Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Yaweh ben Yahweh Cult


No matter how twisted or racist Mitchell's teachings got, no one dared contradict him. He was, after all, the son of God, and the Temple of Love was absolute theocracy. Those who dared defy him were singled out for public ridicule. In one case, a grown man was made to bend over a chair as the women took turns paddling him. In another case, a teenage girl was forced to strip off her shirt and bra as Mitchell whipped her back. Anyone who disagreed with him was called an "Uncle Tom," or worse, a "blasphemer."

The Circle of Ten — now carrying machetes and clubs and practicing marching drills in front of the temple — kept a close watch on people who fell out of Mitchell's favor.

Nevertheless, a small group of dissenters managed to find each other, Freedberg writes. They met at the house of a Yahweh member who lived outside the warehouse and compared notes on the bizarre things that were taking place.

Word of their meetings got back to Mitchell, and he excommunicated them, scratched their names from The Book of Life, and printed up a flier titled "Yahweh's Hypocrites are Warned."

"Knowest thou not this of old?" he wrote in the stilted English of the King James Bible. "Since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; yet he shall perish forever like his own dung."

But their betrayal continued to goad him. The deserters were a thorn in his side and he wanted them gone.

"Whoever does not want me to rule over them, those are my enemies," he thundered. "And if you are my enemy, you must die. (You) must be killed...I want to see it...I want to see your head come off personally. I want to see the blood seep from your vein, you know that jugular vein. I want to see it." He made a gurgling noise. "you won't be able to see it seep, but you'll feel that sword when it bites your neck. I can't wait to see that. What a pleasure! All my enemies killed with a sword."

The Circle of Ten thugs took Mitchell's words to heart, and the Jamaican-born Aston Green was their first victim.

Green, a former Sunday school teacher who had long eyelashes and still talked with an island twang, was a month shy of 26 when he was beheaded. He'd taken the name Elijah Israel when he joined the cult, but reverted back to his birth name when he left. And although he'd been warned to steer clear of the Temple of Love after his defection, he still had friends at the warehouse and frequently returned to visit them.

So when he showed up yet again that fatal Friday the 13th, the temple enforcers decided to put an end to him. They brought him to a remote corner of the warehouse and beat him to a bloody pulp. As they hit him, kicked him and stomped on his chest, a little boy ran out of a nearby classroom to see what the commotion was and was shooed away. The beating was so severe that they later painted the floor red to hide the stain of Green's blood, which they couldn't scrub away.

They dumped Green's limp form in the trunk of a car, then drove him to the rock quarry, where he'd beg them for mercy in a weak voice. But the thugs were intent on their thuggery and they dragged him to the piece of coral rock, stretched his neck over it, and chopped off his head.

"Damn. This blade is dull,'' one of them said, according to court documents, as they tried to sever Green's head. It took about 20 hacks to do so.

Mitchell was triumphant when his avenging angels told them what they'd done, according to Freedberg.

"When we take the next head, we're going to put the head in a basket on a post so the whole city can see it and fear Yahweh," he told them.

News of Green's death swept quickly through dissident circles, and a few decided it was time to let the police know what was happening inside the dilapidated complex in Liberty City. Little did they know that there were moles among them, waiting to take news of their betrayal back to their cult meister.

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