Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Killing for God

LeBaron Lunacy

Young Alma Dayer LeBaron
Young Alma Dayer LeBaron

One of the men who made that journey was Alma Dayer LeBaron. In 1924, Alma loaded his two wives and eight children into covered wagons and rumbled over the sandy border into Mexico. A year later, in a destitute encampment set among sagebrush and barrel cacti, one of his wives gave birth to a boy who would one day be called the "Mormon Manson" by the international press.

Like Joseph Smith, the LeBaron family had a history of revelations from God, which they alternately referred to as voices, callings or commands. Alma Dayer LeBaron had a revelation to take a second wife - prompting the clan's move to Mexico - and another telling him not to register for the WWII draft.

The 4 O'Clock Murders
The 4 O'Clock Murders

Many members of the LeBaron clan claimed to hear voices, and many suffered from insanity, Scott Anderson writes in The 4 O'Clock Murders.

Alma Dayer LeBaron's daughter Lucinda grew so violent during her bouts of psychosis that her parents chained her by the ankle to a hut. Son Ben drifted in and out of mental hospitals for years after hearing voices tell him he was God; he committed suicide in 1978 by jumping off a bridge. Son Wesley frequently called Salt Lake City radio talk shows to expound his belief that Jesus Christ would one day return to earth in a spaceship. The voices told nephew Owen to have sex with the family dog, and he was also committed to a mental hospital.

These are just a few examples of LeBaron lunacy; erratic behavior and beliefs seemed to plague the entire clan, but no one more than Ervil LeBaron, who believed he had the God-given power to kill.