1/15/11 – FBI ‘most wanted’ found dead in Blaine by Lawrence Sheriff
January 15, 2011
By Mark Grayson

FBI ‘most wanted’ found dead in Blaine by Lawrence Sheriff

Accused of abusing children, Kolbek, 51, was featured on several television segments

BLAINE, Ky.– A man sought for more than two years following accusations he paddled children until they were bloody in his role as convicted evangelist Tony Alamo’s enforcer has died in Kentucky, the Associated Press reported this morning (Saturday, Jan. 15).

John Erwin Kolbek, 51, died Thursday at a home on the Right Fork of Laurel, near Blaine, from what appeared to be a heart attack, said Lawrence County Sheriff Garrett Roberts this morning. Roberts said he discovered Kolbek was wanted by the FBI after running his Social Security number through the KSP data base Thursday on his way back to Louisa after visiting the scene.

Roberts said Kolbek’s wife, Jennifer Kolbek, called Lawrence County 911 Thursday at 2:55 p.m., and reported that she needed an ambulance and that her husband was “not breathing”.

Ms. Kolbek at first identified herself to Roberts as ‘Michelle Jones’ and her husband as ‘John Jones’, Roberts said. She told him that she had lived in Blaine for approximately eight months with her six children, four of whom Roberts described as “adults”, after finding the small farm for sale on the internet. After Roberts requested some type of identification, Ms. Kolbek gave Roberts a birth certificate which included his SS number.

She also said that she had been separated from her husband for “several years” but that he had called her Tuesday morning, Jan. 11th, 2011 from a Penn Station sub shop in Somerset, Ky., and told her he was ill and requested that she come and pick him up, which she did, Roberts said. “Apparently Mr. Kolbek was very ill when she picked him up and became worse as the two days before his death transpired,” Roberts told The Lazer this morning.

Roberts said Lawrence County Coroner Mike Wilson was called to the scene and decided to send the body to Frankfort for an autopsy. It was determined that Kolbek had died of con-genitive heart failure and fingerprints confirmed that he was John E. Kolbek, who had been on the run since 2008 after the FBI charges were filed. Roberts said Kolbek did not look like the FBI photo (printed above) and that he had a full beard and appeared to weigh nearly 300 pounds. He also said Ms. Kolbek did not look much like her FBI photo, either.

“I had no idea who he was until we were on the way back in with the body,” Roberts said this morning. “When I ran his Social Security number through the computer it came back that he was wanted by the FBI.”

When Roberts returned to the scene after learning of Kolbek’s real identity, he said Ms. Kolbek was gone. “There were two male adult children there, approximately 18 years of age, but she had taken the rest of the family and left,” Roberts said. “She later contacted the Coroner (Wilson) and told him that she had gone to Tennessee to visit friends and that she will be back in Louisa today (Saturday) to complete funeral arrangements,” Roberts said.

“I don’t believe Kolbek had been here for the entire time the family was here,” Roberts said. “I talked to several residents of the area Friday and none of them had seen him around the gas station or anywhere else.”

Sheriff Roberts, who has installed the latest in police technology during his two terms in office, said he has been contacted only by the FBi and the Texarkana Gazette newspaper since the incident. He said contrary to the AP report, Ms. Kolbek is not wanted by the FBI at the present time, and has not been charged with any part of the Alamo crimes.

Here’s what the Associated Press reported this morning concerning Kolbek’s past:

Kolbek, who for a time lived in Fort Smith, vanished after Alamo’s compound in Fouke was raided on Sept. 20, 2008. Alamo was arrested five days later in Arizona and convicted the following year of taking children across state lines for sex. He is serving a 175-year federal prison sentence.

Kolbek was wanted on charges of felony battery and fleeing and had managed to hide from authorities despite widespread media attention, including several segments on “America’s Most Wanted.”

Grubbs said authorities figured out Kolbek was the deceased person in Kentucky because a woman with him was also wanted. (This is not the case according to Lawrence County Sheriff Garrett Roberts, who made the identification of Kolbek Thursday at Blaine, not Louisa) The FBI also has been looking for Kolbeck’s wife, Jennifer Kolbeck. Grubbs did not know if she was the woman with him when he died. Authorities confirmed Kolbeck’s identity through his fingerprints and tattoos.

The Little Rock FBI office didn’t return a message seeking comment Friday. U.S. Attorney Deborah Groom, whose Western District of Arkansas office prosecuted Alamo and sought Kolbeck, said she had no comment.

Witnesses in Alamo’s case described beatings Kolbeck had administered to children in Alamo’s ministry. One witness testified that Kolbeck hit him in the face about 15 times and then struck him hard about 30 times with a three-foot wooden paddle on three separate occasions. The witness said he was punished for insignificant misbehavior.

The FBI’s wanted poster for Kolbeck recounts a time Kolbeck paddled an unclothed boy until he was bruised and bloodied, stopping when the paddle broke. Kolbeck was described as 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 250 pounds.

State welfare officials seized six girls in the 2008 raid, the findings from which led to other children being taken into state custody. Ultimately, the state was authorized to seize more than 100 children, most of whom investigators could not find.

Witnesses testified during Alamo’s trial that Alamo took girls as young as 9 years old to be his “wives” and that he ran his Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and businesses with threats and intimidation, with Kolbeck on hand to administer beatings.

Alamo had other compounds in Fort Smith; Moffett, and Muldrow, Okla.; and Los Angeles. He also had congregations in New York and New Jersey.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie Lazar Hoffman, lost his criminal appeal in December before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Five young women who testified Alamo took them as “wives” and sexually assaulted them when they were minors won a $2.5 million civil judgment against Alamo last January.

Parts of this story came from the Associated Press Report

In: 2011

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