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In the following criminal cases, the WatchTower Society - Jehovah's Witnesses religion served as the spiritual element of the perpetrator's and/or other actor's formative environment, or otherwise served as a major influencer of the perpetrator's and/or other actor's behavior. The following cases are often tragic, and speak for themselves.
AMERICAN SAMOA v. MICHAEL FELIPE ADAMS was a 1986 MURDER prosecution of a WATCHTOWER SOCIETY MISSIONARY who MURDERED two other WATCHTOWER SOCIETY MISSIONARIES living at the WatchTower Society's Missionary Home in Pago Pago, American Samoa, in January 1986. Michael F. Adams shot and killed Edward Joseph Sedlack, age 33, and his wife, Catherine Needham Sedlack, age 29. Mike F. Adams plea bargained to two counts of second degree murder in exchange for two 30 year sentences running concurrently. An internet posting supposedly by Mike Adams claims that he was paroled in 2000, and Adams is still living and working in American Samoa.
Michael Felipe Adams claims that he served as a WATCHTOWER HQ BETHELITE from 1974 to 1979, and worked at Brooklyn Bethel, Mountain Farm, and WatchTower Farm. Adams left Bethel in 1979 to marry a JW female from his home congregation in New Jersey. They supposedly pioneered for two years before being invited by the FAITHFUL & DISCREET SLAVE to attend the WATCHTOWER BIBLE SCHOOL OF GILEAD*. They served in American Samoa as WatchTower Missionaries until January 1986, when Adams apparently had taken all the Missionary Home trivial nonsense that he could take from the Sedlacks. (*Founded in 1942, the original name was "Watchtower Bible College of Gilead" in the WatchTower Cult's routine modus operandi of exaggeration. In 1947/48, the WatchTower Cult was forced to change "College" to "School" because "Gilead" did not meet the New York Department of Education's standards for use of the label, "College".)
WISCONSIN v. LEAF K. ZAKULA was a 1992-93 Wisconsin state criminal court case. In November 1992, Leaf Zakula, age 18, was arrested and charged with Child Abuse - Intentionally Cause Harm. In an April 1993 plea deal, Leaf Zakula pled guilty to Battery, and was sentenced to 15 days in jail and 2 years probation. The following convictions violated that probation, and in December 1993, Leif Zakula was sentenced to 6 months in prison for this crime.
WISCONSIN v. LEAF K. ZAKULA was a 1993 Wisconsin state criminal court case. In September 1993, Leaf Zakula, age 19, was arrested and charged with Felony Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Deliver. Leaf Zakula pled guilty in December 1993, and was sentenced to 2 years in state prison -- making a TOTAL of 3 years in state prison. Zakula apparently served only about 12 months in prison.
LEIF K. ZAKULA DEATH (aka LEAF K. ZAKULA). At around 3:50 AM. on October 1, 1994, Leif Zakula, age 20, of rural Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and son of Jehovah's Witness Parents John Nickola Zakula and Bette Louise Wickman Zakula, ran off the road and slammed into a building in/near Nasewaupee, Wisconsin. Zakula's auto caught fire and burned. There were no other passengers in Zakula's auto.
TERRA ROSE ZAKULA DEATH. Sometime during the early AM hours of Tuesday, June 13, 1995, an 18 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Terra R. Zakula, of rural Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and daughter of Jehovah's Witness Parents John Nickola Zakula and Bette Louise Wickman Zakula, wrecked her car while returning home from her 18th birthday party which she had thrown for herself the previous night. Terra Zakula was possibly still inebriated when she ran off the road just outside Sevastopol, Wisconsin, struck a ditch embankment, went airborne, flipped, landed upright, and finally rolled to a stop. Terra Zakula's friends and relatives had taken away her car keys earlier that night when they judged that Zakula had had too much to drink in order to drive home. Terra Zakula's car keys had been returned to her only after she had promised to go sleep in her car -- not drive home. The Door County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to the scene of the accident at 5:23 AM. It is not known when the wreck actually occurred. Terra Zakula was transported to Door County Memorial Hospital, where surgery was performed on her injuries. Terra Zakula was pronounced dead at around 4:30 PM later that same day. It is not known whether blood transfusions were an issue, but such is probable given that the media reported that her JW Parents were at her side when she died. Terra Zakula had just graduated in May from Sevastopol High School, where Zakula was a member of the school's soccer team. She had also been on the staff of the school newspaper. Terra Zakula's funeral was conducted at the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
AARON CLAY ZAKULA DEATH. On August 10, 1996, a 17 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Aaron C. Zakula, of rural Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and son of Jehovah's Witness Parents, John Nickola Zakula and Bette Louise Wickman Zakula, was killed when he wrecked a motorcycle while fleeing from a Sturgeon Bay police officer who was attempting to stop Aaron Zakula for speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. Aaron Zakula and a passenger named Rhett Doar, age 17, were out test-driving a 650cc Kawasaki "Ninja" motorcycle at around 8:30 PM on a nice Friday evening. Aaron Zakula sped off and left the police officer behind, but Aaron Zakula soon ran off the highway and struck a culvert, several trees, etc. The police officer eventually passed by the scene of the wreck, turned around, and was returning along the same route when witnesses who had seen the wreck flagged down the officer. The officer called for paramedics, who transported Zakula and Doar to Door County Memorial Hospital. Neither Aaron Zakula nor Doar were wearing a helmet. Curiously, while Rhett Doar was treated and released, Aaron Zakula eventually died. It is not known whether blood transfusions were an issue. Ronald Armstrong, an Elder at the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, who performed the Kingdom Hall funeral service, told a reporter that Aaron Zakula had planned to go to technical school after graduating from Sevastopol High School, where Aaron Zakula was a member of the school's football and track teams.
BETTE ZAKULA v. NICK ZAKULA, WISCONSN v. NICK ZAKULA, and WISCONSN v. NICK ZAKULA. Bette Zakula legally separated from husband Nick Zakula shortly after the death of their third child in 1996. Nick Zakula was prosecuted for failure to make child support payments in 2000 and failure to pay taxes in 2003.
Curiously, in October 1995, Associated Press issued an article about cutting the cost of funerals, which was published nationwide, which featured Bette Zakula as the primary interviewee, which stated, in part:
"After Bette and Nick Zakula's grown son died in a car accident, the Wisconsin couple drove his body from the hospital to a crematorium, then held a simple church service. In doing so, the Zakulas gave their son what more and more Americans would like but few will ever have: a plain and simple departure from life. They spent only $200 and, more importantly, gained an unexpected peace of mind. Being involved helped to make it a reality. ... It was more personal," said Bette Zakula, who decided to arrange her son's funeral after failing to find a funeral home that would provide just a cremation.
"... Although few people will care for their dead as the Zakulas did, more people are shying away from at least some of the pomp of traditional funerals and choosing cremation or simpler services. ... ... ...
"A memorial society recommended by a friend proved crucial to the Zakulas, alerting them to the option of avoiding the high cost and commercialization of a funeral home, said Mrs. Zakula. The process felt so right for them that when a second child died in a car accident nine months later, the Zakulas took care of her funeral."
A contributor submits that these deaths of her three children in less than two years time, plus other family factors, took a heavy toll on Bette Zakula's mental stability over the years, and that her 2005 death at age 51 was unsurprisingly a suicide.
During the 1983 murder investigation of victim Robin Benedict, of Boston, Massachusetts, it was discovered that besides being one of Jehovah's Witnesses, Robin Benedict also had been a high-class PROSTITUTE. To further prove her JW status, Robin Benedict also had once been the girlfriend of a Jehovah's Witness NFL player.
NEW MEXICO v. JOHN HOVEY was a 1984-88 FAMILICIDE case. In June 1984, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after waiting for his two younger siblings, Karen Hovey, age 13, and Jeremy Hovey, age 6, and also his two parents, Raymond Hovey, age 36, and Nancy Hovey, age 38, to fall asleep, 16 year-old John Hovey entered his parents' bedroom and SHOT both. Ray Hovey died instantly, but Nancy Hovey survived for about seven hours, even struggling with John and taking away the pistol. Nancy Hovey even spoke with responding police before dying later at the ER -- probably having refused a life-saving blood transfusion.
As a teenager, John Hovey had become uncontrollable. Despite the family's WatchTower Cult beliefs and background (the Hoveys may have been part of a extended but scattered family of JWs), John Hovey had gradually developed a fascination with the macomb, as well as a collection of horror movie and television items, books, and magazines. Being both poor parents, as well as marginal Jehovah's Witnesses, the Hoveys waited too long to do anything about John's issues. Nancy Hovey even told others that she thought that John was "evil" and "possessed". When the Hoveys finally decided to take action in October 1981 -- destroying John's collection of "evil" -- John began a slow simmer -- telling schoolmates that he now hated his parents and that he wanted to kill them. Learning about such, the Hoveys even attempted to have John removed from their home by state authorities, but failed to get any help from the police or child services At trial, there even was testimony that John had previously attempted to burn down the home while his parents and siblings slept.
