, police and school staff began an organized search of the school, WFTV reported.
Police said the girls were found in a bathroom in the 500 building by an assistant principal, and that they had “a goblet.”
The girls were taken to the principal’s officer, where they were questioned by law enforcement, WFTV reported.
One suspect was asked to empty her pockets, and when she did, police found she was carrying a paring knife and a sharpener.
When asked why she was carrying the weapon, the girl replied that she and her friend had plotted to attack and kill as many students as possible, according to WFTV.
A thorough search of both girls turned up numerous additional knives, including a butcher knife and a pizza cutter, police said.
Both girls told detectives that they were practicing Satanists, and that they had planned to kill at least 15 people.
They said they were willing to drink the blood and possibly eat the flesh of their victims, the Lakeland Patch reported.
They said they were hiding in the bathroom waiting to grab younger students they could more easily overpower, WFTV reported.
Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall said police found a hand-drawn map of the school with bathrooms designated as the locations where the killings would take place, the Lakeland Patch reported.
"Go to kill in bathroom," read a notation on the map.
Police said a search of one of the girls’ phones revealed that the suspects had planned “to leave body parts at the entrance” and then kill themselves.
"Thank Satan we are doing this in a bit,” read another message between the girls, sent on the day of their planned attack, the Lakeland Patch reported.
Bartow police were working closely with the Polk County School Board to further investigate the incident, according to WFTV.
Chief Hall called the incident “horrific,” the Lakeland Patch reported.
"If I had children in school, I would be scared ... to death," he said.
The school notified all the students’ parents about the close call on Oct. 23.
Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said the training administrators and teachers had received to deal with these threats was effective, and said she was glad they had been taught what to do, the Lakeland Patch reported.
"A student heard something and told a teacher which activated our safety plan and everything worked," Byrd said. "It's very disturbing to me not only as an educator and a superintendent but as a parent. It is sad we have students that were plotting and actually planning to harm other students on campus. We don't send our students to school to be harmed."
Both girls will be expelled from school, in addition to facing criminal charges, WTVT reported.