Shooting Deaths Thought Related To Polygamist Religious Dispute
HOUSTON (AP) _ Frightened relatives of four people slain in what authorities say may be a polygamist sect dispute were being guarded by police Tuesday to thwart the possibility of further bloodshed.
Police were hunting for the killers of an 8-year-old girl and three one- time followers of the late polygamist patriarch Ervil LeBaron. Three people were shot at point-blank range Monday in Houston and one was ambushed in the Dallas suburb of Irving.
″We’re looking at the strong possibility that someone of that cult may have done the killing,″ Houston police spokesman Al Baker said Tuesday.
Duane Chynoweth, 31, and his daughter, Jennifer, were slain about 4 p.m. Monday in a pickup truck parked outside a vacant house in Houston. Chynoweth was shot several times in the head while the girl was shot once in the face, said police spokesman Dan Turner.
Chynoweth apparently was delivering an appliance to the house. Police were trying to determine who arranged for the delivery.
About the same time, Chynoweth’s brother, Mark, 36, was found shot to death at an appliance business a few miles away, Turner said. Mark Chynoweth was LeBaron’s son-in-law.
In Irving, Eddie Marston, 32, one of LeBaron’s stepsons, also was found shot to death shortly after 4 p.m.
Family members in Houston, under heavy police guard, were brought to police headquarters late Monday for questioning.
″We’re making some arrangements with family members to ensure that they are safe,″ Baker said, adding that he did not know how many people were involved. He said the family was cooperating fully with the investigation. No arrests had been made.
A witness to the slayings of Duane and Jennifer Chynoweth told police that shortly after Chynoweth arrived at the house, two men in a late-model black or dark-colored pickup truck drove up and got out. There was a short exchange of words and then a flurry of gunfire, the witness said.
LeBaron’s Church of the Lamb of God split into several groups after he died in prison in 1981. Polygamist sects broke off from the Mormon Church when it outlawed multiple marriages in 1890.
Turner said Duane Chynoweth was a polygamist, but he had no information about Mark Chynoweth.
LeBaron died of a heart attack while serving a sentence in Utah for the 1977 murder of rival polygamist leader Rulin Allred.
Marston and Mark Chynoweth were acquitted in Allred’s slaying. Marston also was acquitted in the 1975 slaying of another polygamist leader.
Lillian Chynoweth told The Salt Lake City Tribune last October she was worried LeBaron left a ″Book of New Covenants,″ written while in prison, which his sons are using as a blueprint for vengeance.
She said the writings included a ″list of people my father thought needed to be killed.″
She said she and her husband were on the list and asked that her whereabouts not be revealed.