Tag Archive: Murder

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Jim Bakker Says Democrats Might Assassinate President Trump

jim and tammy faye bakker

This political fight that is going on in America is going to bring America apart, America is going to come apart. I believe there is such a hatred for our president, and I will say this and you may say I shouldn’t but I’m going to say it: if they [Democrats/Liberals] can’t get him out by courts and politically and put him in prison somehow, they want him to go to prison, they’re applauding now for Trump to go to prison—they will kill him if they have to.

—  Jim Bakker, Newsweek, Conservative Televangelist Jim Bakker Says Democrats Will Kill Trump If Impeachment Fails, November 18, 2019

Janice’s Cruel God, Yet She Loves Him Still

i love jesusSeveral days ago, the local newspaper reported that a police officer under investigation for perjury was dead. While the cause of death has not yet been released, rumor abounds to its cause. His death is currently under investigation by law enforcement and the county coroner’s office. [update: his death was ruled a suicide, death by a single gunshot to the head] Regardless of the cause of death, this man died way too young, leaving behind his wife, two married children, and his mother. It’s his mother I want to focus on with this post.

Janice — not her real name — attended a non-denominational Evangelical church I pastored in West Unity from 1997-2002. Janice was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Every time the doors of the church were open, she was there. Any time we needed help in a particular ministry, Janice volunteered. She was what I call a one-percenter; the one-percent of church members who do ninety-nine percent of the work. Every church has a few Janices, and without them, the church would grind to a halt.

Janice’s husband, while a faithful attendee, was not as committed as she was. He was what I called a good-old-boy, a congregant who always had a story to tell, even if most of the tales were lies. Several years ago, Janice’s husband died of cancer. I believe he was 60 years old when he died. Janice remarried — her fourth. Today, she actively continues to serve Jesus with her new husband at a nearby Evangelical church.

During the seven years I was privileged to be Janice’s pastor, she went through three traumatic events.

I met Janice for the first time at a local restaurant which she and her husband operated. The restaurant was a greasy spoon and, thanks to its low ceiling, was often filled with cigarette smoke. This was in the days before No Smoking laws went into effect in Ohio. The smoke was so pervasive that after eating there, your clothing had the distinct odor of burning cigarettes (and greasy food). After Janice and her husband started attending our church, she asked if I could advise them about their business. She knew I had a business background, and had managed several fast-food and full-service restaurants. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Janice and her husband were drowning in debt with no way out. Owning a restaurant was Janice’s dream. Sadly, it was left to me to destroy her dream. No matter how I worked the numbers, it was clear that the restaurant would continue to lose money. Worse yet, Janice had stopped paying business and payroll taxes in the hope that the business would turn around. I finally told Janice that there was no possible way her business could survive, that throwing more money at it was a waste. This broke Janice’s heart, but I think she knew, deep down, that I was right. Several months later, she closed the restaurant.

One evening after church, I heard the office phone ring. Janice answered the phone. It was her youngest son, calling to say that he had just murdered his girlfriend while she worked at a nearby convenience store. In a fit of rage over being dumped, her son butchered his ex-girlfriend with a knife, leaving her young son motherless. Janice ran into the auditorium and asked for my help. I told her that her son needed to turn himself in before the police arrested him. I went with her to where her son was hiding and encouraged him to go to the sheriff’s office and surrender. He did and later pleaded guilty. Janice’s raised-in-church son is currently serving a life sentence in an Ohio penitentiary.

Janice had one daughter who loved Jesus, but loved having a good time too. She was quite the character, and would frequent our church off and on. Not long after getting married, Janice’s daughter came down with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She died ever so slowly, finally succumbing to the disease in her 20s. I had the sad privilege of performing her funeral.

And now, her son is dead. Four marriages, a failed business, a dead husband, two dead children, and a child behind bars for life. Yet, despite all of these things, Janice still lovingly and blindly worships, serves, and follows Jesus. (The day of and days after her son’s death, her Facebook wall was littered with dozens of memes extolling the wonders of Jesus.)  And for the life of me, I can’t understand why. Yes, Jesus supposedly saved Janice from her sins and promised her a mansion in Heaven after she died, but outside of that, her God has been a piss-poor father, friend, and lover. What is it, exactly, that God has done for Janice? Look at all she had suffered in this life. Yet, despite the abuse, she loves Him still.

