Spokane _ This is the second of two stories on the Family of David. Part one, in Sunday's newspaper, traced the cult's turbulent history from Bruce Longo's initial visions to the present.
Paul Chipman says he now knows God, and the Creator isn't a 300-pound religious zealot who committed suicide 22 years ago.
But for eight years Chipman followed that zealot, Bruce Longo, who renamed himself Immanuel David and convinced a handful of followers he was God.
Immanuel David's wandering cult led to the most notorious murder-suicide case in Utah history, with eight deaths.
Ex-members are now worried because the cult they belonged to didn't die with Immanuel David in August 1978.
His wife and their seven children jumped or were tossed from a Salt Lake City hotel balcony three days after Immanuel David committed suicide.
A teenaged girl survived and now lives with remnants of the Family of David near Denver. Other ex-members live in Spokane.
They still believe Immanuel David is God and eagerly await his return.
That troubles Chipman and another former member, Gil Hibben, of LaGrange, Ky., both of whom rejected recent invitations to rejoin the group.
Others familiar with the cult -- a Spokane nurse raised in the Family of David and a Florida police chief who is Immanuel David's brother -- are also worried.
"It's hard to believe that his influence is still hanging over them,'' Chipman said recently at his home in Midvale, Utah.
Pictures of Jesus and a cross hang on his living room wall, and the 58-year-old concrete worker says he's now a reborn Christian. He prays weekly with his grown daughters, who were born in the cult but left it.
Chipman was ex-communicated from the Mormon Church after he started following Immanuel David in 1969.
Over the years, Immanuel David frequently ordered Chipman to leave his wife and seven daughters. He left his newborn daughter in Spokane in the mid-1970s and spent a year in Washington, D.C. Immanuel David sent Chipman and two other "archangels'' there to wait for the government to fall, so he could assume command.
Chipman and his wife gave their paychecks to Immanuel David, who lived an extravagant lifestyle in hotel suites.
The ex-member is at a loss to explain why he or the others followed Immanuel David.
"I can tell you this much: I had spiritual experiences in that group,'' Chipman said.
"Spiritual, I guess, doesn't mean it's necessarily from God. But they were experiences to keep you hooked, to keep you thinking that `If I had this experience, then this must be right.'''
Chipman left the group about a year before the murder-suicides.
"I was shocked,'' he said, but he recalled earlier discussions about mass suicide. "I watched some of them being born, and I'd tended those kids in the group.''
Immanuel David's grip on his life lasted for many years, Chipman said.
"I looked back now at that time and it was totally wasted years, just totally wasted,'' said Chipman, who has remarried.
Chipman and Hibben, who was Peter David when he was in the group, both recently were invited to rejoin the Family of David by Matthias David, of Spokane, and Jacob David, of Aurora, Colo.
Jacob David, interviewed at his Colorado home, said ex-members Chipman and Hibben are "like Judas Iscariot,'' who betrayed Jesus.
"They're not on our side,'' Jacob David said. "They don't know the true God anymore.''
Jacob and Matthias David say their group is a family, not a cult, and is not dangerous.
In a "testimonial letter'' in 1996 they restated their commitment to Immanuel David. They wear the Star of David and believe they are reincarnated Bible figures. And they believe that white people are the true Israelites.
Hibben said he's frightened that the group still exists.
"They're not my friends anymore, and I don't want anything to do with that group,'' Hibben said. "These people were crazy.''
"The tragic thing was those kids dying,'' Hibben said.
He and Chipman met while studying karate with Sterling Peacock, who became Matthias David, near Salt Lake City in the late 1960s.
Soon, the three met Bruce Longo through Mormon Church study groups and watched him evolve into Immanuel David, religious zealot. He convinced his followers to be baptized by him and change their names to David.
The leader committed suicide as federal agents were investigating him for tax evasion and fraud.
Hibben, who left the group after the deaths, went on to become a world-class custom-knife maker. He made the knife Sylvester Stallone used in the movie "Rambo.'' He now regrets ever being involved with Immanuel David.
"Two years ago, (Matthias) made contact with me and tried to get me to come back into the group,'' Hibben said.
"He told me if the old gang was back together, that would bring back Immanuel David.
"I said, `I don't want to talk to those people ever again, as long as I live,''' Hibben said.
Both Hibben and Chipman said they believe the potential exists for more tragic deaths.
"If they thought they had a revelation that Immanuel told them to do that, I suppose that could happen,'' Chipman said.
A Spokane woman who grew up in the cult also remains fearful.
"I'm scared to death of them,'' she said in an interview. She said she wants nothing to do with the group, which includes her mother and father, but remains in contact with her maternal grandparents, Keith and Afton Miller, of Pleasant Grove, Utah.
The Millers -- lifelong Mormons -- are upset that their daughter remains a member of the antiMormon cult.
The 31-year-old Spokane woman, a registered nurse, said, "It is not possible to describe in words what growing up in this atmosphere was like.''
She made the statement in a court affidavit filed in a child-custody case. She agreed to be interviewed if she wasn't publicly identified.
As a child living in the commune, she was periodically beaten, she said.
Once, when she and the other children were laughing, Immanuel David took his socks off and stuck his foot in her mouth.
Other times adults would simultaneously pull in opposite directions on the arms of an older child until the child "would scream in agony,'' she said.
Matthias David was second in charge and faithfully followed Immanuel David, her court affidavit says.
Matthias David, now a Spokane karate instructor, insists the group is nothing more than extended family. He believes he's Moses reincarnated and that Immanuel David is God.
The brother of the late Immanuel David, now a police chief in Florida, also said he's disturbed that the group remains together.
"I don't recall seeing anything God-like about my brother, who was a mortal in every sense of the word,'' Dean Longo said when contacted in Auburndale, Fla.
After leaving the family's Yonkers, N.Y., home for Brigham Young University, his brother became estranged from him and their mother, who is a widow, Dean Longo said.
"I wasn't aware of what was going on out in Utah, other than my brother was involved in something that was questionable at best.
"There must have been a charismatic side to him that the rest of us didn't know about,'' Dean Longo said.
He likened his late brother to other murder-suicide cult leaders.
"History has shown us this kind of stuff goes on,'' he said. "As I see it, it's not leadership, it's domination.
"It's strange in this case that those who he supposedly cared about the most -- his family -- are the ones who suffered the most.''
Dean Longo and his mother flew to Salt Lake City for the funerals of Immanuel David and his family in 1978.
The family is buried in adjoining paupers' graves, without headstones, in a small cemetery in Taylorsville.
Since then, Dean Longo hasn't visited his brother's grave.
"I do believe there is a God,'' he said, ''but I don't believe it's my former brother.''
SPOKANE -- In 1978, Immanuel David, a cult leader who told devotees he was God, drove a truck into a canyon in Utah and took his life by piping exhaust into the vehicle.
Three days later, his wife and six of their children also were dead. Authorities say Rachel David took the children to the 11th-floor balcony of a Salt Lake City hotel and threw or coaxed them over the railing, one by one. Then she jumped.
The deaths didn't stop Immanuel David's cult. About a dozen members of the Family of David live in Spokane and Aurora, Colo.
They told The Spokesman-Review that they still believe Immanuel David was God, and they're preparing for his Second Coming.
One member is the only child of Immanuel and Rachel David to survive the 100-foot plunge from the balcony.
Rachel David, 38, was 15 at the time of her fall, which left her with brain damage and other injuries. She uses a wheelchair and lives with remnants of Immanuel David's flock in Aurora, a Denver suburb. The members there and in Spokane all have changed their last names to David.
A "testimonial letter" the group's leaders signed three years ago outlines their doctrine, including the belief that they are reincarnated biblical figures -- Moses, Abraham, Adam, Eve and others.
In the letter and in interviews with the Spokane newspaper, the members say white people are the real Israelites and true children of God. The Star of David belongs to Immanuel David, and not to Jews, they say.
The testimonial letter is given to those who ask about the group's beliefs. Members say they aren't proselytizing "We are regular Christians," Jacob David, the 64-year-old brother-in-law of Immanuel David, said at his Aurora home. "We are Israelites, from the Lost Tribes of Israel."
Another leader, Matthias David, 56, of Spokane, said the group's remaining members will not repeat the suicides and murders that occurred in 1978 -- deaths he does not consider crimes.
"What I believe in is David and Rachel and their family," he said. "They could not be apart. When David left, they left with him. That was their choice and a shock to us."
The Spokesman-Review said the Family of David has tried to recruit back two former followers in Utah and Kentucky who say they want nothing to do with the group, which they regard as dangerous.
The brother of Immanuel David, whose birth name was Charles Bruce Longo, is the police chief in Auburndale, Fla. Dean Longo was a police officer in Vero Beach, Fla., when his brother became Immanuel David.
"I think my brother actually believed, in his own mind, that he was God," Longo said. "He was that far off-base.
"He was a very flawed mortal, so for him to have gained this kind of influence over people is amazing, particularly for it to still exist."
After surviving the balcony fall, Rachel David was released to a foster home. Eventually, she began living with Jacob David, her uncle, who had joined the cult.
Jacob David, now Rachel David's legal guardian, lives with her in a rented home with his three sons and Ruth David, Matthias David's former wife.
The members in Spokane and Aurora are in regular contact and frequently meet during campouts at Priest Lake in northern Idaho.
Matthias David owns a martial arts studio in Spokane, and is an accomplished karate instructor who helped train a Spokane police SWAT team.
Spokane police say they only recently found out Matthias David was convicted of federal wire fraud when he went by his former name, Sterling Peacock, in Utah in 1978.
The charge stemmed from fund raising he had conducted on behalf of Immanuel David, a former Mormon missionary who was excommunicated from the church in 1969.
His friends stood by him and also were excommunicated.
They lived a communal lifestyle in Manti, Utah, before they began traveling in Nebraska, Washington and Montana.
In 1977, FBI agents investigated the group's fund raising, and Peacock and another member were convicted of wire fraud.
Investigators have said they were moving toward indicting Immanuel David on either tax evasion or wire fraud when he committed suicide.
SPOKANE, Wash. -- On an August morning in 1978, Rachel David marched her seven children to an 11th-floor balcony of a Salt Lake City hotel. One by one, she threw or coaxed them over the railing. Then she jumped
Three days earlier, her husband, Immanuel David, who believed he was God, killed himself because the FBI was investigating his cult. Most people thought the shocking saga of Immanuel David and his cult -- the biggest murder-suicide case in Utah's history -- ended nearly 22 years ago
It didn't. About a dozen members of the Family of David in Spokane and Denver are keeping alive the belief that Immanuel David is God. All have changed their last names to David. One member is the woman who, as a 15-year-old, was the only survivor of the 100-foot plunge from the balcony. She is now brain-damaged and otherwise disabled, and lives with remnants of Immanuel David's flock near Denver
Leaders of the Family of David signed and distributed a "testimonial letter" three years ago that outlines their beliefs and commitment to Immanuel David. They denounce Mormons and Catholics as the anti-Christ
The Family of David has attempted to recruit back two former followers, in Utah and Kentucky, who say they want nothing to do with what they consider a "dangerous cult." "It's hard for me to fathom," said Dean Longo, chief of police in Auburndale, Fla. He was a police officer in Vero Beach, Fla., when his brother, Charles Bruce Longo, became Immanuel David and declared he was God
"I think my brother actually believed, in his own mind, that he was God," Dean Longo said. "He was that far off-base. He was a very flawed mortal, so for him to have gained this kind of influence over people is amazing, particularly for it to still exist." In their testimonial letter and in interviews, Immanuel David's followers in Spokane and Denver say they believe their God is about to return, and they're preparing for his second coming. They claim the Star of David belongs to Immanuel David and not to Jews
They also say white people are the real Israelites, the true children of God -- religious beliefs that stem in part from the so-called Lost Books of the Bible
The testimonial letter is given to those who ask about the group's beliefs, but leaders say they aren't proselytizing. In the letter they say they believe they are reincarnated biblical figures -- Moses, Abraham, Adam, Eve and others.
From Rachel to Eve: Rachel David, the disabled survivor of the hotel plunge, is told she's Eve. She lives in Aurora, Colo., with other members of the "family." Authorities in Utah, after spending more than $100,000 on medical treatment, ultimately released her to a foster home.
At some point she began living with her uncle, who had changed his name to Jacob David and joined the sect. It's unclear whether officials with Utah's Division of Family Services knew that Rachel David ended up back with the same sect that police say attempted to kill her.
Jacob David, now her legal guardian, said he provides good care for Rachel David. They live in a rented home with his three sons and Ruth David, the former wife of Spokane resident Matthias David.
