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Jail home to God’s House pair

Norwich Bulletin, USA
Sep. 13, 2003
Michael Lemanski • Monday September 15, 2003

Police say they are holding the two because they won’t cooperate.

PLAINFIELD — The two inhabitants of “God’s House” in Moosup remained in jail following their arraignment Friday because they would not sign a written promise to appear back in Danielson Superior Court.

On Thursday, Plainfield police arrested Lee Ecker, 72, also known as “J.C. Foster,” and Theresa Bellavance, 41, also known as “Sister Rachel,” at 88 Church St., also known as “God’s House.”

They were charged with first-degree trespassing and failure to submit to fingerprints.

After Friday’s arraignment, Ecker and Bellavance will appear in court Oct. 2, according to a Danielson Superior Court clerk’s office spokesman.

Ecker was being held on $1,000 bond and Bellavance $500 bond. According to court officials, neither would sign a written promise to appear in court. As a result, they’re still being held.

First-degree trespassing is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Meanwhile, failure to submit to fingerprinting is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $100.

According to Plainfield police, the duo refused to cooperate with police, opting not to sign any necessary paperwork or get fingerprints.

Since the 1980s, the white structure with apocalyptic Biblical writing was home to inhabitants claiming they were preordained to live there.

That changed Thursday, when final eviction orders resulted in the two of them being forcefully evicted by judicial marshals and local police.

It was the final act in a summer saga on the controversial religious group’s eviction from the property by Richard Asal of Thompson.

Asal is the financial conservator for Benjamin Zimmerman, who is living in a Norwich nursing home. According to town records, Zimmerman owns the property. He was a member of “God’s House.”

According to Willimantic attorney John McGrath, who is representing Asal, sale of the house will finance Zimmerman’s nursing home bill.

The house is valued at nearly $99,000, according to town tax assessor’s records.

Ecker and Bellavance’s eviction drew applause from neighborhood residents, who said the bizarre-looking house and their antics were a blight on the neighborhood.

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