Murders by Jehovah's Witnesses

or Why It Might be Unsafe to Marry a Jehovah's Witness

or Why NOT to Talk to Witnesses at Your Door!

related: JW FAMILY murderers


The man who set his wife ablaze
Naomi joins the list of Nigerian women murdered by their husbands
Article | | By Patience Ogbo

Naomi Chidiebere 24, was the happiest woman in the world when she married Dick Chidiebere, 34, at the Jehovah's Witness church at Ijegun in November 2011.

Sadly, Naomi who was the envy of the single ladies at the wedding is lying in the morgue because her husband allegedly set her ablaze following a quarrel.

The incident happened on February 10, 2012 at the couple’s four bedroom residence in Ijegun barely three months after the couple exchanged their wedding vows.

Naomi, who narrated how her husband set her ablaze on her hospital bed before she gave up the ghost, said on that fateful day,  said Dick, a sailor, came back home late in the night drunk and she challenged him on his drinking habit, which according to her infuriated him as he beat her up and later rushed into the store where they kept petrol for the generating set and poured it on her as she ran into the closet to hide from his beating.

Naomi further stated that Dick set her ablaze while she was in the closet.

According to a neighbour’s report to the police, Naomi ran close to a mile to her friend’s house at Ijegun waterside and the friend and her family rushed her to the hospital where she narrated to them how her husband allegedly set her ablaze.

The case was reported at the Satellite Police Station and Chidiebere was arrested as he attempted to travel out of the country. The case has been transferred to the Homicide department at Panti Yaba for further investigation.

Chidiebere however denied setting his wife ablaze.

He told the police he heard a mysterious explosion in his kitchen that fateful night and rushed to see what was happening, only for him to discover that his wife’s room and wardrobe was on fire and he tried desperately to quench the fire.

“I did not kill my life as it is been alleged. I came back home that night about 12.00am and my wife welcomed me. I am not sure what happened but know we had a little quarrel which I left her to go and sleep in my room. Not too long, I heard a powerful explosion in the kitchen and it woke me up," he said in a statement to the police.

"I ran out to see what was wrong and to look for my wife but she was not around anywhere in the house, I thought she had ran out to get help and I waited till day break but still did not see her. I did not kill her, why will I kill somebody I just got married to? This is a strange fire but I am not responsible.”

Police officers however said they found Naomi’s wardrobe closet burnt, and her room was in disarray with her sofa also completely destroyed by the fire.

They also recovered a ten-litre plastic container with fuel inside, the burnt mattress was also taken as an exhibit.

It was gathered that Naomi died barely one week after sustaining the burnt; her corpse has since been deposited at the Isolo General hospital for autopsy.



Religious man's murder rap offends church‎  (3/2/2012)

IN JEOPARDY: Walter Qusheka in a 2005 file picture. Jehovah's Witnesses abhor any killing, even in wars Picture: TIRSA ELLIS

CHURCH elder Walter Qusheka had lectured groups of worshippers about the Bible before he was implicated in a murder investigation.

The businessman, who recently landed a R25-million government tender, faces a charge of murder in a case that has shaken the local chapter of Jehovah's Witnesses in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

Qusheka's company, Qush Cleaning Services, has a three-year contract to provide cleaning services to the local Mthatha Hospital Complex.

But it was at his hardware store in a small village near Mthatha that one of his employees got beaten to death three months ago.

Sakhumzi Ncedana was tied to a pole and beaten viciously, allegedly by Qusheka and four security guards. The Qunu-born victim's family is still "too traumatised" to talk about his death.

Prosecutors at the court in Bityi, where Qusheka and his four security guards appeared two weeks ago, said the victim was allegedly beaten for driving one of his employer's trucks into a ditch, getting it stuck.

Qusheka, 37, is alleged to have instructed the guards to assault the driver. The men are out on R1500 bail each. They have not pleaded.

