Saturday, March 12, 2011

To Trust In Man (Part 18)

Author's note: The following post is part of a series dealing with my experiences in the Jeffrey Lundgren cult and what I learned from those experiences. My hope is that my story will teach others the importance of listening to the voice of God within for their answers. Peace. cse


There's an old saying that "things come in threes". This proved to be accurate for me in January of 1990. Brian and I were visiting  Atlanta, where my parents lived, in order to attend my sister's wedding. While en route from Iowa, my paternal grandmother, who had been living with my parents, passed away. News of number three came with a phone call from my mother's family in Ohio. They had just discovered the bodies of the Avery family in the barn on the acreage Jeff Lundgren and his family had rented in Kirtland. We turned on CNN, where national coverage was just beginning to take place.

There were so many different and extreme emotions swirling around inside me as the news began to unfold. The first was thankfulness: for my husband and my mom and for the fact we had gotten away from the group before this really awful incident occurred. There was no doubt in my mind that if Brian and I had stayed we would now either be dead or on our way to prison.

I felt sickened by the fact the Averys had been killed. They were such a quiet, unassuming sort of family--the kind of people who never caused problems but could easily be targeted by bullies. Pictures of all the Averys, including the three girls, kept crashing through my brain. I struggled with the thought their murders had gone undetected for so long, their bodies slowly decaying and no one to show them the dignity and respect their deaths deserved with a proper burial. My heart ached for their family left behind and for law enforcement officers who now had the awful task of recovering the bodies and evidence. I thought about the now infamous barn--the barn Alice had once wanted to convert to a little country store. A place of death and destruction.

I remembered friends I had in Kirtland, who were now being arrested and facing prison. I was thankful that two of them had managed to leave sometime after I did, but I anguished over the ones caught up in the mess. My sweet, sweet roommate, who would never hurt a fly, going to prison because she was ensnared by Jeff's twisted dreams of power. Damon, Jeff's oldest son, who was only a few years younger than me, going to prison for the rest of his life. After working with abused and neglected children at the group home, I understood the life he had lived--the abuse and trauma suffered at the hands of his father. Damon, who was only nineteen at the time of his arrest, never had a chance for a normal life. I remembered my coworkers and others I knew through scripture study. I saw them all in my mind's eye, and they were me.

The strongest, most irrational emotion I experienced was fear. When news of the murders first broke, Jeff and Alice had not been caught. My mind whirled with the speculation of where they might be hiding out. I was afraid they would come looking for me. They knew where I had moved. Even though I was no longer under the influence of Jeff's teachings, Jeff seemed larger-than-life. In my mind he was still quite powerful--much more powerful than the average person.

Relief spread through my body when the news of Jeff's arrest broke. Other emotions were much harder to deal with. It's been over twenty years, and the tears flow as I write this.

The story continues:

*(For more information on this incident, one of the best books written is Prophet of Death. the Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings by Pete Earley. It's very detailed and uncomfortably graphic, but he did his research well. Earley gets to the heart of why Jeff and his followers acted as they did, without bias. Also, A&E did a segment of their show American Justice on this topic: American Justice: The Cult Murders.)

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