A Christian sect linked to a January murder in Tucson has launched memorial Web sites for the victim and her killer.
The Family International, formerly known as the Children of God, announced the Ricky Rodriguez Memorial Site on Tuesday with “messages from Jesus” and “never before published photos” of Rodriguez’s mother, the leader of the sect who claims to be a prophet.
Police said Rodriguez, 29, fatally shot himself in Blythe, Calif., after he stabbed Angela M. Smith, 51, to death in his Tucson apartment Jan. 8.
Rodriguez claimed Smith sexually abused him as a child when they were members of the sect and lived together in his mother’s home, his friends said.
He left the group in 2000 because he was angry at his mother for allowing the abuse, friends said. But members of the Family said he left to pursue his education and later became estranged from his relatives when he contacted other former members.
“He then posted bitter complaints about his upbringing in the Family on several Internet sites, and in one of those posts threatened to kill his mother. Unable to discover his mother’s location, he apparently settled on murdering Angela, who had in the past lived with her,” according to a statement from The Family on Ricky Rodriguez.com.
Smith, a Family member for more than 30 years and a close friend of Rodriguez’s mother, was active with the sect, directing the Family Care Foundation, a fund-raising and charitable arm of the group. But she was on furlough from the Family when she was killed, according to the online statement. A memorial for her is online at Angela-Smith.org.
“The tragic circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths brought much grief and heartbreak to Ricky’s mother and relatives, as well as Angela’s family,” according to a statement from the Family.
A third Web site for members of the Family to discuss the tragedy includes more than 400 letters, testimonials and photos.