Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Killing for God

The Hit List

Yolanda Rios
Yolanda Rios

On June 21, 1983, his son Isaac, 20, who testified against Ervil, died in a suspicious "suicide" while staying with cult-member relatives in Houston.

In the fall of 1983, the plans of Ervil's wife Lorna to defect from the cult were cut short when the mother of eight was strangled and buried in a shallow grave in Mexico. Her body has never been found.

On December 28, 1983, Ervil's oldest son, Arturo, 33, was gunned down in Mexico by Leo Evoniuk, a rival who disputed his claim to the prophet's mantle.

After Arturo died, the cult leadership fell to Heber LeBaron, Ervil's 20-year-old son. Heber had inherited his towering physical beauty from his father, but he'd also inherited his insanity. His first move was to purge Los Molinos of traitors who'd aligned themselves with Evoniuk.

Mark Chynoweth
Mark Chynoweth

In the early months of 1984, he shot Gamaliel Rios in the face with a .45 automatic. His body was buried in the desert and never recovered.

Neither was that of Yolanda Rios, Ervil's twelfth wife, who was strangled to death in May 1984 and buried outside of Dallas.

On May 21, 1987, Leo Evoniuk was murdered near Santa Cruz, California. Only his dentures, lying in a puddle of blood, were found.

On October 16, 1987, Dan Jordan was shot in the head while on a hunting trip in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah with his family and some LeBaron kids. His murder was never solved.

Duane Chynoweth
Duane Chynoweth

But June 27, 1988 was the single bloodiest day in the cult's history. Ervil had raged for 15 long paragraphs in New Covenants against Mark Chynoweth, Duane Chynoweth and Ed Marston, demanding they be slain as traitors. At 4 o'clock that afternoon in simultaneous murders hundreds of miles apart, his wishes were carried out.

All three men were former cult thugs who were trying to pursue normal lives in the appliance-repair business. But that wasn't their destiny.

At 4 o'clock in Houston, Duane Chynoweth was gunned down when he drove to pick up a used washer at a private home. It was a setup. His 8-year-old daughter Jennifer was with him that day, and she screamed when her daddy was shot.

Jennifer Chynoweth
Jennifer Chynoweth

The assassin turned when he heard the child, and walked back to the truck to shoot her in the mouth and forehead, not wanting to leave a potential witness. Across the state in Irving, Eddie Marston was also mowed down by bullets at 4 o'clock after replying to a similar appliance pickup request. And police found Mark Chynoweth in the back office of Reliance Appliances in Houston, his lifeless body sprawled on the paperwork on his desk and riddled with .45 bullet holes. He'd also been executed at 4 o'clock.

One by one, the authors of the quadruple murder were caught, caged, and hauled into court.

Eddie Marston
Eddie Marston

  • In May 1993, Heber LeBaron, Patricia LeBaron, and Douglas Lee Barlow were sentenced to life in prison without parole for their part in the slayings.
  • Richard LeBaron, who was only 17 when he shot Duane and Jennifer Chynoweth to death, was sentenced to five years in prison.
  • Cynthia LeBaron was granted immunity and testified against her half-siblings at that trial.
  • In June, 1997, Aaron LeBaron was sentenced to 45 years in prison for racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the civil rights of the victims.
  • Jacqueline LeBaron, whom police say helped to orchestrate the murders, remains at large. She is presumed to be living in Mexico or Belgium.
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