Cult leader in contact with disciples in hotel

Meanwhile, police help members obtain copies of licenses confiscated in Israel

Rocky Mountain News/January 12, 1999
By Charlie Brennan

Cult leader Monte Kim Miller has repeatedly contacted 14 of his followers who remained ensconced Monday night at a downtown Denver hotel, an expert on the group said.

"I can't really tell you how, but I know without a shadow of a doubt, he has been calling them several times since they've been at the hotel," said Mark Roggeman, a Denver police officer who monitors the doomsday sect Concerned Christians in his spare time.

Roggeman said a person who contacted the room of Terry and Vonnett Smith and their four children at the Downtown Denver Holiday Inn has heard in the background comments such as, "Kim says it's OK; this person really isn't a threat."

Denver police Monday continued their involvement with the group, as a detective drove four of them to a state office to get driver's licenses.

Police on Saturday choreographed the cult members' departure from the airport, enabling them to dodge heartbroken family members.

"Someone has to explain to me about why it is that the Denver police are so involved in this," said Dr. Hal Mansfield, a Fort Collins-based cult expert who was at the hotel on Monday.

Police would not provide details about their continued involvement in the saga of the 14 sect members deported from Israel last week. The eight adults and six children returned to Denver on Saturday under an Israeli police escort.

Early Monday afternoon, Denver Police Detective Tom Fisher, driving an unmarked Jeep Cherokee, took four cult members to a Department of Motor Vehicles office, where they obtained duplicate driver's licenses. Their licenses were confiscated after their arrests in Jerusalem.

An hour later, Fisher chauffeured the cult members back to the Holiday Inn, joined by two unmarked cars. Denver Police Detective Dave Metzler said Fisher is also assigned to an FBI multi-agency task force on terrorism.

"Fisher must have been over there getting some information from them and

leaving," Metzler said. "We told these people we'd deliver messages for their families, so maybe

Fisher was doing that," he added. "But we haven't done anything more with them and we're not going to do any more."

The cult members who obtained duplicate licenses Monday were Terry Smith, 42, of Eagle, his wife, 39-year-old Vonnett Smith, her son from a prior marriage, 16-year-old Cody Wyland, and Richard Ristich, 38, a Motor Vehicle Department official said.

The cult members were arrested in Israel, but never charged, after it was alleged that the adults were plotting to start a gunbattle in the streets of Jerusalem to hasten the second coming of Christ.

They allegedly follow the instructions of Miller, the 44-year-old Denver

resident who claims to speak with the voice of God.

Several family members who'd maintained a vigil in the hotel lobby since

late Saturday gave up hope and went home Monday.

Anne Biondo took away a sliver of comfort when her daughter, Anne-Marie Malesic, finally sent down a scribbled note with a hotel staffer. It read, "I love you, Mom."

News reporter Berny Morson contributed to this story.

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