Relatives Expect Cult To Continue
DENVER (AP) _ Relatives of Christian cult members rounded up by Jerusalem police fear that even if their loved ones are deported they still wouldn’t be able to break away from leader Monte Kim Miller.
Beverly Stevens said Sunday her 23-year-old daughter, Corrine, is ``so brainwashed. He’s got such a control over her. Even if she gets out of Israel I don’t know if she will come home.″
Fourteen members of Concerned Christians _ eight adults and six children _ were detained Sunday after Israeli authorities said they plotted to provoke police into a shootout in order to hasten the return of Jesus Christ.
Seventy-eight of the group’s members vanished in October from the Denver area. The detainees had been under police surveillance in Israel for a month.
The elder Stevens said she hadn’t seen her daughter since Thanksgiving dinner 1997.
``When we would discuss things about Miller, Corrine would say `No, he’s not another Heaven’s Gate. He’s not a cult leader. I’m not going to commit suicide... What they are saying on television is not true,‴ the mother said.
Mrs. Stevens said that just before Corrine vanished she had been living with Jan Cooper, mother of Nicolette Weaver, 16, in Boulder.
``What I really, really want is to see my mother away from Kim Miller’s influence,″ Nicolette Weaver said of Miller, 44, a former Denver resident and head of Concerned Christians.
``The fact is, that as long as my mother is involved with him she is not going to talk to me,″ the teenager said.
John Weaver, Nicolette’s father, won custody of his daughter after details of the cult’s activities were revealed in court. He, too, took little consolation in Sunday’s arrests.
``It’s nice the group got rounded up, but until the group gets its senses together, they are going to continue,″ Weaver said. ``They are going to build a fort for themselves somewhere, like what happened at Waco.″
It wasn’t immediately known whether Nicolette’s mother, Jan Cooper, and her stepfather, John Cooper, were among those detained.
The Israeli roundup left a big question in the mind of Bill Honsberger, who tracks cults and tried to rescue two adult members from the group two years ago.
``Why did they move today? Did they find guns? If it’s about the threat for next fall I can see the group doing that but why today? What set it off?″ Honsberger wondered.
Denver police investigator Mark Roggeman, who has tracked the group and tipped off the Israeli government that they were coming, said he fielded several calls Sunday from relatives of cult members.
``I’ve studied cults for 25 years, and this is a good thing,″ Roggeman said. ``It is something that is out of his (Miller’s) control. It shakes them up emotionally.″
Roggeman predicted defections from the cult as a result.
Shirley Brownlee, whose sister is cult member Darleen Notts, said she hopes Roggeman is right ``otherwise Darleen will follow him to the end.″
Ms. Brownlee said her sister, who is 68, had just suffered through two deaths in the family when the cult recruited her. ``She was very vulnerable.″
James Van Beek, an investigator with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, said he did not know whether his brother-in-law, James Dyck, was among the cult members arrested. Van Beek said his family hopes to find Dyck and convince him to leave the group.
``I did a little research on this and found that when someone is predicting his death, more often than not, several people in the group end up dying in mass suicides or mass murders,″ Van Beek said.
Nicolette Weaver said she didn’t know where the cult would go after being deported from Israel. She said her mother told her that ``they are not going to commit suicide, but Kim will die on the streets of Jerusalem.″
``We just pray that they get some sense in their head that this guy is just a scam artist,″ said John Weaver. ``Real prophets don’t get involved in shootouts. Jesus didn’t come with a machine gun.″