House of Yahweh critic arrested

Abilene Reporter-News
By Loretta Fulton

Baird -- A Maryland man was jailed for assault and interfering with child custody four days after trying to storm the gates of the House of Yahweh.

David Richardson confronted sect members Saturday in an unsuccessful attempt to get his wife and her 14-year-old daughter to leave the religious sect that has a compound between Clyde and Eula.
He was briefly detained in Callahan County Jail in Baird Wednesday on one misdemeanor and one felony charge resulting from his earlier successful foray into the compound to remove his 6-year-old son and his wife's 12-year-old son.

Richardson was charged with family violence and assault, a misdemeanor; and interfering with child custody, a felony, said Sheriff Eddie Curtis.

Justice of the Peace Don Burns set bond at $1,000 on the misdemeanor charge and $2,500 on the felony. Richardson was released on bond Wednesday afternoon.

County Attorney Allen Wright said the assault charge resulted from a scuffle that ensued when Richardson removed the 12-year-old boy from the compound. The youngster is no longer in Texas.
"He's out of state," Wright said. "That's why we had to do something."

Richardson's wife, Bonnie, who changed her name to Biynyah Hawkins in honor of the sect's founder Yisrayl Hawkins, has custody of the 12-year-old boy and the 14-year-old girl, Wright said. Richardson is the father of the 6-year-old boy.

Richardson, an ex-member of the cult, said he is concerned about the welfare of his wife and the children, and that's why he went to extremes to get them out.

"You have no idea what this man can do," he said in an interview referring to Yisrayl Hawkins.
But in the eyes of the law he carried his concerns too far. Wright, the county attorney, said the 12-year-old boy is safe and "the proper agencies are looking into" whether to return him to his mother in the compound.

"We're still talking to the agencies to see how they want to handle it," he said.

In addition to the tension at the compound Saturday when Richardson confronted security guards at the gate, a fire that destroyed two trailer houses early Sunday morning also brought attention from investigators.

State Fire Marshal's investigator Donald Turk of Anson was brought in to check out the cause of the fire that destroyed the home of three House of Yahweh members and an adjacent storage trailer.
"It's rather sensitive, and we wanted to make sure we had all our bases covered," said Tommy Hudspeth, assistant fire chief at Eula who requested Turk's assistance.

Turk could not be reached Wednesday, but Sheriff Curtis said the cause apparently was faulty wiring. He said Turk had requested an electrical expert from the Dallas office to investigate but had not yet made a ruling.

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