’Ex-Gay’ Leader of Christian Cult Accused of Murdering Wife
The leader of a Christian prayer group in the Kansas City, Mo., area is suspected of being behind the murder of his wife, whose death was first thought to be a suicide, the Kansas City Star reports.
The newspaper reports that members of the group, which is connected to the International House of Prayer, a virulently anti-gay group, claimed that the group's leader, Tyler Deaton, was against homosexuality because he struggled with being gay himself. "He struggled with it, but he overcame it," a member of the group told the Star. "It was a victory."
Now, some suspect that Deaton, who was regarded as the group's "spiritual leader," may have been involved with the death of his wife, Bethany Deaton, 27, whose body was found the night before Halloween in the back of her van. Soon after she died, 23-year-old Micah Moore, a member of the prayer group, turned himself into authorities and told them that Tyler Deaton put him up to murdering his wife. He also revealed the horrific acts that allegedly went on behind the group's doors.
According to the Star, several members of the group lived in Tyler Deaton's home in Grandview, Mo., which is about 16 miles south of Kansas City. The Star reports that there were a number of "young adults making sex part of their religious experience" in the clan and the group's men allegedly sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton for months.
Court records show that Moore claimed Bethany Deaton was planning on exposing the group and her husband. Moore confessed that he murdered the young woman and tried to make it look like a suicide. He insists that Tyler Deaton told him to commit the act.
Prosecutors have charged Moore with first-degree murder. Deaton and other members of the group are currently under investigations.
The Star reports that Moore and Bethany Deaton met while they were students at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, which is affiliated with the Methodist Church. Apparently, most of the members of the prayer group were young adults who graduated from the college in May 2009 and then moved to Kansas City to continue their practices.
The newspaper describes Tyler Deaton as a handsome young man who was a member of his high school's National Honor Society and the Young Republicans. He was also a skilled debater, a former member of the International House of Prayer told the Star.
"He could think logically," she said. "He could argue his case. He is really personable. He's smart, articulate and driven."
Christy Little, a woman who was in the same Bible study class as Deaton said she often debated him on religious topics.
"Everything had to go his way," she told the publication. "One time he said there would be no discussion until everyone agreed that the King James version was the only true version of the Bible. Well, I was Catholic so I had a problem with that. So we argued and of course Tyler won everybody over because that's what he did."
While at Southwestern, Deaton was able to put together a large prayer group and after a falling out with the college's administration in 2009, Deaton decided to take his group off campus. After they moved to Missouri, the members lived a cult-like existence, their lives consisting of sleep deprivation, humiliation and constant prayer.
Bethany Deaton's body was discovered in the back of her van in late October with a bag over her head and a suicide note left inside the car.
According to the Star, witnesses alleged that Bethany Deaton was sexually assaulted and drugged over a period of months. Moore claims that members of the group were worried she was going to expose their acts as she planed to speak with a therapist about the attacks. He added that he Tyler Deaton convinced him to kill his wife by telling him that he "had it in him to do it."