North Sumatra cult leader kills three, including baby

The Jakarta Post/June 7, 2018

By Apriadi Gunawan

A grisly murder case involving members of a religious cult has shocked the Mandailing Natal regency in North Sumatra.

A woman, a young boy and a 6-month-old baby were allegedly murdered by fellow cult members who had fled to the hills to avoid what they believed was a looming major disaster on the 15th day of Ramadhan.

The case started when the cult of 10 members — all relatives who lived in Lubuk Kancah village in Ranto Baek district — began their flight to safety last week after their leader Almahdi, also known as Mahdi, heard voices telling him to seek refuge.

As the group sought high ground last Thursday, Mahdi allegedly heard whispers ordering him to kill three family members in his entourage, Mandailing Natal Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Irsan Sinuhaji said.

“The suspect [Mahdi] claimed that he repeatedly heard voices while [the group] was on their way to the hills,” Irsan said on Wednesday.

The first murder allegedly occurred when the group was about to cross the Batang Bangko River. 

Mahdi reportedly asked his cousin to allow him to carry the 6-month-old baby the latter was holding at that time.

“He threw the baby into the river,” Irsan added.

Mahdi then allegedly strangled 26-year old Risma and, with the help of two cult members, beat 16-year-old Dedi to death.

Fearing for their safety, four other cult members fled to nearby Muara Banko village for help.

Residents immediately informed the police after discovering Risma’s nude body in an oil palm plantation near the river later that day. Some reportedly tried to apprehend the cult members themselves.

Dedi’s body was found the next day not far from where Risma had been dumped. The baby’s body was found floating in the river on Sunday.

The Mandailing Natal Police tracked down and arrested Mahdi along with two suspected perpetrators from the cult, B and M.

They were charged under articles 338 and 340 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on murder and premeditated murder. 

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