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Sex Abuse Case Puts Baptist College Trustee and MBC in Spotlight

The Church’s Mandate to Comfort and Protect For Such a Time as This

This is in response to the MBC Pathway’s Facebook page regarding media attention to SBC predator, Shawn Davies, being released from prison after serving about 12 of 20 years for molesting at least 13 victims in Missouri, Kentucky and Michigan. He was released in July 2019, and is currently living in Reeds Spring, Missouri. Years ago, police said that Pastor Mike Roy of FBC Greenwood, Missouri, allowed Davies to work around children at FBC Greenwood for about four months after they notified Roy that Davies was under investigation for molesting young boys at their church and other churches. Prior church employers did not give Davies good references. They said that he was addicted to porn and “didn’t work well with children.” As is common for predators in ministry, they find a friend or a church that chooses to believe them instead of the references, past churches, or victims. Mike Roy and the Greenwood church should have reasoned on the side of safety for vulnerable children.  

The For Such a Time as This Rally Facebook and Twitter accounts questioned the wisdom and validity of The Missouri Baptist Convention recently appointing Mike Roy as a trustee for Southwest Baptist University. MBC leadership, in my opinion, did not react kindly to the rally’s social media postings.

Some leaders in the MBC have asserted this issue was driven by an unethical media (the Baptist Press, and others, in the below reference). It appears they have purposefully leveled allegations against the For Such a Time as This Rally founder, Cheryl Summers to deflect the seriousness of the churches’ past mistake.

Let’s read what a lead detective on the case said about Roy during the investigation:

Detective Robert Leslie’s was part of the investigation and stated that Mike Roy did not fully cooperate with the police investigation.

According to Leslie, police faced setbacks in their nine-month investigation because of Roy’s unwillingness to cooperate.

“This is quite a large case,” Leslie told reporters. “We’re looking at some of these victims being victimized numerous times. I would really like some information from [Roy] in regard to this incident.”

The MBC is accusing Cheryl Summers of making false allegations against Mike Roy. The organization Cheryl founded, For Such a Time as This Rally, shared links which contained pertinent and truthful information as reported years earlier by other journalistic publications, yet somehow the links to the old articles have been spun as deceitful slander by an individual, Cheryl Summers. This is typical treatment from churches and leaders who are attempting to control the narrative. We have seen history rewritten on numerous occasions, by multiple churches and leaders, where sexual abuse cover-up is concerned.

 If you go to MBC Pathway’s Facebook page, you can see that they wrote an article last Monday saying that Cheryl brought false allegations about the Shawn Davies abuse case at FBC Greenwood. They appear as bullies by targeting Cheryl rather than acknowledging that the post was on the rally FB page and that the rally simply linked to articles from 2006 and 2007 where the lead detective investigating abuse at FBC Greenwood said that pastor Mike Roy made their job more difficult and did not cooperate. The Missouri Baptist Convention recently appointed Mike as a trustee for Southwest Baptist University which is why this case is back in the news.

Cheryl Summers spoke to Communications Director, Rob Phillips, of Missouri Baptists who confirmed that he and John Yeats read the Pathway article before it was released and he couldn’t explain why The Pathway attributed statements by police in 2006 and 2007 to Cheryl.

Here is a clip of The Missouri Baptist Convention website. How are members and attendees supposed to seriously believe abusers are being weeded out by loving, serving and caring leadership when this is how past abuse was handled by current leadership when Mike Roy was outed as a hindrance to the investigation? If Roy wasn’t willing to protect the vulnerable back then, why should he be trusted to do so now? This is a huge issue which should disqualify him. This may be part of the reason SBC membership continues to decline.

Missouri Baptists’ Website

Problems and cover-ups are part of the reason I joined the For Such a Time as This Rally the last two years. I’m grateful for Houston Chronicle journalist Robert Downen and his team who have been covering this denominational nightmare while giving victims their voice back. With the Chronicle’s Abuse of Faith coverage, and the tool of social media, the SBC’s problem is not going to fade into the background or be silenced. There are thousands of faces and voices to go with the abuses. They will not be bullied, sent away with hush money, or backed into a corner by non-disclosure agreements signed for church membership.

