Klobuchar calls for federal investigations into 'sweat lodge' deaths

Ray Postpones Self-Help Events Following Sedona, Ariz., Sweat Lodge Deaths, Victim's Family Calls for Arrest

CBS 48 Hours Mystery/October 29, 2009

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) The daughter of Liz Neuman, a Prior Lake, Minn. woman who died after participating in an Arizona sweat-lodge ceremony said she wants New Age guru James Arthur Ray behind bars.

Authorities are investigating the Oct. 8 ceremony at Angel Valley Resort near Sedona, Ariz. led by Ray, a motivational speaker. Three participants died and 18 were hospitalized after the event. The deaths have been ruled homicide by local law enforcement.

"I would like to honestly see him behind bars. I think that what he did was negligent and resulted in the deaths of three people," Neuman's daughter, Andrea Puckett, told KARE-TV in Minneapolis.

"I would like to see him not doing his work anymore, I don't think he should do this to other people," she told the station.

The family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Ray in the near future. Ray's attorney, Brad Brian, told The Associated Press that all the participants were fully informed of the health risks that could be posed by sweat lodges - and said Ray was not responsible for the design or maintenance of the lodge in question.

"None of this changes the reality that this was a terrible accident, but we hope everyone will resist a rush to judgment until all of the facts are known," Brian said.

Neuman, 49, died at a Flagstaff hostpial more than a week after the ceremony. Two other victims died at a hospital the night of the ceremony: Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee.

In all, between 55 and 65 people took part in the sweat-lodge ceremony, the highlight of a five-day program at the private retreat near Sedona. Participants and law enforcement officials previously told The Associated Press that the two-hour ceremony degenerated into chaos as people became sick, but were encouraged by Ray to stay inside for the entire time.

Neuman's relatives said she faithfully followed the teachings of Ray, an author whose "Spiritual Warrior" program encouraged participants to realize their potential. Puckett said her mother, who had attended previous retreats led by Ray, had become a leader in his organization.

"She always comes back rejuvenated and ready to tackle life," Puckett said. But, she added, her mother "trusted Mr. Ray to lead the sweat-lodge appropriately."

She said Ray didn't call the family until a day after her mother died.

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