Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Edward D. Gingerich: The Only Amish Man Convicted of Murder

Enemy At the Gates

An Amish bishops number one enemy is a Christian evangelist. The Amish consider these born-again Christians to be religious fanatics. Christians believe that faith alone guarantees a place in heaven, while Amish believe that sinners must be held accountable and getting into heaven requires not just faith, but hard work. Throughout Amish history, Christian missionaries have felt it their duty to spread their version of Gods word to the Amish, and on several occasions managed to penetrate and convert entire Amish families.

In August of 1990, a young Englishman named David Lindsey visited Eds sawmill in hopes of selling some logs. David was quite impressed with the mill and asked Ed for a guided tour. Ed was flattered by the Englishmans interest and was more than happy to show him around. Following the tour, David asked Ed if he could drop by the following week to talk.

Ed replied, Sure, anytime.

David went on to say, Id like to talk to you about something that changed my life ... its about Jesus; accepting him as your personal Lord and Savior.

Ed did not appear too enthusiastic with Davids request, however he did agree to meet with him on his next visit to the mill.

David Lindsey was a born-again Christian, and a man on a mission. He was convinced that his calling was to rescue the Amish of the Brownhill settlement from what he referred to as the bishops cult. David felt that Amish people would be subjected to eternal damnation unless someone showed them the way to salvation with Jesus Christ. Upon talking to Ed, David decided that Ed would be the key to formulating a successful Brownhill crusade. David concluded that once Ed was successfully converted, others would be sure to follow.

A few days after their initial meeting, David returned to Eds mill armed with his Bible. Ed saw him drive up, and walked over to greet him. David rolled down his window and asked Ed to join him in the car and talk for a while. As soon as Ed sat down in the car, David began preaching to Ed about the Christian faith and the error of the bishops ways. The end of the meeting left Ed confused and uncertain of his current faith.

Following their second meeting, David Lindsey became a regular visitor to Eds sawmill. It was not uncommon to see Ed talking to English customers, so Katie had no reason to suspect that Ed was discussing religion with David Lindsey.

In early October 1990, Ed began complaining of earaches and skin rashes. He had also twisted his ankle and was limping. Katie made another appointment with Doc Terrell. During the visit, Doc Terrell massaged Eds ankle, and prescribed a jar of blackstrap molasses for his other ailments.

For the next year, Ed divided his time between the sawmill and machine shop. David Lindsey also visited him on a regular basis for religious discussions.

In September of 1991, Eds father began construction of a new home for Ed and Katie next to the sawmill. Ed wanted nothing to do with the work and left his father and the sawmill crew to build the two-story, four-bedroom home. Bishop Shetler was angry that Ed was not helping to build his familys home. Never before had an able-bodied Amish man not helped in the construction of his own home. Regardless of Eds laziness, the house was completed by November, and occupied by Ed and Katie almost immediately.

Ed and Katie Gingerich's home (David Lohr)
Ed and Katie Gingerich's home
(David Lohr)

Over the next few months, Eds health seemed to spiral downward. He rarely ate and constantly complained of dizziness, itchy skin, earaches and back pain. Katie had sent away for a small quantity of herbs, in hopes that they would help Ed, and or possibly cure him. Regardless of her intentions, Ed refused to take the herbal medicines out of fear that Katie was trying to poison him.

Ed spent the morning of March 17, 1992, in his machine shop. He had no idea that it was Katies 28th birthday, and most likely would not have cared. He was busy degreasing a diesel engine with a solvent called Gunk. According to the warnings on the can, the solvent was to be used only if significantly diluted and in a well-ventilated area. Obviously ignoring the warnings, Ed was applying the solvent undiluted and the shop was closed up tight. He remained in the shop until four in the afternoon before finally stepped outside. The chilling fresh air overwhelmed him and he nearly fell down as he stumbled to the house. Ed said very little to Katie as he walked inside, and went straight to the bedroom where he collapsed onto the bed. His brain felt as though it was on fire and his hands were swollen and stiff.

The following morning, Ed awoke feeling groggy and suffered from a headache. He poured a cup of coffee and headed back out to the machine shop. Even though the small building still reeked of Gunk, Ed did nothing to air it out, and went back to work on the engine. Ed remained in the machine shop for nearly seven hours before finally stumbling outside. He had a pounding pain between his eyes and his limbs felt stiff as though they were not receiving any blood.

Later that evening as Katie and the children sat down to eat, David Lindsey knocked at the door looking for Ed. Upon hearing his English friends voice, Ed came downstairs. David had stopped by to purchase a saw blade Ed had previously agreed to sell, and the two men went outside to load it into Davids truck. David did not have much time for idle conversation, because he was on the way to his regular Wednesday night prayer meeting. After the two men loaded the saw blade, Ed asked David to look at some pigs he had recently purchased. David did not really care to see the pigs, however he sensed that his Amish friend did not want to talk, and agreed to look at them. As the two men gawked at Eds new pigs, Ed began talking about the motor he was repairing and asked David took look it over. David agreed and followed Ed into the machine shop. Immediately struck by the foul smell of the degreaser as they stepped inside, David asked Ed about the odor. Ed explained that he had been using Gunk to clean the engine. David chastised Ed for failing to properly ventilate the shop and then slowly worked the conversation around to religion once again.

David and Ed spent the entire evening in the shop talking. When the two men finally exited the building, they were both dizzy and physically ill. Nonetheless, David felt that he had made a great deal of progress with Ed, and all doubts of Ed resisting eventual conversion were gone from his mind.

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