Abuse in ‘religious sexual community’ leads to woman’s murder

checkmark Allegations: Religious ‘Sexual Community’ Leads to Woman’s Murder

  • Micah Moore (23), of Kansas City, was charged on Saturday with first-degree murder after he confessed to killing a woman to stop her from revealing she was being sexually assaulted.
  • Court documents claim Moore was instructed to kill Bethany Ann Deaton by a fellow cult member, so she wouldn’t tell her therapist about months of sexual abuse.
  • Police say the murder was made to look like a suicide. Her body, found in the rear seat of a van October 30th, was accompanied by a note that read, “My name is Bethany Deaton. I chose this evil thing. I did it because I wouldn’t be a real person and what is the point of living if it is too late for that? I wish I had chosen differently a long time ago. I knew it all and refused to listen. Maybe Jesus will save me.
  • Deaton and her husband, Tyler Deaton, got married in mid-August this year, but lived with several other people — reportedly all men — in one house.
  • The Kansas City Star says that after Moore appeared in court in Independence Tuesday for an initial hearing on a murder charge, prosecutors acknowledged that Tyler Deaton is under investigation in her death.
  • Moore and several other witnesses told investigators the house is home to a “community” where Tyler Deaton served as the “spiritual leader.” Acquaintances describe Deaton, 26, as domineering and charismatic.
  • Several of the men living in the home told detectives they were involved in a “sexual group,” having sex with each other, and that it was part of a “religious experience.”
  • The men in the group had also engaged in sex with Tyler Deaton, according to court documents.
  • The Kansas City Star reports

    According to court documents, Moore met with a detective on Friday, 10 days after Deaton’s body was found, and said, “I killed her.” He said he had feared that Deaton was going to tell her therapist about assaults that had occurred over the previous few months. […]

    Moore is charged only with murder, though the detective’s statement said that Moore had admitted to a pastor, Shelley Hundley, that he had committed sexual assaults.

    Hundley, who is a member of the executive team at the International House of Prayer in south Kansas City, declined to comment Saturday night.

  • Bethany Deaton

    ABC affiliate KSHB says Tyler and Bethany Ann Deaton were both involved in the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and were studying to become international missionaries.

    41 Action News was unable to reach Tyler Deaton on Monday after contacting him through his social media websites. He has a series of blogs posts that focus on religious teachings.

  • Those blog posts appear the have been made inaccessible, but here are some as retrieved from Google cache PDF file. One of his posts is titled, “The Biblical Husband: Pretty Desirable, Eh?
  • KCTV reports that according to ‘roommates’ “Deaton’s husband was “angry” and “frustrated” in the weeks leading up to her death, and that three days after she died, the husband said he’d had a dream that he killed his wife by suffocating her.”
  • The International House of Prayer (IHOP) is a controversial ‘charismatic Christian’ organization based in Kansas City, Missouri. It is associated with religious figures whose doctrines and practices tend to vary from those of normative, Biblical Christianity. The church and its university are not implicated in the crime.
  • IHOP holds prayer meetings around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also operated a Bible school, IHOP University.
  • According to a school spokesperson, Micah Moore was a student at IHOPU but not a member of the church.
  • Allen Hood, president of IHOPU, released the following statement:

    The International House of Prayer University (IHOPU) faculty was saddened by the tragic death of Bethany Leidlein Deaton on October 30. Bethany had attended a 6-month internship at IHOPU in 2009 and went on to become a registered nurse working in a local hospital.

    On November 10, we were shocked when the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office notified us that an IHOPU student by the name of Micah Moore, a man who knew Bethany since their college days in Texas, had been charged with her murder.

    Since Bethany’s death it has come to light that over 5 years ago, both she and Mr. Moore joined an independent, close-knit, religious group in Georgetown, Texas. This religious group of fewer than 20 people was led by Tyler Deaton. They relocated to Kansas City over the last few years and operated under a veil of secrecy.

    This group has always operated independently of the university and it is important to all of us that this group’s secrecy and disturbing religious practices are fully exposed.

    Mr. Deaton led his religious group entirely independently from IHOPU, though he and some of his members were enrolled in our university.

    We have been working closely with the local authorities in their ongoing investigation into Bethany’s death. We continue to fully assist all law enforcement agencies in their efforts to uncover the extent and specifics of this horrific crime.

    We are currently taking all necessary steps to minister to our students and ensure their safety and wellbeing. As an educational institution built around the priority of prayer, we ask everyone to please join us in praying for Bethany’s family and friends and everyone affected by her tragic and untimely death.

    Due to the ongoing police investigation we have no further comment at this time.

  • Bethany Deaton’s family has issued this statement:

    “We are deeply grieving the loss of our beautiful and innocent daughter. We are shocked and horrified by the information now coming forward. The betrayal, the subtle and increasing manipulation, and the brutal victimization which occurred is beyond tragic. We pray for the truth to be revealed. While it is important to understand how Bethany died, it is even more important to understand how she lived.”

Read the Probable Cause statement, State of Missouri vs. Micah Moore PDF file
Online memorial for Bethany Leidlein Deaton
International House of Prayer tries to distance itself from murder victim’s husband
Bethany Deaton cult murder parallels crime novel

Note: this news brief has been updated several times as more information became available.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday November 14, 2012.
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