APn 02/14 0137 Mummy-Health Cult Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reser

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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 members. 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 said. 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 mummified corpse. 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, Shearer said. 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.

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