Murders by Jehovah's Witnesses
or Why It Might be Unsafe to Marry a
or Why NOT to Talk to Witnesses at Your Door!
The man who set his wife ablaze
Naomi joins the list of Nigerian women murdered by their husbands
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
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
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.
TOMB TO TOME
Posted: June 26, 2011 -
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
Gunman Opens Fire at School in Brazil, Killing 12
12 children killed in Brazil JW connected
(April 10, 2011)
He just stayed in his room, in front of the computer.”
Mr. Oliveira had been a
like his …Globe and Mail · 4 minutes ago
New York Times -
- 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 ...
12 kids die as gunman stalks halls offormer school
1398 news articles »
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.
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
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,
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,
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
“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.”
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,
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.
Jehovah's Witnesses caught by police after killing
spree in Russia
By Will Stewart
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
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:
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."
VICTIM LUDMILA KOSTINA
Job Fortune teller
Killed After they answered
VICTIM MASHA MASLENNIKOVA
Killed Missing since May, her body has not been found
VICTIM ELENA LOMTEVA
Killed Body was found near her holiday home in the Volga region
VICTIM LUDMILA KOSTELNIKOVA
Killed Also found near her holiday home
God wants us to cleanse the world of sinners
ACCUSED ELVIRA EGORYCHEVA
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
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
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
"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
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,
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
(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.
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
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
"That was the tinderbox that lit this up,” Poland
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
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
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
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
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,”