APca 11/27 0440 Guru Trial VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) -- John Tiernan was convinced J
APca 11/27 0440 Guru Trial
VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) -- John Tiernan was convinced James Immel, a
once-powerful member of the Hare Krishna sect, was an incarnation of Jesus
Christ -- until Immel left his wife for a younger woman.
Tiernan had followed Immel around the world for 12 years. But his faith in
the American guru who called himself Vijaya was tested when Immel left his
38-year-old, common-law wife in Victoria and went with the other woman to
Hawaii earlier this year.
On Friday, Tiernan is scheduled to appear in a British court in London,
charged with killing Immel there on Nov. 13 in a bloody slaying police are
calling a ritual cult murder.
On Nov. 13 -- Immel's 39th birthday -- he was found in the London brass shop
where he had been working.
He had been stabbed through the heart and decapitated, with his severed head
placed neatly in his lap.
Tiernan was arrested nearby.
Immel reportedly had been one of 11 worldwide rulers of a Hare Krishna sect
called ISKCON until he was expelled in 1982 in London, England. At one time, he
reportedly lived in an English mansion donated to the sect by former Beatle
Before moving to Victoria in 1986, Immel was a guru at the Golden Mountain
Sanctuary in Mendocino County in Northern California.
Immel and Tiernan were among the religious zealots who sparked a bitter feud
last spring when the Social Credit Party tried to establish a prayer room in
the British Columbia Legislature. The prayer room was subsequently closed.
Later, they were among protesters who tried to camp on the British Columbia
Legislature's front lawn to demonstrate against uranium mining.
Immel's Peace on Earth craft store in Victoria was suspected to be a front
for drug smuggling, said city police Staff Sgt. Robert Newton. The store has
since filed for bankruptcy protection.
Immel left Victoria last May with a young woman, leaving behind his wife,
Geraldine Sanderson, 39, known as Bhatki. The pair traveled to Hawaii, then
Tiernan lived with Ms. Sanderson until he was deported to his native Ireland
on Oct. 14, she said.
Immel had wanted to become a corporate lawyer, Ms. Sanderson said, but
instead discovered Timothy Leary and hallucinogenic drugs before turning to the
Hare Krishna movement.
Ms. Sanderson said she spent 10 years as a Krishna devotee before leaving it
in 1982 to join Immel in California and for five years she was his "Holy
"He (Tiernan) was so helpful. He was a servant to everybody. He was Vijaya's
right-hand man. His chauffeur. His bread-provider. His everything."
Ms. Sanderson said she and Tiernan believed Immel to be an incarnation of
But in May, Immel called from $awaii, where he'd secretly flown with another
woman. Ms. Sanderson said he told her he'd done it to help her overcome her
When Immel phoned again the next day, Tiernan told him he didn't believe his
activities were those of a spiritual master and said he couldn't have a
position in the spiritual kingdom after all, Ms. Sanderson said.
The Irish-born Tiernan, who was often seen around Victoria selling Peace on
Earth buttons, was arrested in October and deported.
Police in Victoria said Thursday that Tiernan was deported Oct. 13, during
the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver, because of threats of "surgical
strikes in British Columbia." Police described him as radical in his beliefs.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank