JEHOVAH'S WITNESS MENTAL HEALTH:
JW - ON - JW CRIME COURT CASES
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The following criminal court, civil court, and other cases, in which the Jehovah's Witnesses religion served as the spiritual element of the perpetrators' and/or other actor's formative environment, or otherwise served as one of the major influencers of the perpetrators' and/or other actor's behavior, are often tragic, and speak for themselves. Court cases involving Jehovah's Witness Criminals who have been convicted of FINANCIAL CRIMES, including stealing money from their fellow Jehovah's Witnesses and others, are summarized on our JW EMPLOYEES website. Click here for an additional 12 packed webpages of $$$ FINANCIAL $$$ court cases.
"SHUNNED NO MORE"
THE ROBERT BRYANT FAMILICIDE. In February 2002, one month after Christian Longo's capture in Mexico made international headlines, an eerily similar tragedy struck a second family of "Jehovah's Witnesses" who also had fled to Oregon, and who lived only about an hour away from where the Longo Family had lived. The family patriarch, Robert Arlie Bryant, age 37, had been a Jehovah's Witness Elder, but had been "disfellowshipped" after he began to believe that he had received the "heavenly call" as one of the "144,000", or "the anointed remnant" -- those few, privileged JWs who go to heaven to be co-rulers with Jesus Christ. Robert Bryant committed suicide after first murdering his wife, Janet Bryant, and their four children, Clayton, 15, Ethan, 12, Ashley, 9, and Alissa, 8, on the evening of the Bryants' 17th wedding anniversary (marriage anniversaries are the only "holiday" JWs are permitted to celebrate).
Before everything went wrong, Robert Bryant and Janet Bryant, and their four children had been members of the Shingle Springs, California Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, where both Robert and his father, Keith Bryant, were "Elders". In addition to rearing Rob Bryant in the WatchTower religion, Keith Bryant and Arlene Bryant also had reared Rob in the family landscaping business. Robert Bryant eventually became business partners with his father and two brothers. Sometime around 1997-98, Robert Bryant disclosed his "call" and began partaking of the bread and wine at the WatchTower Society's annual "Memorial" --during which 99.999% of Jehovah's Witness take the "sacraments" into their hands, and then reject such as taught by the WatchTower Society. Robert was probably shocked at the negative reaction that his "good news" elicited from not just the other members in the congregation, but from even his own parents and siblings. Keith Bryant reportedly took Robert's claim seriously only "grudgingly", while Bryant's own mother reportedly was "furious", and rejected the notion. Within a matter of a few months, Robert Bryant was excommunicated from the JWs -- in mid 1998. Since JWs are required to "shun" (treat as dead) disfellowshipped former members, under penalty of being excommunicated themselves if they fail to do so, the landscaping business partnership with his father and brothers reportedly was dissolved. Then, in early 2000, Robert Bryant's first landscaping business of his own, which apparently competed with his father's landscaping business, was forced into bankruptcy. Rob Bryant apparently thereafter started a second landscaping business while dealing with same/similar issues of the first.
At some point, Robert and Janet Bryant (who apparently had "disassociated" herself from the JWs) stopped attending "meetings" at the Shingle Springs, California Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Keith Bryant and Arlene Bryant reportedly initiated legal action to obtain visitation and/or custody of the four Bryant children in an alleged effort to force their grandchildren to attend the local Kingdom Hall, and be reared as Jehovah's Witnesses. By late 2000, or early 2001, it finally became apparent to Robert and Janet Bryant that they would have to move away from Shingle Springs if they were to have any hope of a normal life for themselves and their four children. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2001, the Bryants made the mistake of choosing McMinnville, Oregon, where the climate and other factors were not the best for a new resident with a new landscaping business to support a large family. By winter 2001-2, the Bryants were experiencing financial problems and other difficulties. McMinnville residents would have helped the Bryants if they had only known. However, still retaining the JW mentality and lifestyle of living separate from "the world", the Bryants stayed to themselves until that fateful evening when Robert Bryant's apparent depression led to his irreversible, unfortunate decision.
The McMinnville, Oregon Jehovah's Witnesses laid as snakely low as possible as the authorities and reporters attempted to gather information about this tragedy and its cause. While the local JWs lamented this "reproach" on their beloved WatchTower Society, it was left to the "worldly" "false christians" at McMinnville's Bethel Baptist Church to host a memorial service for the Bryant family. Five hundred local residents turned out to show their respect for and mourn a family who were barely known to the local community.
Standing out amongst the limited number of floral arrangements sent to the Bryant Family memorial service was a WREATH of white flowers which contained a revealing message that aptly summed up this tragedy. On that wreath was a white banner with the message written in gold letters: "SHUNNED NO MORE". (Yes, we know who sent that WREATH. No, it was not the publicly speculated female.)
In August 2015, the Canadian television program, DEADLY DEVOTION, aired its Season Three, Episode One, which was an account of the 2002 Bryant Family Tragedy. Interestingly, the producers at DEADLY DEVOTION took as the title of their television episode the profound message written on that aforementioned WREATH: "SHUNNED NO MORE".
OREGON v. CHRISTIAN MICHAEL LONGO (2003), MICHIGAN v. CHRISTIAN LONGO (2000), and MICHIGAN v. CHRIS LONGO (1992) are criminal court cases which involved a "homeschooled" Jehovah's Witness "Ministerial Servant" named Christian Longo. Chris Longo was reared as a Jehovah's Witness by parents who became prominent Jehovah's Witnesses over the years. Joy Longo was the first to convert to the JWs when Christian Longo and Dustin Longo were youngsters. Joe Longo, the stepfather, was a mid-level manager with Target Corp, and he converted due to Joy's determination, and eventually became an "Elder". In the mid 1990s, the WatchTower Society selected the Longo's, an "Elder" and a "Pioneer", to travel as special delegates and "role models" to multiple JW Conventions being held in several Eastern European countries and the Baltic Republics.
Despite having been homeschooled during high school, so that he could also "pioneer", 18 year-old Christian Longo was arrested and convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement in 1992, after he stole cash out of the cash register at a Michigan photographic equipment store where he was employed as a salesclerk.
In September 2000, a married Christian Longo, who by then was a "Ministerial Servant" in his JW Congregation, and employer of several of his fellow JWs, pled guilty to two counts of forgery and two counts of uttering and publishing in connection with a series of forgery and fraud crimes committed in Summer 2000. Longo had manufactured, signed, and cashed checks which he duplicated from genuine checks issued to him by a construction firm which was a customer of Longo's own janitoral services company. In actuality, Longo had faked and forged six checks amounting to approximately $30,000.00.
By the summer of 2001, Christian Longo was again manufacturing and cashing fraudulent checks duplicated from his customers' legitimate payment checks. Longo was never prosecuted for such, because by that time his criminal activities were swiftly esculating to theft of automobiles, boats, construction equipment, and the finale -- murder of his wife and three children .
In December 2001, after having fled to Oregon to hide from authorities in Michigan and Ohio, and after having ran out of money and options to obtain money to support his family, and because he could no longer turn to his Jehovah's Witness family, Christian Longo's mentally ill mind led him to kill his faithful JW wife and three young innocent children, and disposed of their bodies by dumping them in two coastal inlets. Longo then fled to Cancun, where Mexican police and the FBI eventually discovered him smoking pot and fornicating with a German tourist.
CONNECTICUT v. STEPHEN FERENZ
was a 2003-5 Connecticut murder court case decision. This crime and subsequent prosecution received much media attention due to the fact that the stabbing victim, Carol Ferenz, 63, who was a Jehovah's Witness, died because she refused to consent to a life-saving blood transfusion.
Despite an avalanche of news coverage, it appears that the supposed factual "snippets" that came to be repeated over and over created impressions in readers/viewers minds that were not necessarily accurate.
For example, many of the media reports repeatedly stated that the stabbing occurred on "New Years Eve", with the resulting impression that the perpetrator, Carol's 42 year-old son, Stephen Ferenz, possibly had been drinking, or partaking of other celebratory typicals. No report that I could find ever mentioned that any of the other involved family members -- Stephen Ferenz, 42, son and perpetrator, Andrew Ferenz, father, John Ferenz, 45, son, and an unidentified sister -- might also have been "Jehovah's Witnesses". Multiple media reports repeatedly quoted Andrew Ferenz as stating that his son, Stephen, "had been on medication for 25 years", which when combined with other article particulars might have led some readers to assume that Stephen was practically an invalid child, who had lived with and been cared for by his parents for those 25 years. Multiple media reports also repeatedly published this quote from Andrew Ferenz regarding his wife's refusal to consent to the needed blood transfusion: "She looked the doctor in the eye and said, 'No transfusion. No blood.'"