NEW MEXICO v. JOHN HOVEY. In 1997, Hovey stabbed to death a defenseless paraplegic inmate for little or no reason. Instead of getting the death penalty, John Hovey received yet another life term to add to his collection. LIBERAL JERKOFFS!!!
MICHIGAN v. FREDERICK LUNA was a 1981-84 Michigan CAPITAL MURDER prosecution. In February 1981, Judith Luna, age 43, admitted to her husband, Fred Luna, age 43, that she had been having an affair, and that she wanted a divorce. Judy Luna also told her husband who was her boyfriend -- an African-American. Fred Luna was an intelligent, educated, and thoroughly responsible man, who could be expected to deal appropriately with such a revelation -- especially given his mid-life conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Fred Luna was a pharmacist, who had graduated from somewhat prestigious Purdue University. Before attending pharmacy school, Fred Luna had served for 13 years as a Captain in the United States Air Force with the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Fred Luna was a quality individual. Lesser men have withstood similar revelations for millenia.
The next morning, the Luna's got their two children -- Benjamin Luna and Joy Luna -- off to school as usual. Fred Luna then took an axe and killed Judy Luna -- striking her an intentional 12 times. Fred Luna then called in "sick" to Judy's and his common employer. Fred Luna then spent the day preparing to flee to his parents' home in Indiana -- after picking up Ben and Joy from school. The next day, Fred turned himself in to Indiana police.
Frederick Luna's defense attorney wisely chose the "temporary insanity" defense, and a bench trial in Macomb County, Michigan. At trial, the defense described Fred Luna as a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses who believed in a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible in which adulterers are stoned. Fred Luna believed that he was "God's avenger". In June 1983, the Circuit Judge rejected the insanity defense, but he had heard the arguments. Luna was convicted of "voluntary manslaughter", and was sentenced to 9 to 15 years in prison. In making his ruling, the judge stated, "Here's the defendant, for the first time, faced with the horribleness of an infidelity, not only an infidelity -- and I do not wish to be called a racist -- but we are in a court of law, and a spade has to be called a spade -- but an infidelity with a black man. ...Taking into consideration this defendant's background and history, it had to be so upsetting, so disturbing, he was driven to anger, he was driven to frustration, he was driven to hatred. ... [Luna] became an ardent Bible reader who would interpret the Bible literally."The conviction and sentence was affirmed on Luna's ludicrous appeal in January 1986. Fred Luna died in 2011 -- as a Catholic.
KATERINA WILLIAMS FAMILICIDE-SUICIDE. In December 1991, in Yucaipa, California, a 36 year-old Jehovah's Witness Mother named Katerina Williams, HUNG from the rafters of the family's detached garage, her 2 year-old son, Kevin Williams, and her 4 year-old daughter, Nadja Williams. Katerina Williams then HUNG herself. Katerina Williams waited on a Friday morning until her husband, Robert Williams, had left home for his insurance broker job, and until her 11 year-old son, Robert Williams Jr., had left home for middle school. Neighbors reported that Katerina Williams was known in the neighborhood for meticulously maintaining herself, her children, and both the interior and exterior of the Williams family home, and even for helping neighbors do the same. However, over the previous 2-3 months, it had become obvious to neighbors that something was seriously wrong, when Williams began to let everything go. Regrettably, Robert Williams Jr. found his JW Mother and two siblings when he returned home from school. The Williams both were originally from Torrance, California.
IN RE MARTHA EDMOND was a March 1984 Ohio blood transfusion court case which involved a 60 year-old Jehovah's Witness female named Martha Edmond, of Avondale, Ohio, who was brought to Cincinnati's University Hospital with a supposedly "accidental" .38 caliber gunshot wound to her chest. On arrival at the ER, Edmond denied that she was gunshot. Edmond also tested .27 blood alcohol level. Martha Edmond's' devout Jehovah's Witness family, including son Samuel Edmond, refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions. Due to Edmond's "legal incompetence", hospital officials sought and received judicial authorization to administer the necessary blood transfusions. Anyone wonder why the WatchTower Legal Department didn't jump all over this case -- which involved an adult JW being transfused against their will??? Noone had even heard of this case until now!!!
NEW YORK v. WALTER JOHNSON was a 1982-3 New York criminal court decision. On a Friday evening in June 1982, while services were ongoing, 19 year-old Walter "King Tut" Johnson, and two accomplices, "stuck up" and robbed nearly 300 members of his own mother's Brooklyn area Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Trio barely made the hourly minimum wage from the small amount of cash and jewelry taken from the low-income members.
While out on bail, Johnson and the same or other accomplices robbed six passengers on a NYC area bus. The gang was also suspected in a subway car holdup one week later. Re-arrested, Walter Johnson was eventually convicted and served three years in prison before being paroled, and then going back to a life of even more serious crimes.
In 1996, Walter Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, under a "three-strikes" law. Johnson had led quite a notorious life between 1986 and 1996. Johnson was a suspect in multiple robberies, shootings, and other crimes over the years. Johnson claimed relationships with several of the top name east Coast Rappers and their production companies, and became a suspect in the first shooting and eventual murder of Tupac Shakur.
KINGDOM HALL "RUMBLE" LEADS TO MURDER
MICHIGAN v. CHRISTIAN D. McNEIL was the 1996-99 Michigan prosecution of an 18 year-old Caucasian Jehovah's Witness named Christian D. McNeil, of Holly, Michigan, for the MURDER of 16 year-old Nathan Harris. INTERESTINGLY, BOTH McNeil and Harris were members of the same Holly Michigan Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses -- supposedly as were some of the other teenagers involved in the events which led up to this premeditated murder. Interestingly, Christian McNeil apparently was not disfellowshipped until AFTER he committed this murder. Christian McNeil was convicted by a jury of First Degree Premeditated Murder and Commission of a Felony with a Firearm, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In January 1996, the victim, Nathan Harris was present at an altercation four days before his murder when Christian McNeil's brother, Adam McNeil, was assaulted by Chris Pierson and other unidentified "youths" -- who all were friends of Nathan Harris. That bushwhacking reportedly occurred because Adam McNeil had argued with some unidentified girl who was a friend and girlfriend of some of those "youths". Although Nathan Harris did not participate in the beating, Nathan did nothing to stop it. As a result of the fight, Adam McNeil had a chipped tooth, a gash in his head, and scars.
Christian McNeil was told that Nathan Harris had been present during the fight and was upset with Nathan Harris for not trying to stop it (apparently Harris was large for his age). Chris Pierson testified that shortly after the altercation with Adam McNeil, someone identifying himself as Christian McNeil called his house and said that Chris and all of his friends were going to die. Desiree Bielarz, who was living with Christian McNeil at the time, testified that Christian McNeil asked her for a gun -- telling her several times that he wanted to use it to kill Christopher Pierson and the other boys who had beaten up his brother.
Chris Pierson, Nathan Harris, and two other "youths" left Pierson's apartment to rent a movie. Coming out of the store, the "youths" encountered Christian McNeil, and a verbal altercation ensued. Chris Pierson's group then left the store and returned to his apartment. Later that evening, the same group of four "youths" drove to Christian McNeil's mobile home (castle) and yelled profanities at Christian McNeil. Christian McNeil opened a window and told Pierson, Nathan Harris, and the two other boys that they should get a gun, because they were all going to die. Christian McNeil never came out of his mobile home, however, so after more yelling profanities back and forth, the group of four "youths" drove off and returned to Chris Pierson's apartment.
Shortly after 10 P.M. that same night, Christian McNeil appeared at Christopher Pierson's apartment and sent another individual to the door to get Chris Pierson, Nathan Harris, and Brian Byrd. The youths gathered in the alley behind Pierson's apartment to fistfight. However, Christian McNeil reached into his pants and pulled out a .357 magnum pistol. As Nathan Harris and the others attempted to run away, Christian McNeil shot Nathan Harris in the upper torso. Harris managed to run about 70 feet, when McNeil shot Harris a second time in the back. McNeil then walked up to Harris and shot Harris twice in the head.
Brian Byrd and Christopher Pierson both testified that Nathan Harris had a knife with him, but there was no evidence that Christian McNeil ever saw the knife. Nathan Harris kept the knife in his pants, and then put it by the dumpster when he walked into the alley to fistfight. Brian Byrd testified that he never saw Nathan Harris pull out a weapon, threaten McNeil, or lunge toward McNeil.
So goes the Tuesday night Bookstudy at the Holly, Michigan Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
ANOTHER CALIFORNIA JEHOVAH'S WITNESS FAMILY HIDES OUT IN OREGON
OREGON v. MICHAEL V. FORD. In November 1982, Michael Ford, age 36, of Bend, Oregon, pleaded guilty to fourth degree assault, and was sentenced to a suspended four month jail term, probation, and 80 hours of community service. This was one time that "community service" did not become "field service". With the Elders being told more "truth" than was the Judge, Michael Ford was disfellowshipped.