Rachel David can't remember what happened to her in 1978.
"It's all hazy," she said haltingly from her wheelchair as Jacob David listened. "It's something I want to shove out. I want my family back." She can't walk, but raises her crippled body with the aid of a walker. She does paint-by-number art and likes coffee and listening to Neil Diamond. She said she likes to go outdoors, but gets out only about twice a week "if somebody takes me." She sometimes erupts in anger or a flurry of vocal demands, her family members say.
Her father will soon return, as God, Jacob David says. He and Matthias David -- Immanuel David's one-time bodyguard -- are described as leaders of the family, which apparently has about a dozen members.
Matthias David, 56, says he once was Moses. Jacob David, who is 64, says he is Abraham reincarnated. They are in regular contact and frequently meet during camp-outs at Priest Lake, Idaho.
Spokane police only recently found out that Matthias David is a felon, convicted as Sterling Peacock in Utah in 1978 of federal wire fraud resulting from fund-raising efforts on behalf of Immanuel David. Another member of the group, Gil Hibben, who was known as Peter David, also faced federal fraud charges associated with the group's activities.
"[Immanuel] David is God," Matthias David said in a recent interview, "and I know you don't believe that. The Star of David, that's the Lord's star. It doesn't have anything to do with the Jewish people at all. It's the Lord Immanuel David's star." Matthias David said he belongs not to a cult but to an extended family. "Jacob David in Colorado is my brother. I'm closer to them than any family I ever had." 'They Could Not Be Apart': Matthias David, who was in federal prison in 1978, said it was outrageous to ask whether the remaining members might again turn to suicide or murder. Nor does he consider the Utah deaths to be crimes.
"What I believe in is David and Rachel and their family," he said. "They could not be apart. When David left, they left with him. That was their choice, and a shock to us." Jacob David, stroking his gray straggly beard, also insists his late brother-in-law, Immanuel David, is God.
"We are regular Christians," he said in his living room, where photos of Matthias David hang on the wall.
"You know, people think we're Jewish, and we're not," he said, pointing to a gold Star of David he wears on a necklace. "We are Israelites, from the Lost Tribes of Israel, and this is God's star." Charles Bruce Longo, the man who would become Immanuel David and claim to be God, was born Nov. 9, 1938, in Yonkers, N.Y., to a wealthy doctor and his wife. He attended the Episcopal Church, graduated from Gorton High School in 1956 and joined the Marine Corps soon after.
While in the Marines, friends acquainted him with beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He converted to the Mormon faith in 1958 and became an LDS youth leader and assistant Boy Scout leader. In 1960, he went on a mission to Uruguay.
"He was a very, very excited missionary," Skip Daynes, his missionary companion, recalled in 1978.
A Quick Learner: Longo quickly learned Spanish, could quote the Book of Mormon from memory and was an effective proselytizer, Daynes said. But Longo was released early from his church mission after he said he began to hear voices. He returned to Yonkers and was hospitalized for hepatitis and mental illness.
In fall 1961, he moved to Utah and enrolled at Brigham Young University, studying Spanish and political science. He met and married Margit Birgitta Ericsson, a pretty Swedish immigrant who also was attending BYU, and the couple had three children before he graduated in 1965.
He also became close friends with Peacock, Hibben and Paul Chipman, all Mormons. About that time, Longo told his friends that he'd had another vision -- that he would become a prominent official of the LDS Church.
He wrote letters to LDS Church headquarters and the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. (Those letters are reprinted in the sect's 1996 testimonial letter). Immanuel David told the Israeli prime minister and the Knesset in 1973 that he was God.
"I am the Father of Jesus Christ that you slew," he wrote. "I am the only one that can deliver you. Without me you will perish. I am the father of Israel and the blood of Israel runs through my veins." In another letter, Immanuel David proclaimed himself the new president of the LDS Church, and called LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball an "evil shepherd." "Your people are perishing in their ignorance and unbelief," he wrote. Church records are sealed, but LDS officials confirmed that Longo was excommunicated in June 1969.
But his friends, believing Longo was a prophet and charmed by his persuasive powers, stood by him. They, too, were excommunicated and began living a communal lifestyle in Manti, deifying Immanuel David.
Hibben, a knife maker, taught his skills to some of the two dozen members of the group. They made a large sword for Immanuel David, who began declaring that he was God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit all in one. He vowed to "lop off thousands of heads" if needed.
