Mother Learns Son’s Fate Years After Disappearance
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) _ The family of a man who disappeared three years ago from a Hare Krishna commune only learned last week from a newspaper story that authorities have charged two men with his murder.
″He’s my son and they say he’s dead and I don’t know why,″ Sandra Duperroy, of Costa Mesa, Calif., said Monday.
West Virginia authorities have been investigating the disappearance of Mrs. Duperroy’s son, Charles Saint-Denis, from the sect’s Marshall County commune since 1983, according to county prosecutor Thomas White.
″No one has notified us. Nobody has called to tell us anything,″ Saint- Denis’ sister, Chrislyn Saint-Denis, said.″I thought they were supposed to notify the next of kin when somebody dies. My mother is devastated. How would you feel?″
White said officials had tried to locate Saint-Denis’ relatives, but were unsuccessful.
The family learned of Saint-Denis’ fate when his sister’s ex-husband spotted an article last week in a Seattle newspaper that discussed murder charges against two former Krishna followers for Saint-Denis’ killing.
Miss Saint-Denis called The Associated Press in West Virginia, and White contacted her Monday.
Although no body has been found, White says authorities have obtained convincing testimony that Saint-Denis was killed by Thomas Drescher, 37, of Ravenna, Ohio, and Daniel Reid, 31, of Los Angeles.
The two men were indicted in July, and Drescher’s trial is scheduled for Dec. 2, with Reid’s to follow.
Miss Saint-Denis, 33, said the family had not heard from her brother, who was a year younger, for almost four years but continued writing to him in West Virginia.
″We’ve sent him letters and telegrams. Someone has been receiving them because someone had to sign for them,″ she said.
Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, leader of West Virginia’s 4,000-acre Krishna commune, one of the largest in the United States, said he did not know of any letters to Saint-Denis.
Miss Saint-Denis said her brother was heavily involved with drugs, particularly marijuana, and authorities described Saint-Denis, Drescher and Reid all as ″fringe″ members of the Hare Krishna sect, which has strict rules against drug and alcohol use.
Bhaktipada said Saint-Denis ″believed that Krishna is God but didn’t follow the rules of the religion.″ Although investigators have said the killing was not drug-related, Bhaktipada acknowledged that Saint-Denis might have been growing marijuana on the Krishna compound.
″I know that we found a plot (of marijuana) that we asked him about and he denied it and we burned it,″ Bhaktipada said. ″We warned him that he couldn’t do that.″
The Saint-Denis case is one of several recent criminal proceedings centering on the West Virginia temple.
A dissident member was sentenced earlier this year for bludgeoning Bhaktipada on the temple grounds, and Drescher has been charged with a second murder, that of former devotee Steve Bryant, 33. Bryant was killed in Los Angeles after making allegations of drug trafficking in the sect.
Miss Saint-Denis said her family is concerned about four of her brother’s children who are still living at the West Virginia commune. She said the family also wants to hold a memorial service for her brother.
″Somebody’s soul has got to be put to rest,″ she said.