APn 02/14 0137 Mummy-Health Cult Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reser
APn 02/14 0137 Mummy-Health Cult
Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
CHICAGO (AP) -- A family that secretly kept a mummified body
in their home for more than eight years has been linked to a cult
that preaches use of nutrients and exorcism in place of
traditional medicine, investigators said.
"I think we are touching on something, a group that hasn't
been known before -- a group that is almost a secret society,"
Knox County Sheriff Mark Shearer said in a story published in
Sunday's Chicago Tribune.
Shearer said those involved in the cult, known as the
"Holistic Society," included several suburban Chicago dentists,
but he would not identify them because of pending investigations.
Carl Stevens, the man whose withered corpse was found in bed
last month in his rural Knoxville home, was a diabetic who was
persuaded to rely on vitamins and powdered mixes in place of his
daily insulin injections, according to investigators and family
His body was found more than eight years after he died May 12,
1979, at age 40. His brother also died at a relatively young
age, and investigators were told that his death may also be
related to unorthodox health practices.
The Holistic Society disdains traditional health methods and
relies instead on an extreme form of "holistic health care," in
which the mind and body are treated with only natural vitamins,
herbs and nutrients, Shearer said.
Treatments are administered in a quasi-religious fashion that
involve the use of healing crystals, the exorcism of "black souls
or Satan," and "channeling" to communicate with spirits, Shearer
There is no evidence that the health cult is violent or guilty
of anything other than encouraging bizarre health practices for
the unwary, Shearer said.
In the weeks before his death, Stevens had cut his daily
insulin intake in half and was taking up to 20 vitamin pills a
day, according to an aunt, Frances Kennelly of Lambe, Mo.
Stevens, who had been a member of the Knoxville High School
Board of Education, died after vomiting a "black substance," his
42-year-old wife, Carole, told investigators.
The only criminal charges in the case were lodged against Mrs.
Stevens, a former nurse, and former Aurora dentist Richard G.
Kunce, 56. Both are charged with forging the dead man's name on
legal and bank documents and with cruelty to children. The
Stevenses' teen-age son and daughter lived in the house with the
Kunce, who is in custody, and Mrs. Stevens, who is out on
bond, have already pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of
failing to report Stevens' death.
In another twist to the case, investigators say they found a
"travel permit" from the right-wing Posse Comitatus anti-tax
group in the wallet of Kunce, who moved in with the Stevens
family 18 months ago as their "spiritual leader."
Kunce was introduced to the Stevens family by Carl Stevens'
brother, Roger, a St. Charles lawyer who was apparently the
first family member to become involved in the health cult,
Investigators and family members said Roger persuaded his
brother to use the vitamins and powdered mixes in place of his
daily insulin injections, and said Carl even began selling the
substances from his office.
Roger Stevens died at age 43 in 1985 at a Chicago hospital.
His death was attributed to gastrointestinal hemorrhage and
hepatic cirrhosis. But a nurse who cared for him told
investigators, "I think it was his diet that killed him,"
according to the Tribune.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank