Woman who fled Tony Alamo cult reunited with son

Patriot News Company
August 16, 1989

NEW YORK – A 2-year-old kidnapped by his father when he was 17 days old has been reunited with his mother after he was spotted hiding in the back seat of a parked car in Manhattan by a passer-by.

The child’s father, who was arrested along with two other men, abducted the boy after his wife fled a religious cult to which they belonged.

The boy’s mother, Mary Lou Weinzetl, 25, wept as she described her ordeal yesterday at a news conference in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

“I thought I’d never see him again,“ she said as the boy, Brendan Broderick, munched fistfuls of M&Ms from a paper cup.

The child’s father, Brian Broderick, 27, allegedly ran off with Brendan in August 1987 after Weinzetl fled the fundamentalist Christian cult.

Weinzetl said the cult endangered children with violent abuse.

Weinzetl, who now lives in Illinois – she would not disclose the town – said she once saw a 12-year-old boy given 60 hard blows by three adults after the leader of the cult, Tony Alamo, said the child “had the devil in him and it had to be beaten out.“

“Tony was taking something from the Lord and turning it into a nightmare,“ Weinzetl said. “He was using it for personal power and money. I feel I was spiritually raped.“

Morgenthau said Alamo, whose real name is Bernard L. Hoffman, is wanted by the FBI for interstate flight to avoid prosecution for child abuse in California.

The Alamo Christian Church is based in Alma, Ark., and has other congregations in Omaha; Chicago; Nashville; Saugus, Calif., and Brooklyn, Morgenthau said.

In a pamphlet entitled, “Tony Alamo: My Side of the Story,“ and dated Aug. 9, 1989, Alamo describes Weinzetl as a “working prostitute“ and calls law enforcement authorities in New York “Gestapo and SS agents.“

“What burst my bubble was I found out that my marriage wasn’t legal,“ Weinzetl said, explaining her departure. She said the unordained Alamo refused to let her remarry in a civil ceremony, telling her she had been “married in the eyes of God.“

Weinzetl’s daughter from an earlier marriage, Jackie, now 3, was returned to her by Broderick five months after she left the group. But she says he refused to let her see Brendan and eventually went into hiding with him.

After two years of frantic searching and calling the FBI almost every day, Weinzetl got a call at her Illinois home telling her Brendan had been found.

In: 1980-1989

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