Following his arrest, Qusheka told fellow Jehovah's Witnesses elders that the beating was administered by his security staff.   MORE



Book marks homeless advocate's death


Posted: June 26, 2011 - 5:31pm
By Tim Carpenter

Homeless panhandler John Cornell slipped into a crisis-induced funk after arrested in Topeka for murder, kidnapping, robbery and arson in the bizarre slaying of self-made homeless advocate David Owen.

Cornell sought refuge in the medical section of the Shawnee County Jail after being taken into custody with three accomplices in the death — predicted by some — of Owen, a 38-year-old activist who injected a volatile mix of conviction and tactics into the city's homelessness equation.

“I thought I would wake up and it would all just be a bad nightmare,” Cornell said.

This was no dream.

The tattered corpse found on the north bank of the Kansas River by a police search dog July 2, 2006, belonged to Owen.

Evidence pointed to a horrifying reality: Owen was tortured and killed after pleading for his life by the same homeless souls he sought to inspire and get off the streets.

This nightmare placed Cornell under a harsh spotlight in district court where he testified for the prosecution against Kimberly "Baby Girl" Sharp, a drug addict and divorced mother of two; Charles Hollingsworth, a muscular teen with a juvenile record and habit of playing with a knife; and Carl "Outlaw" Baker, a 60-year-old registered sex offender.

Owen's death spiral caught the eye of Benedict Giamo, an associate professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame who had written two books on the homeless.

The result is "Homeless Come Home: An Advocate, the Riverbank and Murder in Topeka." The book due this fall is part Owen biography, crime drama and assessment of homelessness in Topeka and beyond.

"What really compelled me about this case," Giamo said, "was the victim contributed to his own gruesome demise."

The title is drawn from Owen's frequent request that the homeless contact family members by telephone and attempt to build relationships capable of ending their vagabond ways.

Owen's crusade brought him in contact with hundreds of people experiencing homelessness and work as a registered lobbyist in the Kansas Legislature placed him in proximity to government leaders capable of shaping policy. Both audiences were skeptical of Owen.

He would interrupt proceedings at the Statehouse by blurting out comments.

Along the Kansas River, Owen was known for sneaking into homeless camps to spoil food and trash equipment. The intent was to escalate desperation among those without a permanent home to a point they would reach out to family.

"I promised Christ to help them come home," Owen said.

Owen documented this vigilantism with photographs. During the encounter with Hollingsworth, Baker, Sharp and Cornell, this portfolio of evidence was discovered in his satchel.

In the book, Giamo attempted to define homelessness in Topeka. He said there were an estimated 2,700 to 3,600 people staying at a handful of shelters and agencies. People took refuge in abandoned buildings or lived out of tents.

There appeared to be a greater concentration of people who had been institutionalized than in cities of similar size. Seven of 10 homeless in Topeka struggled with mental health issues, compared to one-third nationally. Sixty percent of the Topeka Rescue Mission's clientele had been convicted of a crime resulting in incarceration.

Owen, who grew up in southwest Kansas, targeted anyone who would listen with his just-call-home program, but taking that message into the self-governed camps carried extreme risk.

Others working with these homeless persons didn't enter the camps without permission, an invitation rarely extended.

Owen was warned by state legislators, pastors, city officials and homeless activists to dial back the rhetoric of his campaign.

"David got too close to a dangerous, wild element of homelessness," Giamo said.

Giamo's account of the fateful encounter, most likely June 14, 2006, indicates Owen arrived uninvited at the small riverside camp. Owen, sometimes called "Preacher," suggested the foursome call home. His message wasn't well-received. Owen declined an invitation to leave the premises. Hostility escalated. Owen threatened to call law enforcement on the squatters.

Hollingsworth and Baker subdued Owen, a lanky man who wore large-frame thick glasses. Owen promised not to call the cops if set free. His bag was searched. Among cell phones and assorted documents were before-and-after snapshots of Owen's covert attacks on camps. Sharp said she taunted Owen while burning the pictures in a campfire.

