Ervil LeBaron : biography
Ervil Morrell LeBaron (February 22, 1925 – August 16, 1981) was the leader of a polygamous Mormon fundamentalist group who ordered the killings of many of his opponents, using the religious doctrine of blood atonement to justify the murders. He was sentenced to prison for orchestrating the murder of an opponent, and died in prison.
He had at least 13 wives in a plural marriage, several of whom he married while they were still underage, and several of whom were involved in the murders.
In 1972, the brothers split over leadership of the church; and Ervil started a new church in San Diego, California, the Church of the Lamb of God.Ben Bradlee, Jr. & Dale Van Atta, Prophet of Blood: The Untold Story of Ervil LeBaron and the Lambs of God (G.G. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1981). That same year, Ervil ordered the murder of Joel in Mexico. Leadership of the Baja California church passed to the youngest LeBaron brother, Verlan, whom Ervil tried to have killed over the next decade. In 1974, Ervil was tried and convicted in Mexico for the murder of Joel. His conviction was overturned on a technicality, and some have alleged this was as a result of a bribe.Bradlee & Van Atta, pp.217-218. Ervil's followers subsequently raided Los Molinos in an effort to kill Verlan,Anderson, pp.115-128.Bradlee & Van Atta, pp.159-173. who was in Nicaragua; but the town was destroyed and two men were killed.
Ervil LeBaron's attention was also focused on rival polygamous leaders. In April 1975, he ordered the killing of Bob Simons, a polygamist who sought to minister to Native Americans.Bradlee & Van Atta, pp.181-191; 288-292. In 1977, LeBaron ordered the killing of Rulon C. Allred, leader of the Apostolic United Brethren, another group of polygamous Mormon fundamentalists.Bradlee & Van Atta, pp. 231-256. Ervil LeBaron's 13th wife, Rena Chynoweth, and another woman, Ramona Marston, carried out the murder. Although Rena Chynoweth was tried and acquitted for Allred's murder, she confessed in her memoir, The Blood Covenant (1990).Rena Chynoweth, The Blood Covenant (1990). She also described her experiences in LeBaron's group, which she characterized as using mind control and fear to control its followers.Susan Ray Schmidt, His Favorite wife: Trapped in Polygamy (memoir by Verlan LeBaron's sixth wife)
Ervil LeBaron also ordered murders of members of his own family and those of his supporters. Vonda White, LeBaron's 10th wife, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Dean Grover Vest, one of LeBaron's henchmen, who had attempted to leave the church.Anderson, pp.144-154.Bradley & Van Atta, pp. 192-202; 298-300. Vonda White is also said to have killed Noemi Zarate Chynoweth,Anderson, pp.128-130.Bradlee & Van Atta, p.201. Note, Noemi's name has been spelled variously "Noemi", "Naomi", and "Neomi". the plural wife of Ervil's father-in-law through his wife, Lorna Chynoweth. Noemi had been critical of Ervil LeBaron's practices; and she snubbed him at her wedding to Bud Chynoweth.Bradlee & Van Atta, pp.173-174. According to witnesses, Thelma Chynoweth (Bud Chynoweth's first wife who was Lorna's mother and Noemi's sister-wife) helped kill Noemi. Ervil LeBaron also has been linked to the death of his own 17-year-old daughter Rebecca, who was pregnant with her second child and hoped to leave the group; it is alleged that, in April 1977, Eddie Marston (Ervil's stepson) and Duane Chynoweth (Ervil's brother-in-law) strangled her.Anderson, pp.158-165.Bradlee & Van Atta, pp.228-31; 256-60; 281-82; 287; 297-98.
On June 1, 1979, Ervil LeBaron was apprehended by police in Mexico and extradited to the United States, where he was convicted of having ordered Allred's death. In 1980, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah, where he died on August 16, 1981.Irene Spencer, Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement (2009). Ervil's brother Verlan (whom Ervil had tried to murder) died in an auto accident in Mexico City two days after Ervil's body was discovered in his cell. In an October 2012 interview with Vice Magazine, Verlan LeBaron's grandson Brent LeBaron stated that at least some in the LeBaron family believe that this may not have been a coincidence.
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