Michael Ford reportedly had beaten his eldest daughter with a wooden club. When a school teacher noticed some of the bruising two days later, authorities were notified. A doctor's exam disclosed a concussion and bruised kidneys. Ford was arrested. Later, Ford's ex-wife and children revealed that the devout JW Minister whom had an excellent reputation in both the local JW and nonJW communities was a secret wife and child beater. Reportedly, Ford once broke by punching one of his wife's ribs while she was pregnant. Ford once whipped his four year-old daughter until her buttocks bled.
Like thousands of other abused Jehovah's Witness Wives, Michael Ford's wife obeyed WatchTower rules that required staying with the husband for as long as was humanly possible under the circumstances. Oregon child services ordered Ford away from the family home in 1983. Having been disfellowshiped, the local Elders finally gave the nod to divorce.
OREGON v. BRIAN FORD. Reportedly, Michael V. Ford historically had saved his worst cruelty for son, Brian Ford. Harsh punishment came for the slightest of infractions around the home or at the Kingdom Hall. Instances were alleged of choking until Brian turned blue; holding Brian underwater; locking Brian in closets; severe beatings, and even pouring pepper in wounds. The devout JW allegedly was a secret sadist.
There was a positive to all this. Brian became the picturebook JW Teen which the WatchTower Cult desired. Clean cut, and a straight A student. Thus, in July 1987, when 15 year-old Brian learned that sister, Brenda Ford, age 14, was planning on running away from the family home, Brian lured her to an isolated area where he first beat her with a flashlight, and then choked her to death. Brenda Ford's remains were not discovered for three months.
At trial, mental health experts testified that not only did Brian Ford know right from wrong, but that due to his perverse rearing, Brian felt that he was "right" in having killed his sister. Brian Ford, minor, received a great plea deal. A second degree manslaughter plea got him kiddie jail until he was 18, and then a minimum of 102 months in prison.
Only a few years later, a younger Ford brother reportedly died of a drug overdose.
CROWN v FRANCESCO COSSEDDO was a 1996-2000 Supreme Court of New South Wales Australia murder case. In the early evening hours of a day in January 1995, the corpse of 62 year-old Maria Cosseddo was discovered on her bed, in her bedroom, in the Guildford house she shared with her Jehovah's Witness Husband and their three adult children. The Coroner ruled that the direct cause of death was manual strangulation which had occurred only a few hours before her corpse supposedly had been discovered in the laundry room by her JW husband when he returned home from an errand. Although he maintained his innocence then, and thereafter, murder charges were filed in August 1996 against the 66 year-old JW Husband. However, he was released on bond, and remained so until his 2000 conviction.
Francesco Cosseddo had immigrated to Australia from Italy in 1966, and he married Maria in 1968. Again, they had three children whom were still living at home at the time of the murder. In 1988, 58 year-old Francesco Cosseddo converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. This caused many problems within this Catholic family resulting in estrangement between Francesco and Maria. While they continued to live in the same house, the couple lived separately. Francesco did his own cooking, cleaning, and washing, and dined alone. The children testified that their parents frequently quarreled over religion and finances, but that there had never been any physical violence.
Soon after the murder, Francesco Cosseddo's mental fitness deteriorated quickly, and multiple mental health assessments followed with varying determinations. In 2000, Francesco Cosseddo was convicted of murder in a jury trial, which mandated life imprisonment. However, the sentencing judge ordered additional competency testing for the by-then 70 years-old Cosseddo. Outcome of further proceedings unknown.
ILLINOIS v. NIELS CHRISTIAN NIELSEN was a 1995-96 Illinois double murder case. On Independence Day, July, 4, 1995, a self-professed Jehovah's Witness, named Niels Christian Nielsen, age 21/22, of Wayne City, Illinois, shot and killed his ex-wife, Sue Marshel Gelsinger, 38, and her 13 year-old daughter, Melinda Marshel. Niels Nielsen had married the then divorced "Sue Marshel" in 1993, when she was 35 years-old, her daughter was around 10 years-old, and he was only 18/19 years-old. The marriage was annulled after they reportedly had lived together for only ten days.
Sue Gelsinger's automobile was discovered on July 5, 1995, partially submerged in a lake just outside Wayne City. The interior was blood-stained, and Gelsinger and her daughter were missing. Sometime in the next few days, Niels Nielsen was arrested and jailed on an apparently unrelated felony theft charge. There, in jail, state police questioned Nielsen about the missing mother-daughter, and he apparently voluntarily gave them enough info to incriminate himself (although he later pled "not guilty".).
The burned and dismembered remains of the mother-daughter were soon found in a gym bag floating in a local farm pond. It is unclear whether their remains were found before or after Nielsen had incriminated himself. Police eventually discovered pieces of bones belonging to the mother and daughter in a burn pile located behind the home of Nielsen's mother and step-father.
Apparently, Nielsen had stopped the automobile of the mother-daughter at some unknown location, shot both of them in the head while they were still in their car, then dismembered their bodies, then burned such, then gathered what remained and placed such in a canvas gym bag, and then threw the 130+ pounds gym bag in a nearby pond. Although Sue Marshel apparently had married a man named Gelsinger subsequent to her relationship with Nielsen, the motive for the murders possibly related to Sue Marshel Gelsinger's possibly being pregnant. Whether Nielsen was jealous of another relationship, or possibly thought the baby was his, is unknown.
In February 1996, Neils Neilson attempted suicide by deeply slashing his right wrist while awaiting trial in the Wayne County Jail. Neilson and one or more family members reportedly refused to consent to blood transfusions during both the initial emergency treatment at Fairfield Memorial Hospital, and at a second Effingham hospital where surgery was performed to repair damage to his wrist, due to their "Jehovah's Witness beliefs". Nielsen survived. Niels Christian Nielsen was convicted of both murders in June 1996, and he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Due to the subsequent mandatory appeals, and then later, the "stayed" death penalty situation in Illinois, Nielsen's execution has yet be carried out.
JEREMY W. LARSON DEATH. Around noontime, on Sunday, October 30, 1994, a mentally ill 20 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Jeremy W. Larson, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, either drowned or died of hypothermia in the Red River, after he jumped into the freezing water while being pursued by both city police officers and county deputies, who reportedly wanted to speak with him about "possible medical problems he was having". One media article stated that Jeremy Larson was attempting to"reach the spiritual sanctuary" of the East Grand Forks Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. It is not known exactly what Larson had done, or who had telephoned police, but Larson was evidently near the Kingdom Hall when he died, and he died soon after the Sunday meetings ended. Further adding to the mystery are the facts that Jeremy W. Larson, who had been reared by JW Parents, Terry and Antonia "Toni" Larson, was described by his JW Mother as an "active" Jehovah's Witness, who was "deeply religious", and significantly, Jeremy Larson was permitted a JW funeral at that same East Grand Forks Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
WEST VIRGINIA v. ANDREA YOUNG and VIRGINIA v. ANDREA YOUNG are related 1994-95 murder court cases. On the afternoon of March 18, 1994, Andrea M. Young, 27, of Richmond, Virginia, after purchasing a life insurance policy on her JW Mother, then went to the home of her Jehovah's Witness Parents, and attempted to murder her mother by suffocation, but apparently failed. At some point thereafter, Andrea Young shot and killed her 69 year-old JW Father, Ralph Young, outside the parent's home.
Andrea Young thereafter fled the state. On Sunday, March 20, 1994, apparently after running out of money around Clarksburg, West Virginia, Young approached several Jehovah's Witnesses in the parking lot of the Anmore Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and asked for money. After being refused by several JWs, Young pulled a pistol and attempted to shoot or did shoot at two of the JW Elders. Young was thereafter arrested and charged with two counts of attempted murder, but was returned to Virginia for prosecution on the more serious murder charge.
Andrea Young reportedly had a history of mental problems, which had been exasperated by her recently having been disfellowshipped (excommunicated) from the JWs. Young eventually plea bargained to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to 43 years in prison.
FLORIDA v. MELVIN DALE FREEZE was a 1992-5 Florida criminal court decision. In February 1995, a 54 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Melvin Dale Freeze, was pronounced "not guilty" by a six-person jury of his peers in a criminal trial in which Melvin D. Freeze had been accused of murdering his 52 year-old wife of 38 years, Doris Ellen Freeze, in May 1992. Dale Freeze had also been accused of torching the couple's Ocala, Florida mobile home. A previous trial in July-August 1994 had ended in a hung jury -- five for guilt and seven for innocence.
Due to the two separate controversial trials, both of which included voluminous evidence and testimony pointing both to Freeze's innocence and guilt, from 50 or more witnesses for the prosecution, and dozens for the defense, the available details are scattered and difficult to summarize. Thus, this summary should not be considered complete. From the best that I can piece together, Melvin and Doris Freeze were originally from Ohio, where they had reared their children. The couple had relocated to Ocala, Florida sometime in the 1980s. While Melvin apparently was an active Jehovah's Witness, Doris had been disfellowshipped for smoking cigarettes years prior to their moving to Florida. The Freeze children apparently were also split into groups of JWs and former JWs, with the JWs possibly being the children who believed their father to be innocent, and with the former JWs possibly being the children who believed their father to be guilty.