"This dude has got to die," said Hollingsworth, according to trial testimony.

Cornell fetched a long piece of rope. After dragging Owen deeper into underbrush a greater distance from the camp, Hollingsworth and Baker tied their nemesis to a tree.

He was restrained in a way that required him to hold both feet off the ground in front of him or allow the rope to tighten around his neck. Owen died in that spot.

Giamo said Hollingsworth appeared to be the most committed to the proposition Owen was expendable.

"If Hollingsworth were not there that day, Owen would still be alive until he met the next Hollingsworth," Giamo said.

The four people convicted of complicity in the slaying of Owen remain residents at state corrections facilities.

Baker, Hollingsworth and Sharp were convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping. Baker and Hollingsworth will remain in the bonds of the Kansas Department of Corrections for decades. Sharp has spent time at Larned State Hospital. Cornell, sentenced to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, might be paroled in 2013.

Hollingsworth revealed Owen's murder was a step toward his conversion as a Jehovah's Witness. He claimed he had to kill a man to realize the darkness of his lifestyle.

It is unclear how Baker and Sharp view circumstances in hindsight, but Cornell corresponded with the author. He said the city of Topeka should have done more to control Owen.

"I am not in any way condoning killing or even hurting anyone else," Cornell said in Giamo's book published by Notre Dame University Press. "I am pointing out the failure of the local system to put a stop to Dave's reign of insanity. They knew and did nothing because the segment of society he was tormenting was poor and homeless."

Giamo said Owen's impact on the homeless was difficult to quantify. In 2004, Owen did convince the Kansas Senate to pass a resolution urging consideration of a state program providing incentives for the homeless to call home.

How would Owen assess his contribution?

"I'm sure he'd be sympathetic to someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his mission," Giamo said.


12 children killed in Brazil JW connected (April 10, 2011)
 12 children killed in Brazil as gunman stalks his former school
He just stayed in his room, in front of the computer.” Mr. Oliveira had been a Jehovah's Witness, like his …Globe and Mail · 4 minutes ago
Gunman Opens Fire at School in Brazil, Killing 12 Children
New York Times - Alexei Barrionuevo - 4 hours ago
A longtime neighbor and former member of Mr. Oliveira's church said Mr. Oliveira had been a lifelong Jehovah's Witness before turning to Islam two years ago ...
Video: At least 13 dead in the shootout in a Brazilian school
YouTube NewsX
12 kids die as gunman stalks halls offormer school- Houston Chronicle
all 1398 news articles »

Discovery Channel gunman had been a Devout Jehovah's Witness for 10 years (9/2/10)

Records in U.S. District Court in San Diego show that a James Jae Lee was sentenced in August 2003 to 18 months in federal prison for trying to smuggle an illegal immigrant in a hidden compartment in a car through the San Ysidro Port of Entry.


Police kill gunman who held 3 at Discovery Channel

Discovery gunman demanded programs urging fewer "filthy human children"

Discovery Channel gunman had ties to Hillcrest, SDSU


- AP

Authorities look at a screen that shows a live feed from a robot of James J. Lee, face up on the floor, inside the Discovery Channel network building where police shot and killed the gunman in Silver Spring, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. Police shot and killed Lee, 43, who was upset with the Discovery Channel network's programming who took two employees and a security officer hostage at the company's headquarters Wednesday, officials said. All three hostages escaped safely.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The gunman who stormed the Discovery Channel building in Maryland on Wednesday and was shot to death following a four-hour hostage standoff with police wrote a San Diego federal judge seven years ago that he was a loner whose life was “a nightmare.”

Records in San Diego federal court show that a James Jae Lee was sentenced in August 2003 to 18 months in federal prison for trying to smuggle an illegal immigrant in a hidden compartment in a car through the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

In a letter to the judge on the eve of his 2003 sentencing, Lee outlined a life that he said “was a nightmare for me.”

