Shooting Deaths May Be Related To Polygamist Religious Dispute
HOUSTON (AP) _ Four people, including three one-time followers of a polygamist leader, have been slain here and in suburban Dallas, and authorities say the shootings may stem from a religious dispute.
No arrests have been made in the Monday shootings, but police said they were seeking three sons of the late polygamist patriarch Ervil LeBaron. LeBaron died in a Utah prison in 1981.
LeBaron’s Church of the Lamb of God split into several groups after his death. Polygamist sects broke off from the Mormon Church when it outlawed multiple marriages in 1890.
Duane Chynoweth, 31, and his daughter Jennifer were found shot to death Monday in a pickup truck parked outside a vacant house in Houston, police spokesman Dan Turner said.
Chynoweth was apparently delivering an appliance to the vacant house, and police were trying to determine who arranged for the delivery. The shootings occurred shortly after 4 p.m.
At around the same time Duane’s brother, Mark Chynoweth, 36, was found shot to death at a business about 10 miles away, Turner said. LeBaron was Mark Chynoweth’s father-in-law.
In Irving outside Dallas, Eddie Marston, 32, one of LeBaron’s stepsons, was also shot to death shortly after 4 p.m. Irving police Officer Richard Gilmette said Marston was found shot in the head and upper body.
Turner said Duane Chynoweth was a polygamist, but he did not have any information about Mark Chynoweth.
″We are trying to put it all together, but it looks like it’s going to be a religious cult deal,″ Turner said. ″We’re trying to figure it all out now.
A neighbor of the Chynoweth family, who did not want his name used, said Mark Chynoweth’s wife talked to his wife after the killings.
″Apparently, Lillian told my wife they tried to break away from a cult, and there was a death list,″ the man told the Houston Chronicle.
LeBaron died while serving a sentence for the 1977 murder of a rival polygamist leader, Rulin Allred.
Marston and Mark Chynoweth were acquitted in Allred’s slaying. Marston also had been suspected in the 1975 slaying of another polygamist leader, but a witness died before the case went to trial.
LeBaron’s sons also are being sought for questioning in the slaying in Sanpete County, Utah, last October of polygamist leader Daniel Ben Jordan.
Ervil LeBaron and some of his ex-followers were said to have each claimed to be the ″One Mighty and Strong,″ a man many polygamist groups believe will someday come to reform The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.