UPce 01/12 2046 Ohio cult leader admitted killings, affidavit says By KATE CALLEN EL CAJON

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UPce 01/12 2046 Ohio cult leader admitted killings, affidavit says By KATE CALLEN EL CAJON, Calif. (UPI) -- The leader of a religious cult admitted to his followers that he killed five members of an Ohio family and had members of his group help bury the victims, a court affidavit showed Friday. Self-proclaimed prophet Jeffery Lundgren, 39; his wife, Alice Elizabeth, 38; their eldest son, Damon, 19; and 10 others have been charged in the shooting deaths of Dennis Avery, 49; his wife Cheryl, 42; and three daughters, Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and Karen, 6. At least one of the defendants admitted seeing Lundgren shoot a member of the Avery family and other followers said Lundgren "had an affinity" for the Colt .45 believed to be the murder weapon, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent said in the affidavit. The Averys were allegedly killed execution-style with a .45-caliber pistol in a barn on a Kirtland farm on or about April 16, 1989. The next day, Lundgren led his flock from the Cleveland area to West Virginia and later Missouri. Bail was set at $150,000 Friday in Painesville, Ohio, for the first of the 13 alleged members of the cult indicted in the slayings. Sharon Jean Bluntschly, who surrendered to Michigan authorities near her home in Bay City, Mich., last weekend, did not enter a plea during a brief appearance in Lake County Common Pleas Court. Two other Lundgren followers, Kathryn Renee Johnson and Daniel David Kraft Jr., were arraigned in a San Diego courtroom Friday and pleaded innocent to fugitive charges. Johnson, 36, of Holden, Mo., and Kraft, 25, of Nauvoo, Ill., were captured Wednesday in eastern San Diego County, just three days after Lundgren, his wife and son were arrested at a motel 14 miles from the Mexican border. Like the Lundgrens, Johnson and Kraft refused to agree to be extradited to Ohio and will remain in custody without bail at least until a formal extradition hearing. The entire extradition process for all five is expected to take 90 days. In the search warrant affidavit, filed Sunday in El Cajon Municipal Court, ATF Agent Richard Van Haelst of the bureau's Kansas City office said he interviewed cult members who gave him "detailed descriptions of the murders in question and Jeffrey Paul Lundgren's admissions to those homicides." One member interviewed said he saw Lundgren shoot one person and that "the one murder that he actually observed was committed with the particular handgun ... the Colt .45," Van Haelst's affidavit said. The cult members "advised me that Lundgren was known to carry firearms on a routine basis, and in particular had an affinity for the firearm he used in the execution-style slaying," Van Haelst said. The followers "helped carry the bodies to the grave that had been prepared in advance," Van Haelst said. The court affidavit did not identify the cult members Van Haelst interviewed. The affidavit was filed to obtain a warrant used to search the Lundgrens' room at the Sante Fe Motel Sunday. Lundgren left the Kirtland Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints two years ago, urging other church members to join him on a nearby farm. He apparently took their money and trained his members in paramilitary training and target practice as well as Bible studies. The Averys were killed as a kind of spiritual cleansing to prepare the group for its trek to the wilderness, salvation and the second coming of Christ, investigators have said. ATF agents got another search warrant Sunday after finding a business card for a storage locker rented by Lundgren. Agent R. Scott Parkhurst of the San Diego office said in an affidavit for that search that Lundgren's wife, who calls herself "Liz," told agents there were firearms, ammunition and survival gear in the locker. The agent referred to Liz Lundgren as a cooperating suspect. On Thursday, ATF agents displayed rifles, handguns, swords and ammunition taken from the locker, the Lundgrens' National City motel room, and a motel room in Chula Vista, where Johnson and Kraft stayed over the weekend. "They had plenty of ammunition to ward off an army," ATF agent Andrew Vita said. Along with the cache of weapons, which included a rare .50-caliber sniper rifle capable of firing armor-piercing bullets at long range, agents seized bibles and an embroidered purple vestment Lundgren apparently wore during religious ceremonies.


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