Neither jury believed the prosecution's theory that just before 2:00 PM, on a Tuesday afternoon, Melvin Freeze had choked Doris Freeze into unconsciousness; then placed her on their bed in their bedroom; then set their mobile home on fire; and then left the scene in his automobile. Neither jury believed the state fire investigator who testified that there had been a trail of gasoline poured from the doorway of the bedroom to the back door of the mobile home, and that the fire originated in the bedroom. Neither jury believed a neighbor's testimony that Melvin Freeze exited the mobile home, tied the couple's dog to the front porch, and then left the scene only a matter of minutes before smoke and fire was seen coming from the mobile home. Neither jury believed testimony from a jail cellmate of Melvin Freeze, with whom Freeze conducted "Bible studies" in order to convert the cellmate to the JWs, who testified that Freeze had confessed to the murder, and had prayed for forgiveness for the murder.
Both juries apparently believed the defense theory that Doris Freeze had started the fire, and then died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning as part of her intentional suicide. Both juries apparently believed the defense's own fire origin expert, who testified that the point of origin could not be determined. Both juries apparently believed that Melvin Freeze was many miles away when the fire started.
Doris Freeze had a long history of depression, other mental illness, and multiple suicide attempts. The marriage allegedly had been a troubled one from the start, which allegedly included much spousal abuse that allegedly had forced Doris to seek shelter in spouse abuse centers in both Ohio and Florida. Testimony regarding spousal abuse was specifically excluded from the trials.
Reportedly, the couple had allegedly been considering divorcing in late 1991 or early 1992. Money problems were alleged. Melvin Freeze, who allegedly also had a history of depression, had reportedly been hospitalized for such for three weeks in February 1992 -- shortly before Doris Freeze's death.
In the end, after having heard and seen the above and much other testimony and evidence, neither of two juries believed that the prosecution had proved that Melvin Freeze had murdered Doris Freeze. Many relatives and friends agreed. Many relatives and friends disagreed.
VIRGINIA v. DARYL GREEN was a 1992-3 manslaughter criminal court case. Daryl Green, a 19 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness, was found "not guilty" by a jury who believed Green's version, Green's JW family's version, and Green's hometown friends' version, and Green's Norfolk State University friends' version of the October 1992 shooting and death of William H. Berry III -- namely, that the shooting had been an accident. Their story sharply contrasted with the initial reports made by investigating police and the Police Chief from Green's hometown.
Will Green, a Philadelphia area USPS employee, stated that he and his wife were active Jehovah's Witnesses, and that they had reared their son, Daryl Green, as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Daryl Green and William H. Berry III were "best friends" -- to the point that after graduating from a Philadelphia area high school, they enrolled together at Norfolk State University in Virginia. Since JW youths are strongly encouraged to have as friends only other JWs, it is possible, although not known, that William Berry was also a Jehovah's Witness.
According to Daryl Green, Green's friends at his off-campus NSU apartment at the time of the shooting, and Green's family and friends back in Yeadon, Pennsylvania, Daryl Green's posse had returned to his off-campus apartment after playing basketball, and while watching television, Green had attempted to show his friends his .22 caliber pistol when the gun discharged and accidentally killed Berry. That account of the incident was believed by the Norfolk, Virginia judge who allowed the case to go to the grand jury only as a voluntary manslaughter charge, and it was believed by the Norfolk, Virginia trial jury who completely acquitted Green.
In contrast, Yeadon's Chief of Police indicated that Green, Berry, and possibly two other area youths who were at Green's off-campus NSU apartment at the time of the shooting were all "juvenile wannabes" of a gang called PSB, or the "Philadelphia-Style Boys", and that all had juvenile criminal records. Apparently, the Yeadon youths were all attracted to Norfolk State University because it was a predominantly African-American university that had a "party school" reputation. NSU also had a reputation for violence during this time period. The Green-Berry shooting was the third shooting of a student on or near campus in only the first 4 weeks of that semester.
In contrast, the local newspaper noted that although Green and Berry had went to junior high and high school together, and had enrolled together at NSU, by the time of the shooting, Berry was living in a dorm, while Green had an off-campus apartment. It is unclear whether this was their original living arrangements at NSU. The newspaper also reported that it had been told by acquaintances of Green and Berry that the two had had a running confrontation ever since they arrived at NSU, and that an argument had erupted at Green's apartment, and the shooting resulted from such. Apparently, that version was later either denied or retracted.
In October 1992, Robert McNickles and his uncle Marshall McNickles were arrested on charges relating to the murder of Robert's uncle and Marshall's brother, Thomas McNickles, 52, and the rape-murder of 12 year-old Takeisha McNickles, who was Thomas McNickles' granddaughter, and relative of both Robert McNickles and Marshall McNickles. Takeisha McNickles' (step?) father was a Jehovah's Witness, named Andre Dimmings, who lived in Cleveland, Ohio. Takeisha also sometimes lived with her JW Grandmother, Barbara Edwards (Thomas McNickles ex-wife), who was also a Cleveland resident. It is unclear whether Takeisha McNickles was living in Boston at the time of her murder, or whether she was just visiting her Boston relatives at the time of her murder, because she was given a JW funeral and buried in Cleveland. Whatever was the case, all those Cleveland JWs apparently believed that it was safe for Takeisha McNickles to be either living with or visiting with the Boston relatives.
If Marshall McNickles was prosecuted for the murders, I cannot locate such. The only prosecution of Marshall McNickles that I can locate is an illegal possession of a firearm conviction which evolved out of this arrest, and for which Marshall McNickles spent six months in jail from around November 1992 until April 1993. Interestingly, this conviction was from charges filed against McNickles in 1973, but he may not have been previously caught due to using an alias, Tony McNickles. At the time in 1973, he was also charged with possession of burglary tools.
However, in 1997, Robert McNickles was convicted of murder in the second degree for the killing of Thomas, murder in the first degree for the killing of Takeisha, aggravated rape of Takeisha, and kidnapping, and was sentenced to six consecutive life terms. At the time of these crimes, Robert McNickles was on parole after having served six years in prison for an assault and rape committed in the early 1980s.
WISCONSIN v. JW JUVENILE was a 1990-91 Wisconsin juvenile court case. Limited details. Outcome unknown. In August 1990, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an unidentified 12 year-old Jehovah's Witness was arrested and charged with the shooting death of a second 16 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Chauncey Young. The juveniles were both from families who attended the Glendale Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Young was apparently visiting at the other juvenile's home when the other juvenile shot Young in the head with a shotgun while playing "cops-n-robbers".
The 12 year-old pleaded "guilty" to "homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon". However, Chauncey Young, Sr. and Evelyn Young made a plea to the court not to further punish the other JW juvenile. They stated that just living with the thought of having killed their son was punishment enough. Outcome unknown.
MICHIGAN v. LUANNE SZENAY was a 1991 Michigan murder court decision. In 1991, a Bay City, Michigan, Jehovah's Witness Wife, named Luanne Szenay, 33, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and murder in the first degree in the murder-for-hire death of her JW husband, Timothy Szenay. Luann Szenay was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Timothy Szenay and Luanne Szenay owned and operated an area health foods store. The couple apparently had had many problems over the years, and by 1989-90 were in the process of divorcing. Luanne Szenay hired Shawn Marcus England, 18, and James Edmond Blau, 20, at least one of whom was a part-time store employee, to murder Timothy Szenay. In January 1990, the pair entered Szenay's home, where they forced Szenay to kneel on the living room floor before shooting him execution style in the back of his head and back, and then disguised the murder-for-hire as a robbery-murder.
Luanne Szenay's defense was that the murder-for-hire was a genuine robbery-murder, of which she had nothing to do, and that she had been repeatedly beaten and terrorized over the years by Timothy Szenay, who Luanne Szenay alleged had strayed from the tenets of their WatchTower religion. However, there was no police record of such domestic abuse. The prosecution theorized, and a jury of Szenay's peers believed that Luanne Szenay's real motive was to accomplish the death of Timothy Szenay before their divorce was final, so that she could collect his $300,000.00 life insurance policy.
NEW YORK v. ABRAHAM ROBINSON was a 1991-94 New York murder court case. After 40 years of marriage, and having reared several children, an older Jehovah's Witness Couple, named Abe Robinson, Jr., 64, and Thelma Robinson, 63, of Selkirk, New York, were going through an apparently bitter divorce when, on July 1, 1991, Abe Robinson, 63, returned to the couple's home, from which he had been barred by a restraining order, and beat, and strangled to death with his bare hands, his estranged wife. Soon thereafter, an adult son, Desmond A. Robinson, 31, arrived at his parent's home, and found his father lying on top of his mother's corpse.
At trial, Robinson's attorney argued that Robinson was mentally ill at the time of the attack, and that Robinson had not intended to kill his wife. A defense psychiatrist testified that at the time of the attack that Abe Robinson was suffering from a personality disorder and severe depression caused by financial troubles and having recently been disfellowshiped from his local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Given his age, and the fact that the prosecution portrayed him as an extremely domineering husband, who had victimized his wife for decades, it is probable that Abe Robinson once had been a JW Elder.
A jury evidently partially believed some of the defense in convicting Robinson of only second degree murder, which was affirmed on appeal. Abe Robinson, Jr. was sentenced to a prison term of 25 years to life, which given his age meant that he would die in prison.
CALIFORNIA v. JOSEPH THIELEN was a 1982-83 California criminal court case in which a JEHOVAH'S WITNESS ELDER named Joseph Thielsen, then age 33, of Santa Clara County, California, was convicted of RAPE, SODOMY, ROBBERY, and BURGLARY. Joe Thielen's victim was a fellow Jehovah's Witness married woman whom Thielen had been counseling along with her Jehovah's Witness Husband. Joseph Thielsen first seduced the JW Woman at her home when her husband was not home, and after she broke off their adulterous relationship, Thielen broke into her home and raped her at gunpoint. Details are uncertain, but the SODOMY may have been committed against the JW Woman's 12-13 year-old daughter. Joseph Thielen was sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison.
*****************NEW MEXICO v. KIERON EUGENE WEBBER and NEW MEXICO v. KIERON EUGENE WEBBER were 1989 New Mexico arson court decisions. Limited, sketchy details. In June 1989, Kieron Eugene Webber, 20, pleaded guilty to a February 1988 arson fire which did $300,000.00 damage to his JW Mother's local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses (committed when he was 18 years-old), plus a separate incident of burglarizing his JW Mother's home in 1987. Kieron E. Webber served only two years in prison for that conviction.
WASHINGTON DC v. KIERON EUGENE WEBBER. In 1986, when Kieron Webber was 17 years-old, he had been sent to live with an Uncle, who was a college professor in the Wash D.C. area. Apparently, up until that point in time, he had been reared by his JW Mother, Victoria Webber -- possibly in Brooklyn, New York, before to their relocation to New Mexico. It is unclear why he was back in New Mexico, in February 1988, but Webber had returned for the funeral of a sister when he was accused of burglarizing his JW Mother's home in 1987. In September 1988, Webber was arrested for the July 1988 strangulation murder of a Wash D.C. girlfriend, plus setting her apartment on fire. Instead of being prosecuted for the murder, he was apparently extradited back to NM to be prosecuted for the arson and burglary.
MARYLAND v. KIERON EUGENE WEBBER and NEW YORK v. KIERON EUGENE WEBBER. In January 1994, Webber was arrested in Maryland for beating up in public another girlfriend. Thereafter, he was also charged with the July 1993 strangulation murder of even another girlfriend, but Webber was apparently never indicted until July 2000, while he was jailed somewhere in New York since 1997 for who-knows-what. Webber was eventually convicted of the 1993 murder in 2002. Outcome of the 1988 murder case is unknown. Curiously, Webber is currently incarcerated in California on a murder conviction.
PENNSYLVANIA v. JERRY MICHAEL BURGOS was a 1988-1995 Pennsylvania murder court decision. In April 1989, Jerry Michael Burgos, then 29, of Monroe County, was convicted of strangling to death his seven-months pregnant wife, Nilsa Burgos, age 28, in the early AM hours of Tuesday, May 31, 1988, and then dousing her body and their Robin Hood Lakes home with a flammable liquid, and setting a fire to cover up the crime. Jerry M. Burgos was sentenced to the death penalty via the electric chair.
In May 1992, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a new trial due to adverse trial testimony given by Burgos' 7 year-old son, Jerry Michael Burgos, Jr., which was inconsistent with earlier statements he had given to police investigators, and because such inconsistencies were not challenged during the trial. In March 1993, a second Monroe County jury again convicted Jerry M. Burgos of first-degree murder, arson, and abuse of a corpse. However, this second jury recommended a sentence of life imprisonment, rather than the death penalty, and the judge followed their recommendation. In 1995, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Burgos' appeal of this second conviction.
Damning evidence included the fact that about a month before Nilsa Burgos' death, Jerry Burgos had updated his homeowners insurance, and had purchased a $75,000.00 life insurance policy on his wife. However, the homeowners insurance was routine coverage that all homeowners routinely purchase, and the life insurance agent testified that during the sales call that it was Nilsa Burgos who wanted the policy, not Jerry Burgos. At the time of his wife's death, Jerry Burgos was three months into an ongoing casual sexual affair, which Jerry Burgos blamed on his wife's pregnancy. Jerry Burgos' Bartonsville "lover" testified regarding their casual sexual affair, and even testified that Jerry Burgos had told her that he loved his wife. She also testified that neither she nor Jerry Burgos had ever expressed any interest in making their relationship permanent. However, she also testified that Jerry Burgos had been in the routine of visiting her every Tuesday morning, from around 2:00 AM until 6:00 AM, after he got off work from his job as a disc jockey at Mount Pocono's Luigi's nightspot, but that he had not done so on the morning that Nilsa Burgos was murdered.
It was also alleged that Nilsa Burgos was also having an affair. Supposedly, letters from an unknown lover were located by police, which had been addressed to a post office box which Nilsa Burgos had rented under her maiden name.
Allegedly, the last person to have seen Nilsa Burgos alive on the night of her death, other than her two children, and supposedly her husband, was a 28 year-old 4th-generation Jehovah's Witness (and possibly an "Elder"), named Joel Hayden Nordmeyer, who eventually became a "key witness" for the prosecution. Joel Nordmeyer, who belonged to the most prominent ***JW Family in Pennsylvania, testified that he had been at the Burgos' home that Monday evening to conduct a "bible study" with Nilsa Burgos. Nordmeyer testified that he left the Burgos' home at around 8:30 PM, and then returned home. (*** Joel Nordmeyer's mother was Gladys Howell Nordmeyer, whose father was Hayden S. Howell, whose mother was one of two sisters of S.S. Kresge, of K-Mart fame, who had married two Howell brothers just before the turn of the 20th century. S.S. Kresge's parents and sisters converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses after he had already started to build his retail empire. )
Joel Nordmeyer, who farmed "Howell Farms", along with his father and brother, further testified that around 1:00 AM, on that Tuesday morning, that he drove a tractor-trailer load of corn to a feedmill in Elizabethtown. Nordmeyer said he returned home at around 11:00 AM, where he learned about the fire and Nilsa Burgos' death. Nordmeyer testified that later that day, he went to a "friend's" home at Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, where Jerry Burgos and his children were staying, and noticed that Jerry Burgos had scratches down his chest that were visible through his open shirt. Nordmeyer also testified that, "The one thing that stood out in my mind is how remarkably clean he was. [Burgos] said he tried to save everyone, and yet there wasn't a smudge anywhere on him." Nordmeyer testified that he asked Burgos if he had showered, and Burgos supposedly said that he had not, which does not make sense given where and when Nordmeyer eventually seen Jerry Burgos. (Would there not have been dozens of better witnesses to Burgos' alleged "cleanness", if it had been true that Burgos had been "clean" at the crime scene, and for hours thereafter?) Nordmeyer's testimony regarding the "scratches" and "cleanness" were considered a key part of the prosecution's case.
During the cross-exam, Jerry Burgos' defense attorney reportedly "grilled" Joel Nordmeyer on his relationship with Nilsa Burgos, and asked him whether he had ever conducted a "bible study" with her alone, without Jerry Bargos being present, other than on the night of her death. Joel Nordmeyer testified that the evening of Nilsa Burgos' death was the only time that he had ever met with her alone, but that he had no romantic interests in Nilsa Burgos.
Joel Nordmeyer's father, Roger Nordmeyer, an "Elder" and former "Bethelite", who was originally from Kansas, also testified at the first trial, although it is not known to what he testified. Roger Nordmeyer died before the second trial, in January 1991, from head trauma caused by a farm tractor roll-over accident.
Interestingly, Jerry Burgos' defense attorney called David Heppe, who also was an Elder in the same Brodheadsville Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, and who had presided at the JW funeral of Nilsa Burgos. When asked for his assessment of how Jerry Burgos felt about Nilsa Burgos, Elder David Heppe testified that he believed Jerry Burgos was in love with his wife. "I could see he was deeply in love with her," Heppe testified.
Interestingly, Jerry Michael Burgos took the witness stand in his own defense, and testified that he was not the person who had murdered his wife and set his home on fire, nor did he pay anyone else to do so. From what I can piece together, it appears that Jerry Burgos testified that he arrived home from his DJ job on Tuesday morning, at around 2:30 AM. After entering his home, Jerry Burgos discovered the house on fire. Jerry Burgos supposedly grabbed his two sons, Michael Burgos, then age 6, and Jason Burgos, then age 3, from their beds, and took them outside, and put them in his truck. Jerry Burgos claimed that he re-entered his home and reported the fire to the telephone operator. Possibly because he could not remain in the burning home, Jerry Burgos claimed that he then drove to a nearby neighbor's home, woke them up, told them that his house was on fire, and asked them to call the local volunteer fire department. Burgos then returned to his own home, and supposedly attempted to go back in, but could not. The local VFD apparently responded fairly quickly, and apparently was able to put out the fire before the house lost its structural integrity.