An open letter to the Missouri Baptist Convention,

Is it more important to lead or to listen, to strong arm or to serve? What is serving abuse survivors about?

  • It is not about saving the reputation of the abuser, predator, church, or Jesus (Jesus is secure in His reputation).
  • It is not about guarding every word said or not said.
  • It is not about preventing a lawsuit.
  • It is not about what we think or feel about an alleged abuser.
  • It is not about manipulating perception.
  • It is not about trying to maintain power dynamics. This is when wolves win and sheep lose.
  • It is not about blindly trusting the abuser. True repentance bears fruit (Matthew 3:8) and includes restitution (Luke 19:8-9, Romans 13:8-10); not necessarily reconciliation.
  • It is about eternity, people, safety, souls, healing, and salvation.
  • It is about soul care.

The main focus should be soul care.

I don’t see any such care coming from your recent allegations and articles.

Placing blame on Cheryl Summers for referencing links to professionally published articles from years past is beyond disingenuous. Its slander. Your issue is not with Cheryl Summers or the For Such a Time as This Rally; it is with the original reporters. But not really, because the journalists were painfully accurate. If Roy believed law enforcement was putting out false investigative facts, and journalists were fabricating unethical stories about him, he would have taken legal action against them at the time. He didn’t. Why? Because law enforcement was not lying. It seems to me it would have been easier for Mike Roy to say, “I’m sorry, I messed up, and I know it disqualifies me from a leadership position in ministry.”

If The Baptist News was unethical or sensationalizing the original story then the MBC would have stepped in to help Roy. It was a big story back when it happened and it garnered national attention. It was also written about in Christa Brown’s 2009 book This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang; an excellent book, well written, highly engaging, and a fast read for any SBC member who would dare to open their heart and mind to the magnitude of sexual abuse in the SBC.

Please stop wrongly applying scripture to this issue in an attempt to silence survivors and advocates. We do not need to ‘go to our brother’ to get his side of the story when we want to link to what has already been reported in local and national media outlets. We are not required to verify what was published.

Advocates are ministering soul care in the name of Jesus and walking alongside the survivors as they find purposeful living after the soul crushing sexual and spiritual abuse they endured inside and outside church building walls, by their abusers who declared everything being done to them was in name of Jesus, for His glory and purpose. Devious lies straight from the pit of hell!

I hope Missouri Baptist Convention members are reading the past articles linked to by the For Such a Time as This Rally, while recognizing the current spinning and mudslinging taking place by their MBC leadership. Members, it is time to stop believing what leadership is saying and investigate for yourselves.

As for Roy and MBC leadership, a truly repentant man would own what he did, give specific apologies, and make restitution for the harm to which he contributed. Abusers are professional liars and master manipulators who justify, deny, excuse, deflect, minimize, spiritualize, and cover-up abuse. Advocates are concerned and think we are recognizing abusive behaviors from Roy and the MBC about the Davies case.

The SBC’s decade’s old problem of cover-ups and denials are the main reason predators continue to flock to and find refuge in SBC churches, and the reason innocent children and vulnerable adults continue to be easy prey for pedophiles and sexual assault perpetrators. I don’t see your accusations as caring well for abuse survivors. It doesn’t look anything like the heart of Jesus or serving the least of these. It doesn’t beckon the little children to come to Jesus. It does look like, yet again, protecting the wolves while the sheep bleed out. Instead of dealing with the people who were complicit in mishandlings or cover-ups you are bullying those who are attempting to protect the body of Christ.

Following Jesus is not about leadership dynamics, big church attendance, the next book deal, tomorrow’s media interview, or popularity. It is about serving, having a servant’s heart by showing care to the powerless among us. When we do this we are putting God’s word into practice. We can have all the right theology in the world, but if we have not the loving heart of Jesus we are missing our calling. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors. Do we want to be Pharisees or Jesus followers?

