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Daughter of Cult Leader LeBaron Apparently Kills Self

January 30, 1989 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ The estranged daughter of the founder of a polygamist cult has apparently committed suicide, but police are investigating her death because of the cult’s reputation for ″blood atonement″ against defectors.

Lillian Chynoweth, 33, a daughter of the late Ervil LeBaron, founder of The Church of the Lamb of God, died of a single gunshot to the right side of the head in her northwest Houston home Saturday morning, Lt. Richard Holland said.

″Violent death seems to follow these people,″ Holland said Sunday.

Mrs. Chynoweth, whose husband and two other relatives were slain in June, was found dead on the sitting room floor of her home by her 13-year-old daughter, who was awakened by the gunshot. A .357-caliber pistol lay nearby.

Although preliminary evidence in Mrs. Chynoweth’s death points to suicide, Holland said, ″We are approaching it cautiously because of the history of the family.″

There were no signs of forced entry or foul play, he said. In addition, Mrs. Chynoweth had been seeking treatment for depression and had ″recent conversations of suicide with friends and family,″ he said.

A family friend gave the pistol to Mrs. Chynoweth’s 14-year-old son - ″for for protection in light of the killings in June,″ Holland said.

Last Jhad been called under the guise of delivering a new washing machine.

The killings remain unsolved.

Cult founder Ervil LeBaron was sentenced to life in prison in 1979 for ordering the murder of Utah polygamist Rulon Allred. He died in a Utah prison in 1981, prompting the Chynoweths’ defection from the cult and their move to Houston, Holland said.

Nonetheless, Ervil’s belief that he was ″the one mighty and strong prophet of God″ and his vow made in 1970 that ″blood will run to solve our problems″ has led to a reign of terror among Mormon fundamentalists.

The killings last summer in Texas brought to 18 the number of LeBaron’s former disciples who have died or disappeared over the past two decades. The current leaders are believed to operate from the state of Sonora, Mexico, officials say.