Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Yaweh ben Yahweh Cult

Bound by Blood

Despite the killings, Mitchell's flock kept expanding. Emissaries traveled to black communities across the country, dressed in their Biblical robes and sandals, giving away copies of "You Are Not a Nigger!" and recruiting new members.

In its hey day, the Yahwehs claimed satellite churches in 45 cities and tens of thousands of members. Five hundred people lived at the warehouse, and Mitchell bought old buses from Dade County to house single men, who lived three or four to a bus and to accommodate members of satellite churches who made pilgrimages to Liberty City for various "feasts" and celebrations.

Leonard Dupree
Leonard Dupree
One of those pilgrims was a 22-year-old black belt karate expert from New Orleans who attended the "Feast of the Tabernacles" in the fall of 1983. Leonard Dupree's parents didn't want him to join the weird, turban-wearing cult to begin with. But Dupree was a strong-willed young man, a searcher, and his father finally relented to loaning him money to catch a bus to the cult's headquarters. He never returned home.

Dupree drew the attention of temple guards for spacing out in class and wandering around by himself. Rumors started making the rounds that Dupree was an assassin, sent to kill the messiah. Mitchell became quite paranoid after the defections and murders, and started censoring mail to and from the temple, fearing infidels lurked among his throng.

One afternoon shortly after Dupree's arrival, he got into a fight with another Yahweh as a crowd of 70 onlookers watched.

Mitchell was called to the scene.

"Do you want to hurt me?" Mitchell asked Dupree.

"No," the young man replied. "I just want to kiss your feet."

Unmoved, Mitchell accused Dupree of coming to start mayhem as an angry crowd surged around him. When someone yelled, "Kill him!" Mitchell didn't stand in the way. A man wielding a tire iron cracked Dupree's skull, and the crowd continued to beat him after he sunk to the floor. They ripped off his pants and kicked his privates. Someone poked his eye out with a broomstick.

Sentries locked the doors so no one could leave, and Mitchell made everyone present - every man, woman and child - hit Dupree as he screamed in agony. They would be bound together by blood. No one's hand would be clean. No one would be able to denounce the murder to the authorities. The flock that kills together, Mitchell reasoned, stays together.

After his slow death, a group of men rolled Dupree's body in carpet and dumped it near a canal, whose location they'd later forget. Police were never able to recover Dupree's body.

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