The stabbing actually occurred around 5:00 PM on December 31, 2003. Possibly having just gotten off from work, John Ferenz had come to his parent's Glenville, Connectcut home, where Stephen and the unidentified sister also lived, to install a computer for Carol Frenz in an upstairs bedroom. Apparently without warning, Stephen entered the bedroom and stabbed his mother with a kitchen knife an uncertain number of times. Apparently, it took John Ferenz a few moments to realize what had just occurred, and he possibly may not have even understood the gravity, but he apparently stopped the attack, and disarmed Stephen. The three family members then moved downstairs, where Stephen eventually grabbed a second kitchen knife, and attacked his mother a second time. In total, Carol Ferenz was stabbed 8 times in her chest, back and right arm.
In contrast with practically every other media report that quoted Andrew Ferenz as stating, "She looked the doctor in the eye and said, 'No transfusion. No blood.'", one media report quoted the local Prosecutor as stating, “She indicated both to the [responding] medical technicians and at the hospital that before receiving a blood transfusion she had to check with the elders of her faith.”
Rather than being a life-long invalid under the care of his parents, around 1980/1, then 19 year-old Stephen Ferenz had sustained a head injury during an automobile accident while he was attending college in Florida. Yes, Stephen Ferenz "had been on medication for 25 years", but up until 1999 he had been able to lead a somewhat normal life. He had held down jobs, and he had even been married. Apparently, 1999 had been a negative turning point in Stephen Ferenz's life. Possibly, he and his wife had divorced. He may even have had children of his own.
What we do know is that between 1999 and the 2003 stabbing, Stephen had been hospitalized a dozen times for psychiatric treatment or evaluation. Stephen apparently also had moved back in with his parents and unidentified sister during this time period. During this time period, Stephen repeatedly would stop taking his medication, because he did not believe that he was ill, nor did he believe that he needed the medicine. He would then lapse into "delusional behavior", and "aggessive behavior", but he had supposedly never been "violent", according to the family.
In January 2005, a three-judge panel found Stephen Ferenz "not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect", and Ferenz was eventually sentenced to 40 years in a maximum security mental health facility. Interestingly, during the trial, a psychiatrist testified that Stephen Ferenz experienced "strange religious obsessions and paranoid fantasies", including the belief that his family, his doctors, and "other authority figures" were conspiring to keep him from reaching his career and "religious aspirations".
As noted above, none of the media reports ever identified any Ferenz family member as being a "Jehovah's Witness", except for the victim, Carol Ferenz. Yet, a local Jehovah's Witness, named Fred Kida, let it slip that the Ferenz family home was used as a location for one of the local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses' weekly "Book Studies". It is extremely doubtful that in an area where there is a relatively large population of JWs -- suburban NYC -- that the Ferenz family would have received such a "privilege" and honor, unless the majority of family members were actually JWs, or JW sympathizers. And given such, one can only wonder about Stephen Ferenz's length and degree of connection to the JWs, and the role that such played in his personal issues over the years.
IN RE MENTAL HEALTH OF C.R.C. was a 2003-4 Montana involuntary commitment proceeding which concerned a self-proclaimed Jehovah's Witness female named C.R.C., of Libby, Montana. In July 2003, the Lincoln County Sheriff and a Libby Police Sergeant responded to a telephone call from a neighbor reporting yelling and gunshots from the area of CRC's mobile home. The officers found CRC to be upset -- pacing and yelling inside her home, alone. They also discovered that CRC had no water nor electric service, and the home was in a state of uncleanliness. Concerned that CRC might hurt herself or others, she was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital, where doctors assessed as having psychosis with agitation. CRC physically resisted being taken into custody, and restraint and sedation at the hospital. The local prosecutor initiated involuntary commitment proceedings, and the local court committed CRC to Montana State Hospital. In June 2004, the Montana appellate court vacated the commitment order holding that there had not been sufficient evidence that CRC was a threat to herself or others.
JW ELDER-SON MURDER-SUICIDE??? In August 2003, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida Jehovah's Witness Elder, named Carl Dennis Mackey, 41, allegedly shot his 12 year-old son, Brian, (or Bryan) just after midnight in the early AM hours of a Monday morning. The JW Elder then supposedly turned his pistol on himself. Curiously, local police became aware of the alleged murder-suicide when they responded to a telephone call which had reported a supposed emergency at another home near the Mackey residence. When the police arrived in the neighborhood in response to that telephone call, at around 12:40 AM, Laura Mackey ran out of the Mackey home screaming that her husband was trying to kill her and her son. Laura Mackey, (or Lora Mackey), then told the officers that she last saw her husband heading to her 12 year-old son's bedroom, and that she had just heard two gunshots. The officers entered the residence to investigate, and discovered Dennis Mackey and Brian Mackey both dead from single gunshots to the head, as well as a "small caliber" handgun lying next to Dennis Mackey's body.
Dennis Mackey was a supervisor at the City of Plantation Department of Public Works. Co-workers and supervisors had nothing but positive things to say about Dennis Mackey. Brian Mackey, 12, was reportedly an honors student, who was well behaved and had never been in trouble. Dennis Mackey reportedly doted on Brian. Tim Mackey, 22, stated that his father was a hard worker, who preached morals. The Mackey home was even the site of two weekly Jehovah's Witness congegation meetings -- on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Family, friends, and co-workers could not believe nor speculate any reason why Dennis Mackey would have, or even could have, murdered the son whom he loved so much, much less have committed suicide. Laura Mackey, who was employed as an Office Manager at an alternative school, reportedly alleged that Dennis Mackey and she had been having marital problems for the past several months.
FLORIDA v. JAVIER ORLANDO CARASQUILLO was a 2003-4 Florida murder court decision. On Sunday, December 1, 2003, a mentally-ill 28 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Javier Orlando Carrasquillo, hired a taxi in Sanford, Florida to take him to the Orange City, Florida home of fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, Carmen Negron, 63, and her two sons, Gilberto Vergara-Negron, 28, and Yamir Orlando Vergara-Negron, 26. On arrival, Javier O. Carrasquillo asked to use their restroom. On exiting, Carrasquillo pulled a 9mm pistol, and first shot Gilberto Negron in a bedroom, and then Carmen Negron in a second bathroom. Apparently, having been alerted by the gunshots, Orlando Negron fought with Carrasquillo, who eventually managed to both shoot Orlando Negron, and cut his throat with a knife.
Although the time of the murders is not known, I am assuming that Carrasquillo had come to the Negron home with the excuse of accompanying the family to the Sunday meeting at their local Spanish-speaking Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, in Orange City, which could have been either Sunday morning or afternoon. Apparently, Carrasquillo was able to surprise his first two victims as they were getting bathed and dressed for that Sunday meeting. After ransacking the house, Carrasquillo took Gilberto Negron's car for transportation, which Carrasquillo left at an Orlando fee parking lot the next day.
The murders were discovered Monday evening, at around 7:00 PM, when multiple Jehovah's Witnesses, including Israel Gonzalez and BS Overseer Eugenio Muriel, arrived at the Negron's home, which was one of the locations for the Orange City Congregation's weekly "Book Studies". Later, when the prosecutor announced that he would seek the death penalty for the mentally-ill Carrasquillo, Elder Eugenio Muriel publicly praised that decision.
Javier Carrasquillo was the main suspect from the start of the investigation, and he was arrested on a prior warrant that Thursday, at an unidentified Sanford mental health facility. Carrasquillo confessed to the murders. Carrasquillo explained that he had been disfellowshipped (excommunicated) from the Jehovah's Witnesses (who believe they are GOD's only chosen people on the earth, and that all other people, even other professed Christians, are Satan-worshippers), and that as a result of such he had become an "anti-christ". Carrasquillo's mentally-ill mind then led him to believe that he had been dumped onto Satan's side, and as a result, Carrasquillo supposedly had made a "pact" with the Devil for a human sacrifice.
Interestingly, around September-October 2003, Carrasquillo had told his mother, Leida Rivera, who lived somewhere in the Orlando area, about those thoughts, and Carrasquillo had even telephoned and told his grandmother, Natividad Ortiz, who lived in Puerto Rico.Thereafter, Leida Rivera had telephoned one or more of the Spanish-speaking Congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the area to warn them regarding what Carrasquillo had told her, including that he had threatened members of the JWs involved in his excommunication, including the Negron family. Apparently, Javier Carrasquillo associated with a number of the area's Spanish-speaking Congregations, including ones in Sanford, Deltona, De Bary, Orange City, and possibly others. Reportedly, after receiving Leida Rivera's warning, one or more of those Kingdom Halls had started locking their doors after their various "meetings" had commenced, which begs the question whether Rivera or any of the Elders at those Congregations had ever warned the Negron family about these specific threats (After the fact, JWs told reporters that the Negrons were afraid of Carrasquillo. Then, why did they allow him into their house?)
