FBI raids fugitive Tony Alamo’s religious cult after charges of child abuse

1989-08 - CAN News - FBI begins manhunt for TA
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CAN (Cult Awareness Network) News
August 1, 1989

FBI begins manhunt for Tony Alamo

FBI agents raided a Las Vegas, Nevada home July 25 in an unsuccessful search for Tony Alamo, leader of a religious cult. Alamo, under the alias Clarence Williams, has been evading a federal arrest warrant issued in April by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office in connection with felony child abuse charges filed against Alamo and five of his Followers in October.

Alamo is the founder of the Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation, a secretive anti-Catholic Bible-based cult also known as the Holiness Tabernacle Church and the Music-Square Church that operates in Arkansas, Illinois and Tennessee.

Until recently the charges remained secret to give police time to track down the suspects and arrest them without scaring them off. However, police have been unable to locate them and so decided to publicize the issuance of the arrest warrants.

“We have basically done every thing we can to find these people without scaring them away,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert B. Foltz. With Alamo’s financial resources, Foltz said, “He could be living in Brazil tomorrow and we will never see him again.”

The charges are the result of a beating that had been administered to 12-year-old Justin Miller, son of Carol Ann Miller Landgarten, 36, who is among those facing charges. Authorities contend that Justin was beaten on the buttocks 140 times with a three-foot paddle in January, 1988, at the cult’s commune in Mint Canyon, near Saugus, Calif.

Alamo is accused of ordering the punishment via speaker phone from a bungalow next door. Justin allegedly was being punished for “disrespectful behavior.” After each of Justin’s transgressions was read aloud, Alamo told how many times the boy should be paddled. According to Justin, three men held him down while a fourth administered the blows. His mother shouted things at him such as: “You’re a liar, just like your father. We’re just going to have to beat the father out of you.”

In Sept., 1987, Justin’s father, Carey Miller, 35, had rejected Alamo’s teachings and fled the commune with Justin’s uncle, Bob Miller, 37. Justin and his two cousins, Cody Miller, 11, and Bobby Lee Miller, 5, were later taken from the commune by sheriff’s police. In March, 1988, an Orange County Superior Court judge granted permanent custody to the children’s fathers and ordered the two mothers to come no closer than 200 yards to the houses or schools,

Justin’s physical condition prompted a raid on the commune in March, 1988, during which paddles and other evidence were confiscated. No criminal charges were brought at that time, however, because the physical evidence, including the deep tissue bruises noted on Justin, still wasn’t enough to secure a conviction, according to the state’s attorney. However, a former Alamo church member who saw the attack has since cooperated with authorities so that arrest warrants could be issued.

The others charged besides Alamo and Justin’s mother are Allen Rehn, 35; Kerry Warren Younkin, 37; and Marc Stuart Landgarten, 40.

Sources (From “6 in sect charged with child abuse” by Lynn O’Shaughnessy, Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1989, pg II-3 ;and “FBI hunts for cult leader Tony Alamo, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1989.)

In: 1980-1989

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