PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The parents of Franklin Regional High School stabber Alex Hribal are speaking out for the first time since the attack four years ago, finally shedding light on a possible motive for the incident that shook their community, and talking about their mission to help other parents avoid the heartache that they’ve experienced from their son’s actions.
Since the stabbings in April 2014, there has been much speculation that Alex Hribal was bullied. His parents, Harold and Tina Hribal told KDKA investigator Marty Griffin that’s true, but said goes much deeper than that.
“He was a sweet, quiet child. I didn’t know he was suffering inside,” explained an emotional Tina Hribal, who at times dabbed her eyes with a tissue during the interview. She says she and her husband had no idea how troubled their son was until doctors interviewed him after the attack.
Hribal’s parents recall the moment they found out about the attack —
The doctors discovered that their son had been depressed since all the way back in elementary school, and had considered suicide by putting a knife to his own chest in the family’s kitchen around fifth grade. His parents say Alex’s emotional turmoil settled down in junior high, but bubbled over in high school, where they say, classmates have since told them that Alex was bullied.
In a letter found after the incident, Alex wrote: “My reasoning for such a monstrosity. This world would undoubtedly be better if we were all in heaven.”
“I could blame myself every day” for not noticing that her son was in trouble said Tina Hribal. “He was suffering in silence for so long. We wish he would have had an outburst of some sort so that we knew.”
WEB EXTRA VIDEOS —
- Web Extra #1: Hribal’s Parents Address Their Son’s Long Sentence
- Web Extra #2: Hribal’s Parents Address Dealing With Guilt
- Web Extra #3: Hribal’s Parents Talk About Finding Out Their Son Was The Suspect
- Web Extra #4: Hribal’s Parents Discuss Why They’re Speaking Out
- Web Extra #5: Hribal’s Parents Discuss How They Didn’t Recognize Their Son Was In Trouble
Hribal’s parents still live in the same house and had expected to be ostracized by their community after Alex’s attack.
“They could have strung him up from the nearest tree, took his body, threw his body off a bridge and then steamrolled it,” said Harold Hribal matter-of-factly.
But instead the Hribals say they’ve been surprised and overwhelmed by the amount of prayers, letters and support they have received.
“We’ve had so many stories,” Harold Hribal said. “It didn’t matter if you went to the grocery store and people would stop you and introduce themselves, or it would be people you knew who had never told you about their son or their daughter,” and their secret troubles.
Tina Hribal agrees.
“People call and say you don’t know me, but I’ve been following your son and then they tell me their story,” she said.
That said, the couple refuses to make excuses.
“We’ve never shied away from the fact that he did what he did,” says Harold Hribal. We’re not going to sit back and try to make an excuse for what he did. That’s not the story here. The story is trying to tell the story of what caused it.”
Hribals Want To Help Other Families —
The Hribals say they know some folks are still angry with their son. But Tina Hribal says the couple just hopes other parents will take a closer look at the behavior of their own children. “Get your kids help,” if they seem too quiet or withdrawn. “Get them to a doctor. Make sure they are OK. I would tell people because I wish I would have done it.”
Their son, who they say, has made remarkable recovery in juvenile detention, is apparently also determined to turn bad into good.
Harold Hribal says doctors asked Alex after the attack: “‘If you had three wishes what would you wish for?’ And he said ‘I only need two. One is to go back in time and the second is to bring my experience with me. Because I want to make a difference.’”
Hribal, who pleaded guilty in the attack, faces 23 to 60 years in prison, although his attorney has appealed that sentence, arguing that it’s too long.