Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Killing for God

A Man and His Car

After the police grew suspicious of Vonda's story and told her to stick around town, she fled to Denver, where Ervil had moved his clan to keep one step ahead of his real and imaginary enemies.

The Church of the Lamb members were running an appliance repair business and barely making ends meet, despite running a sweatshop where children, women and men alike worked 16 hour days without pay. They crammed into tiny rental homes, dressed in rags, and went hungry. At night, they resorted to digging through supermarket dumpsters for bruised produce and day-old bread.

In 1977, however, their hardships paid off and the business finally started to become profitable. The clan started appliance stores in cities in several other states, including Dallas, where a group of cult members moved that winter.

Duane Chynoweth
Duane Chynoweth

Despite achieving financial success, Ervil had other nagging problems - such as his daughter. When Rebecca was 15, Ervil had given her in marriage to Victor Chynoweth, a wealthy disciple. But Becky wasn't happy in her marriage; Vic was a distant husband and his first wife made Becky's life hell. When the cult split between Utah and Denver, she was sent to the Mile High City and was forced to leave her baby behind. She was bitter about it. She sniped at her customers and coworkers and threatened to go to the cops, thinking that as the cult head's daughter, she was safe from harm. How wrong she was. Fed up with her antics, Ervil had a revelation from God.

One day in April, Ervil told Becky she could retrieve her baby, Victor Jr., from Denver, according to Anderson. She was elated. On the appointed day, she sat in the back seat and chatted with the two boys driving her to the Dallas airport, happier than she'd been in months. She was three months pregnant, and she planned to take her baby boy to Mexico and stay with her mother. She'd give birth to her second child there and raise it with the help of her doting mother. But the boys in the front seat weren't listening. Duane Chynoweth and Eddie Marston were doing a mental rehearsal of a new trick they'd been practicing for the past several weeks: how to strangle someone with rope.

Eddie Marston
Eddie Marston

On an isolated road outside the Dallas suburbs, Duane pulled the car off the road and Eddie reached down to grab the coiled rope at his feet. It took a long time for Becky to die, longer than they'd planned on. She was young and strong and had a tremendous desire to see her baby boy again. She kicked and thrashed about on the back seat as the two boys tugged at the ends of the rope. Ultimately, the pregnant 17-year-old was no match for two boys afire with the evil gospel of Ervil.

Their boss was livid when her blood stained the trunk of his LTD and he chewed out the boys for being so careless. A short while later, he traded the car in for another, more pristine, LTD.

As for Becky, her young killers dumped her body in an Oklahoma state park. It was never found.

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