Perhaps, believing in God and holding onto his promises is what helps Janice get through life. If so, I get it. That said, I want to scream, JANICE, LOOK AT YOUR LIFE! WHERE IS GOD? From my seat in the atheist pew, it’s clear the “friend that sticks closer than a brother” abandoned Janice long ago; that the deity — much like an abusive husband — who says “I love you” is a violent abuser; that Janice’s Heavenly Father is a child abuser, and is unworthy of her love, commitment, and devotion.

I am sure Janice hopes for great reward in Heaven after she dies. Sadly, what she won’t know is that her suffering came from the cruel roll of fate’s dice; that sometimes shit happens to good people; that time spent hoping and expecting God to come through is a fool’s errand. I wish Janice nothing but the best in the years that lie ahead. I wish most of all that she would tell her abusive deity to fuck off and spend her remaining days enjoying life without thoughts of worship, devotion, and commitment. Sadly, I suspect Janice will ride her God’s black train until the end.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Day the Neighbor Tried to Murder His Wife

gerencser-children-1960s

Bruce “Butch” Gerencser and his younger brother and sister, 1960s, San Diego, California. First time I noticed that my pants are unzipped, underwear is above my waist, and no shoes. I was quite the fashion statement.

In the early 1960s, my dad packed up his family of five and moved us to San Diego, California in the hope of finding the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Dad never found his dream, but while there the Gerencser family found Jesus and became members of a large Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. I attended kindergarten and first grade in California. My memories, as to be expected, are spotty, but one moment in time stands above all others, one I have not forgotten fifty-six years later.

Most of my time in California was spent living in a small single-story home on Columbine Street. The house sat across the street from a canyon that would provide my siblings and me with countless hours of fun. That said, I can’t imagine letting a 6-year-old, 5-year-old, and 3-year-old play by themselves without adult supervision. Such were the times, I suppose.

In our backyard was a courtyard of sorts, with three other homes closely situated to ours. One day, I heard a bunch of screaming in Spanish. Always a nosey little boy, I went to the courtyard to see what was up. Much to my fascination — at the time — a Mexican man was savagely beating his wife. Adults stood by and did nothing — out of fear, I suspect — as the man inflicted such damage on his wife that one eye popped out of its socket on her blood-soaked face. The man’s white T-shirt was covered with his wife’s blood. As I think about this event decades later, it’s clear that the man intended to murder his wife.

By the time the police arrived, the man had fled the scene, and could be seen attempting to escape via a water pipe of sorts that traversed the canyon. Soon apprehended, he was placed in the back seat of a police car. As the car began to pull away, the man turned to look out the back window. Still filled with rage, his mouth was foaming.

Little children should never have to experience such things in their lives. I am not sure where my mother was at the time, or why she didn’t shield us from the carnage. Perhaps she tried to do so, but my nosiness won the day. Regardless, this event made a deep mark on my life. When confronted with circumstances later in my life, I chose to intercede instead of standing by and fearfully doing nothing as those adults in the courtyard did over half a century ago. I refuse to stand by and do nothing when people use physical strength or power to psychologically or physically harm others. Yes, that means putting myself in harm’s way, but imagine if all of us stood up to bullies and those who use violence to make a point or get their way. If we don’t, who will?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Orthodox Presbyterian John Earnest Shoots Up Jewish Synagogue

john earnest

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

John Earnest is a committed member of Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido, California.  The Calvinistic church is affiliated with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) — a Fundamentalist denomination. Earnest’s father in an elder in the Escondido church. On April 27, 2019, John Earnest entered a Jewish synagogue and opened fire, killing one worshiper and wounding several others.

CNN reports:

John T. Earnest, the accused synagogue shooter, may have summed it up best himself.

“If you told me even 6 months ago that I would do this I would have been surprised,” he allegedly wrote in an online manifesto before last weekend’s attack on the Chabad synagogue near San Diego.

