Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lundgren alleges that he was physically abused as a child. This allegation is supported by some of his former neighbors, and it might have played a role in some of the beliefs he developed as an adult.
According to his allegations, and those of his neighbors who alleged physical abuse, Jeff was severely beaten, particularly by his father, for small home accidents and other things, such as dropping a food plate to the floor, breaking a glass object or other things. His mother, adhering to the Mormon belief that women are inferior to men, merely stood by as she witnessed her children (Jeff has a brother) being beaten.
Lundgren was, by most accounts, an isolated person when he was in Jr. and high school. He was a kid with few friends, and a guy who spoke few words. Many of his peers thought of him as being arrogant and self-centered. According to one of his neighbors, Lundgren killed a rabbit when he was a teenager, apparently in a prelude of what would take place later on in life.
Lundgren became an expert hunter when he began to hang out with his father as a teenager. The pair would go on hunting trips, and Lundgren became a gun expert, learning shooting and maintenance techniques.
Lundgren enrolled at Central Missouri State University, and he spent time at a house that was specially built for RCLD youth. While at the house, he became friends with Keith Johnson and Alice Keeler .
Keeler herself had been abused by her father as well: Having sclerosis, Mr. Keeler began to take a number of medicines to relief his pain; this instead brought him depression and anger, which he took out by yelling at Alice and mistreating her.
On December 2 of 1970, the couple's first child, a boy, was born. By 1974, Alice Keeler was pregnant for the second time. Jeffrey Lundgren received a honorable discharche from the Navy, and another son was born soon after.
The Lundgrens set in San Diego after Jeff was discharched from the Military. They lived a number of years there, trying to make people convert into their faith. Once economical problems began to set in, the Lundgrens moved back to Missouri. In 1979, Alice Lungdren gave birth to a third child, a daughter. But her becoming pregnant for the third time may have been an attempt by her to save their marriage: people close to the Lundgrens claim that Jeffrey seemed distraught by the family's economical problems and tired of his marriage to Alice Lundgren.
Jeffrey allegedly became abusive after the birth of his daughter. According to hospital records, Alice Lundgren was hospitalized for a ruptured spleen, which may have been caused by Jeffrey pushing her down some stairs during a moment of rage. Alice Lundgren's spleen was operated, and, in 1980, the Lundgrens had their fourth child, another boy.
By 1981, Lundgren was asked to become a priest for the RCLD. But the Lundgrens became disinterested in the sect because the RCLD was going through changing times, giving women more powers and evolving into a group with a different set of rules.
Lundgren and his family soon abandoned the religious group, and Lundgren began to feel that it was his calling to teach the Bible in the way he understood it. He formed his cult that way; membership never exceeded more than twelve, but those twelve would eventually find themselves in a large, national crime scandal.
Lundgren began to offer Bible study services at his home, and he would convince his worshipers that he was either God or one of his prophets, although accounts from witnesses point towards Lundgren preferring to be referred to as a prophet.
Lundgren asked for money from his supporters, some would give him their life savings, which often were calculated to be thousands of dollars.
Lundgren then proclaimed he had received a call from God to move to Kirtland, Ohio, a small town off Cleveland. According to Lundgren, he was told by God that he and his supporters would soon witness the second coming of Christ if they moved to Kirtland.
By this time, seven of the twelve Lundgren followers had moved in to the Lundgren family home. The remaining five were members of the Avery family. Lundgren felt that the Avery's were committing a sin by not living in his house. The Avery family patriarch, Dennis Avery, sold his Missouri house in order for the Averys to move to Ohio. Mr. Avery decided to set apart a relatively small amount of money for his family's use, with a bank account. Once again, Lundgren considered this a sin, because he allegedly wanted all of his followers' money to be given exclusively to him.
It was 1984 when the Lundgrens and Jeffrey's followers moved to Ohio. In Kirtland, Lundgren discovered that Kirkland had what many estimate to be the first Mormon church where Joseph Smith began preaching. Lundgren became so marveled with his find that, soon, he was given a job as a tour guide at the church, by now a tourist museum.
In order to see God, Lundgren convinced his supporters, that they had to seize an RCLD church in Kirtland from which Lundgren had stolen about 120,000 dollars, and to kill anyone who stood in their way. Over time, however, Lundgren may have begun to realize how complicated it could be to carry out such a plan, so he changed his mind and started telling supporters that a family of five must be killed instead, if they wanted to see God. The Averys, being members of the cult, trusted Lundgren. Everybody else had been told that the Averys were their new targets.
Five years went by before the murders took place. The Averys never lived on Lundgren's home, but they did live in the same barn that the Lundgrens had bought.
On April 10, 1989, Jeffrey Lundgren allegedly ordered two of his followers to dig a hole around the barn, to bury the Averys' corpses. Lundgren told the rest of his supporters, including the Avery family, that they would go on a wilderness trip and that everyone should pack their belongings. Apparently, this was just part of an escape plan that Lundgren had in mind.
On April 17, 1989, Lundgren allegedly rented a motel room and had dinner with all of his followers. He then called his group's men into his room, handling them the guns and rifles with which the Averys' crimes would be committed. The group had allegedly been training behind the Avery family's back, for months for this event. Dennis Avery, being a member of the family about to be killed, was not invited to the motel room meeting.
According to Lundgren followers' admissions, Jeffrey later went inside the hole, with Ron Luff luring Dennis Avery into a place where the other men awaited by asking him for help with equipment for the camping trip. Ron attempted to put Dennis asleep with a stun gun; the stun gun had a mechanical failure, however, and, while a stun bullet did hit Dennis, it didn't put him asleep, instead causing him great pain. Dennis Avery then was gagged and dragged to the place where Lundgren awaited. He was shot twice in the back, dying almost instantly.
Next was Cheryl Avery, Dennis' wife. Ron Luff allegedly acted as a bait once again. He told Cheryl that her husband needed help. Once she was gagged and dragged to Jeffrey, she was shot three times, twice in her breasts area and once in the abdomen. Her body lay next to her husband's.
Trina Avery, the Averys' fifteen year old daughter, was supposedly told by Luff that they were going to play "hide and seek". Lured by the opportunity to share fun time with her fellow cult members, she was led into her death. She was shot twice in the head. The first shot missed, but the second hit her, killing her instantly.
Thirteen year old Becky Avery and her six year old sister, Karen, were supposedly told that they were going to play with horses. Karen stayed inside the Avery home, to let Becky go first, because she was told the horses would be scared if they saw the two girls together. Becky was told that a game was about to start as an explanation to her being tied with ropes and gagged. She was shot twice, once in her left thigh, the second time, in her chest. She yelled from pain, but she was left to die by her murderers, who still had one more victim to go.
Karen Avery was shot in her chest and her head.
The five bodies were found one day later by an officer, who passed by the barn and thought it was odd that no movement was seen there. He entered the barn and looked around, getting to the spot where the Averys had been buried.
Lundgren and the rest of his group, meanwhile, went east to West Virginia, where they found a spot that Lundgren liked so much, he believed God had prepared it for Him to show Himself to the cult's members there. But as months went by and nothing happened, Lundgren became dissilusioned, and he and his family returned to California, leaving the rest of the surviving cult members behind.
What followed was one of the most widely open religious scandals in American history. The Lundgrens were fugitives, the media began to speak constantly about the murders and police began to track the cult members. The FBI joined in the hunt.
Eventually, all of Lundgren's followers were found, and they helped catch Jeffrey Lundgren and his family.
All of those involved in the Avery family murders were given sentences of 100 years or more. Jeffrey Lundgren was given the death sentence.
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