The world places importance on money, power, education, and pleasure. When the church becomes caught up in this we become wolves in sheep’s clothing and instead of protecting the innocent, marginalized, and oppressed we can find ourselves siding with an affluent and/or smooth talking abuser. 

Advocates and survivors love Jesus, love the word of God, and strive to put our love for others into action. We are exhausted from witnessing abusive behavior, cover-ups, and lack of training for how to handle abuse disclosures. It is taking a toll on our time and our health, yet we march on because we know Jesus placed us in this generation, to chase after Him, and to work with Him for such a time as this.

  • If you like, call the Missouri Baptist Convention and request they not place Dr. Mike Roy on the board of trustees at Southwest Baptist University. You may also request they offer an apology to Cheryl Summers. Missouri Baptist Convention (573) 636-0400.

Follow the below links to read current and past articles on the topic…

Missouri Attorney General Urged to Investigate Baptists – Word & Way (Press Conference outside the Missouri Baptist Convention headquarters at the Baptist Building in Jefferson City, Missouri)

Facebook: For Such a Time as This Rally

February 26, 2020 Statement by Cheryl Summers, founder of For Such a Time As This Rally

SBU allegations against trustee untrue

Baptist News Global: Missouri police investigate molestation by minister in Baptist church

Little Talk on Missouri’s Biggest Clergy Sex-Abuse Case

SBU HOSTS NEW TRUSTEES FOR TRAINING

SNAP: Missouri Baptist pastor sentenced to 20 years for child sex-abuse

Missouri Police Investigate Molestation by Minister in Baptist Church

2005 sex abuse case puts Baptist college trustee under lens

Lynn Messer: Praying for Justice

A Reversal of Destiny?

It has been 5 1/2 years since the disappearance of Lynn Messer. We now know that Lynn did not disappear but was in fact dead the entire time. Her husband Kerry Messer has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.

No one has been declared guilty of any wrong doing in Lynn’s death and there have been no arrests.

I write about Lynn’s case coming from a background of domestic violence, so since day one I have seen this case through a differnt lense than the general public. I’m not saying I’m right, but I am discussing possibilities of what many domestic abuse survivors and DV fatality victims have endured. I also write about this knowing that the Christian community and many churches often side with abusers and shun the victims and family members of the victims. I have spent years attempting to educate the church about wolves in sheep’s clothing. From where I stand, the Catholic, Southern Baptists, and Indepentent Fundamental Baptist churches are the worst offenders who don’t seem to be learning from past mistakes. Many knowingly keep abusers in leadership and on staff while leaving children and vulnerable adults as easy prey. They have track records of not taking abuse allegations seriously, for covering-up for abusers, and for telling survivors to stay quiet, get over it, stop doing things to make the abuser mad, and to pray harder. This advice has resulted in death for some victims.

I know Lynn’s sons and their families can attest to Lynn’s church and the Southern Baptist Convention of Missouri not believing them when they raised concerns and allegations against their father about his marriage to Lynn, about her death, and about his extra marital relationship with Spring Thomas. The church and the SBC refused to believe Lynn’s sons or do anything to hold their father accountable.

Questions remain:

How did Lynn die? How did she arrive at the place where her remains were discovered? Were her remains hidden/moved before being discovered on the farm? Did Lynn believe her life was in danger before her death? Does Kerry Messer hold the answer to any or all of these questions? Does anyone else hold the answer to any or all of these questions? Did anyone have information about Lynn’s death? If so, did they contribute to her death, help cover-up her death, run interference regarding Lynn’s case, or agreesivly intimidate family members?

Above: Sign from the Lynn Messer prayer vigil.

Today I am recalling words from, Pastor Pat Crisler, who spoke at Lynn Messer’s memorial service. A few phrases from the eulogy piqued my curiosity to a possibility…

“Lynn always loved education and learning new things. She later in life went on to college learning soil sciences, and agriculture which she was able to use later by serving on the local Soil and Water Board.