On Tuesday, Earnest entered a not guilty plea in court. Wearing glasses and dark blue jail-issued clothes, the 19-year-old was assigned a public defender as he faces one count of murder, a count of arson of a house of worship and three counts of attempted murder.

He will be held without bail while investigators, family and friends continue to piece together Earnest’s baffling, and seemingly sudden, departure from the world he once knew.

How, and when, they wonder, did the piano playing, academic overachiever from a churchgoing family of lifeguards, go so wrong?

“How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us,” Earnest’s family wrote in a statement released this week. They said their son’s “actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold.”

Former classmates also say they were perplexed by the turn of events. The Earnest in court Tuesday is unrecognizable from the high school boy they knew two years ago.

Back then he was known as the guy who was so smart that he didn’t bother to take notes in advanced chemistry and physics, but still aced every exam; so quiet that some teachers were startled when he spoke.

“I walked the same hallways as this guy, read the same textbooks, drove around the same areas, and essentially had the same upbringing,” one student posted on the online forum Reddit, “but he became a murderer?”

….

According to law enforcement officials, Earnest used an “AR-type assault weapon” to shoot the victims. Prosecutors told a judge Tuesday that Earnest donned a tactical vest and helmet during the attack and had extra magazines of ammunition with him. The shooting, they said, was captured on video and abruptly ended when either his gun jammed or he was unable to reload. He fled the scene and called 911 on himself, making statements about the incident that San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan described as “consistent with the charges.”

….

In the online manifesto, Earnest allegedly wrote he was inspired by an attacker who killed scores of people at a New Zealand mosque and Islamic center on March 15. The teen said he conceived of and executed his own assault within a month. The assault on the synagogue was April 27.

The manifesto reflects a long-simmering, extreme hatred of Jews. His expletive-filled rant refers to Jews as degenerative, genocidal, ugly, cursed and corrupt. He blames the Jews for a multitude of what he considers societal problems, from communism to pornography. He added bigoted and racist comments about many other ethnicities, religions and races.

Earnest brags of what he calls his European ancestry — his “magnificent bloodline.” He claims that his violence is condoned by his Christianity. He rails against law enforcement. He lists Adolf Hitler as one of his inspirations.

The teenager’s family said they were disgusted by his actions, writing in their statement, “He has killed and injured the faithful who were gathered in a sacred place on a sacred day. To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries.”

The Washington Post adds:

Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God.

Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was stunned. “It certainly calls for a good amount of soul-searching,” said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a small evangelical denomination founded to counter liberalism in mainline Presbyterianism. Earnest, 19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities but also cogent Christian theology.

So the pastor read those seven pages, trying to understand. “We can’t pretend as though we didn’t have some responsibility for him — he was radicalized into white nationalism from within the very midst of our church,” Edmondson said.

Earnest’s actions on Saturday in Poway — where he allegedly killed one Jewish worshiper and injured a rabbi, a child and another synagogue-goer — have spurred debate among evangelical pastors about the role of a certain stream of Christian theology in shaping the young man’s worldview, which allegedly turned deadly on the last day of the Passover holiday.

Christian leaders across denominations condemned the attack, saying violence against others and white supremacy are completely antithetical to Christian beliefs. “Anti-Semitism and racist hatred which apparently motivated the shooter . . . have no place within our system of doctrine,” the OPC denomination said in a statement.

But while some said Earnest’s background in the church has nothing to do with his alleged crime, and the church shouldn’t have to answer for him, others called for a moment of reckoning.

Some drew comparisons to Muslim communities asked to account for terrorist actions and worried that they could be in the same position when the shooter claims to be a faithful Christian.

“When there’s an act of ‘radical Islamic terror’ — somebody claiming they’re motivated by their Islamic faith — if we’re going to call upon moderates in Muslim communities to condemn those things, we should do the same. I wholeheartedly, full stop, condemn white nationalism,” said Chad Woolf, an evangelical pastor in Fort Myers, Fla., who was one of the first to join in heated debate online about how the attack reflects on evangelicalism. “We should recognize that somebody could grow up in an evangelical church, whose father was a leader, and could somehow conflate the teachings of Christianity and white nationalism. We should be very concerned about that.”