Nilsa Burgos' charred corpse was found on the couple's bed. The flammable liquid, which had been spread from the second-story master bedroom down to the ground floor level, had also been poured heavily on Nilsa Burgos' lower "pregnant" torso. In fact, it was the prosecution that made the point that Nilsa Burgos' "genitals" had been consumed in the fire. The autopsy revealed that Nilsa Burgos had died from strangulation before the fire started. Curiously, the state police investigators never considered anyone other than Jerry Burgos as a possible perpetrator.
Jerry and Nilsa Burgos' connections with the Jehovah's Witnesses is unclear. Despite the fact that Joel Nordmeyer reportedly both held "bible studies" and socialized with the couple, the Burgoses were more than "potential converts" who had attended a few meetings at their local Kingdom Hall. The Burgoses reportedly had relocated away from NYC to this Poconos resort area only a few years previous, so that they could rear their two sons away from all the NYC negatives. I suspect that this couple had prior JW connections, which may have included JW relatives in the area. The "bible study" may have been a "re-activation" type, rather than a "conversion" type, which would also include the possibility that one or both had been reared as JWs.
Despite the fact that most people in the local community believed Jerry Burgos to be guilty, which would mean much "reproach on Jehovah's name", the local JWs curiously seemed to be somewhat split on the issue, even in spite of the additional negative publicity concerning Jerry Burgos' ongoing affair, and Nilsa Burgos' possible affair. As noted above, JW Joel Nordmeyer was a key prosecution witness, while JW Elder David Heppe, who had presided at the JW funeral of Nilsa Burgos, provided favorable testimony for the defense. After the events of May 31, 1988, Jerry Burgos and his two children went to stay with "friends", who interestingly were also friends of Joel Nordmeyer. At the first trial, it was reported that Jerry Burgos was supported by his mother, a sister, and a number of "friends".
Again, this case had all the elements of the typical JW murder scenario, where the local JWs will routinely unanimously throw their associate "under the bus" to avoid staining their own reputations, but such apparently did not happen in this case. There had to be reasons for such. Whatever such reasons were, the Burgoses were definitely more than a mere "bible study", who were simply "potential converts". A better question might be, did some of the local JWs, especially those who seemed to have at least sympathized with Jerry Burgos, have suspicions, or even circumstantial evidence, that was withheld from the state police, that might have at least caused the police to consider someone other than Jerry Burgos as a possible perpetrator.
JOEL NORDMEYER v. TIMOTHY C. NORDMEYER and KYLE NORDMEYER was a 1999-200? Pennsylvania civil court case. After leaving the farming partnership sometime in 1997, in February 1999, Joel Nordmeyer sued his two JW brothers for 1/3 percent of various Howell Farm properties and farming equipment. According to court records, Kyle Nordmeyer and Tim Nordmeyer reportedly accused Joel Nordmeyer of fraudulently diverting $103,500.00 of farm funds to his own personal use, after he allegedly lost $100,000.00 in commodities trading, during 1994 and 1995. Outcome unknown, other than the facts that Kyle Nordmeyer and Tim Nordmeyer are currently operating Howell Farms, and Joel Nordmeyer relocated and currently operates a construction contractor business elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
ROBERT BACHO - JOANN BACHO MURDER-SUICIDE. In January 1990, Robert A. Bacho, age 47, and his wife, Joann Frey Bacho, age 46, who both attended the Nazareth, Pennsylvania Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, were found dead in their rural Northampton County home. An unidentified fellow Jehovah's Witness neighbor, who had a key to the Bachos home, opened the house to state police who were responding to the concern of the Bachos employers. The couple were found dead in their bed -- both shot in the head with a .22 caliber pistol. Joann Bacho had been shot in the back of her head while she slept, and Bob Bacho was shot in his right temple. The JW neighbor told police that the couple had been depressed since their only child, Mark Bacho, had recently married a fellow JW from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in September 1989, and had moved there to live.
FLORIDA v. CHARLES EDWARD MOORE (1980), FLORIDA v. CHARLES EDWARD MOORE (1983), and FLORIDA v. CHARLES EDWARD MOORE was a 1988 Florida murder court case. In April 1988, Charles Edward Moore, 28, of Fort Lauderdale, attacked with a crowbar his 54 year-old Jehovah's Witness Mother, Lula Mae Moore, his 17 year-old nephew, and a non-relative, after a family argument. Charles E. Moore apparently had a history of mental illness, crime, and drug use -- ROBBERY in 1979, and GRAND THEFT in 1982 -- and had done less than 3 years in prison for each. Moore's Jehovah's Witness Mother, who was an 18 year employee at Broward General Medical Center, and mother of six children, apparently had given her (possibly youngest) son an ultimatum to either submit to psychiatric help or move out of her house. The argument escalated to the point where Moore not only beat the three victims with the crowbar, but he also stabbed his mother at some point. She was DOA at her place of employment.
Charles Edward Moore was arrested and charged with first degree murder of his mother, attempted first degree murder of his nephew, and aggravated assault of the non-relative. Moore was ruled "mentally incompetent" to stand trial, and was sent to a Florida mental health facility. A year later, in April 1989, when Moore was still deemed "mentally incompetent" to stand trial, the state requested, and a judge agreed, that Moore be court-ordered to take powerful anti-psychotic drugs that the state hoped would make Moore competent to stand trial. Moore opposed being forced to take the drugs, and told the judge, 'I've done the best I can without any medicine. ... I feel like they're [apparently the state psychiatrists] trying to kill me. My behavior has been outstanding since I've been in there. If you want to see me worse than what I am, then bring the medicine to me.' In 1991, Moore was convicted of MURDER and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
FLORIDA v. CHARLES EDWARD MOORE. In 1997, Moore was already out of prison, and was convicted of aggravated battery and child abuse. Sentenced to 28 years in prison. Again, scheduled for release in 2020.
FLORIDA v. LARRY JEFFREY was a 1983-84 Florida murder court decision. In June 1983, a 28/29 year old "devout" Jehovah's Witness, named Larry Jeffrey, stabbed to death his 24 year-old wife, Michelle Thomas Jeffery, at her Jupiter, Florida place of employment. The couple reportedly had been estranged for a few weeks, and Larry Jeffrey believed that Michelle Jeffrey was committing adultery. Larry Jeffrey reportedly went to the Jupiter area utility company office to discuss the couple's issues, but once there, he became angry, attacked his wife, and stabbed her 16 times. A co-worker of Michelle Jeffrey's, named Bruce Gregg, was also stabbed. In October 1984, despite an "insanity defense", Larry Jeffrey was convicted of aggravated battery on Gregg, and first degree murder of Michelle Jeffrey. Due to Jeffrey being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he was sentenced only to 25 years to life, which means he may be eligible for parole in the near future.
CALIFORNIA v. THEREZA GOES MACIOCE was a 1984-8 California murder court decision. In August 1984, a Jehovah's Witness named Thereza Goes Macioce stabbed in the back and killed her husband, Giovanni Macioce. Thereza Macioce was convicted of second degree murder, and sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison. The Macioce couple were devout Jehovah's Witnesses, who rarely if ever missed a "meeting" at their local Kingdom Hall. However, Thereza Macioce alleged that she had been battered for years by her husband, and that she stabbed him in self-defense during just one more fight. A JW Elder acknowledged to police that the couple had been experiencing "marital difficulties".
The California Court of Appeals affirmed Macioce's conviction, including ruling that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing a Jehovah's Witness friend of the Macioces, who had played a significant role in the couple's final hours, not to testify and not be cross-examined during the trial. The Court wrote, in part:
At the preliminary hearing a witness named Virginia Gonzales testified for the prosecution. Gonzales was a Jehovah's Witness, and had known Macioce for over two years. Gonzales's testimony related principally to events that occurred on Friday, August 17, 1984, the day before Giovanni Macioce was killed. We summarize that testimony here.
On Friday morning Macioce telephoned Gonzales and said that her husband was no longer the same person, that he was seeing another woman. Gonzales drove over to the Macioce apartment. There Macioce related that her purse was missing. Her purse contained her identification card, her passport, and her credit cards, and all of her important papers; she feared that her husband Giovanni had taken them. Her keys to the apartment were also missing. She feared Giovanni might lock her out of the apartment. With a screwdriver Gonzales removed the deadbolt lock and chain lock from the apartment's front door. Macioce then accompanied Gonzales to the latter's house. Macioce exhibited a bruise on her left arm, and claimed that Giovanni had inflicted the bruise.Macioce said that her husband was romantically interested in a woman named Gina, who was heavy, ugly, very dirty-looking, and who used filthy language. Macioce feared her husband would return to Sardinia. She also feared that her husband was taking drugs. Gonzales suggested that Macioce should withdraw money from the bank.Macioce responded that she would wait to do that, since Giovanni was going to get a paycheck that same day. Giovanni picked his wife up about 3:30 p.m. that day.
The foregoing evidence apparently was elicited in an effort to show that the killing of Giovanni was premeditated. It was the prosecution's theory that Macioce purposefully laid a foundation for the disappearance of her husband. The prosecutor said in his summation: 'Then why does Thereza tell these things to her friends? And one explanation of that later on you can relate to other evidence of her intentions is that she was laying the ground work for people to believe that Giovanni was going to be gone and be gone very soon; that at any time he might leave her.'
