APn 01/09 2148 Cult Deaths Copyright, 1990. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. By
APn 01/09 2148 Cult Deaths
Copyright, 1990. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By DENNIS GEORGATOS
Associated Press Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A cult leader refused Tuesday to return voluntarily to
Ohio and answer charges in the ritualistic slayings of a family of five.
Jeffrey Lundgren, 39; his wife, Alice, 38; and their eldest son, Damon,
19; all pleaded innocent through their attorneys to Ohio fugitive
complaints, triggering formal extradition proceedings that could take at
least 90 days.
"Sometimes I wish it wasn't so drawn out but it does work evlly,"
said John Hewicker, a San Diego County deputy district attorney.
The Lundgrens were chained together at the waists as they made their
first court appearance since their arrests in nearby National City on
Sunday. Alice Lundgren and her son held hands. None of them spoke during
Milly Durovic, the attorney representing Jeffrey Lundgren, declined to
discuss her client's refusal to return to Ohio voluntarily.
Municipal Court Judge Timothy Tower ordered the three held without bond.
Prosecutors in Ohio will have to petition California Gov. George
Deukmejian for the defendants' forced return to stand trial for the
slayings of Dennis and Cheryl Avery and their three young daughters.
A self-proclaimed "prophet," Lundgren was a lay minister in the
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ohio before he
was ousted for radical teachings.
He persuaded other members to follow him and the splinter group went to
live on a farm in Kirtland, 30 miles east of Cleveland. Five bodies were
unearthed on the farm last week.
Investigators believe the Averys were killed in April just before
Lundgren and his followers moved to a farm near Holden, Mo. Cult members
had scattered by New Year's Eve when an informant told authorities about
The Lundgrens were arrested outside a motel in National City, which is
about five miles south of San Diego, by federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms agents and police.
Three other Lundgren children -- Kristen, 10, Caleb, 9, and Jason, 15 --
also were taken into protective custody and have been released to the
custody of other family members, ATF agent Scott Parkhurst said after
Federal agents continued looking in Southern California for the last two
of the 13 people indicted in the slayings of the Averys.
The 13, who federal and local authorities say belonged to a religious
cult, were charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping or conspiracy to
commit aggravated murder.
Lake County, Ohio, prosecutor Steven C. LaTourette, has said the Averys
apparently were killed as a sacrifice that would cleanse cult members'
souls and allow them to travel to the wilderness.
But Dale Luffman, president of the northeast Ohio chapter of the
Reorganized Church, said the Averys may have been killed because of
disputes over money, sex or fear the Averys would leave the cult.
The Reorganized Church, based in Independence, Mo., has roots and some
beliefs in common with the Salt Lake City-based Mormon Church but is
The Mormon Church is based on revelations that Joseph Smith said were
brought to him in the 1820s by a heavenly messenger. After Smith's death in
1844, the church split into factions, the largest of which is the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Reorganized Church was founded by Smith's son Joseph III and claims
to be a continuation of the original church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement from
its Salt Lake City headquarters on Tuesday disassociating itself from
"Jeffrey Lundgren and his wife and son ... have never been members of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Bruce L. Olsen,
managing director of public communications for the Mormon Church. "We
deplore the tragedy and extend our sympathy to survivors of the victims."
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