Earnest could face the death penalty, if convicted.

For further information

National Review article

San Diego Tribune article

Terry Mattingly article

 

 

Black Collar Crime: Baptist CFO Roy McClendon-Thompson Accused of Embezzlement and Murder

roy mcclendon thompson

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Roy McClendon-Thompson,  the chief financial officer for Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, was arrested weeks ago and charged with embezzling over $100,000 from the church. McClendon-Thompson was released on a $15,000 bond. On April 8, McClendon-Thompson shot and killed his alleged lover, 45-year-old James Curtis Jones. Later that same day, with police in hot pursuit, McClendon-Thompson crashed into a dump truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Masimba Chirayi Accused of Murdering Woman, Thinking She was a Vampire

arrested

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Masimba Chirayi, a pastor with the Jowane Masowe Chishanu sect in Zimbabwe, stands accused of murdering church member Wendy Thinnamay Masuka. Over the weekend, while baptizing Masuka in a nearby river, Chirayi drowned the woman, thinking she was a “vampire possessed by demons.” According to New ZImbabwe, Chirayi thought Masuska was going to kill people, so he held her under water until he overpowered her (Greek for she stopped breathing).

Chirayi’s bail has been set at $50.

Unfamiliar with the Jowane Masowe Chishanu sect? You can find more information here and here.

If God is so Powerful, Why Can’t He Stop Christians From Committing Heinous Crimes?

Evangelicals believe that their God is all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He is the sovereign of the universe, and nothing happens apart from his purpose, decree, and plan. God sets up kingdoms and takes them down; thus Donald Trump is the president of the United States because God wanted him to be. It’s God, not humans, who ultimately elects people to office. He is the divine ballot box stuffer. This same God is the giver and taker of life. No one dies before the time God has appointed for his or her death. Wherever man roams, the Christian God is found. According to Evangelicals, humans cannot escape God. He is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

If these things are true, I’d love for a Christian to explain to me why it is that God can’t stop his followers from committing heinous crimes? Appealing to free will or sin won’t work. Why? God is in control of everything. If he is in control of everything, then that includes sin. If he is the sovereign over the universe, and nothing happens apart from his purpose, decree, and plan, what does that say about the notion of free will?  If humans truly have free will and can choose as they please, this means that God is not in control; that God’s plans can be frustrated by human volition. (Let the theological wrangling and justifications begin.) Well Bruce, you have to understand ____________. Actually, I don’t. All I am doing here is taking what Christians say at face value. If God is whom Evangelicals say he is, and has the power they say he does, this means that God is culpable for what happens day after day on this dying planet of ours.

Let me ask again, why can’t God stop his followers from committing heinous crimes? If, as Evangelicals assert, God, the Holy Spirit, lives in all believers and is their teacher and guide, why do Christians commit vile, horrendous crimes? Take Matthew Phelps, who stabbed his Christian wife over a hundred times. Explain how a Bible college-trained preacher could commit such a crime. Explain how it is that the news daily reports stories about Evangelical “men of God” committing adultery, stealing church funds, raping teenagers, and sexually molesting children. Why doesn’t Jehovah stop these God-called, Spirit-filled, Bible-reading, praying servants of his from committing these crimes (and others that aren’t reported). Is it that God can’t; that he is powerless to do so? Is it that humans do what humans do, and there is nothing God can do to keep them from doing so? It seems to me, based on an ever-increasing mountain of evidence, that if there is a God who created everything, he is an idle bystander, unwilling or unable to lift a finger to keep his followers from sodomizing boys, sexually assaulting little girls, and preying on adult women.

There was a time when Evangelicals could argue that criminals such as David Hyles or Bob Gray (Jacksonville, Florida) were outliers; that pastors, evangelists, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, deacons, and bus workers who commit crimes are as rare as a dodo bird sighting. Thanks to the internet and the willingness of victims to publicly share their stories, we now know the Evangelicals have just as big of a crime problem as the Catholic church does. And even before the internet, there was gossip about this or that preacher being arrested or run out of his church. Solomon was right when said there is nothing new under the sun.

