DESTRUCTIVE MORMON SPLINTER
GROUP, LED BY JEFFREY LUNDGREN
This was a destructive, doomsday cult founded and led by Jeffrey Lundgren. He was the leader of a small group of about 2 dozen members that broke away from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), now called the Community of Christ. The RLDS Church has a membership of about 250,000, and is centered in Independence MO. The much larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints split from the RLDS when the former moved to Utah. Lundgren, in turn, split from the RLDS in 1987 because of its liberal tendencies (e.g. allowing women to be ordained as priests). There is also suspicion that he had embezzled money from the Church. Members prepared for an expected war in which they would attack the original Temple in Kirtland which is now preserved as a historical site by the RLDS. They engaged in strange sexual rituals, and para-military training. One family, the Averys, opposed some of Lundgren's rulings, were executed and buried on the group's ranch. He referred to the killings of the parents and three daughters as: "pruning the vineyard."
According to CNN:
"In an unsworn statement at his 1990 trial, Lundgren told the jury that he and his cult were preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ, which they believed would occur at the Reorganized Church's temple in Kirtland. He said the spiritually unclean had to be dealt with."
"Lundgren said a combination of messages from the Bible told him to kill the Averys. Cult members had testified that although the Averys were members of the sect, Lundgren considered them less enthusiastic." 1
Lundgren was sentenced to death for his crimes; his wife and son received long prison sentences.According to a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General's office, Lundgren has exhausted all of his appeals. He is scheduled to be executed on 2006-OCT-10.
A Christian group. Total deaths: 5.
Latest update: 2006-AUG-30
Author: B.A. Robinson
Cult Leader Executed In OhioKIRTLAND, Ohio (AP) ― Ohio executed a religious cult leader Tuesday for murdering a family of five followers who were taken one at a time to a barn, bound and shot to death. The youngest was a girl just 7 years old.
Jeffrey Lundgren, 56, died by injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. "I profess my love for God, my family, for my children, for Kathy (his wife). I am because you are," Lundgren said in his final statement.
The evidence against him in the deaths of the Avery family -- Dennis, 49, Cheryl, 46, Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and 7-year-old Karen -- was compelling.
Upset by what he saw as a lack of faith, Lundgren arranged a dinner hosted by cult members. Afterward, he and his followers led the family members one by one -- the father first, young Karen last -- to their deaths while the others unknowingly cleaned up after dinner.
Lundgren shot each victim two or three times while a running chain saw muffled the sound of the gunfire.
Lundgren argued at his trial in 1990 that he was prophet of God and therefore not deserving of the death penalty.
"It's not a figment of my imagination that I can in fact talk to God, that I can hear his voice," he had told the jurors. "I am a prophet of God. I am even more than a prophet."
Lundgren formed the cult with about 20 members in the northeast Ohio town of Kirtland after he was dismissed in 1987 as a lay minister of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon church.
He said God commanded him, through interpretation of Scriptures, to kill the Avery family, who had moved from Missouri in 1987 to follow his teachings.
Lundgren's attorneys had tried to put off the execution, arguing that he should be allowed to join a lawsuit challenging Ohio's use of lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment. They said his execution had more of a chance of being painful because he was diabetic and overweight at 275 pounds.
Late Monday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati issued an order allowing the execution to go forward. The U.S. Supreme Court refused a last-minute request to stop his execution Tuesday, and Gov. Bob Taft denied clemency.
Thirteen cult members were charged in the case, including Alice Lundgren, 55, Jeffrey Lundgren's wife at the time of the killings, and their son, Damon, now 35. Both are serving life prison terms.