United Press International Charleston, W.Va. May 3, 1988 2 05-03-88 04:24 ped Sheriff disc

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United Press International Charleston, W.Va. May 3, 1988 2 05-03-88 04:24 ped Sheriff discounts Krihna suicide report in devotee's death MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (UPI) _ Sheriff Donald Bordenkircher is not sure whose body was found on property bordering a Hare Krishna commune, or how the man died _ but he is certain the death was not suicide. The mysterious case has added yet another chilling chapter to the fundamentalist Hindu sect, whose lavish retreat has been a center of intrigue in recent years. "While some want us to believe the person found dead was Todd Schenker and that he inflicted a gunshot wound to his head," the sheriff said, "the tale they weave does not seem plausible." Bordenkircher said the dead man's identity has not been established by Dr. Irvin Sopher, the state's medical examiner, although Krishna officials at New Vrindaban have said the victim was Schenker. The sheriff is investigating the death as a murder. The man's charred remains were found last month on Schenker's property at the foot of Turkey Dam Park. Bordenkircher said the Krishnas' account of a suicide is "negated by the lack of a weapon" used to put a hole in the man's head. "It was impossible for the victim to shoot himself in the head, burn himself and then dispose of the weapon," he said. Bordenkircher said authorities recovered two barrels from a semiautomatic pistol and spring and hammer parts from a revolver but failed to find a gun frame. What's more, the sheriff said, the fire marshal's office determined the fire was not sufficiently hot to melt the steel or gun frame alloys. Based on those findings, Bordenkircher said he concluded the death weapon was not to be found but "it appears that some effort was made to put evidence at the fire site." New Vrindaban has been rocked by controversy in recent years. One leader has gone to prison for the murder of a fellow supplicant and the commune itself came under a multi-faceted federal investigation. United Press International Charleston, W.Va. May 4, 1988 4 05-03-88 09:58 ped Marshall sheriff discounts suicide report; begins murder investigation MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (UPI) _ Sheriff Donald Bordenkircher, discounting the story offered by Hare Krishna leaders, said the man whose charred body was found near the religious commune did not commit suicide. He was murdered. "It was impossible for the victim to shoot himself in the head, burn himself and then dispose of the weapon," Bordenkircher said. The mysterious case of the body, found near Turkey Dam Park, adds another bizarre chapter to the fundamentalist Hindu sect, whose lavish retreat has come under increasing scrutiny from federal and state law enforcers in recent years. "While some want us to believe the person found dead was Todd Schenker and that he inflicted a gunshot wound to his head," the sheriff said, "the tale they weave does not seem plausible." Bordenkircher said the dead man's identity has not been established by Dr. Irvin Sopher, the state's medical examiner, although Krishna officials at New Vrindaban have said the victim was Schenker. The sheriff is investigating the death as a murder. The man's charred remains were found last month on Schenker's property at the foot of Turkey Dam Park. Bordenkircher said the Krishnas' account of a suicide is "negated by the lack of a weapon" used to put a hole in the man's head. Bordenkircher said authorities recovered two barrels from a semiautomatic pistol and spring and hammer parts from a revolver but failed to find a gun frame. What's more, the sheriff said, the fire marshal's office determined the fire was not sufficiently hot to melt the steel or gun frame alloys. Based on those findings, Bordenkircher said he concluded the death weapon was not to be found but "it appears that some effort was made to put evidence at the fire site." New Vrindaban has been rocked by controversy in recent years. One leader has gone to prison for the murder of a fellow supplicant and the commune itself came under a multi-faceted federal investigation. United Press International Charleston, W.Va. May 4, 1988 6 05-04-88 02:51 ped Bordenkircher: `no rush for judgement' in death near Krishna commune MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (UPI) _ Dentists could hold the key to the identification of a man found with a bullet lodged in his brain whose charred body possibly was eaten by his own pit bulls near a Hare Krishna commune. Krishnas claim the man was Todd Schenker, and say he died by his own hand. If that's true, it appears that Schenker's remains were largely consumed by his own pit bulls. But Sheriff Donald Bordenkircher scoffs at the Krishna account of suicide and says his department considers the matter a case of homicide. Medical authorities may not know the victim's identity for a long time. "The best thing we have are the teeth," the sheriff said Wednesday. "They apparently were intact. We're writing to every dentist in our area that may have treated him. "In the meantime, all we've got is a charred body that has been largely eaten by pit bulls." The dogs, he notes, were owned by Schenker, who has been declared missing since the body was discovered in early April. "The real basis of our investigation is that it's impossible for the victim to shoot himself, burn himself, and then throw the gun away," Bordenkircher said. "It wasn't spontaneous combustion." Bordenkircher said a .22-caliber slug was extracted from the brain. A search through fire debris produced gun parts that were not relative to the case. He said it appears someone took measures to plant evidence at the scene. The next step is to identify the remains. The Krishnas at the New Vrindaban commune have been quick to say the man was Schenker. Officials declined to discuss the case further this week and a public relations officer there did not return calls. "If we listen to the advice we're getting from some groups of people, you'd say it's Todd Schenker," the sheriff said. "We can't do that. What we have to do is confirm and verify who it is. "This could be months. Right now, we're investigating this as a criminal homicide. There's no statute of limitations. "We're certainly in no rush for judgment." United Press International Charleston, W.Va. May 5, 1988 8 05-04-88 08:55 ped Identifying corpse near Krishna commune might take months MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (UPI) _ Months might pass before a sheriff knows the identity of a man found shot to death and burned beyond recognition on land joining a controversy-ridden Hare Krishna commune in Marshall County. Sheriff Donald Bordenkircher says a murder occurred and the dead man's name cannot be pinned down until the medical authorities agree on it. Krishna officials claim the main was Todd Schenker and that he took his life. Bordenkircher finds their account absurd. If the man does turn out to be Schenker, it would mean the Krishna member was devoured by his own pit bulls. Bordenkircher says his department considers the death a matter of homicide. "The best thing we have are the teeth," the sheriff said Wednesday. "They apparently were intact. We're writing to every dentist in our area that may have treated him. "In the meantime, all we've got is a charred body that has been largely eaten by pit bulls." Bordenkircher said the pit bulls were owned by Schenker, who has been declared missing since the body was discovered in early April on land adjacent the Krishna spread. "The real basis of our investigation is that it's impossible for the victim to shoot himself, burn himself, and then throw the gun away," Bordenkircher said. "It wasn't spontaneous combustion." A .22-caliber slug was extracted from the brain, the sheriff said, but asearch through fire debris produced gun parts that were not relative to the case. To Bordenkircher, it appears someone took pains to plant evidence intended to show suicide. The Krishnas at New Vrindaban commune quickly identified the dead man as Schenker. But a public relations officer there did not return calls to United Press International this week, and another man who identified himself as working in that department would not discuss the matter. "If we listen to the advice we're getting from some groups of people, you'd say it's Todd Schenker," the sheriff said. "We can't do that. What we have to do is confirm and verify who it is. "This could be months. Right now, we're investigating this as a criminal homicide. There's no statute of limitations. "We're certainly in no rush for judgment."

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