Curiously, Elder Eugenio Muriel told reporters that Carrasquillo had been a member of the DeBary, Florida Spanish-speaking Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, and that it was his understanding that Carrasquillo had been returned to membership. Since that apparently was not Carrasquillo's understanding, it is unclear whether Carrasquillo was actually disfellowshipped (excommunicated), or "reproved" (lesser punishment short of excommunication, in which the Elders can select any number of temporary punishments). Further, it is unclear whether Carrasquillo had be reinstated to membership, if excommunicated, or removed or partially removed from "reproof", if only "reproved".
Despite tons of media reports, I cannot locate any reports which explained how Javier Orlando Carrasquillo had become a Jehovah's Witness. Thus, it is anyone's guess whether Leida Rivera and Natividad Ortiz were or had been JWs, and whether Carrasquillo had been reared as a JW. Reportedly, after learning of the murders, Carrasquillo's mother, herself, even sought police protection. Neither did media reports explain how Carrasquillo became friends with the Negron family, in Orange City, given that such reports mention Carrasquillo's having lived just about everywhere in the area except Orange City. Neither did the reports explain what role the Negrons played in Carrasquillo's "judicial proceedings" with the JWs, which apparently was the reason for their being murdered. (Roberto Negron, brother of Carmen Negron, was an Elder in one of the area's other Spanish-speaking Congregations, so that may have been the link.)
Those same media reports also failed to reveal much else about Carrasquillo's life prior to 2003. A March 2003 incident was mentioned when Carrasquillo was committed for psychiatric evaluation for 72-hours after police found Carrasquillo walking the streets of Deltona in bloody clothing. While attempting to place Carrasquillo in protective custody, he fled from and fought with the police, slashed himself with a knife, and taunted police to shoot him. Carrasquillo had to be "tasered" at the scene and again at the hospital. Reportedly, the March flare-up had been caused to Carrasquillo's having been fired from his job, and having broken up with his fiancee, of whom there is no additional info.
Javier's sister, Sheyla Carrasquillo, 20, who lived in Puerto Rico, also reported that Carrasquillo had been mugged in Sanford, in April 2003, and as a result of head trauma, he had had to be airlifted to an Orlando hospital. Natividad Ortiz reported that Carrasquillo had been mentally-ill since childhood, but had not been violent until just recently. In fact, Javier Orlando Carrasquillo reportedly had no criminal record in Florida prior to 2003, and supposedly none in Puerto Rico (unknown when he came to live in the U.S.)
Apparently, in October-November 2003, Carrasquillo had voluntarily (re)entered the Sanford mental health facility, which may have been where he was incarcerated in March. It was there that Carrasquillo was arrested on Monday, December 2, 2003. During later court hearings, Carrasquillo claimed to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
In October 2004, Javier Carrasquillo pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and armed house burglary, in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to pursue the death penalty. Carrasquillo was sentenced to five life sentences. The delay may have been due to Carrasquillo's having been ruled mentally unfit to participate in the proceeding, and he may have spent time in a state mental health facility until judged mentally fit to continue.
QUEBEC v. JEHOVAH'S WITNESS PARENTS and QUEBEC v. JEHOVAH'S WITNESS PARENTS were related 2001-04 Quebec family court and criminal prosecutions. (Limited details, and what we have are in French. This likely was a well publicized scenario in the French language Quebec media.) At some point during the early 2000s, a daughter (born 1990) and a son (born 1994) were removed from the home of Jehovah's Witness Parents under unknown circumstances. These JW Parents apparently thereafter kidnapped the daughter from the foster home in which she had been placed. Both JW Parents were prosecuted for the kidnapping and for threatening the foster parents. The JW Father was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while the JW Mother was sentenced to 12 months community service. Those sentences were overturned on appeal, with both parents being subject only to two years probation, and the JW Father ordered to undergo treatment for alcoholism. Both JW Parents may have been disfellowshipped due to the negative publicity -- given that both swore off their previous religious extremism, and convinced the court that they could now be entrusted with the care of their two children -- under supervision from the courts and Youth Services. If this case sounds familiar to a Canadian or Quebec reader, please fill in the details, including submitting URLs of media reports.
STEPHANIE RODRIGUEZ v. LEO RODRIGUEZ was an ongoing messy divorce which ultimately ended in a MURDER-SUICIDE. Late on a Saturday night in September 2003, after months of acrimony and two previous arrests for spousal battery, Leo Rodriguez, age 40, of Hollister, California, whom had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness, went to the apartment of his estranged wife, where he kicked in the front door, and then shot in the head Stephanie Rodriguez, age 37. Leo Rodriguez thereafter also shot himself in the head. The couple left behind a 10 year-old son.
MASSACHUSETTS v. KEVIN HENSLEY was a 2002-5 Massachusetts murder court decision. Described by media as a "mild-mannered monster", in July 2005, a Jehovah's Witness, named Kevin Hensley, was convicted of murdering his JW Wife, and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
This Jehovah's Witness Couple, Kevin Hensley, 46, and Nancy Gillespie Hensley, 45, of East Boston, evidently had developed marital problemes, despite their 22 years of marriage, during which they parented four children: Kerry Hensley, 20, Pat Hensley, 17, Candace Hensley, 10, and Kevin Hensley Jr., age 6. On January 9, 2002, Nancy Hensley filed for divorce, had her husband removed from the couple's home, and obtained a restraining order against Kevin Hensley, who had threatened to kill her if she sought a divorce. On Thursday afternoon, January 31, 2002, apparently knowing that it was his wife's day-off from work, Kevin Hensley left early from his job as a City of Boston employee, and somehow gained entry to the family home through a rear door. Hensley first beat his wife, and thereafter strangled her to death in their bedroom using one of his neckties. Nancy Hensley's corpse reportedly was found a few hours later in a basement bathroom by the couple's oldest daughter, Kerry Hensley.
After the murder, Kevin Hensley fled to New Hampshire, where he attempted to commit suicide. Police found an already unconscious Hensley, in the ski resort town of Waterville Valley, sitting in his wife's idling car, with a hose running from the car's exhaust system into the vehicle.
One of Nancy Gillespie Hensley's three siblings claimed that Kevin Hensley had mentally abused their sister for years, while a family friend accused unidentified persons of interfering in the couple's problems, and "guiding" Nancy Hensley to divorce her husband. Neighbors described the JW couple and their children as having an idealic family life. It is possible that Nancy Hensley had only recently sought employment outside the home, and such had initiated a desire for a new life independent from her husband.
NEW YORK v. ERIC LOUISSANT was a 2002 New York double murder court decision. In November 2000, a 20 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Eric Louissant, murdered Stephen Leung, 55, and Chilin Leung, 41, who were the parents of his 17 year-old Asian girlfriend, Connie Leung. Under a plea bargain deal, Louissant was sentenced to two consecutive 15 year terms under which he will serve a minimum of 30 years before being eligible for parole. Connie Leung received the same sentence for her role in the two murders.
Lois Louissant acknowledged that the Louissant family were devout Jehovah's Witnesses, but also related that their son had stopped obeying their rules and had left their Bronx home a year prior to the murders, and that he had been staying with "friends" in East Harlem, which was where the Leung family lived. Neighbors stated that the Louissants were a "model family". Eric Louissant had no previous criminal record.
Connie Leung's parents were adamantly opposed to the year old relationship -- during which their high school senior daughter had lost all interest in high school and college. A day before the slayings, Louissant, was caught at 3:00 AM hiding in Connie Leung's bedroom closet by her mother. That same day Connie Leung and her father met with a school counselor at the Manhattan Center for Science and Math (a college prep school) to discuss the one-time honor student's repeated absences, where they apparently engaged in a heated argument. The next evening, Louissant and Leung waited for Stephen Leung to come home from work. While the father was resting in his bedroom watching television, the pair sneaked up behind him and strangled him with a belt. When the mother arrived home a few hours later, the pair also strangled her with another belt. After waiting several days, Louissant and Leung dumped the two bodies in the East River. Leung and Louissaint were also charged with theft for having sold the parents' rings and gold chains, worth about $5,000, at a pawn shop after the murders.
CALIFORNIA v. GREGORY EVAN LANE was a 2002 California court case. In February 2002, Gregory Evan Lane, 36, of Willow Creek, California, stabbed numerous times with a large knife David Jones, 49, of Salyer, inside the Willow Creek Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. The two men apparently had went into a back room to talk, when an argument broke out that led to the stabbing. Greg Lane reportedly then went back into the main auditorium and sat down until police arrived. Outcome for both parties unknown.
MANITOBA v. GORDON EDWARD WATSON was a 2002-03 Manitoba criminal court case. In July 2002, after having spent many years caring for her invalid husband, an unidentified 75 year-old female was admitted to Brandon Regional Hospital to be treated for depression and to receive a psychiatric assessment. This elderly woman's status with the Jehovah's Witnesses was not reported by the media, but it has been asserted that she did occasionally attend services at her own local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
On a SATURDAY NIGHT in early August 2002, that elderly female alleged that a well-dressed and well-manicured man, whom she did not know, entered her hospital room and introduced himself as a "doctor". She alleged that the "doctor" instructed her to lie back, and that he then proceeded to push on her stomach as if he were checking for something. The "doctor" then allegedly opened her nightgown and began kissing her breasts. The traumatized elderly female screamed for help when the "doctor" allegedly started to pull down his trousers. What happened thereafter is not known, but the elderly female was eventually asked to identify her alleged attacker from 7 photographs shown her by Brandon Police. The elderly female identified a photograph of a 42 year-old Jehovah's Witness Elder at the Brandon Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, named Gordon Edward Watson, as being her attacker. Gordon Watson was criminally charged with assault and impersonation.
At the November 2003 trial, Gordon E. Watson apparently admitted that he had been at the hospital that Saturday night in his capacity as a Jehovah's Witness Minister, and Watson apparently admitted that he purposefully went to the room of this elderly female. Watson simply DENIED that he had identified himself as a "doctor, and Watson DENIED that he had assaulted the elderly female. The female judge found Gordon Watson "Not Guilty" despite reportedly indicating that she had suspicions about his guilt. The judge indicated that there was not sufficient evidence to convict Watson, plus the photo lineup used to identify Watson had unfairly highlighted him as a suspect.
TEXAS v. CHARLES PLOEGER was a 2001-6 Texas appellate court decision. Sometime in 2001-2, a 61 years-old "long-time" member of the Stafford, Texas, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, named Charlie Ploeger Jr., was "disfellowshipped" from the congregation for conduct relating to his showing romantic interest in another member, named Sylvia Solis, who was then in her 20s.
At some point thereafter, Charlie Ploeger was convicted by a jury of misdemeanor "stalking". Ploeger received a suspended 365 days jail term, and was placed on probation for 24 months. On appeal, in 2006, the conviction was reversed and remanded due to an improper jury charge. However, the Texas Court of Appeals ruled that the evidence presented at trial was legally sufficient to support each element of the offense as set out in the "hypothetically correct" charge for stalking. The court stated, in part:
"Appellant was charged with stalking Solis from March 1, 2001 through May 14, 2002. The undisputed evidence showed, among other things, that from at least August, September, or October 2001 through May 2002, appellant repeatedly sent flowers, letters, gifts, and cards to Solis - eventually almost daily- and that he actually called and went to her mother's place of business, when Solis and her mother had the same first and last name. The jury could rationally have believed that these actions constituted a course of conduct, occurring on more than one occasion, that was directed specifically at Solis. ... ...
"Appellant repeatedly sent flowers, letters, gifts, and cards to Solis, eventually almost daily, and went to and called her mother's place of business. Once, appellant placed a gift on the car of Solis's friend, which was the same color as Solis's car, and which the jury could rationally have believed that appellant thought was actually Solis's car. After Solis first reported appellant's behavior to a church elder, Leon Kinloch, in either June or in the Fall of 2001, the church elders decided to 'monitor the situation' and to try to prevent appellant from sitting near Solis. However, they were unsuccessful at preventing his approaching her: 'on multiple occasions,' appellant would position himself 'to either get in close proximity to [Solis] to pass her notes or to get in her line of sight to establish some sort of-what appeared to be to try to establish some sort of eye contact.' After the elders had asked him to leave the congregation because of his actions toward Solis, appellant 'often would drive through the parking lot of our Kingdom Hall'; after the elders told him not to drive through the parking lot, appellant at least once stood in another church's nearby parking lot in sight of those (including Solis) exiting the church. Solis testified that she believed that appellant was waiting specifically for her because he 'kept staring at me ... ,' although she followed up by admitting that she did not know whether he was actually waiting for her. Finally, Elder Kinloch explained that Solis had come to him in the Fall of 2001 complaining that 'according to her, [appellant had] been following her.' ... ...
"... when Solis first reported appellant's behavior to church Elder Kinloch in either June or in the Fall of 2001, Elder Kinloch described Solis's demeanor as 'very concerned.' Elder Kinloch described Solis's demeanor during the period that the church's 'monitoring' period and afterwards as 'very, very concerned,' 'very, very jittery and jumpy,' 'incredibly nervous,' 'consistently nervous,' 'extremely jumpy,' and 'maybe even frightened so much so that she was hesitant to attend meetings,' 'so fearful of the situation that she actually stopped coming to the Kingdom Hall,' 'afraid of her shadow,' and 'consistently in fear of someone coming up behind her.' The elder explained that Solis's demeanor over the last three years had changed 'dramatically.' ... ...
"... In addition to Officer Veazy's doing so, Elder Kinloch talked to appellant about the situation, asking him to stop sending Solis things, at least once in November or December 2001 and possibly more than once. When appellant's behavior toward Solis continued, the church elders eventually asked appellant to leave the congregation. ... ...
"Solis had never even spoken to appellant, encouraged appellant to take any interest in her, or had any contact with appellant (except for her written refusals to have lunch with him the very first time that he sent her notes) at any time before or after he began his efforts in March 2001. Nonetheless, starting in August, September, or October 2001, appellant repeatedly and persistently - and, later, even daily- pursued Solis through letters, cards, flowers, and gifts. Appellant called and came to Solis's mother's store and left things in the mailbox there. Appellant's letters used language that one might use if one were intimate with someone or knew that person extremely well, stating that he and Solis would marry, referring to their children and grandchildren, and often speaking in language that indicated that he believed that their love was deep and mutual and that their marriage was a fait accompli. Appellant also referred to Solis's buttocks, to wanting to see her breasts, and to how they would keep his bedroom busy after they were married - all without her having spoken even one word to him.
"Even after Elder Kinloch had told him to leave Solis alone and to leave the congregation, appellant 'often would drive through the parking lot of our Kingdom Hall' and at least once stood nearby in sight of those (including Solis) exiting the church. Appellant's efforts became more frequent as time went on, and he continued his conduct even after he had been advised by Officer Veazy (January 2002) and Elder Kinloch (Fall of 2001) that Solis was terrified or did not welcome his advances and that he should leave her alone; even after he had been expelled from the church because of his behavior toward Solis; and even after he had been arrested for this offense.
"Even as early as January 2002, Officer Veazy was 'concerned' with appellant's behavior because '[i]t just wasn't normal' and because appellant had admitted already having watched Solis for a very long time. The officer also opined that, although Solis did not mention on her first visit to him that appellant had injured or threatened to injure her, the officer 'could understand where [Solis] was coming from,' given appellant's conduct. As for appellant's conduct at church meetings, Solis explained: '[W]e even got up to move [at church] and he kind of just got mad and he, you know, stormed out a couple of times when the Elders told him, you know, 'You can't sit there' or 'You can't do that.' ... ... ."
CROWN v. RICHARD THORPE was a 2008 British criminal court case in which a "mentally ill" Jehovah's Witness named Richard Thorpe, then age 26, beat and kicked to death his 58 year-old father, Eddie Thorpe, on the sidewalk in front of his JW Parent's home in Batley, West Yorkshire. In October 2008, Thorpe was convicted in Leeds Crown Court of manslaughter due to his diminished accountability. Richard Thorpe died of influenza in January 2011 at a mental health institution.
IN RE R. N. was a 2003 Ontario, Canada, involuntary hospitalization proceeding due to mental illness. In June 2003, an unmarried 32 year-old Jehovah's Witness Male was involuntarily taken into custody and hospitalized at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital, Windsor, Ontario -- apparently at the request of his JW Parents. RN was previously hospitalized for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder in 1994. RN had been threatening various Elders and other members of his local congregation who he believed were all part of a conspiracy to make him "homosexual". RN stated that he was told by a fellow JW that she had put a hex on him and a mark on his back indicating he was gay, and that other JW Females were part of a conspiracy to make him gay using witchcraft and demons. RN stated that during one of his trips to the Kingdom Hall that two JW Females had been staring at him and gasping in horror at him. RN also believed that a JW Elder and others were making homosexual advances towards him. RN told his JW Mother that he would fight the hex and do whatever he had to do to rid himself of the demons that weer controlling his mind, including fight anyone to the death. RN told his JW Mother that he was willing to die to get rid of the demons and that death would be a relief.
