Two arrested in deaths linked to cult

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram/September 16, 2001
By Charlotte Huff and Kelly Melhart

Wise County officials and Texas Rangers are investigating the deaths of a mother and her eldest son and their burials at the family's home.

Two Wise County men were arrested Friday in connection with the deaths of a woman and her eldest son that investigators believe are connected to the family's allegiance to a religious cult.

The woman's brother, Delwyn Suhl, 32, and one of her sons, Clint Cauthen, 19, were arrested by Irving police after other family members confessed during a church revival in Fort Worth on Thursday, said Sgt. Robin Melton, a spokeswoman for the Wise County Sheriff's Department.

The deaths and burials are believed to have taken place at the family home, located off Farm Road 730 between Boyd and Azle, Melton said. Melton wouldn't divulge details about the cult, other than to say that the woman, Glenda Cauthen, 45, had professed "to be Jesus Christ."

Melton wouldn't say whether more arrests are expected. The Texas Rangers are also investigating the deaths. According to family members, the oldest son, Clayton Cauthen, who was not believed to be involved in the cult, was killed about 18 months ago by severe blows to the head after he refused to participate in the family's religious activities, Melton said.

"This is a mother ordering a son's death," Melton said. According to family members, Glenda Cauthen said Clayton Cauthen's sacrifice had been instructed by God, Melton said. According to family members, about six months ago, Glenda Cauthen decided that it was her time to die.

Family members said that "God had called her," Melton said. Reports say that Glenda Cauthen died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a vehicle in the driveway of the family home, Melton said. Other family members watched, Melton said.

There were eight family members before the two deaths, Melton said. Family members were renamed and required to be servants, officials said. Authorities wouldn't provide the location of the family's residence, saying only that it was in the Brighton Oaks addition off Farm Road 730.

Family members kept to themselves, Melton said. Outsiders were not allowed beyond the 8- to 10-foot-high stockade fence that surrounded several acres, Melton said.

The cult doesn't appear to include anyone outside the family, Melton said. The deaths were revealed in a conversation between some family members and the pastor of Faith Family Center Church of God in southwest Fort Worth after a revival at the church, Melton said.

Four of the six remaining family members confessed to Pastor David Faircloth, Faircloth's wife and Dallas evangelist Jay Hurt, who is conducting the revival at the church, Faircloth said Saturday night. Family members ap-proached Faircloth after the service Thursday night, he said.

Faircloth would not divulge what was said or identify which family members attended the service. The revival was held at the church in the 9700 block of Santa Monica Drive.

"During the revival, God had opened some eyes of some individuals about some things that had taken place, and they felt the strong need to come and talk to us about it," Faircloth said. "I am still working with this family and I do not want it to appear that I broke confidentiality with them."

The family started attending the church during the revival, which started July 22, Faircloth said. At first only one of them attended, but that person soon brought three others.

The pastor said family members knew that authorities would be notified when they told him what happened. "That was their intent," he said. "The reason they came and talked to us was to have guidance on what needed to be done." Faircloth said he will continue to counsel the family.

"In light of the things that are happening, there is a spiritual renewal that's taking place in their life," he said. "I see no reason to turn people away that are seeking God."

Suhl and Clint Cauthen are in custody in Wise County Jail, Melton said. Both bodies have been exhumed from the property, Melton said. They will be sent to Travis County Medical Examiner's Office, where there is a specialist in decomposition, she said.

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