Police and LDS Church security officers kept a watchful eye when the bearded, 300-pound religious leader showed up with his followers at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The group was often told to leave, but there was no violence or arrests.
In 1971, Immanuel David and his followers began to travel to Nebraska, Washington and Montana. Former members say Immanuel David frequently separated men from their wives and children.
Karate Cash Cows: Peacock, who had changed his name to Matthias David, and Chipman, who became Jonathan David, came to Spokane in about 1974 and opened a karate studio. They sent the profits to support Immanuel David, his wife and their seven children.
From June 1975 to January 1976, Immanuel David lived in the Red Lion Inn in Missoula, while his followers worked elsewhere.
Then he said he had a vision. He decided Matthias, Jonathan and Peter David were really archangels, and he renamed them Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, ex-followers say.
Contending the federal government was about to collapse, Immanuel David promised to save the republic and become its new leader. He told the trio to sell their Spokane studio and go to Washington, D.C., then left an unpaid $6,000 hotel bill in Missoula and returned to Utah.
He gave each of his three followers a few hundred dollars and told them to stay in D.C., but they quickly ran out of money and ended up sleeping on sidewalk heat grates. Their faith in Immanuel David, however, was undiminished. They called him collect every day while he stayed at $100-a-day hotel suites with his family.
Jacob David returned to his native Scandinavia and sent regular tithing checks.
Back to Salt Lake: Finally, after about a year, Immanuel David ordered his three "archangels" to Salt Lake City, where he said he had obtained the original tablets given to LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.
"When we got back to Salt Lake, of course, he didn't have the tablets," recalls Chipman, who was known as Jonathan David. "He said he was the tablets." Matthias David grew tired of his assignment in Washington, D.C., and got a job in a lumberyard. He earned enough money to buy a motorcycle and rode it to Albuquerque, N.M., where he opened another karate studio.
By 1977, FBI agents were investigating the group's fund-raising activities. Matthias David, indicted as Sterling Peacock, and Hibben were charged with wire fraud by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City. They were accused of making up phony hard-luck stories to raise money that Matthias David says went to support Immanuel David.
"Actually, I just borrowed the money," Matthias David said recently in an interview in his karate studio in Spokane. "I had no intention of ripping anybody off. I kept track of every dollar.
"I really don't want all of this kind of stuff brought back up," he said. "You're hashing stuff that's been gone for years and years." With the convictions of Peacock and Hibben, federal investigators were moving toward indicting Immanuel David on either tax evasion or wire fraud charges. He borrowed a truck from Daynes, his former Mormon missionary partner, drove to Emigration Canyon, piped exhaust into the truck and killed himself. He had $5 in his pocket and left no note.
Shortly after the murders and suicides, a detective said Immanuel David "must have been aware of the wire fraud investigation and how close he was to being locked up. His ego just wouldn't allow him to face jail." Even today, however, former followers worry that the cult didn't die with Immanuel David. And some members still believe David is God, which troubles Chipman and Hibben, now of LaGrange, Ky. Both rejected recent invitations to rejoin the group.
"It's hard to believe that his influence is still hanging over them," Chipman, 58, said recently at his home in Midvale, Utah. Pictures of Jesus and a cross hang on his living room wall, and he says he is a reborn Christian who prays weekly with his grown daughters, who were born in the cult but left it.
'Spiritual Experiences': Chipman is at a loss to explain why he or the others followed Immanuel David. "I can tell you this much: I had spiritual experiences in that group,'' he said. "Spiritual, I guess, doesn't mean it's necessarily from God. But they were experiences to keep you hooked, to keep you thinking that if I had this experience, then this must be right.'' In the end, he said, those were "wasted years." Jacob David, interviewed at his home in Aurora, Colo., said Chipman and Hibben are "like Judas Iscariot,'' who betrayed Jesus. "They're not on our side. They don't know the true God anymore.'' Hibben said he's frightened that the group still exists.
"They're not my friends anymore, and I don't want anything to do with that group,'' he said. "These people were crazy. The tragic thing was those kids dying.''
Hibben and Chipman said they believe the potential exists for more deaths.
"If they thought they had a revelation that Immanuel told them to do that, I suppose that could happen,'' Chipman said.
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