NEW YORK v. KENNETH KAFTAN. In June 2002, Kenneth Kaftan, then age 40, was accused of confronting an Olive, New York police officer with a shotgun when that local officer responded to a family dispute at the Kaftan home. New York State Police were called as backup, but by the time they arrived, an unidentified family member had taken away Ken Kaftan's shotgun. Kenneth Kaftan had then fled into an outbuilding, where he was charged with setting a fire. Ken Kaftan then fled into some nearby woods. State Troopers, Olive, and DEP police, along with the Ulster County Sheriff's K-9 Unit searched the woods without success. Kaftan, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in the following day. Kaftan was charged with fifth-degree arson and second-degree menacing -- both misdemeanors. Kaftan was arraigned and sent to Ulster County Jail in lieu of
$1,000 bail, then released two days later on the condition that he seek mental health treatment.
NEW YORK v. LAWRENCE BULLARD was a 2002 New York criminal court case in which a 30 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Lawrence Bullard, pleaded "guilty" to felony attempted sexual abuse against his former Jehovah's Witness girlfriend. Larry Bullard was sentenced to 10 years of probation, and Bullard was ordered to register as a sex offender. In a 2010 newspaper article, Lawrence Bullard, now living in Cincinnati, Ohio, claims that in December 2001, after the then engaged couple had broken up, that he went to his former JW Girlfriend's apartment and "let himself in", and hid in a closet. When the JW Female arrived home, Bullard physically assaulted her -- knocking her to the floor, kissing her, and putting his hands down her pants. Bullard claims that he then regained his senses, stopped the assault, and left the apartment. Bullard further claims that he telephoned police from the lobby of the apartment building and reported the assault himself. The newspaper account does not say whether the JW Girlfriend had already telephoned police.
CONNECTICUT v. CHASITY WEST
was a 2005 Connecticut Supreme Court decision which affirmed the 2001 trial court decision. In August 2001, a by-then 26 year-old Jehovah's Witness Licensed Practical Nurse, named Chasity West, who had been employed at the local state prison, was convicted on a variety of burglary, assault, attempted murder, and murder charges resulting from her role in the July 1998 "JW Family Love Triangle"
attack against three other Jehovah's Witness relatives in her Windsor and Bristol, Connecticut family. West was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of release, plus seventy years.
Arnold and Tammi Cuyler married sometime around 1990. Tammi Cuyler, a Supervisor with Connecticut's Department of Children and Families, was a Jehovah's Witness from a large extended Jehovah's Witness family, so it likely can be assumed that Arnold Cuyler, a banker, was probably also a JW. Jarrell Cuyler was born around 1991. Lindsey Cuyler was born in August 1995.
In August 1995, Tammi Cuyler's 21 year-old Jehovah's Witness first cousin and babysitter, Chasity West, began an affair with 31 year-old Arnold Cuyler. Arnold Cuyler and Tammi Cuyler separated soon thereafter, and divorced in March 1996. Apparently, Arnold Cuyler and Chasity West were able to keep their affair a secret given that Chasity West and her mother, Joyce West, who was Tammi Cuyler's aunt, continued to baby-sit for Jarrell Cuyler and Lindsey Cuyler until sometime in 1997. It was not even until early 1998 that Tammi Cuyler first reported the affair to the Elders of the her Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Possibly more than one Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses was involved, but Chasity West lied and denied the affair to whichever group of Elders conducted her own "judicial hearing". There are also "hints" that Arnold Cuyler, who was living in Bristol at that time, may have also been approached by JW Elders from one or more Congregations, and that he also may have denied the affair.
Arnold Cuyler and Chasity West maintained an ongoing relationship from August 1995 forward, but Arnold Cuyler rejected West's attempts to get married and move away from Connecticut and the prying eyes of all their Jehovah's Witness family members. Arnold Cuyler used as his excuse his parental obligations to his young son and daughter.
Keeping it in the family, Chasity West paid $3400.00 to Alexis Grajales, the 18 year-old boyfriend of another [probable JW] cousin, India Riley, to help her solve the "children problem". Using a key copied from a house key that Chasity West, who was reportedly accompanied by yet another cousin named Amber Riley, had stolen out of Lindsey's diaper bag while the children were being babysat by a Great-Grandmother, Chasity West and Alexis Grajales entered the home of Tammi Cuyler around 2:00 AM on July 9, 1998. While Grajales restrained Tammi Cuyler, Chasity West attempted to cut the throats and wrists of Jarrell Cuyler and Lindsey Cuyler with a box cutter. West nearly decapitated Jarrell Cuyler, but Lindsey Cuyler survived deep cuts to her throat and arms. Curiously, no attempt was made to kill nor seriously injure Tammi Cuyler. Danny Henderson, Tammi Cuyler's 18 month-old nephew, whom she was babysitting, also went untouched.
Chasity West and Alexis Grajales were eventually arrested and charged for the crimes. Alexis Grajales turned states witness and testified against West because he allegedly had been under the impression that West was only going to vandalize Tammi Cuyler's home. During the trial, Chasity West alleged that Tammi Cuyler's father, Wallace Henderson, had sexually abused her when she was a child. Joyce West also alleged that Wallace Henderson had also sexually abused Tammi Henderson when she was a child.
Joyce West, mother, and Paul West Jr., brother, each gave specific testimony during the trial, that if believed, would have negated parts of the case established by the prosecution against Chasity West. Joyce West even testified that Chasity West was at home at the time of the attack. Reportedly, by the end of the trial, various segments of these JW families were extremely upset with other segments. During the police investigation of this case, Roberto Marquez, 23, of Hartford, Connecticut, was charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Outcome unknown.
PENNSYLVANIA v. VINCENT HATCHER was a 2001-2 Pennsylvania murder court decision. In October 2001, Vincent Hatcher, 21, of Germantown, Pennsylvania, and who had no prior criminal record, shot and killed and shot and wounded two fellow Jehovah's Witnesses during an argument over a girl at a Philadelphia "Jehovah's Witness Get-Together".
Devon Jacobs, 18, and Quenton Jacobs, 17, had spent that Sunday attending their local Kingdom Hall, and going door-to-door selling WatchTowers. That evening, they decided to attend the "Get-Together" at the Palace Roller Skating Rink. There, while apparently waiting for the rink to open, the two JW Brothers got into an argument with Hatcher reportedly over a girl. The opening of the rink apparently interrupted the argument, and the Jacob brothers went inside. However, Hatcher, who JWs later reported as having been "disfellowshipped", retreived a pistol from his car. Inside, Hatcher proceeded to shoot Devon Jacobs multiple times in the chest and abdomen, while Quenton Jacobs was wounded in the leg. A third older Jacobs brother attempted to transport his brothers to the hospital, but got lost on the way. By the time they got to a hospital, Devon Jacobs had died due to loss of blood (one can't help but wonder if the likely offered blood transfusion would have saved him in the ER).
In May 2002, Vincent Hatcher was convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to the mandatory term of life in prison with no chance of parole. Hatcher was also convicted for violation of the Uniform Firearms Act, and sentenced to two and a half to five years; as well as 10 to 20 years for aggravated assault on Quenton Jacobs.
PENNSYLVANIA v. MALCOLM MOORE was a 2000-1 Pennsylvania murder court case. Limited Details. In Summer 2000, 25 year-old Malcolm Moore, Philadelphia, stabbed to death his Jehovah's Witness Mother, Mary Moore Hooper. Moore reportedly had been severely mentally ill for years, and had been cared for by his mother until he went beserk and stabbed her over 100 times. Moore claimed that "evil voices" instructed him to do the deed. Thelma Moore, 29, was the only other sibling. Outcome unknown.
NEW YORK v. WILLIAM RODRIGUEZ was a 2001-2 New York murder court case. William Rodriguez, 37, and Gloria Rodriguez, 35, who lived in the Bronx, apparently were a happy Jehovah's Witness couple for many years. The JW Couple had three children. However, sometime around 1999, after Gloria Rodriguez became employed with the local Bronx Board of Education, possibly after the youngest child had reached teenage years, Gloria Rodriguez started "cheating" on her husband. Gloria Rodriguez had an affair with Hector Rodriguez, 23, in late 1999 or early 2000. She also may have had other affairs.
In Summer 2001, Gloria Rodriguez asked for a divorce, but William Rodriguez refused. Given the JWs' belief that divorces should only be considered if a partner has committed adultery, it apparently took a while for William Rodriguez to suspect his wife of cheating. Once the lightbulb came on, the couple may have started arguing and fighting because Gloria Rodriguez did not want to 'fess up. As much as it does not make sense to non-JWs, Gloria Rodriguez may have preferred to hire the murder of her husband, rather than admit to adultery, which would have resulted in her "excommunication", even if she were an "inactive" JW.
Gloria Rodriguez approached Hector Rodriguez and offered him $1000.00 down, and $3000.00 afterwards to kill her husband. Hector Rodriguez agreed. On Monday morning, August 6, 2001, at 7:35 AM, as William Rodriguez walked to his street-parked car to go to work, Hector Rodriguez approached him in a fake robbery attempt. Hector Rodriguez then gunned down William Rodriguez in a hail of bullets -- one of which grazed a bystander.
