Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Children of Thunder: The Helzer Brothers

Revelations from God

At his murder trial, witnesses said Taylor frequently shushed other people so he could hear God speak.

He often began his sentences with "Spirit says," as his listeners leaned forward to catch the supposedly divine message. Once in May 2000, Taylor ran out into the rain and raised his hands skyward to receive a revelation, according to the Contra Costa Times. Afterward, he told his friends, "If people aren't loyal to me, I'm just going to have to kill them."

He scribbled a list of maxims -- 12 Principles of Magic -- on a scrap of paper and made his groupies -- his younger brother and Godman -- memorize them. Among the principles were "I am already perfect and therefore can do nothing wrong," and, "I gain control by losing control." They believed he was a prophet and obeyed his orders.

The self-help group would be called "Impact America" and Taylor came up with several criminal schemes to finance it. One involved setting up a subsidiary called Intimacy which would sell drugs and prostitutes to wealthy businessmen, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The trio handed out fliers to women at raves -- all-night dance parties -- in an attempt to recruit call girls.

Another tawdry scheme called for importing underage girls from Brazil -- where Taylor had been a Mormon missionary -- to seduce married businessmen, whom the trio would later blackmail into giving them money.       

Yet another scheme involved adopting Brazilian orphans whom they'd train as assassins to kill the15 leaders of the Mormon Church in Utah. Once the church leadership was dead, Taylor would take over the institution.

"He believed that by doing that, he was fulfilling a prophecy from the Book of Mormon," Godman testified in court.

Finally, they settled on a far more practical plan -- extorting money from one of Taylor's former clients, a wealthy senior citizen who was an easy mark. Someone who knew and trusted Taylor enough to let him into his or her home. Someone weak enough to be easily killed.

As a stock broker, Taylor managed the money of numerous retirees with posh portfolios; he had a long list of victims to choose from. It seemed like such a simple plan.

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