Evangelical church leaders love to rail against the world and its “sins,” yet these same behaviors are found among the fraternity. Does anyone really believe that Ted Haggard and Jack Hyles are the exceptions to the rule; that yes, preachers can and do commit crimes, but such behavior is rarely found in Evangelical houses of God? I remember a day when Evangelicals thundered against the sins of the world — fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and divorce. Look at our strong, lifelong marriages, pastors would say. Look at our moral purity. We owe it all to JESUS!  Now we know better. Evangelical pastors and their congregants sin just as much as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. We know that pastors are not the pillars of virtue they claim to be: that they have sex with women to whom they are not married, and surf porn sites just like their counterparts in the world. (Please read Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

It seems, then, that Evangelicals aren’t any different from the rest of us; that all their talk about being new creations in Christ Jesus is just that, talk. Now, this doesn’t mean that Christianity is worthless. People find purpose, meaning, and community through religion. That said, I do wonder if pastors stood before their congregations and said, God is not who and what we claim he is and we are just as fucked up as the rest of the world, what would happen? If the notion of a personal, caring God is destroyed, what’s left for Christians besides Grandma Mary’s cherry pie? If there is no difference morally between the saved and the lost, where does that leave Christianity?

Of course — thanks to cognitive dissonance — my words will be loudly and roundly rejected. There is machinery to maintain and gears to grease. There are offerings to collect and souls to save. Evangelicals dare not let reality get in the way of perpetuating the myth — that Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Preacher Matthew Phelps Stabs His Wife Repeatedly, Blames Cough Medicine

lauren hugelmaier

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In September 2017, Evangelical preacher Matthew Phelps murdered his wife, Lauren Hugelmaier, stabbing her over one-hundred times. Phelps, a graduate of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Kentucky, told police that his murderous behavior was due to hallucinations from overusing the cough and cold medication, Coricidin HBP.  A spokesman for Bayer, the maker of Coricidin, stated, “There is no evidence to suggest that Coricidin is associated with violent behavior.”

Today, the Charlotte Observer reports that Phelps was obsessed with the movie American Psycho:

A man who told police that he thought he killed his wife after taking cold medicine was fascinated with the horror film “American Psycho” and talked to a friend about what it would be like to kill someone, according to search warrants.

Matthew Phelps, a 29-year-old Bible college graduate, called 911 just after 1:10 a.m. Sept. 1. He said his wife of less than a year, Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, had been stabbed. He then told police that he had taken Coricidin and awoke to find his wife dead and a knife on the bed in their home on Patuxent Drive in North Raleigh.

Police charged Phelps with first-degree murder in the case, which has gained national attention with experts weighing in on the potential side effects of cold medicine and cough syrup.

Documents filed with the Wake County Magistrate’s Office say the couple had been having marital problems, and a Raleigh police detective wrote that Phelps appeared to be fascinated with “American Psycho,” a movie about a serial killer. Investigators learned that Phelps maintained an Instagram account with the username marty_radical.

“It was learned that Matthew Phelps was obsessed with the movie ‘American Psycho’ and this Instagram account shows numerous photographs of scenes from the movie and Phelps dressed as the main character,” the detective wrote. “The movie is about a serial killer, and Phelps expressed interest to a friend regarding what it would be like to kill someone.”

Police asked permission to search “any video games, movies, pictures or electronic media that might contain evidence of fascination with felonious or homicidal activity,” according to documents.

Friends told investigators that the couple “would argue frequently” and had been disagreeing about finances, according to police. Matthew Phelps “was spending more money than the couple made,” a detective wrote, and Lauren Phelps “had recently taken drastic steps to limit her husband’s spending.”

….

matthew and lauren phelps

According to friends, Phelps and his wife frequently argued, and she was planning on filing for divorce. This was a second marriage for Matthew Phelps.  In 2011, Phelps married Lana Bowlin. They later divorced.

The Charlotte Observer adds:

Detectives obtained a total of seven search warrants to seize cellphones that belonged to the couple, information from their respective Facebook accounts, the townhouse they shared and their vehicles: a 2014 Ford Fusion and a 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander.

