Man arrested for assault claims to be leader of the Bonne Terre Cult

BONNE TERRE — The man who claims to be the leader of the Bonne Terre Cult was arrested Monday night for assaulting a man with a knife.

Anthony J. Merseal, 22, of Bonne Terre, has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action. He is being held in the county jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

According to the probable cause statement signed by Bonne Terre Officer Chad Brown, a 23-year-old Bonne Terre man received several small lacerations to his hand while trying to get a knife away from Merseal.

The victim told police that Merseal and two other men came to his home on Cherry Street and blamed him for a broken window at Merseal’s house on Division Street. He told Merseal he knew nothing about the broken window and Merseal pulled out a pocket knife and grabbed him. Merseal pressed the knife against the man’s throat and threatened to kill him.

The victim told police he tried to push Merseal away and they struggled for the knife, causing him to receive lacerations to his hands. He said he was able to get away and get his own knife. He said Merseal and the other two left.

Officers found Merseal and his friends at his home. They were detained for questioning.

“… Anthony first asked me if I knew who he was,” Brown wrote in his statement. “I said ‘no.’ He then informed me he was the leader of the ‘Bonne Terre Cult.’ He said (they) had Bibles and preached God. I told him I just needed to know what happened tonight.”

Merseal told police that the man was a former member of the cult who had begun harassing him and egging his house. He said when his window was broken, he suspected the man and he and his friends went to his house to confront him and put an end to it.

Merseal said he did pull out a pocket knife and told the man he was “tired of his crap.” He said the man tried to fight him and take the knife and that’s how the man got cut.

His friends refused to give statements to police. They were also placed under arrest, but released.

• Original title: Merseal claims to be leader of the Bonne Terre Cult

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday June 6, 2008.
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