APn 01/11 0559 Cult Deaths Copyright, 1990. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. By
APn 01/11 0559 Cult Deaths
Copyright, 1990. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By KRISTI UMBREIT
Associated Press Writer
KIRTLAND, Ohio (AP) -- Neighbors and strangers jammed a memorial service
for a family of five who authorities say were shot and buried under a barn
by a religious cult, possibly as a sacrifice.
As about 250 people filled the small brick church Wednesday night to pay
respects to the Avery family, authorities in Southern California said they
arrested the last two members of the cult, ending a nationwide manhunt for
13 people accused in the slayings.
Law officers stopped a pickup truck about 60 miles northeast of San
Diego and arrested Daniel David Kraft and Kathryn Johnson, said agent James
Stathes of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in California.
In Kirtland, five pink candles burned at the Reorganized Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints for 49-year-old Dennis Avery; his wife, Cheryl,
42; and their three daughters: Trina, 15; Rebecca, 13; and Karen, 7.
Four ministers of different denominations addressed the mourners.
"The tragedy that has (hit) us has caused our ordered world to collapse
for the time being, and we will never be the same again," said the Rev.
Bruce Morrison, a United Church of Christ pastor. "When unexpected tragedy
disrupts our lives in the way in which this one has, we find ourselves
plunged into mystery."
Barbara Eckart, a member of the Reorganized Church in Kirtland, 30 miles
east of Cleveland, said she didn't know the Averys because they seldom
attended services, but felt the need to pray for them.
"I came to support the congregation, and because of the fact that it was
an unfair thing that happened to them," she said. "I feel that they didn't
have anybody here."
Authorities say the Averys moved to Kirtland from Missouri at the urging
of a former lay minister of the Reorganized Church, Jeffrey Lundgren, and
later joined his cult when he broke from the church.
The Averys were killed apparently in an April 18 ritual sacrifice
designed to "cleanse" the cult and allow it to relocate, authorities said.
The Rev. Dale Luffman, president of the northeast Ohio chapter of the
Reorganized Church, has said the slayings may have been prompted by
disputes over money or sex, or in an effort to keep the Averys from leaving
Until April, Lundgren rented the 15-acre farm where the bodies were
found and where some of his followers had lived. Investigators said it
appears the Averys, who lived nearby and were not as fervent as his other
followers, were shot before the cult headed to West Virginia and eventually
to a farm near Holden, Mo.
The bodies were unearthed last week after police got an anonymous tip.
All five had duct tape across their eyes and some had their hands and feet
bound with the tape, authorities said.
Officials in Lake County are seeking the extradition of Lundgren, his
wife and son, and 10 others from California. Lundgren and the others have
refused to waive the proceeding, which could take 90 days, officials said.
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported today that Mrs. Avery's mother
received a short note from her daughter, apparently dashed off just hours
before the five were shot, mentioning a planned move to Wyoming.
The two arrested Wednesday, Kraft, 25, of Nauvoo, Ill., and Johnson, 36,
of Holden, Mo., had eluded authorities since the arrests of Lundgren, 39;
his wife, Alice, 38; and son, Damon, 19, at a motel Sunday in National City
near San Diego. Eight others also have been detained.
Other cult members implicated Lundgren as the triggerman in the deaths,
a federal agent said in documents filed Wednesday in El Cajon Municipal
Also, a newspaper reported that Lundgren was drawing welfare checks in
San Diego County for almost a month before his capture. He applied for
welfare last month and received $940 in checks at a Chula Vista motel in
December and earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times said.
Ohio prosecutor Steven LaTourette said Lundgren and his son face five
counts of aggravated murder. If convicted, they could face the death
The others face a variety of charges including murder and conspiracy to
Authorities found an assortment of firearms and knives, thousands of
rounds of ammunition, a .50-caliber rifle, gas masks and other equipment at
two San Diego-area hotels and at a storage unit in nearby Chula Vista.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is based in
Independence, Mo. It has roots and some beliefs in common with the Salt
Lake City-based Mormon Church, but is separate.
UPsw 01/10 2047 (two remaining suspects caught)
By KATE CALLEN
SAN DIEGO (UPI) -- The last two of 13 cult members charged in the
ritualistic slayings of an Ohio family were captured Wednesday on a road in
a remote area of San Diego County, authorities said.
Kathryn Johnson, 36, and Daniel David Kraft, 25, were arrested by a
sheriff's deputy who stopped them as they were driving along a rural
highway in Santa Ysabel, a former mission site 55 miles northeast of San
"They were taken into custody during a routine traffic stop along
Highway 79 and they surrendered without incident," a spokeswoman for the
Sheriff's Department said.
The couple had been the subject of an exhaustive search by federal
agents and local police after Sunday's arrest of Jeffrey Lundgren, the
leader of a religious cult accused of murdering five followers in April.
Lundgren, 39, his wife, Alice, 38, and his 19-year-old son, Damon, were
apprehended at a motel in National City near the Mexican border after a
nationwide search. Authorities said the Lundgrens collected $1,360 in
welfare payments while hiding out.
Lundgren and his wife used their own names and furnished identification
to apply for Aid for Dependent Families and Children grants starting in
mid-December, said a spokeswoman for the San Diego County Department of
The three, booked as fugitives on Ohio warrants charging them with
murder and conspiracy, remained in custody without bail after refusing to
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