Gonzales testified at the preliminary hearing on November 14, 1984. In December of 1984 Gonzales became a patient of Dr. Mary Defigard, a physician in family practice. According to Dr. Defigard, Gonzales exhibited symptoms of extreme stress, including absence of menstruation, water retention, acne, hair loss, chronic gastritis, and hyperventilation syndrome. Gonzales became 'suicidal one night and had to be admitted to the hospital because she felt that that was her only way out of her situation with knowing that she'd be, you know, faced with this trial situation.' Thereafter Defigard saw Gonzales in five office visits. Gonzales's symptoms improved.
Macioce's trial began on June 25, 1985. On July 9, 1985, Gonzales appeared at trial but did not testify. She apparently asserted that testifying again would impair both her physical and mental health. She was in the hallway outside the courtroom, crying. To determine whether Gonzales was truly 'unavailable' as a witness ... the court called Dr. Defigard as its own witness, and allowed counsel for both sides to cross-examine her. On direct examination the court asked Dr. Defigard if she had an opinion, based upon reasonable medical certainty, that it would be harmful to Gonzales's health if she were called again as a witness. Dr. Defigard replied, 'Um, yes. To the best of my knowledge it would be harmful for her to testify.' She also testified that Gonzales was not malingering. On cross-examination Dr. Defigard (1) admitted that Gonzales's symptoms had improved over time, and (2) testified that while Gonzales might suffer no reaction at all from testifying, 'there's maybe a seventy percent chance that it could -- that it would be detrimental to her.'
The court expressed concern for Macioce's right of confrontation, and noted that 'I personally find it hard to understand why a mature, adult person faced with all the variety of stress that we meet every day in urban life, crowded society, why suddenly this one demand placed on her has caused such stress, such an hysterical reaction.' But the court ruled that 'I'm satisfied from Dr. Defigard's testimony that there's a clear and present danger that requiring this lady to testify would cause her present and future mental and physical harm. And under the Code, I believe that I'm obliged to find that the witness is unavailable and that I can't -- it would be improper for me to make -- find judgments on how important her testimony is in deciding how much danger to her health we're willing to tolerate. ... So at this time, I'll rule that she's unavailable, and that her preliminary examination testimony can be read back.'
JAMES ALAN DAY FAMILICIDE. In October 1984, James Alan Day, age 36, of Evansville, Indiana, waited until his wife, Candace Day, age 36, left for work in the early A.M. hours at the local branch of the United States Postal Service, before he shot and killed the couple's six sleeping children, ages 6 to 15, and then also shot himself in the head. The couple had only reconciled two weeks previous after an 18 month separation during which Candace Day had filed for divorce. Candace Day stated that James A. Day had been despondent even after the couple's reconciliation, and that he was contemplating quitting his job at Evansville's Whirlpool Corporation appliance factory. Co-workers reported that James Day was a loner and quiet person who kept to himself. Some co-workers were aware that Day had many "numerous personal problems", and Day's supervisor had even suggested that Day seek counseling. Neighbors described James Day as a "strict but conscientious father". Candace Day also described her husband as a "good father", and as a "loving father". James Day's mother, Marcella Day, told reporters: "God knows what was in his mind; whether he was responsible or not responsible for what he did. It's not for us to judge."
Reuben Meeler, the Elder at the Evansville Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses which James Day and his family attended, conducted the funeral. Interestingly, Meeler counseled those present to not blame themselves for this tragedy, but rather to pay more heed to other people's problems in the future. "Many people turn their backs on trouble. Instead of passing it off and not getting involved, maybe we should get involved. Maybe we should try to give them help. ... This incident is history; it's over; past; and we can't do anything about it", stated Reuben Meeler.
CALIFORNIA v. RICKY ORTEGA. In January 1981, Terri Lynn Winchell, age 17, of Stockton, California, was savagely and brutally murdered by two Mexicans -- one being a HOMOSEXUAL JEHOVAH'S WITNESS named Ricky Ortega, age 19, who also was having a homosexual affair with Winchell's boyfriend. The Jehovah's Witness Ortega Family also had ties to a Mexican street gang. The co-conspirator, Michael Morales, was Ortega's cousin, who also had an unidentified Christian upbringing. Notably, the victim also was a known active Christian singer in Stockton. Ricky Ortega was very intelligent and street wise, and masterminded the murder. Ortega celebrated Winchell's murder by giving Winchell's and his boyfriend a blowjob afterwards. Ortega LUCKILY received a sentence of life in prison.
JAMES HOLMES FAMILICIDE. In November 1982, James Holmes, 37, shot and killed his Jehovah's Witness Wife, Patricia Holmes, 29, and their 6 year-old son, Jason Holmes, inside the family's Pennellville, New York mobile home, before also shooting and killing himself. Each were found with a single 12 gauge shotgun wound to the head. Patricia McIntyre, and her sister Deborah McIntyre, had been reared as JWs in the North Syracuse, New York Congregation of JWs by Harry and Mary McIntyre. Patricia had married James Holmes in 1974 (interesting given that Armageddon was going to occur in 1975), which was James Holmes second marriage. Holmes' first wife was Mary Pietraallo, of Westerly, Rhode Island, and they had an 11 year-old son, Jimmy Holmes. Holmes mother, Catherine Holmes, lived in the same mobile home park.
Larry Hilton, an Elder at the Baldwinsville, New York Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses went into damage control mode as reporters attempted to ferret out the reasons behind this double murder-suicide. Hilton and other JWs quickly stated that James Holmes was no Jehovah's Witness. Hilton also repeatedly referred to Holmes' many mental problems, Holmes' rearing as a Mormon, and anything else that he could think of to deflect any attribution of the murders-suicide to his own WatchTower religion. However, Larry Hilton's loose-lips still provided some significant hints about what all led up to the Holmes double murder-suicide.
Interestingly, Hilton acknowledged that he had been conducting a "home bible study" with Holmes for "about a year". Hilton initially claimed that he was "studying" with James Holmes simply because Holmes wanted to know more about his wife's religion. Non-JWs should know that JW Elders do not waste a year of "studying" on someone who is simply curious about WatchTower doctrine. In fact, Larry Hilton was even violating WatchTower Society recruiting policy that said that no JW, much less a busy "Elder", should spend more than "six months" studying with a potential recruit, unless that person is clearly working toward membership, and simply needs additional time. Either Hilton was violating that WatchTower directive, or James Holmes was actively pursuing membership sufficient to justify Hilton's waiver of the rule.
Larry Hilton also disclosed that the various mental problems which he used to demean James Holmes ranged back to about a year before the murders-suicide, which was about the same time that Hilton acknowledged that he started studying with Holmes. James Holmes was employed as an Assistant Manager at the nearby Mattydale K-Mart. Holmes took a medical leave from his job from September 1981 to February 1982. Hilton also revealed that Holmes had admitted to an affair, and became obsessed with the idea that he may have contracted a STD. Holmes allegedly also became obsessed with the idea that he had contracted some other incurable disease, and that he was going to die, and that Holmes had even visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Larry Hilton also alleged that James Holmes suffered a "nervous breakdown" in November 1981, which would have been in the very middle of Holmes' medical leave from K-Mart. Hilton later claimed that he had been "studying" with James Holmes only because Holmes had asked Hilton to do so to help him recover from his mental problems.
Probably the most honest and most accurate "witnesses" were the Holmes' mobile home park neighbors, who had no reason to "spin" either way. Several different neighbors stated that James Holmes would use his Bible to reprove children in the park for their various shortcomings, and that Holmes had given religious literature to some of the children. None of the neighbors mentioned nor had a clue about Holmes being reared as a Mormon. Multiple neighbors stated that all three Holmes' family members attended services at the local Kingdom Hall three or four times per week.
Police also stated that they found notes from James Holmes to Patricia Holmes inside the family's mobile home which contained references to James Holmes needing to convert to the JWs in order to save his marriage. Police also indicated that a suicide note mailed to a friend stated that Holmes was going to do what he did because he loved his wife and son. I have a feeling that if the exact wording of all those notes were known that those familiar with "WatchTower World" would know exactly what happened. Either James Holmes' mental problems were sparked by his entry into "WatchTower World", or James Holmes mental problems were exacerbated by such -- and the end result was three dead people.
GENE GILBERT FAMILICIDE. On Sunday, January 4, 1981, Gene G. Gilbert's father returned to his Yale, South Dakota home only to find the corpse of his 28 year-old son, who lived 450 miles away in Delmar, Iowa, along with his wife, two children, ages one and two, and three step-children, ages 8, 11, and 13. On Monday, when police in Delmar went to break the bad news of Gene's suicide to his wife, they discovered the terrible scene that you already guessed. Before he left town Saturday night, he had shot in the head all six family members while they slept. Gilbert's suicide note lamented his failures as a son, a husband, and an employee.