“As to any friends, I have none,” he wrote. “I have been and always be a loner.”

And in a passage that seems eerily ominous in light of Wednesday’s events, he mused about how his life would turn out.

“I don’t know if my life will end with a happy ending, but all I ask is for an ending that is not in prison,” Lee wrote.

The spelling of the middle name in the 2003 court records is different from the James Jay Lee identified as the gunman Wednesday. But the James Lee prosecuted seven years ago has the same date of birth — June 1, 1967 — as the one arrested for disorderly conduct outside the Discovery Channel’s Silver Spring headquarters in 2008.

Police have not formally identified the gunman in Wednesday’s hostage standoff, but federal law enforcement officials have said he was James J. Lee, 43.

Lee spent time in Hillcrest and downtown San Diego before moving to the Washington, D.C., area in 2007, according to his online postings.

At 1 p.m. Wednesday, he stormed the cable channel’s Silver Spring offices with at least one explosive device strapped to his body and held three people hostage at gunpoint in the lobby.

The hostages were unhurt. Most of the 1,900 people who work in the building were able to make it out before the standoff ended.


Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said tactical officers moved in after police monitoring building security cameras saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage.

An explosive device on the gunman’s body detonated when police shot him, Manger said.

Police were trying to determine whether two boxes and two backpacks the gunman had also contained explosives.

NBC News reported that after its producers called Discovery’s general number, a man identifying himself as James J. Lee got on the phone and said: “I have several bombs strapped to my body ready to go off. I have a device that if I drop it, if I drop it, it will ... explode,”

He said he built the bombs in about three weeks. “I did a lot of research. I had to experiment,” he said.

In his 2003 three-page letter to U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz, Lee wrote he was estranged from his family and stayed away from them for his own “sanity.”

“After 36 years of my life,” he wrote, “I have nothing to show for it.”

But his younger brother, Aaron Lee, did write a brief letter to Moskowitz.

He said James Lee was loved by his family, was nonviolent and did not smoke, drink or do drugs. Aaron Lee said his brother had been “a devoted Jehovah Witness for a decade.”



Man arrested over ‘Night Stalker’ sex attacks on elderly (11/16/09)

partial quotes:

Detectives have been pursuing a man they believe is responsible for at least 108 attacks on elderly people in their homes, including four rapes and 24 sexual assaults — but say that the figure may be closer to 200.

Neighbours said that the arrested man was a caring husband and father. “He was a diamond character. He always spent his time looking after his wife,” said one. “I would chat with him at the barbecues, and he was just a very nice, normal guy.”

Residents in the cul-de-sac where the man lived described his wife, who is a Jehovah’s Witness and suffers from multiple sclerosis, as a deeply religious woman. They said he was a keen air-rifle shooter, who used glass bottles for target practice in his garden.

The Metropolitan Police put 29 detectives on the case, codenamed Operation Minstead, and £40,000 was offered for information leading to a conviction. They speculated that the attacks might have been triggered by childhood sex abuse by an elderly relative or family friend. He is thought to be a “gerontophile” — someone who enjoys sexual activity with the elderly.

The attacker is said to have behaved in an “almost childlike manner” when spoken to firmly by his victims. When women asked what he was doing and suggested that his mother would be upset by his crimes, he would flee.

Despite this, police say that he carefully selected his victims, choosing women on their own, and entered their homes in the early hours. In each case he removed glass from a ground-floor window and cut off the telephone and electricity before beginning the attack. Wearing a balaclava, he would wake his targets by whispering to them and shining a torch in their face during his assaults. Although he is thought never to have deliberately killed anyone, several frail and distraught victims died subsequently.

same person:

Married father-of-seven appears in court over 'Night Stalker' rapes in London (11/16/09)


Jehovah's Witnesses caught by police after killing spree in Russia

By Will Stewart 26/09/2008

Two Jehovah's Witnesses have been accused of murdering 13 people on a mad "mission from God".

Vladimir Gurianov, 44, and Elvira Egorycheva 46, are said to have hacked, bludgeoned and shot their innocent victims in a nine-month killing spree.

They also robbed their victims on "God's orders". Gurianov told detectives after his arrest: "God told us to go and take the money. He said, 'Go there and take as much as you need'. So we did."

Police say the killings began after Egorycheva told Gurianov that God spoke to her in a vision and gave instructions.

Their mission took them to a city in Russia's Volga region. Egorycheva had said: "God wants us to go to Nizhniy Novgorod and cleanse the world of sinners".

A neighbour there recalled: "They were odd. He called her 'mother' or 'Princess Elena'. She called him 'my son, Prince Mikhail'."

The first victim was fortune-teller Ludmila Kostina, 51.

The next day they murdered another fortuneteller, Nina Mashtakova, 66, whose valuables they stole.

Gurianov, a convicted rapist with "mad eyes", and his partner are then thought to have stopped a 17-year-old girl.

Egorycheva told her: "Stop, sinner! I, Princess Elena and my son Prince Mikhail, have been sent by God to punish you."

Gurianov raped the girl before killing her with a hammer.

He later told police: "Mother explained every woman killed or raped by me would become my wife in the afterlife."

Gurianov later boasted of another murder. He said: "I shot at the head of this woman, but she was still alive. I shot her a second time and she fell.

"But as I was digging a grave I realised she was still alive and just watching me. So you'll understand I had to stab her."

The couple are also suspected of killing 18-year-old student Masha Maslennikova, whose body has not been found.

Other victims may include Ludmila Kotelnikova, 45, and Elena Lomteva, 37 - both discovered near their holiday homes.

One victim died when Gurianov replied to an advertisement of puppies for sale. The victim screamed as her 17-year-old son returned home: "Run, boy!"

The killers' pictures were circulated by police and they were spotted in a store and caught.

Egorycheva had a revolver, two axes, an electric shock device and a rope. A gun and a knife were found in Gurianov's jacket.

One detective said: "Our hearts bleed. They enjoy talking about what they've done. What is jail to them? If ever there is a case for capital punishment, this is it."


AGE 44

Job Fortune teller

Killed After they answered


AGE 18

Job Student

Killed Missing since May, her body has not been found


AGE 37

Killed Body was found near her holiday home in the Volga region


AGE 45

Killed Also found near her holiday home

God wants us to cleanse the world of sinners




Slain brothers to be laid to rest Saturday

Partner says investment deal is on track

A funeral service for brothers Robert Norris and Mark Norris (below) will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at a Bear church.

As Philadelphia police continue to investigate the worst mass shooting there in six years, relatives of two brothers killed, one of them a popular Delaware resident, are making plans to lay them to rest Saturday.

The funeral service for Robert Norris, 41, of Newark, and his brother Mark Norris, 46, of Pilesgrove, N.J., will be at 1 p.m. at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Bear. Visitation hours will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church, located at 3135 Summit Bridge Road, a church employee said.

Robert Norris was a 15-year veteran of the New Castle County Police, retiring last year to pursue the business venture that ultimately got him killed, police believe. Norris starred on the University of Delaware football team before his law-enforcement career.

The Norris brothers were killed about 8:30 p.m. Monday by 44-year-old Bear resident Vincent Dortch, who went by his middle name, Julius, at a supposed business meeting in a second-floor conference room at the office of Zigzag Net, a marketing company located in a building at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Dortch also killed James Reif, 42, of Endicott, N.Y., and critically wounded a fourth man, Zigzag Net employee Patrick Sweeney, 31, of Maple Shade, N.J., before shooting himself to death.

Sweeney was in critical condition Wednesday in a Philadelphia hospital, police said.

New Castle County Police spokesman Cpl. Trinidad Navarro said officers are planning to form a college fund for Robert Norris' three children, who range from 8 to 15 years old.

Meanwhile, a fourth man whom Dortch also had plans to kill said no money had been lost in the real estate investment deal that spurred Dortch's deadly rampage.

Dortch believed that he and two other investors lost money, perhaps a half-million dollars or more, on a plan to turn a former IBM conference center near Binghamton, N.Y., into an entertainment and banquet facility, according to police.

Philadelphia Homicide Lt. Phil Riehl said Dortch had invested his wife's retirement money, but he was uncertain how much that was. Dortch claimed he lost "somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000," Riehl said.

Police had not yet determined if Dortch's claim was true.

Investor Vasantha Dammavalam said the investment group, Watson International, was moving forward with the conference center idea, despite some setbacks.

Watson bought the property, formerly known as Traditions at the Glen, about a year ago for $1.33 million from a company that had bought it from IBM.

The worst flooding in at least 70 years hit the region in June and damaged the property. But Watson had insurance, and the company settled with its insurer about a month ago, Dammavalam said.

"The check has been issued, but it has not been cashed yet," he said Wednesday.

Dammavalam declined to go into specifics, but said Watson's development plan had been "going quite well."

Dammavalam said he was horrified when police told him Tuesday that Dortch had intended to drive to New York and kill him after Monday night's shootings in Philadelphia.

The two other investors, who attended the meeting with Dortch but weren't harmed, talked Dortch out of it, police said.

The shootings occurred after Dortch got the three men, all Watson International executives, together under the pretense that he had another investor, police said.

Dammavalam said he had been on a conference call at the beginning of the meeting, but was disconnected before Dortch opened fire.

Dortch and his wife, Stephanie, had been members of the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Elkton, Md., since it was founded a year and a half ago, said Minister John Higgins.

Always "jolly" and wearing a smile, Dortch showed up almost every Sunday, as well as for meetings on Mondays and Bible study on Wednesdays, Higgins said.

The 117-member congregation is shocked and taken aback, Higgins said. The Dortches always seemed happy.

"We just don't know what makes people snap sometimes," Higgins said. "It's a shame. It's a sorry shame."


August 31, 2005

Murder haunts family, Jehovahs

By Robert Lowell
Staff Writer

(Aug 31): Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series on historic local crimes.

As a child, Diane Morton of White Rock feared the man jailed for killing her grandfather would return to kill her and her family.

“I was scared to death as a kid he would get out and come after us,” she said.

Her grandfather, E. Dean Pray, owner of a North Windham garage, was gunned down on Aug. 20, 1940, by Arthur F. Cox of Philadelphia, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious order. Convicted of murder, Cox was committed to Thomaston State Prison on Jan. 13, 1942, to serve a life sentence.

The murder

E. Dean Pray had been working in his garage about 2 p.m. on a Tuesday when three members of the religious order went to his garage. Kenneth Carr, 23, of Cape Elizabeth, and Verle Adams Garfein, 18, of Portland, accompanied Cox to Pray’s garage apparently to play recordings on a phonograph.

Pray and Carr argued and, according to old newspaper accounts, Cox fired four shots from a .22 caliber six-shooter when Pray was driving them out of his garage. A witness said Pray, a deputy sheriff, staggered 100 feet in an attempt to get his gun from his car. He bled to death on the way to the hospital.

Pray’s 13-year old son, Dean Pray, was working in the garage that day as was mechanic Clyde Elder, who drove Pray to the hospital. The younger Pray, Elder, Cox and Carr are dead.

The victim, a veteran of World War I, was widely known in Windham. Dean Pray of Naples said his grandfather started the North Windham fire station and a plaque there bears his name. A funeral with an honor guard at the North Windham Union Church drew 1,000 mourners.

The murder fueled attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses. After the murder, a Kingdom Hall in Portland was raided by authorities, and there were citizen demonstrations.