Lynn fell in love with foreign missions in Ecuador where she made numerous trips, made friends, and was looking forward to not only teaching and leading people to the Lord, but also was making plans to use her knowledge of soil science to help teach the indigenous people of Ecuador how to use their natural resources to better provide for their families.”

God loves to show us a reversal of fortunes/destiny. Where Lynn is concerned, I’ve thought about the possibility, prayed about it, and studied more about it since hearing the words. A couple of weeks after Lynn’s memorial service I pulled up Pat’s notes which he sent at my request and with Abram Messer’s permission. To my utter delight I found the title of Pat’s message is part of the Bible study I’ve been doing for this exact blog post.

The words from Pat’s message reminded me of something that happened in my life; a reversal of destiny.

Chiastic Structure

Let me explain a bit. The reversal is called a chiastic structure and I learned about in the study, Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman written by Beth Moore.

chiastic-structure-copy

Examples: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted. chiasatic-structure-2-copy

To help you understand where I’m going with this; below is the title of the message and a few abbreviated points from, Pastor Pat Chrisler.

Message Title: FOR A SUDDEN, UNEXPECTED DEATH

Mark 4:35-41 (HCSB)

Wind and Wave Obey the Master

35 On that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him. 37 A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?”  41 And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Introduction

Seeking a break from the demand of the excited crowds, Jesus took a boat, and with some of his disciples, sailed off for some rest and relaxation. Suddenly their leisure day was disrupted by a violent storm. In that sudden storm, Jesus did an astounding thing. And in that we learn some things which can help us in the light of the devastating experience we seek to navigate through based on these last two years, and in the days to come.

First of all, we are reminded although the Sovereign of the universe is on the boat, it is no guarantee against the sudden—in this case, verse 37 tells us, a sudden storm.

Second, it may appear in these sudden experiences of life, which grieve us and threaten our sense of God’s nearness and care, that God is not doing anything.

Third, we can respond like Jesus’ disciples. Fear can replace faith. Jesus did hear their cries for help. He sprang into action. He spoke, and the winds ceased and the waves curled up around His feet like submissive tigers under the voice of their trainer. He then asked a penetrating question, “Why are you so afraid?

When the sudden comes in our lives, the Sovereign Savior is looking for us to look at him.

Sudden storms also serve to turn us to Jesus as we see in verse 38.

The Sovereign of the Sudden does something else in our storms. He will assist others—who see us coming through our assault—so they too may find blessings in the storms they are facing.

Finally, storms remind us the Sovereign of the Sudden is in control.  In verse 41 the disciples were overwhelmed by what they had seen. They had a new fear: a reverential fear. They had seen Jesus, with a word, rebuke wind and waves. They were reminded the Sovereign of the Sudden is in control when everything else seems to be totally out of control.

God’s plan and purpose for Lynn and for our lives are not subject to whims, accidents, circumstances, illnesses, and evil. God works through these to bring about his will.

We are not expecting the situation we have been put into. But what we do before any event in our lives is in preparation for how we handle the event. We have two options, we can react or we can respond. When you react it is negative when you respond it is positive. God allows us the choice to handle adversity either looking at it from a worldly lens or looking at it from His perspective.

It could be sort of like if one of Lynn’s grandkids were playing on her living room floor and looked up and saw her sewing a cross-stitch. From their perspective on the floor looking up they might say, “Grandma what are you doing, you are not making any sense, it looks like a mess?” Lynn would respond by saying, “I got it, I’m making a beautiful picture.” But all the child could see from where they sit was a mess. From Lynn’s perspective she responded with “I have this; I’m making a beautiful picture.” It would not be until the grandchild would stand up and walk around the chair so they are now looking over Grandmas shoulder would they be able to see and appreciate how beautiful a creation Lynn had truly been making all this time. Often times we look up into the heavens and we say, “God what are you doing? It doesn’t make sense, I don’t understand.”

