Twisted cult carried out murders for two decades as ‘sinners’ had to die to go to heaven

The cartel members lay in wait and shot up the three vehicles.

They were carrying members of the extended LeBaron family who were going to a wedding.

Three woman and six children died.

The reason for the 2019 attack was the familiar tale of Mexican drug cartels murdering people in a seemingly endless civil war which has soaked the country in blood.

And tragically, it was not the first time the LeBaron name had been involved in murder.

For more than 20 years until the mid 1980s, the LeBaron clan was involved in countless killings based on twisted quasi-religious cult beliefs.

In the 1920s the American Mormon church banned polygamy – where men could have more than one wife.

A 19th century Mormon family where men had numerous wives

Many Mormons moved south to Mexico where it was not illegal, including the LeBaron clan.

By the 1960s, Joel and Ervil LeBaron were contesting its leadership, with Ervil preaching the long abandoned Mormon principle of blood atonement.

murder, Mormon, cult
The LeBaron family leaders, Ervil (far left) and Joel (next to him) were vying for power. Verlan is in the middle

This said for a sinner to get to heaven, they must have their blood shed. Or more simply, be killed.

Ervil split with his brother and formed the Church of the First Born of the Lamb of God.

This “church” had little to do with any recognised religion. Bloodshed was to follow.

Ervil, who had 13 wives and more than 50 kids, first ordered Joel’s death. He was shot in the head.

murder, cult
Evil Ervil who ordered numerous murders

Joel’s followers then elected another brother, Verlan, to be their leader.

He went into hiding but Ervil’s 13th wife, teenager Rena Chynoweth – who believed her husband was a prophet – launched a gun attack on a compound with her two brothers where they were believed Verlan was staying. Two men died. Verlan was not there.

They all escaped justice.

When a mum of two tried to leave the cult, Ervil’s tenth wife, Vonda White, shot her. Her body has never been found.

Ervil then began to threaten other Mormon leaders to join him or die. When the leader of one sect denounced him, he was also killed.

When another cult member threatened to leave, Vonda White executed him in his kitchen. She was eventually jailed but believed the killing would guarantee she went to heaven.

The next victim was Ervil’s own pregnant teenage daughter Rebecca. She was killed after threatening to go to the police after a family row.

A separate church leader was next on evil Ervil’s hit list.

Rulon C Allred was also gunned down by Rena, 18. She later admitted to the crime having left the cult.

cult, killing, murders
Rena Chynoweth who confessed to killing on her husband’s orders

Ervil was captured in Mexico and convicted in the US for planning the crime. He died in prison in 1981, having first prepared a list of people who deserved to die.

His brother Verlan died in a mysterious car crash soon after.

Ervil had named his eldest son, Arturo, as church leader, who was also running many of the cult’s criminal enterprises.

When his step mum Lorna decided to leave the cult, she was killed.

One of Ervil’s followers, Leo Evoniuk, also laid claim to the church leadership. When the two met to settle their differences, Arturo was murdered. Leo subsequently vanished.

The next leader to step up was was Heber LeBaron, 20.

He then set about killing the people he blamed for Arturo’s death and five people disappeared.

He also fully embraced polygamy, marrying numerous women including several of his half-sisters and stepsisters. He would frequently pimp them to Mexican politicians to keep in their good books.

The killing went on for years. In 1987 cult member Daniel Jordan was murdered after a falling out. The man believed to have killed him – who had nine wives – was also shot

Long dead Ervil’s death list had not been forgotten. In 1998 in a co-ordinated hit, cult members killed four people in three different Texas locations including a girl, eight..

One of the killers eventually turned government witness and three people – including Heber – were convicted.

Six of the cult’s children were taken into care but they all disappeared in a single night from their various foster homes.

Because of the secretive and fanatical nature of the cult , it is not know just how many people they killed.

cartel, murder, cult
Yet ore tragedy – a cartel killed nine innocent members of the LeBaron family

Thankfully, after 1989, the LeBaron name dropped from the headlines, and abandoned its cult beliefs, until the senseless cartel killings in 2019 in which they were blameless victims.

Violence had once again caused tragedy in the LeBaron family.


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