Hector Rodriguez then fled to Florida, where he was arrested on that Thursday at a Tampa area Western-Union office, where he believed he was going to receive the additional $3000.00. It is unclear how police solved the case so quickly. In May 2002, Gloria Rodriguez and Hector Rodriguez each pled guilty to first degree murder, and reportedly were to be sentenced to 20 years to life.
TEXAS v. JOHNNY WALDEN was a 2001 Texas murder court decision. Limited, incomplete details. In May 2001, a 93 year-old "devout" and "active" Jehovah's Witness, named Julia Walden, of Brazoria, Texas, was murdered by her 39 year-old son, Johnny Walden. Walden was convicted, and he may have received a 40 year prison sentence in a plea deal.
Johnny Walden and his 18 month younger brother, Tommy Walden, were adopted by Julia Walden when they were babies/infants, and when she was in her mid to late 50s. Julia Walden's husband, Bill Walden, left her not long thereafter, and she reared the boys by herself. There is a good possibility that the two boys were children of one of Julia Walden's relatives.
Johnny Walden had lived a troubled life -- from childhood right up to the murder. He was the "bad" son, while Tommy was the "good" son. Over the years, Johnny Walden had claimed that his troubled life was the result of mental issues caused by his having been sexually molested when he was around 3-4 years old by a late-teens male relative who also lived in the household at that time.
Possibly after serving a tour in the Army, Johnny Walden returned to Brazoria and married Sheryl Anderson, and they had a son sometime around 1984/5, named Jonathon Walden. Johnny Walden and Sheryl Walden divorced around 1992/3.
Prior to April 2001, Johnny Walden had lived away from Brazoria. It is not clear whether this was his choice, or whether he had been incarcerated. In any event, Johnny Walden asked his mother's permission to move into a small house behind her home, and she allowed him to do so, in April 2001, despite protests from Tommy Walden, Sheryl Anderson, and Jonathon Walden.
On the evening of May 20, 2001, Johnny Walden and Julia Walden argued over whether or not Johnny had been molested by a relative when he was a child. Apparently, this had been a decades-long issue between Johnny and his mother, who apparently had always denied that the molestation had occurred. Julia Walden still would not admit such. Johnny Walden apparently stewed overnight on the issue, and re-initiated the argument on the morning of May 21. Apparently, when Julia Walden still would not admit that Johnny had been molested, he attacked her, and smothered her to death with a pillow.
Tommy Walden found his mother's body when he got off work that afternoon. She was in her bed, as if she had died in her sleep -- except for the signs of a struggle on both her forearms. Johnny Walden was the main suspect, and he apparently confessed a few days after the Kingdom Hall funeral.
ROBERT GRAHAM - SHERRY GRAHAM SUICIDES. In April 2000, a Newton, North Carolina, Jehovah's Witness Couple, named Robert Avery Graham, 38, and Sherry Graham, 38, each died after refusing to consent to life-saving blood transfusions made necessary by blood loss caused by gunshot wounds. Limited details. Sometime on Saturday, April 15, 2000, Robert Graham shot his wife Sherry Graham in a domestic dispute at their home. Robert Graham fled their home, but Sherry Graham's gunshot wound apparently was not that serious given that she was conscious when police arrived and found her on the kitchen floor. It is not known whether she had telephoned police, or whether there were children in the house at the time of the shooting, nor is it known how long it was between the shooting and arrival of help.
Robert Graham was shot by Newton police several hours later on Saturday afternoon when Graham fired a shot at a moving cruiser, and apparently later threatened to again fire at police after his vehicle was stopped. Graham was admitted to the local hospital with a "non-life threatening" wound, but Graham refused to consent to a needed blood transfusion. Robert Graham died about 28 hours later on Sunday evening at Catawba Memorial Hospital due to blood loss.
Interestingly, local JWs quickly claimed that Robert Graham was not a Jehovah's Witness, despite the fact that he was able to do what many JWs have been unable to do -- look death in the face and refuse to save his own life by simply saying "yes" to a WatchTower-prohibited blood transfusion. Sherry Graham was transported at some point to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where she too died during the night of April 18-19, because she refused to consent to a needed blood transfusion. Sherry Graham's father, who provided info to reporters about his daughter's condition and the beliefs of JWs, identified himself as someone who had "studied with the Jehovah's Witnesses".
SOUTH CAROLINA v. MARK EAST was a 2000-2 South Carolina court decision. Limited details. At around 5:45 PM, on October 25, 2000, Mark East, 63, of Berea, South Carolina, shot and killed his wife of 40 years, Judith East, 57. Authorities reportedly found Judith East in the couple's living room dead from two shotgun blasts. The couple had four surviving children, and four grandchildren. Curiously, in June 2002, the local prosecutor agreed to a plea deal with Mark East in which East pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of 30 years, BUT suspended upon completion of five years' home incarceration and five years' probation.
Apparently, there were unknown extenuating circumstances related to this "killing". Judith East reportedly was a Jehovah's Witness Pioneer, that is, a fulltime "doorknocker", with the Greenville Northwest Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Judith East's Mother was also a JW, so it is possible that she had been reared as a JW. And, since JWs are commanded not to marry non-JWs, if Judith East had been reared JW, then it is more probable than not that Mark East would have been a JW. Even those who know practically nothing about JWs know that someone married to a spouse with that many JW connections has themselves had some amount of JW connections over the years. At most, Mark East was or had been a JW. At the very least, he was a tortured non-JW husband, who simply may have had all that he could take.
UNITED STATES v. PETER A. NEDD was a 1999-2000 Massachusetts federal criminal court case. In December 1999, an African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Peter A. Nedd, was arrested by the F.B.I. on multiple charges of interstate threats and stalking. Nedd had been threatening to rape and murder three members of a fellow Jehovah's Witness family that lived in Massachusetts. Peter Nedd, 38, had become obsessed with and started stalking the young teenaged daughter of this JW family sometime around 1995. After four years of telephone calls and letters from Nedd, the JW Parents obtained a restraining order against him. However, Nedd repeatedly violated that order in 1999 by telephoning them, threatening them, and appearing at their residence in an attempt to visit the by-then young adult daughter. Approximately 80 harassing telephone calls were tape-recorded. In 2000, Nedd was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 33 months of incarceration. During this trial, the federal prosecutor presented evidence that Nedd had been diagnosed with a mentally illness as far back as 1989, but that Nedd had not continued to get psychiatric care or take his medication.
See also PETER A. NEDD v. HOME DEPOT, which was a 1995-8 New York federal civil court case in which Peter Nedd sued his employer, Home Depot, alleging employment discrimination. That New York jury believed Nedd's allegations over Home Depot's multiple discrediting witnesses, and awarded Nedd $210,000.00 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000.00 in punitive damages. Because of the statutory damages cap, the judge had to reduce Nedd's total award to $300,000.00.
On Sunday morning, January 2, 2000, services at the Norco, California Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses were delayed for about an hour as Riverside County Deputies attempted to disarm an unidentifed 40-year-old JW Female who was threatening to commit suicide by slashing her throat and wrists with a kitchen knife.
MARK O. BARTON - JW DAY TRADER. On Thursday afternoon, July 30, 1999, in what was deemed Atlanta's worst mass murder, a recently converted Jehovah's Witness, named Mark Orrin Barton, 44, who was an unemployed chemical salesman turned "day trader", walked into the offices of two Atlanta stock brokerage firms, Momentum Securities and All-Tech Investment Group, and announced, "I hope this doesn't ruin your trading day." Mark O. Barton then opened fire with two 9mm and .45 caliber handguns -- killing 9 people and wounding 7 others at the two offices. After a five-hour manhunt, police stopped his van at an Acworth, Georgia, BP gasoline station, where Barton committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with both pistols at the same time.
When police went to Barton's apartment, they discovered the bodies of Barton's wife, Leigh Ann (Vandiver) Barton, 27, his son, Matthew, 11, and his daughter, Mychelle, 7. The childrens' bodies were found in their beds, and the wife was found in a closet. Barton murdered his wife Tuesday evening, while she slept, and then he murdered his children the following Wednesday night, while they slept. All three had been bludgeoned to death with a hammer. The Bartons had only recently reconciled after Leigh Ann Barton had moved out in April -- possibly because Mark Barton was demanding that she also join the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Barton left hand-written notes on all three bodies, and a typed suicide note, which explained, in part:
"It just seemed like a quiet way to kill and a relatively painless way to die. There was little pain. All of them were dead in less than five minutes. I hit them with a hammer in their sleep and then put them face down in the bathtub to make sure they did not wake up in pain. To make sure they were dead.
"... I have come to hate this life and this system of things. I have come to have no hope. I killed the children to exchange them for five minutes of pain for a lifetime of pain.