 All we see from our perspective is a messed up tapestry and yet God is saying, “From My perspective I am making a beautiful picture, do you trust me?” In those moments when you can’t TRACE THE HAND OF GOD, YOU HAVE TO TRUST THE HEART OF GOD!

Pastor Crisler’s message jogged my memory

We read in the book of Esther a celebration of a reversal of destiny. Although we read nothing of God in the book of Esther, the life of Esther has the fingerprints and heart of God all over it. History shows us what Esther at the moment couldn’t see. Yet she remained obedient to what she knew to be true. This is a wise and beautiful lesson for us today. When we can’t figure out what God is doing, where He is, perhaps we can’t sense His presence and we wonder if we will ever find Him; we must remember God is there. Some day we will look back on the most important or difficult times in our life and we will see God all over it! It may look like it took months, years, or a life time for  the something to happen yet we will often see it had a turning point that was sudden.

In the book of Esther, everything Haman meant for evil; for the death of Mordicai and the destruction, slaughter and annihilation of the Jews; God suddenly reversed allowing the plans to be used against Haman, and provided for His chosen people to be saved. The intervention can only be explained as a work of God.

Here are more scriptural reversals of destinies:

  • Joseph’s brothers decided to harm him. They sold him to get rid of him. Joseph later sells food to his brothers to save them: Joseph’s brothers hated him and refused to listen to anymore of his, “You bow down to me dreams.” His brothers sold him to merchants on their way to Egypt. While in Egypt Joseph interpreted dreams, became 2nd in command over all of Egypt, saved his brothers, his father and their families, and the brothers bowed down before Joseph. Sold as a slave; becomes a ruler. Genesis 37-45
  • Pharaoh’s horses and riders surround the Israelites at the Red Sea. The Red Sea surrounds and drowns Pharaoh’s horses and riders. Exodus 14
  • King Nebuchadnezzar, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” He is driven away from people to live as a wild animal outside his kingdom. After 7 years King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. God restores Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity and kingdom to him. Daniel 4
  • King Darius’ men falsely accused Daniel so Daniel would be thrown in the lion’s den to his death. God saved Daniel, and the King’s men were thrown in the lion’s den to their deaths. Daniel 6

The Book of Esther

  • Queen Vashti was summoned to be seen. Suddenly she was seen no more.¹
  • Haddasah an orphaned Jewish girl among the exiles; the least and the last to ever be chosen becomes the Queen of Persia; royalty, wife of King Xerxes.
  • Haman who thought he had planned his own parade of honor suddenly finds himself parading around the person in his world who he hated the most; Mordicai.
  • Haman builds a 75 foot high pole in which to hang Mordicai but suddenly finds himself hanged on the very pole.
  • The irrevocable edict that will destroy, kill and annihilate the Jewish people and nation suddenly allows for the Jewish people to do the very same to anyone who tries to kill them.

The reversal that happened to Haman is a warning to us that vicious consequences can happen to us when planning violent acts or traps for others.

  • “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” II Cor. 5:21
  • From darkness to light: “and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”Col. 1:12-13
  • “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” I Peter 2:10
  • Robber on the cross, not a believer, who was at that moment destined to hell; confessed with his mouth and suddenly, within minutes, found himself in heaven. Luke 23
  • Peter and John were fishers of fish who became fishers of men.
  • Paul: A persecutor of Christians became the persecuted.
  • Rich man; poor man, the rich man and Lazarus died and went different paths. The rich man enjoyed all his good on the earth and his agony in eternity. The poor man, Lazarus, received bad things on earth and comfort for eternity. Luke 16

When life seems impossible and overwhelming, as if the time for finding an answer is past, we must remember that for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and have asked Him to intercede in this difficulty, God sees us and He is actively at work in our lives.

As I was listening to, Pastor Pat Crisler, speak at Lynn’s memorial service the idea of praying about a reversal popped into my mind.

