Ohio Parole Board Rules Against Clemency for Cult Leader Who Said God Told Him to Kill 5

The Ohio Parole Board on Monday recommended that the governor deny clemency to a religious cult leader who said a combination of messages from the Bible instructed him to kill a family of five.

Jeffrey Lundgren is scheduled to die by injection on Oct. 24 for the 1989 shooting deaths of Dennis Avery, 49; his wife, Cheryl, 46; and daughters Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and Karen, 7. The family had moved from Missouri in 1987 to follow Lundgren's teachings.

Lundgren, 56, said in a statement to the parole board that God commanded him to kill the Avery family as part of a "cleansing."

The board, however, found that Lundgren was motivated by financial gain, power and "exploitation and manipulation of the fears and beliefs of others."

Lundgren formed a religious cult after he was dismissed in 1987 as a lay minister of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He attracted a following and several people moved with him to a rented farm house about 30 miles east of Cleveland, where they called him "Dad" and contributed money for group expenses.

Gov. Bob Taft can follow the board's decision, commute a condemned inmate's sentence to life in prison with or without parole, offer a postponement or grant a pardon. He has commuted one sentence while governor.