The investigators used the warrants to seize electronic devices, handwritten documents and two books, “Party Games” and “American Supernatural Tales,” from the home. More handwritten notes and a diary were seized from the vehicles.

Although investigators found blood on Matthew Phelps when they arrived at the couple’s home, the detectives reported finding evidence that suggested he cleaned himself up before calling 911.

The police found Lauren Phelps “clutching hair in hands at the time of her death.”

….

In October of 2017, state pathologists detailed the brutality of Lauren Phelps’ death:

Lauren Nicole Hugelmaier Phelps was the victim of 123 stab wounds and cuts last month during a frenzied attack in the bedroom of her home, according to an autopsy report made public Tuesday. Her husband, who faces murder charges, contends he took too much cold medicine before falling asleep, then awoke to find his wife’s bloody body.

State pathologists documented 44 cuts and stabs, some more than 4 inches deep, about her head and neck during the attack, according to the autopsy report. Those were part of a total 123 stabs and cuts all over her body that were thought to have been made with a kitchen knife, the autopsy said.

….

Emergency workers arrived at the couple’s townhouse in northwest Raleigh and found Lauren Phelps, 29, in a fetal position on the bedroom floor, according to the autopsy report. She was rushed to WakeMed and died in the emergency department at 1:43 a.m., according to the autopsy report.

In addition to the wounds to her head and neck, pathologists found 13 stab wounds and 11 cuts about her torso, 16 slashes and one stab wound on her right arm, along with 35 cuts and three stab wounds on her left arm. A stab wound on the left side of her neck completely severed her left jugular vein and her left common carotid artery, which supplies the head and neck with blood. Her body was covered with smeared blood, according to the autopsy report.

The state examiners surmised that the wound patterns were consistent with a single-edged blade, according to the autopsy report. Toxicologists did not detect alcohol in the woman’s body, nor did she have any pre-existing natural disease.

….

Previous Black Collar Crime post about the murder of Lauren Phelps.

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Kenny Glasgow Charged with Murder

kenny glasgow

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Kenneth “Kenny” Glasgow, a well-known preacher in the Dothan, Alabama area, stands accused of capital murder.

The Dothan Eagle reports:

A well-known community activist has been arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with a fatal shooting Sunday night on Allen Road.

Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish said police believe the Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, 52, was the driver of a vehicle involved in the shooting of 23-year-old Breunia Jennings of Dothan. Also charged is 26-year-old Jamie Townes of Dothan, whom police believe to be the trigger man.

Police believe Townes was angry at Jennings because he believed she stole his car. The two men are being held at the Houston County Jail without bail.

Under Alabama law, a person believed to have aided or abetted a criminal act is equally liable for the underlying act.

“Patrol units were responding to a suspicious vehicle call near Stringer Street AME Church,” Parrish said during a press conference Monday at the Dothan Police Department. “When the units approached the area, they noticed a situation that appeared to be an automobile accident. However, when officers approached the area they knew the scene was a homicide.”

Parrish stated the investigation is ongoing and additional arrests may occur since additional passengers are believed to have been in the vehicle police say was driven by Glasgow.
….

Glasgow has been involved in several community movements since being released from prison. He was convicted on drug charges in the late 1980s. Upon his release, he founded The Ordinary People Society, a community and homeless ministry in Dothan. He has advocated for the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons and helped start Moma Tina’s Mission House in Dothan, along with his mother.

Glasgow has referred to himself as Kenny Sharpton Glasgow on several occasions and is believed to be the half brother of the Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network.

Under Alabama law, murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon while the victim is in a vehicle is considered a capital crime. A person convicted of a capital crime is eligible for life in prison without parole or death.

….

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Aracely Meza Convicted of Starving Child to Death

aracely meza

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Aracely Meza, pastor of Iglesia Internacional Jesus es el Rey in Balch Springs, Texas, was convicted of starving a child to death and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison on Friday.

The Dallas News reports:

Aracely Meza cradles the limp body of a 2-year-old boy, praying for God to bring the starved toddler back to life.

