Kidnapped child found in disabled car – Alamo Ministries cult involved

Chicago Sun Times
August 17, 1989

“I thought I’d never see him again,” said Mary Lou Weinzetl through tears as her son, missing for two years, sat next to her and munched candy from a paper cup.

The boy, Brendan, was abducted by his father when he was 17 days old and both parents were members of an Arkansas religious cult.

Weinzetl, 25, didn’t know where the two were until New York City police found them living in a disabled car with two other men in Manhattan.

Weinzetl and the youngster returned to Chicago Wednesday night.

The car, found in a deserted area, contained men and children’s clothing, diapers and food.

The child’s father, Brian Broderick, 27, of Alma, Ark., and two other men were arrested after a woman told police on Aug. 3 they appeared to be living in a car with a small child in Manhattan, said Colleen Roche, spokeswoman for the New York County district attorney’s office.

When the three men did not produce identification for themselves or the child, they were arrested for allegedly endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree kidnapping, prosecutors said.

Broderick first identified himself as Gary Davis and the boy as Bubba, but a fingerprint check turned up an FBI warrant under his name for fleeing felony charges in Arkansas for interfering with custody.

The kidnapping charges were later dropped. Broderick was extradited Tuesday to Crawford County, Ark., to face charges he interfered with custody, Roche said.

The other men, Ray Arauz, 39, of Saugus, Calif., and Jim Wahl, 20, also of Alma, Ark., are being held on $1,500 bail each on the child welfare charges.

The baby was examined by officials and found to be in good condition.

Broderick allegedly ran off with Brendan in August, 1987, after Weinzetl, now living in the Chicago area, fled the religious group to which they belonged, authorities said.

FBI investigators say the group, known as the Holiness Tabernacle Church or Holy Alamo Christian Church in Alma, Ark., is a cult. Members of the religious group, headed by Tony Alamo, periodically blanket sections of Chicago with anti-Roman Catholic tracts.

Weinzetl, during a press conference in New York, said she joined Alamo’s group in 1986 after her first marriage ended, when she was “looking for help.”

While working for Alamo she met Broderick and married him, although her attorney then, Robert S. Blatt, of Fort Smith, Ark., said the legality of the marriage was in doubt because Arkansas officials had no record of it.

When Weinzetl returned to Alma in October, 1987, to claim the boy and a young daughter from the earlier marriage, members of the sect said the children were not there.

An Arkansas judge awarded Weinzetl custody of both children on Oct. 6, 1987, and she was eventually reunited with her daughter. But she says Broderick refused to let her see Brendan and later took him into hiding.

Officials would not say where in the Chicago area Weinzetl lives, but an information sheet distributed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children lists as a contact the police department in Waukegan, where Weinzetl’s mother apparently lives.

In: 1980-1989

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