"... I know that Jehovah will take care of all of them in the next life.
"Please know that I love Leigh Ann, Matthew and Mychelle with all of my heart. If Jehovah is willing, I would like to see all of them again in the resurrection, to have a second chance. ... ."
Barton was apparently distraught over the heavy financial losses that he recently had suffered while day-trading at the two stock brokerage firms. Barton had reportedly lost $20,000.00 on Tuesday, and over $100,000.00 over the past couple months. Barton had lost his home and possibly several hundreds of thousands of dollars of his life savings (and life insurance proceeds) over the previous year.
After these murders, it was disclosed that Barton had been considered the main suspect in the 1993 deaths of his first wife, Debra Barton, 36, (the mother of Matthew and Mychelle), and her mother, Eloise Spivey, 59, both of whom had been hacked to death inside a camper at a crowded Alabama lakeside campsite over Labor Day weekend. Barton had taken out a $600,000.00 insurance policy on that first wife just weeks before her murder. Barton had not been charged, despite a ton of circumstantial and some physical evidence. Barton and the married Leigh Ann Vandiver were even dating at the time, and Vandiver even accompanied Barton to the funeral.
Three months after the 1993 murders, a day-care worker reported that Barton's then 2 year-old daughter, Mychelle, told her that her father had been sexually molesting her. An investigation by Georgia's Department of Family and Children Services was inconclusive mainly due to the child's age.
In August 1999, an unidentified 16 year-old male, who lived with his grandparents near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was arrested for threatening the life of his Jehovah's Witness GrandMother, and threatening to go to her Kingdom Hall and kill certain persons there. The teenager was arrested on charges of assault and terroristic threatening, and was placed in juvenile detention pending further action. Given that the troubled teen had threatened to make an attack on the Lancaster Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, this was more than a simple family quarrel. As has repeated itself numerous times over the decades, the untrained JW Elders probably stuck their noses where such did not belong, and made a bad situation even worse. No further details.
MARIA DE JESUS CESPEDES SUICIDE.
The following 1999 Jehovah's Witness tragedy involved a JW young adult who was injured while committing a crime, and then committed "backdoor-suicide" by refusing a blood transfusion. In February 1999, members of a family of Peruvian Jehovah's Witnesses had previously entered Canada -- apparently for the purpose of more easily crossing the border illegally into the United States. Maria de Jesus Cespedes-Cabanillas, 23, and probably others of her family, were using what was apparently a "well-known" method of breaking America's immigration laws -- sneaking into the United States late at night on slow moving freight trains crossing the Michigan Central Railroad Bridge, just south of the Whirlpool Bridge, in Niagara Falls, New York.
However, Maria de Jesus Cespedes-Cabanillas accidentally fell from the train as it proceeded through Niagara, and her left leg was severed. The woman was found by Border Patrol Agents, who then had her transported to Erie County Medical Center. There, Maria de Jesus Cespedes-Cabanillas' high moral standards would not permit her to consent to life-saving blood transfusions made necessary by her massive blood loss. She died around noontime the next day. Maria de Jesus Cespedes-Cabanillas was buried by relatives in Miami, Florida.
CALIFORNIA v. JOSHUA SHERMAN was a 1998 California murder court case. In May 1998, a 19 year-old Jehovah's Witness named Joshua Sherman was convicted of "involuntary manslaughter" in the April 1997 death of a fellow 18 year-old Jehovah's Witness and romantic rival, named Michael Vernon Barnett. Sentence unknown.
The female in this Newhall, California Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses "Love Triangle" was named Roxanne Roy. Michael Barnett and Roxanne Roy had been dating since Barnett's sophomore year at Hart High School, but had recently broken up. Joshua Sherman reportedly had been contending for Roxanne Roy's affection, and evidently wanted to remove Barnett from contention.
Michael Barnett was an award winning artist, who was in his first year of college. Barnett's JW Parents and friends described him as shy, reserved, and "very sensitive". Joshua Sherman's attorney alleged that Barnett was a martial arts expert. Sherman's attorney described Sherman as a a socially awkward teen, who had been home schooled by protective parents, who reportedly were "wealthy".
On Sunday, April 13, 1997, at 2:00 AM, the physically larger Sherman reportedly telephoned Barnett and talked Barnett into meeting him in the parking lot of Grace Baptist Church, which was within walking distance of Barnett's home. There, a physical altercation occurred in which noone but Sherman knows what actually happened. Around 5:30 AM, a church member arrived to prepare the church for Sunday services, and found Barnett alive, but badly beaten and lying in a pool of his own blood. Barnett's wounds were described as "massive injuries to the head and face",' including a broken tooth, and a depressed fracture to his left temple measuring four inches in diameter, which apparently had been caused by some sort of weapon.
Interestingly, the Grace Baptist Church member who found Barnett and summoned help had attended high school with Barnett. Barnett died the next day. It is not known if a need for blood transfusions was an issue.
Initially, noone knew who had telephoned Barnett. It was four days before Sherman eventually turned himself into police. Interestingly, a Jehovah's Witness named Kenneth Vail played some uncertain role during those four days. Vail reportedly was also a member of the Newhall, California Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and possibly may have been an Elder. Evidently, Sherman had confided the events of early Sunday morning to Vail. Interestingly, it was reported that Vail testified in court regarding such. [If true, such is extremely interesting given California JW Elders refusal to testify in various California child molestation cases. Evidently, California JW Elders believe they have the right to pick and choose which confidential conversations they wish to divulge.]
RHODE ISLAND v. MONIQUE FOFANA was a 1998 Rhode Island murder court decision. In March 1996, a 15 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Monique Fofana, who attended Classical High School in Providence, attacked and beat with a frying pan her 75-year-old grandmother, Mildred Washington, who had stopped by the apartment occupied by Fofana and her mother to pickup Fofana and take her to a meeting at their Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Washington survived the vicious attack, which left serious injuries to her head, torso, and arms, but never regained consciousness, and died six months later in a nursing home.
To make matters even worse, Monique Fofana appeared on television, and eventually appeared before a grand jury, and testified that she had witnessed two "burglars" bludgeon her 75-year-old grandmother with the frying pan. Fofana claimed that she had been in an upstairs bedroom when the attack began, and that after discovering such, she stayed hidden out of fear for her own safety. Fofana identified 19-year-old Darrell Pona as one of the assailants. Pona was charged, and Fofana then provided additional testimony against him before Fofana's juvenile boyfriend stepped forward in Spring 1997 and disclosed that it was he who had been hiding in an upstairs bedroom, when instead, it was Fofana who argued with and attacked her grandmother.
In December 1998, Monique Fofana pleaded "no contest" to second degree murder, and was sentenced to 52 years in prison. Fofana will be eligible for parole in 2015.
CALIFORNIA v. GARY STEVEN DELLAPENTA was a 1999 California court decision, which is billed as "The United State's First CyberStalking Conviction". Sometime during 1997-8, Gary Steven Dellapenta, 48/9, met "Randi Barber" (ficticious), 27/8, at a North Hollywood area Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, which they both were attending. Dellapenta and Barber apparently initiated some sort of brief relationship given that he later publicly divulged the code to Barber's security system. When Barber terminated whatever relationship there was, and rebuffed Dellapenta's continued advances, Dellapenta evidently made a nuisance of himself -- possibly even at their Kingdom Hall. The Elders became involved, supposedly at Barber's request, but possibly simply via the congregation grapevine. It is unclear exactly what the Elders did or said to Dellapenta, but whatever it was, it caused Dellapenta to become further enraged at Randi Barber. Some media reports later indicated that Dellapenta was "banned" from the Kingdom Hall, but it is not certain that such drastic action was taken until later in this several months long saga.
Thereafter, Gary S. Dellapenta began to impersonate Barber, who did not even own a personal home computer, on the internet. Gary Dellapenta opened a number of email accounts using Barber's name. Dellapenta also started posting ads on sexually oriented websites, using Barber's name and personal info, in which he solicited sexual relationships on her behalf. During a five or six month period during 1998, Barber received dozens of telephone calls, and six or more males went to Barber's apartment in response to the internet advertisements and email exchanges during which Dellapenta impersonated Barber, and gave out her name, address, description, telephone number, and even the code to her apartment's security system.
Gary Dellapenta also continued his own stalking of Barber, who eventually out of fear stopped sleeping at her own apartment. Barber also eventually lost her real estate office job due her poor job performance caused by the stalking and the resultant stress. At some point, Barber and her father went on the offensive. After explaining the situation to callers, Barber received help from a couple of men who provided info and correspondence with Dellapenta. Barber's father also posed as a responder to one of Dellapenta's ads, and gathered additional email address info. The gathered info was turned over to state and federal authorities, who eventually obtained search warrants which allowed them access to Dellapenta's various online accounts, his Internet Service Provider, and eventually Dellapenta's own computer.