The moment was captured on videos that a Dallas County jury watched this week before finding the Balch Springs pastor guilty Friday of felony injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.

The 52-year-old will serve 99 years in prison for Benjamin Aparicio’s starvation death, one month before his third birthday. Jurors also ordered Meza to pay a $10,000 fine.

Videos captured the hours-long resurrection ceremony Meza led after Benjamin died on March 22, 2015. In the video, the boy is frail, nothing but skin and bones. His clothes hang from his lifeless body.
Weeks before his death, Meza had ordered that food be withheld from Benjamin for 21 days because she believed he was possessed by the “demon of manipulation.”

The 52-year-old woman’s trial offered a glimpse into the control she had over congregants of her church, Iglesia Internacional Jesus es el Rey.

Her Balch Springs home, where the boy lived with his parents, served as a commune.

Meza separated parents from their children, including Benjamin while he was still being breastfed. Though his mother and father lived in the same home, they weren’t allowed to hold their child.

Many turned to the pastor of the evangelical nondenominational church because she claimed to be a prophet.

She performed exorcisms and ordered people to fast.

Nazareth Zurita described feeling like she was in a “trance” when she lived in Meza’s house. She admitted she didn’t intervene while Benjamin was being starved.

Anytime someone questioned Meza, the pastor would say, “The devil is speaking through you. You’re the devil,” Zurita testified.

Those who questioned Meza were questioning God.

Zurita said she now realizes that Meza would use “distorted Scripture” to control the members of her church. Zurita called it “brainwashing.”

Jurors watched videos of a starving Benjamin being held up and prayed over by Meza. They were also shown the video showing Meza trying to revive the dead child.

A video shot the day he died shows Meza propping up the child, who had fallen on the kitchen floor. She then puts him over her knee, pulls down his pants and spanks him over and over. The boy cries.

….

Defense attorney Charles Humphreys called Meza “a prisoner of her faith.” But prosecutor Patrick Capetillo argued that Benjamin’s death was not about faith.

“This case is not about religion. This case is about control,” he said. [Sorry, it’s about both. It’s the religion that birthed the control.]

 

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Tim Crumitie Accused of Murder

tim crumitie

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Tim Crumitie, former pastor of an unnamed church, stands accused of murder.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

One of two bullets lodged in her head made it difficult for Kimberly Cherry to speak.

When asked by a 911 operator in August 2016 to identify the person who had shot her, Cherry’s halting voice seemed to teeter on the edge of consciousness. But her answer was clear.

“His name is Tim,” she said.

Sitting between his two attorneys, Tim Crumitie showed no emotion Monday morning as the voice of his former girlfriend – and an expected witness against him – wafted through the courtroom, opening the former minister’s first-degree murder trial in a haunting way.

The 52-year-old convicted felon is accused of the predawn ambush of Cherry and her boyfriend Michael Gretsinger in University City. Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones told the jury that after springing from behind the front door of the couple’s apartment, Crumitie fired two shots, execution style, into Gretsinger’s head. The Charlotte man died about 10 days later.

Crumitie then bound the arms of Cherry, put her in the passenger seat of her own car, and eventually drove her to his Rowan County home, Jones said, “figuring out what he wanted to do.”

Later that morning, Crumitie doubled back, Jones said, driving Cherry’s car to a construction site near her apartment. There, according to Jones, Crumitie shot her once in the back of the head. After Cherry fell to the ground, Jones said, Crumitie shot her again in the left temple.

Miraculously, Cherry was still alive when Crumitie put her in the trunk of the car and started driving again. Eventually the car stopped. At that point, Cherry popped the trunk and escaped, Jones said. A neighbor at the Ardmore Kings Grant apartments called 911.

Eventually, Cherry got on line. “Please send someone to help me,” she said.

If convicted of the murder charge, Crumitie faces a mandatory life in prison without parole. He is also charged with assault, kidnapping and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Cherry.

….

How much they [the jury] will hear about Crumitie’s past before making that decision remains unclear.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis cleared the way for prosecutors to mention that Crumitie served eight years in prison back in the 1990s for armed robbery and other crimes.