Newspaper articles mentioned that Bonnie Gilbert, age 34, and her five children regularly attended the Maquoketa Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Although intentionally insinuating that Gene Gilbert did not attend the Kingdom Hall, the media reports glaringly failed to so state. Interestingly, most local JWs refused to provide any statement for reporters so inquiring. Of the few JW comments reported, few if any spoke of Gene Gilbert as one might expect such to be spoken of a mass murderer and monster. Those familiar with the JW community know that all of this adds up to Gene Gilbert having also associated with the Jehovah's Witnesses, even if less than the rest of his family. Unquestionably, area JWs privately blamed themselves for not doing more, or even doing something, to have interrupted this chain of events. BUT, like JWs worldwide, they were too busy selling WATCHTOWERs door-to-door.
The lives of three Jehovah's Witness Families were turned upside down back in the 1980s when an Atlanta Presiding Overseer was shot and killed by his relatively new JW Son-in-law. That son-in-law spent 20+ years in prison before recently being paroled. SIL had been reared as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and his life seemed to be on the straight and narrow when he was able to marry the step-daughter of a JW Elder. After the marriage, new JW Wife revealed to her new husband that she had been occasionally sexually molested as a child by her step-father, who over the years had been promoted to serve as a Ministerial Servant, Elder, and by-then Presiding Overseer. With the knowledge of this family secret, SIL found it difficult to respect his Presiding Overseer Father-in-law, who did not hesitate to regularly stick his nose into SIL/Wife's family life and congregation life. The stick that broke the camel's back was when SIL was arrested for "trespassing" on Christmas Day while knocking doors at an Atlanta apartment building that prohibited such. Despite the fact that the DA eventually dropped the charge, PO father-in-law repeatedly gave SIL crap for having gotten himself into a mess which resulted in SIL's first arrest, and which more importantly had resulted in bad publicity for "Jehovah". At some point, SIL had taken all that he could from his PO FIL, and he went to PO-FIL's home and shot him dead. --- Names and specifics deleted from this "unverifiable" submitted case. Editors would appreciate hearing from anyone else who lived in the Atlanta area back in the 1980s who knows anything about this case.
THE ROBERT MOORE and BENJAMIN MOORE SUICIDES. Sometime in the 1970s, John Moore and Roberta Moore, both Jehovah's Witnesses, were married, and had four children in addition to the son that Roberta brought from her first failed marriage. Their two youngest sons, Robert and Benjamin were born in 1980 and 1983. On August 30, 1993, the dead bodies of Robert, 13, and Benjamin, 10, were discovered on a recreational trail about one mile from their rural "cabin" located near Ogema, Wisconsin. Each had a single .22 caliber gunshot to their heads. Their deaths were eventually ruled to be either a double suicide or a murder-suicide.
Roberta Moore has spent much time and effort over the years contesting that ruling. Her suspicions of murder have included unknown serial murder(s), and even her ex-husband, John Moore, as the killer of her sons -- as she has so posted multiple times on the internet.
Apparently, the Moores' marriage began to fall apart sometime in the early 1980s when Roberto Moore's sister disassociated herself from the WatchTower religion, and John Moore thereafter forbid his wife from associating with her sister. Roberta Moore also disassociated herself in 1986. Thereafter, John Moore made every effort to continue taking the children to their local Kingdom Hall, and to rear them in the JW faith. Robert Moore and Benjamin Moore reportedly did not like being reared as JWs, and having to go through everything that JW Children are forced to go through at school, such as refusing to stand for the National Anthem, refusing to recite the Pledge, and refusing to participate in any holiday and birthday celebrations. Given John Moore's adamant support for the JW lifestyle and Roberta Moore's rejection of such, and what must have occurred with the children as a result of turmoil in the home, it was easy to speculate that the two young boys eventually had had all they could take.
EDGAR DAVIS v. LORETTA DAVIS. In March 1978, a Jehovah's Witness named Edgar Davis, age 37, of Clinton, Ohio, filed for divorce from his Jehovah's Witness Wife, Loretta Davis, age 32, also of Clinton, Ohio. The couple had been married in April 1976, and Loretta Davis had a 9 year-old son from a previous marriage. Loretta Davis contested the divorce action. The Davis couple reconciled after several efforts were made by Loretta Davis. Edgar Davis dropped the lawsuit.
LORETTA DAVIS v. EDGAR DAVIS. In April 1978, Loretta Davis was hospitalized for two days after allegedly suffering a beating by Edgar Davis. In early May 1978, police responded to a domestic disturbance call at the Davis home. A handgun was confiscated from Loretta Davis. In latter May 1978, Loretta Davis filed for divorce. A restraining order was issued barring Loretta Davis from going to the marital home --apparently indicating that Edgar Davis owned the home separate from his recently new wife and her son.
OHIO v. LORETTA DAVIS. Only days after filing her divorce suit, Loretta Davis, accompanied by her then 11 year-old son, went to the marital home to pickup some clothes. At the home, Loretta Davis reported a domestic dispute. Responding police broke up an argument between the couple, escorted Loretta Davis from the home, and then watched her drive away before they left. Shortly thereafter, Loretta Davis reported a shooting at the marital home to police, and called for an ambulance. Loretta Davis claimed "self-defense", and alleged that at the home, Edgar Davis had beat her, threw her down a staircase, and then charged her. Thankfully, a loaded, cocked, safety-off shotgun belonging to Edgar Davis just so happened to be within arm's reach. Loretta Davis grabbed the shotgun and fired it into Edgar Davis's groin just as he reached her. Edgar Davis survived for four hours -- going in and out of consciousness. Davis faithfully refused life-saving blood transfusions, and then died of blood loss. Loretta Davis was arrested and charged with felonious assault, but local prosecutors were last known to be considering dropping the case. Outcome unknown.
The following edited excerpt is from an article which appeared in THE GUARDIAN in November 2011. The author was an unidentified age 40s British male whose JEHOVAH'S WITNESS FATHER had murdered his mother when he was 13 years-old -- around 1984.
Four weeks after my 13th birthday, my dad killed my mum. He stabbed her in the chest 16 times using two bread knives. The murder was premeditated; he had brought the knives to the house with him earlier that day, and after he was arrested he confessed his intent.
That day I had come home ready to give my mum the fiver I had borrowed from her the week before. I was met by police officers. They didn't say what was wrong. My friend two doors down came over and I knew by his reaction that something awful had happened.
The trigger for the murder was my dad hearing that my mum wanted a divorce. He simply couldn't accept the marriage was over. As a committed Jehovah's Witness, he believed the end of the world was nigh and only a few chosen people would be saved and so, inexplicably, he thought he had to kill his wife to ensure only he could have her in the new world. There was another motive: my mum had started to date again and this filled him with deep jealousy. He felt if he couldn't have her, then no one else would.
My childhood had been fine until that point. My father was a hard disciplinarian but I never saw nastiness or violence.
My father's monstrous crime shattered my family. Six of us ranging from 11 to 28 were left behind. The hub of the family, our mum and dad, had imploded in the most violent of circumstances. The wider family support network seemed to evaporate and we were left alone and ashamed. The press splashed the story across the front pages of our local paper, piling humiliation on top of grief. Nothing about the family seemed normal any more "get-togethers" felt odd and contrived, weddings and birthdays seemed incomplete and tinged with sadness. Some siblings sought refuge in religion or cults and some, like me, have been plagued with recurring thoughts of suicide. Others preferred to live in denial or blot out the past with drink or drugs.
In the immediate aftermath I moved between two of my brothers' homes. It was difficult; they were too busy dealing with their own grief and pain to care for a bereaved 13-year-old boy. Then I moved in with my brother's parents-in-law who were very caring and looked after me until I left home. My life stabilized, I coped. I went to college, got a job and became a father myself.
My family still finds it difficult to confront our grief. Even now conversations about Mum or Dad are marked by awkward silences, as if we are the guilty ones in some way. Trite phrases such as, "We should move on" pepper our conversations. Perhaps the magnitude of the loss is too painful to dwell on, perhaps it is just easier to forget.
There are times when the sense of a painful and profound loss consumes me. I still miss my mum terribly. I wish she were back here and I could talk to her again. I wish I could have protected her from my dad that day. And most of all I wish she hadn't died in the way she did.
My father pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 12 years. In prison he refused to co-operate with the rehabilitation process and once he had served his tariff he was repeatedly denied parole because he would not address the motivations of his crime, a condition for a lifer. He died in prison last year after serving a total of 26 years, more than double his original sentence. From what we can tell, he never confided to anyone inside that he had six children his closest confidant knew of only one. Maybe he was in denial or maybe he didn't care. We'll never know.
After his death we obtained his prison files and personal effects. The files revealed that outwardly he was never contrite about his crime. He appeared to die stubborn and self-righteous. The files also contained my father's previously unseen handwritten confessions to other, hidden crimes. The new information hit our family all over again the sexual abuse of his youngest daughter, repeated rape of our mum and the attempted rape of a child in the next street. The revelations have reopened old wounds and inflicted new ones.
I long to meet my dad again on adult terms and let him know face-to-face the suffering he has caused. In these dreams, what I say makes him cry with regret, sorrow and shame.
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