US cult leader made teens live with corpse for months

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US cult leader made teens live with corpse for months
HE HID his cult follower’s rotting body in a toilet for two months until he was caught.
25 July 2009

HE HID his cult follower’s rotting body in a toilet for two months until he was caught.

Cult leader Alan Bushey’s reason: God would bring her back to life soon.

The real reason: So he could go on collecting her monthly government benefit money.

A judge sentenced Bushey, 59, to two years in prison on Wednesday, reported AP.

Bushey, who is from the town of Necedah, in the US state of Wisconsin, kept Ms Magdeline Alvina Middlesworth’s corpse in the toilet of another follower, Ms Tammy Lewis, early last year. It ‘devastated’ her daughter, now 16, and son, now 14.

Ms Middlesworth, 90, moved to Necedah from Washington state in 2005 to join Bushey’s sect, the Order of the Divine Will.

Prosecutors said Bushey kept the body hidden so he could collect Ms Middlesworth’s government retirement checks and annuities.

Bushey’s lawyer, Mr Thomas Steinman, argued that Bushey thought God would bring Middlesworth back to life.

‘A miracle like that is part of the Christian faith,’ Mr Steinman said. ‘He truly believed she would come back from the dead.’

Bushey appeared at the hearing in a black cassock with a crucifix around his neck.

He told Judge John Roemer Jr that he should have known God would raise Ms Middlesworth from the dead without his involvement.

‘I should have called the coroner and left the supernatural to God,’ Bushey said.

Horrific

Judge Roemer, who called the case ‘horrific,’ said living with a rotting corpse devastated Ms Lewis’ children.

District Attorney Scott Southworth said they had to use a bucket in a closet for a toilet.

Bushey told them that a demon was making the body decay and that they weren’t praying hard enough to bring Ms Middlesworth back to life, Mr Southworth added.

Mr Southworth called Mr Bushey a ‘warped’ con man. His church, the Orthodox Catholic Church of Russia in the Americas, defrocked him in 1998 but Bushey continued to pass himself off as a clergyman, Mr Southworth told the judge.

‘I can only imagine what other wacky things Alan Bushey told these children,’ Mr Southworth said.

Ms Middlesworth became involved with the sect after reading a flyer about it, Mr Steinman said.

She ended up moving in with Ms Lewis, now 36. Prosecutors said Ms Middlesworth and Ms Lewis shared a bank account through which Ms Middlesworth received her government payouts and stipends.

Investigators discovered the body in May 2008 after Ms Middlesworth’s sister asked them to check on her because she hadn’t contacted her in some time.

A deputy who visited Ms Lewis’s home found the body in the toilet.

Ms Lewis told investigators that Ms Middlesworth died of natural causes 65 days earlier, on 4 Mar.

Her children told detectives that Bushey told them Ms Middlesworth paid all the bills.

Ms Lewis’ son told investigators that Bushey also told them a demon was destroying Ms Middlesworth’s appearance to make it look like she wouldn’t rise.

Judge Roemer also ordered Bushey to serve three years on extended supervision with the condition that he not work as a clergyman during that time.

Ms Lewis pleaded no contest in November to obstructing a police officer and was fined US$350 ($500).

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