Controversial church scraps scrapyard work

The Star Beacon, Ohio/May 27, 2005
By Shelley Terry

Two Ashtabula County scrapyards formerly owned by the Apostolic Faith Church, Body of Jesus Christ of the Newborn Assembly in Jefferson Township, are no longer owned by the church nor its members.

In 1999, a former church member, a cult-survivor advocate and a private investigator reported the church was in violation of child labor laws and was abusing children at two scrapyards sites, 2701 N. Bend Road, Saybrook Township, and at 618 Route 6 in New Lyme Township.

Essentially, nothing was done, and since that time, the church has sold the properties and opened eight other businesses, including a car detailing service on State Road and a beauty salon on Griggs Road.

A Saybrook Township family, who wishes to remain anonymous, purchased the Route 6 property last summer via a land contract.

According to the Ashtabula County Auditor's Web site, the property was owned by the Jefferson church, in care of Steven Turner and Ralph Clark.

Clark is a member of the church and is in jail, charged in the May 7 beating death of his wife, Carolyn Clark, who was trying to leave town with their five youngest children. She believed the Jefferson church to be a cult, according to her divorce affidavit.

The new owners are "scrapping everything out," a family spokeswoman said Thursday.

As for the North Bend Road property, Raymond H. Keyes, who is not related to Charles Keyes, leader of the Jefferson church, now runs a motor recycling business there. Only by coincidence does he bear the same name. In fact, Raymond H. Keyes owns several properties in Ashtabula, including the building next to the Ponderosa restaurant. Previously, he owned the site where the "flying saucer" gas station once stood at Five Points.

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