Brad Poland of Gorham, a church leader known as an "elder," said Jehovah’s Witnesses are politically neutral and neutrality had fueled resentment nationwide at that time. He said that in 1940 the U.S. Supreme Court made it mandatory for Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, but the justices later reversed the decision.

"That was the tinderbox that lit this up,” Poland said.

Murder's effect on family

Except for the Pray family, the murder has been largely forgotten. Pray’s grandson said that everyone in Windham once knew the name and the murder story until about 10 years ago.

The murder was rarely mentioned over the years in the Pray family, but it affected three generations. “My father ran to get (his wife),” said Morton, referring to his mother. “He saw the shooting.”

Morton's brother, Dean Pray, also said his dad never talked about it. “He was hurt so much he didn’t tell us about it,” he said.

Pray’s widow, Gertrude, never mentioned it, either. "I never remember hearing her talk about it,” Morton said of her grandmother.

David Bushley of Windham, whose wife, Sandy, is a granddaughter of the victim, said the family testified against Cox every time he came up for parole. "To walk in like that and do it to a sheriff,” Bushley said of the murderer.

Bushley said his father-in-law ran the garage as a kid after the murder. “He took over pumping gas, working for his mother,” Bushley said.

“I think it affected him more than people realized,” Bushley said of his father-in-law. “It’s pretty horrendous.”

Morton said the murder caused problems for her dad late in his life, but she declined to say more. She said in those days there wasn’t counseling available. “Everything was just kept in,” Morton said.

She remembered reading the clippings of the murder. Her fears ended when Cox committed suicide in prison, but she thinks there are still traces of fear among the older generation. “I don’t fear them. They still come back,” she said of Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on her door in Gorham.

Pray said the murder robbed him of a grandfather. “It was so brutal.”

Poland said he understood the grief the murder caused the Pray family, but said Jehovah's Witnesses bring a message of peace to the community.

"We bring a message of good news. You can’t judge an organization by the actions of one man,” he said.

Murder's effect on Jehovah's Witnesses

Poland said they go door-to-door in Windham seven days a week and that response is positive. “People appreciate the good news and the Bible has good news,” he said.

He said he goes out personally two or three days a week in Windham. “It never comes up anymore,” he said of the murder.

Carr, who only was held as a material witness following the murder as was Garfein, didn’t go to prison with Cox. Poland said Carr was a lifelong Jehovah’s Witness and worked in the ministry until he died. Poland had many conversations with Carr, and the man only briefly mentioned the shooting incident. “All parties have died,” Poland said.

And Betty Barto of Windham said Jehovah’s Witnesses had smashed the fruit stand of Marie Stevens in North Windham just before Pray was killed. She said Jehovah’s Witnesses were forbidden from coming to Windham after the shooting. But Barto said she didn’t know of any fear of Jehovah’s Witnesses today in Windham.

In 1984, there was a citizen’s request to the Town Council in Windham to hold up construction on a Kingdom Hall in town. At the time, the victim’s son, Dean Pray, said he and Betty Barto were doing everything they could to stop the hall from being built in Windham, according to a July 3, 1984, article in the American Journal.

But Poland said the hall was built in two days in 1985. “It was like an Amish barn raising,” he said.

The family is still uneasy about Jehovah's Witnesses. Morton, who lived for a while as a child near her grandfather’s Texaco gas station, doesn’t want members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to go to her door, but they did this summer.

Some of those Jehovah’s Witnesses, whom she has talked with in the past, were familiar with the murder story. “Can you please not come back,” she asks them.

The grandson, Dean Pray, said Jehovah’s Witnesses last knocked on his door two years ago. When he told them his name, they recognized it.

“You guys shot my grandfather in 1940,” he told them. “Get out. I’ve got nothing to do with you,” he ordered them.

“I’ll continue to do that the rest of my life,” Pray said.

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