Gary Steven Dellapenta was arrested in February 1999, and initially pleaded not guilty to charges of stalking, computer fraud, and solicitation of sexual assault. However, in April 1999, Dellapenta pleaded guilty to one count of stalking and three counts of solicitation of sexual assault. Dellapenta was sentenced to six years in prison.
VIRGINIA v. TENILLE A. MORINGS was a 1998 Virginia attempted murder court decision. In November 1998, a 17 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Tenille A. Morings, of Suffolk, Virginia, pleaded "guilty" to three charges, including attempted murder, relating to the November 1997 shooting of her Jehovah's Witness Mother, Elaine Morings. In the plea bargian deal, which Elaine Morings apparently had approved, Tenille Morings was sentenced to serve only 6 of a 33 year prison sentence (apparently 27 years were suspended).
Around 3:00 AM, on Friday, November 21, 1997, then 16 year-old Tenille Morings arrived home late from a date with her 22 year-old boyfriend, of whom Elaine Morings, 42, disapproved, and discovered that her mother had fallen asleep on the living room couch. Tenille Morings put a black stocking cap over her face, and put socks on her hands, and then placed a pillow over her mother's face. Tenille then shot her mother in the forehead with a .25 caliber "saturday night special" pistol.
The underpowered small bullet penetrated her mother's skull, but barely penetrated her brain. The sound of the gunshot apparently woke up Elaine Morings. One media report indicated that Tenille telephoned 9-1-1, but another report indicated that Elaine Morings call 9-1-1 for help and reported a tingling sensation in her arms and that she thought that she had been electrocuted. Possibly both call. Elaine Morings suffered a fractured skull, and the frontal lobes of her brain were bruised, but fortunately, she suffered no permanent injury. She was discharged from the hospital on the following Tuesday.
Tenille's disabled father, Vernon Morings, actually partially excused what his daughter had done. Vernon Morings told reporters that his wife, 14 year-old son, and Tenille were all Jehovah's Witnesses, "but you see where they are". Morings related that his wife and daughter had been fighting for months over Tenille's 22 year-old boyfriend, and that the mother had even called the police multiple times to the family's apartment. Both amusingly, and typically, Vernon Morings, despite stating that he loved and fully supported his daughter, and hinting at disdain for his JW wife who had went to stay with Portsmouth relatives after discharge, also stated that what had just occurred was a sign of the "last days" predicted by the Bible.
SEAN HINTON SUICIDE.
Described by his widow, Francine Hinton Toney, as being "strait-laced" during his teen years growing up in Baltimore, Sean Hinton was reared as a Jehovah's Witness. By 1992, then 22 year-old Sean Hinton sought employment as a law enforcement officer with the Baltimore Police Department, in order to support his wife, two infant sons, and a 5 year-old (step?) daughter. By mid-October 1992, all seemed to be going well. Hinton had nearly completed work at the academy, and was undergoing field training. Graduation and becoming a sworn officer were only a few short weeks away. However, on Friday night, October 24, 1992, Sean Hinton had an auto accident in downtown Baltimore, and was arrested and jailed for DUI. Hinton spent most of that Saturday getting out of jail, and getting his auto out of impoundment. Later that same Saturday afternoon, at 5:40 PM, the troubled Sean Hinton penned a short note to his wife, which stated in part:
"Francine you have dealt with me 4 years, and you never seemed to believe I really loved you -- I do love you. You have Jehovah on your side. I have no one. I need Jehovah but I just can't seem to reach him. So I guess I will see someone. Please take care of our children for me."
Shortly thereafter, Sean Hinton left the housing project apartment which he, his wife, and their children shared with Sean's mother, Jean Hinton. Hinton walked out of the project, rather than driving his auto. At 6:48 PM, Hinton telephoned home from Amtrack's Penn Station to say that he would be home shortly. However, when he didn't return by midnight, his mother and wife reported him missing. Hinton did not return home that weekend, nor to his job on Monday.
On Tuesday, November 3, 1992, Sean Hinton's partially decomposed corpse was found floating in NYC harbor. His wrists were tied together using the drawstrings from the jacket he was wearing. His wallet contained a small amount of cash, and multiple pieces of ID. The autopsy indicated that Hinton had died from drowning several days previous. The NYC medical examiner eventually ruled Hinton's death to be a suicide, but issued the death certificate without a cause of death listed. Curiously, the Baltimore Police Department gave the unsworn Hinton a police funeral and burial, paid for all the expenses, and even reportedly paid out Hinton's insurance benefits to his family, despite the fact that due to the DUI, and failing to return to work, Hinton reportedly had been officially recommended for termination on or about October 28/29, 1992.
Because of all those uncertainties, and others too numerous to mention in this summary, Francine Hinton, Jean Hinton, and other family members refused to believe that Hinton had committed suicide, but rather believed that he had been murdered by corrupt members of the Baltimore Police Department. On Tuesday, October 21, 1992, during Hinton's field training, Hinton and two regular drug-enforcement officers busted an alleged drug dealer. That alleged drug dealer later filed a formal complaint in which he accused the three officers of burglarizing drugs and cash from his home while he was in jail. Hinton's family believe that he was murdered to keep him from testifying in the inquiry that later cleared the two drug-enforcement officers.
MARYLAND v. RONALD HINTON. The 1992 case of Sean Hinton was brought back to the public's attention in June 2006, when Hinton's by-then 15 year-old son, Ronald Hinton, was arrested for the rape and murder of the 4 year-old female cousin that he was babysitting. The Hinton family resurrected the case in efforts to excuse why Ronald Hinton had essentially confessed to committing the crime to police interrogators. Although Francine Toney believed and still believes that her son was innocent, in May 2008, a Baltimore jury convicted Ronald Hinton of the rape and murder. Hinton was sentenced to life plus 25 years in prison.
TODD KOMANIAK. According to numerous media articles, in November 1998, a "devoted" Jehovah's Witness Father of five children, ages 3 to 13, named Todd Komaniak, 36, who was "active" in one of the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, Congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses, reportedly staged his death by murder/suicide, so that he could leave his JW family and flee to south Florida.
On Monday, November 23, 1998, Todd Komaniak first telephoned his wife, Donna Komaniak, and told her he was running an errand, but soon thereafter called 9-1-1 from his cell phone and reported that he had been shot and was having trouble breathing. The next day, his pickup truck was found abandoned in the Strip District near the Allegheny River. The pickup's passenger side window was smashed, and blood spots were found inside. A blood-stained boot thought to be Komaniak's was found nearby. A land search by police helicopters and tracking dogs, as well as a river search by police divers, turned up nothing.
On Wednesday, Roxann Gerber, 38, reported and proved via photos to police that Komaniak and she had been having an affair for the past two years. Thereafter, police discovered that Komaniak, an auto service technician, had sold most of his tools the day of his disappearance, "because he was going out of business and leaving town". Komaniak had also recently purchased a bunch of camping equipment that he had put on lay-away several months previous.
On December 13, 1998, Todd Komaniak telephoned his wife, Donna Komaniak, from the Miami, Florida area, and let her know that he was alive and well. Komaniak also communicated with the Pittsburgh Police Department given that he was subject to possible prosecution on a number of charges for his false report. Pittsburgh police contacted Florida police, who began a series of communications with Komaniak. Miami police eventually took Todd Komaniak into protective custody, and had Komaniak involuntarily committed to a Florida mental health facility, due to their belief that he was suicidal.
Todd Komaniak reportedly returned to Pennsylvania briefly in early January 1999, but thereafter returned to south Florida to live and work. It is not known whether Komaniak's wife and five children later joined him in south Florida.
In February 1999, Roxann Gerber was charged with making harassing telephone calls to Donna Komaniak. Outcome unknown.
FLORIDA v. JUSTINA RIVERO. On July 3, 1998, a 72 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Justina Rivero, attempted to murder her 83 year-old JW Husband, named Agustin Rivero, Sr. Agustin Rivero Sr., who suffered from Alzheimer's, and could not talk, was living at a West Palm Beach area nursing home at the time. During the July 1998 visit with her husband, Justina Rivero mixed a "rat poison cocktail" for both her husband and herself. Both the murder and suicide attempts failed. An arrest warrant was issued in November 1998, and Justina Rivero was released without bond after she finally turned herself in two weeks after the warrant was issued.
In February 1999, Rivero was acquitted of attempted murder charges on the grounds of temporary insanity. Her trial defense was that she had been depressed and suicidal over her and her husband's living conditions, and she did not want to die and leave her husband to be "abused" at the nursing home. That, despite the fact that this elderly Cuban immigrant couple evidently were surrounded by a large extended Jehovah's Witness family. With Justina Rivero at his bedside, Agustin Rivero, Sr., died three days after her acquittal.
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