UPsw 01/08 2029 Friend says Averys had doubts about Lundgren KIRTLAND, Ohio (UPI) - A frie
UPsw 01/08 2029 Friend says Averys had doubts about Lundgren
KIRTLAND, Ohio (UPI) -- A friend of the family allegedly slain by
reputed "cult" leader Jeffrey Lundgren says the family was upset because
Lundgren failed to keep promises he made to get the family to move to
Cheryl and Dennis Avery and their three daughters were shot to
death last April and their bodies buried inside a barn in a rural area
about 15 miles east of Cleveland. The bodies were unearthed last week.
Jeffrey Lundgren, a defrocked minister of the Reorganized Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is accused of murdering the Averys
as part of a bizarre religious rite. He was arrested in southern
California Sunday, along with his wife and 19-year-old son, and is
being held without bond. Ten others were also indicted in the
Marlene Jennings, 38, a Sunday school teacher, said Dennis Avery
moved from Missouri to Kirtland in the spring of 1987 at Lundgren's
command, selling his home and giving up a job that involved
"(The Averys) looked to Lundgren as a spiritual leader, but they
had reservations," said Jennings, who said she was Cheryl Avery's
closest friend in the area. "They mnade comments that things weren't
going as expected."
She said the Averys broke away from the Reorganized church when the
group decided in 1984 to ordain women as ministers.
Jennings said Cheryl Avery's mother, a staunch member of the
Reorganized church, had a tense relationship with her daughter because
of the break from the church.
Jennings, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints -- which shares common roots with the Reorganized church --
said Dennis Avery was disappointed Lundgren didn't help him find a job
in Lake County as promised.
The night in 1988 the Averys moved from a rented house in Kirtland
to Madison Township, the family expected Lundgren to give them dinner,
but they went without food, she said.
Jennings said she spoke to Cheryl Avery almost daily while they
lived in Kirtland and weekly after the family moved to Madison. About
10 days before their slayings, Jennings loaned the Averys her car.
"I noticed a change in Cheryl," she said. "She was much more
close-lipped. ... She seemed distressed."
On the day before the Averys were shot, Jennings said she tried to
phone Cheryl, but Dennis Avery refused to let her come to the phone.
"He said, `Cheryl will call you up when she wants to talk to you.'
That was unusual."
UPn 01/08 1716 "Cult" leader, family refuse to waive extradition
By KATE CALLEN
NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (UPI) -- The leader of a religious "cult" and
two members of his family, arrested in the ritualistic killings of a
family of five in Ohio, refused to waive extradition Monday, setting
the stage for a protracted legal battle, authorities said.
Jeffrey Lundgren, a 39-year-old defrocked minister of the
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his wife,
Alice, 38, and son, Damon, 19, were arrested at a motel Sunday.
All three defendants, booked on Ohio warrants charging them with
murder and conspiracy, remained in custody without bail, Jeffrey and
Damon Lundgren at the downtown San Diego Central Detention facility,
and Alice Lundgren at the Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility in
Santee, a San Diego suburb.
The Lundgrens and 10 other sect members are accused in the shooting
deaths of Dennis Avery, 49, his wife, Cheryl, 42, and their daughters,
Trina, 13, Rebecca, 9, and Karen, 5, in Kirtland, Ohio, a rural suburb
The Averys, also believed to be part of Lundgren's breakaway sect,
were apparently killed in April, but their bodies were not found until
last week in a common grave in a barn.
Authorities have said the Averys were killed in a sacrifice
performed so the rest of Jeffrey Lundgren's group could travel to a
wilderness area, where they would be cleansed and could search for a
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not
related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based in
Salt Lake City, but both groups base their beliefs on both the Book of
Mormon and the Bible.
Agents and police, meanwhile, continued to search for two other
suspects in the Ohio slayings, Kathryn Johnson, 36, of Holden, Mo.,
and Daniel Kraft, 25, of Nauvoo, Ill., who were believed to be
traveling around Southern California in a pickup truck and carrying
either Missouri or Ohio license plates.
The Lundgrens' refusal to waive extradition prompted San Diego
prosecutors to file a fugitive complaint against all three Monday, one
day after a nationwide search for them ended at a motel 14 miles north
of the Mexican border.
"We expect to arraign them on Tuesday. After that, it will take up
to 90 days to get the paperwork from the Ohio governor to our governor
and from him to us," detective Rich Miller of the San Diego County
Sheriff's Department said.
In his interviews with the three Monday, Miller said Lundgren was
quietly adamant in his refusal to waive extradition, and Damon
followed his father's lead. Alice Lundgren appeared willing to agree
to extradition but did not want to counter her husband.
"The elder Lundgren said he would not sign, and the son said he
would do whatever his father did," Miller said. Alice Lundgren "was
just holding her head. She wanted to sign. She said, `I don't
understand why they (Jeffrey and Damon) are doing this, we have to get
back to Ohio."'
"Perhaps she can convince them to sign (Tueday morning) before the
arraignment. If she does, the judge will give Ohio 10 days to pick
them up," Miller said.
Deputy District Attorney John Hewicker, expected to file fugitive
complaints against the Lundgrens Tuesday, said there was not much hope
that Jeffrey Lundgren would change his mind.
"I wouldn't say this was unexpected. I can only surmise that he's
quite an authoritative figure, and his No. 2 and 3 do not want to go
against him," Hewicker said. "And if he wants the authorities to jump
through hoops and get a governor's warrant to extradite him, then
that's what he'll do."
At the Santa Fe Motel where the Lundgrens were arrested, three
other Lundgren children, ages 15, 10 and 9, were taken in protective
custody by authorities and "released into safe hands Monday morning,"
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent April Freud said. The
children's whereabouts were not disclosed.
Authorities also confiscated four weapons, including an AR-15
assault weapon, up to 1,000 rounds of ammunition and a cache of other
"survivalist-type gear," the ATF said.
In a nearby storage locker rented by the family, authorities found
more weapons, gunpowder and timing devices of the type used to
manufacture explosives, authorities said.
ATF agents at the arrest scene Sunday said it was unclear whether
the Lundgrens were headed for Mexico. Lundgren had been in the Navy in
the San Diego area in the early 1970s and "may have felt he was
comfortable with this location," ATF agent Andrew Vita said.
Joy Liu, manager of the Santa Fe Motel, said Alice Lundgren checked
in to the motel at midnight Wednesday using the name Anna James. Over
the next three days, "between six and eight people were using the
room," she said.
Liu said Lundgren told her she had left her nearby home to escape
beatings by her husband. She paid cash for the $37-a-day room and
refused room service or maid service, said Liu.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank