LaTourette following Carolyn Clark murder case

U.S. rep offers help to Ashtabula County Prosecutors Office

The Star Beacon, Ohio/June 2, 2005
By Shelley Terry

Given Ashtabula County's budget woes, U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Concord Township) says prosecutors may need some help investigating whether a local church played a role in the beating to death of an alienated member.

Carolyn Clark's murder Mother's Day weekend was enough to shock the community and keep Ashtabula police busy at the Park Avenue crime scene. Shortly thereafter, police arrested Clark's estranged husband, who police said beat her head with the stock of a rifle in front of the five youngest of their 13 children.

The following week Carolyn Clark's divorce affidavit surfaced, stating she believed the couple's church, Apostolic Faith Church in Jefferson Township, was "cult-like." She also said people from the church physically and sexually abused its members, including children.

As of Wednesday afternoon no charges had been filed against the leaders of the church, but LaTourette said Wednesday he's read the news stories.

"I have great confidence in (Ashtabula County Prosecutor) Tom Sartini," LaTourette said. "However, I spoke with Geauga County Prosecutor Dave Joyce, who offered his aid to Tom (Sartini), if needed."

Sartini did not return a telephone call to his office Wednesday.

Carolyn Clark's allegations bring back memories for LaTourette, who owes his no-nonsense reputation and easily recognizable name to the days when he was a Lake County prosecutor. He directed the prosecution of Kirtland cult leader Jeffrey Lundgren, Lundgren's wife, son and followers, following the 1990 slaying of a Madison Township family.

LaTourette said the Lundgren case was broken after the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received a tip about the murders in January 1990 from an estranged cult member. He told them they could find the bodies on Lundgren's farm, according to news reports.

A nationwide manhunt followed to arrest more than a dozen people accused in the murders. It later came out the Madison family died in a ritual slaying designed to cleanse the cult and allow it to relocate, according to news reports.

"We had 13 defendants in that case, and it took two years to get everyone squared away," LaTourette said. "We had to bring in people to help, including eight special prosecutors."

LaTourette's determination to have Lundgren sentenced to death gave him widespread media coverage.

"What we found in Kirtland was people who went to church four or five times a week," he said. "They were people you wouldn't think would be involved in a murder."

During the day, Lundgren's followers worked regular jobs.

Come evening, they gathered at Lundgren's rented farmhouse for Bible studies. Lundgren often preached into the early-morning hours. He told them they would see God, but first they had to seize the temple owned by the Community of Christ in Kirtland, and kill anyone who stood in the way, according to news reports.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.