Crumitie also has been physically present or criminally linked to three mysterious shooting deaths over less than a decade – including those of his wife and a former business partner.

In 2005, while Crumitie was a Kannapolis pastor, he was charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of Danny Johnson, who operated a flooring company next door to the church. Crumitie spent five years in jail before authorities dropped the charges, saying they lacked the evidence to take the case to trial.

Eight years later, Crumitie was the lone surviving witness to a double homicide inside the garage of his Concord home.

He told police that during an attempted robbery, James Blanks fatally shot Crumitie’s wife, Sharon, then shot Crumitie in the hand before Crumitie wrested the gun away and shot and killed Blanks in self defense. No charges were filed.

At the time of the 2016 shooting, Gretsinger’s family questioned why someone with Crumitie’s background was not in jail.

“It’s shocking. It’s frightening … Why is he out there?” Kim Gretsinger, the victim’s mother, told WCCB the day after the shooting.

….

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Tiffanie Irwin Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter

pastor tiffanie irwin

Tiffanie Irwin, pastor of Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, New York, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Eight other church members were sentenced for their parts in the crime.

In October 2016, The Daily Mail reported:

The pastor of a small church where two brothers were beaten for hours during a counseling session that she called pleaded guilty on Friday to manslaughter and assault.

Three other church members admitted to less serious charges for their roles in the all-night beatings that killed Lucas Leonard, 19, and injured Christopher Leonard, 17, last October.

Word of Life Christian Church Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, her brother Joseph Irwin and mother and son church members Linda Morey and David Morey were the last of nine people charged to be convicted in the attack.

Investigators said the attack took place after the brothers discussed leaving the congregation.

Joseph Irwin and the Moreys each pleaded guilty to assault.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara called the case ‘a terrible tragedy.’

‘I can only hope that Luke can rest in peace, Chris can get on with his life,’ McNamara said.

The victims’ parents and half-sister and the pastor’s mother and a second brother were among those charged after members of the secretive church took the bloodied body of Lucas Leonard to a hospital, where doctors initially thought he had been shot.

Authorities later found his badly injured brother still inside the converted New Hartford school building that housed the church and living space for its leaders.

Christopher Leonard testified at an earlier hearing that Tiffanie Irwin asked his family and some others to stay behind for a meeting after an eight-hour Sunday service last October.

Over the next 14 hours, he said, he and his brother were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord.

McNamara has said the brothers were ordered during the beating to repent for a variety of sins, including using a voodoo doll.

Police have said there was no evidence to support a claim by their half-sister, Sarah Ferguson, that they had molested her children.

Ferguson was convicted of manslaughter and assault after a non-jury trial in July.

The only defendant to decline a plea deal, she was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison.

The victims’ parents, Deborah and Bruce Leonard, pleaded guilty to assault.

The church’s matriarch, Traci Irwin, and her son Daniel Irwin, a deacon, admitted to counts of unlawful imprisonment.

Sentencings are scheduled for December and January.

According to Wikipedia, the following sentences were handed down:

As of January 9, 2017 the disposition of the cases against the nine people involved on the assault on Lucas Leonard are as follows:

Bruce Leonard, the father, who whipped both boys during the session pleaded guilty to felony assault was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

Deborah Leonard, the mother, who whipped them during the session pleaded guilty to felony assault, and was sentenced to five years in state prison.

On September 1, 2016 half sister Sarah Ferguson was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted in July 2016 of manslaughter and assault.

Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, age 29, who called for the counseling session and oversaw its organization was sentenced on Dec. 19, 2016 to 12 years in state prison for manslaughter.

Joseph Irwin was sentenced on Dec. 19 to eight years in prison for gang assault.

David Morey was sentenced on Jan. 9, 2017 to five years in prison for assault.

Linda Morey who pulled the power cord out of the closet was sentenced on Jan. 9 to five years in prison for assault.

Traci Irwin, 50, and Daniel Irwin, 25, both pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment. Traci Irwin, who pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, has been sentenced to one year for each count. Daniel Irwin received two years in jail for his role in the death of Lucas Leonard.