Remember how Lynn studied soil and wanted to help others through that studying? Put it in terms of a reversal:

Reversal possibilities

-In life, Lynn led and studied soil to reveal a better living for people she cared about—In death, the study of soil will reveal if someone she cared about led to her demise.

-If someone was responsible for her death: Whoever hides the death of Lynn on soil—from the soil they will be found out.

-If someone disguised murder as a suicide tale …the suicide story will be exposed as murder.

-If there were deceitful accomplices in helping with or covering for a crime…their deceit will be uncovered.

Remember: the forensics testing hresults have not been released. If I read or heard on the news correctly, the FBI took soil samples which means they will be looking at all the layers of soil, fallen leaves and natural debris to see if it matches up with what was found on and around Lynn’s remains. It could possibly reveal if Lynn’s remains were located there the entire 2 years and 4 months, or if she was placed there after the fact. 

Forensic Soil Analysis

Forensic Soil Analysis is the use of soil sciences and other disciplines to aid in criminal investigation. Soils are like fingerprints because every type of soil that exists has unique properties that act as identification markers.²

God, through scripture, has set the precedence that reversals can happen; which means we have permission and authority to pray for one. In doing so, let’s speak the Holy Spirit’s language: Scripture. As we ask our mediator, Jesus Christ, to present our requests to our Heavenly Father we can be assured that our desires are in line with what God can do and has delighted to do throughout history. If a crime was committed against Lynn Messer, let us together seek a reversal of destiny for the person or persons who need to be brought to justice. Lynn’s family longs for answers and justice over this traumatic event through which they are currently living.

All the ‘sudden’ unknowns to us are known by God. When the enemy interjects events and plans into our lives he thankfully doesn’t have the last say. Christ does. And Christ can intervene any way of His choosing. God can use the horrific, the thing we hate doing the most, and/or the crime or abuse that has been committed against us for good; it’s scriptural:. “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28 (NET). This doesn’t mean it is easy, right, or best. It does mean that if we invite God and allow Him, He will partner with us to bring good into our lives again. Perhaps allowing the partnership to help others, and lead others, on the same weary path you have travelled. Perhaps helping others avoid the path all together.

Let’s agree in prayer and pray these scriptures over the Lynn Messer case:

Matthew 18:19 (NIV)

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Proverbs 13:16(NIV)

All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.

Proverbs 16:22(NIV)

Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.

Proverbs 18:6(NIV) – The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.

Proverbs 18:7(NIV) – The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives

Proverbs 26:27 (NIV) Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them…

Ecclesiastes 4:5(NIV) – Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves.

Psalm 52 (NIV)

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit,
your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
You love every harmful word,
you deceitful tongue!

Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear;
they will laugh at you, saying,
“Here now is the man
who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.

We believe, therefore we speak (pray)

If there was deceit in Lynn’s sudden death we pray for the evidence to show truth and sudden revelation.

As was the case with my reversal of destiny, God was using the lapse of time to bring not just temporary protection and deliverance but permanent protection, deliverance and justice. God knows the truth of what happened to Lynn. Let’s pray for the investigators and prosecuting attorney to find truth, gain closure, and provide justice.

Let’s pray specifically. If we ask for nothing we can’t be disappointed. I like to throw caution to the wind; after all, our Great God commands the wind! I’m well aware that God is not a genie in a bottle. He answers in His time and His way with His Father heart full of love, mercy and wisdom, and sometimes the answer is—no, or not yet. But…when we specifically pray; God often precisely answers. When He does answer, and I know it’s an answer to a question or request I prayed, there is nothing more exhilarating than watching my little, tiny mustard seed of faith through prayer move Heaven.  Knowing the God of all creation loves me, hears me, and interacts with me is the most fun, the highest high, the coziest comfort, and the biggest gift—EVER! All while knowing I did nothing to deserve it. I simply pray for His heart and will to be done and for Him to override my wants with His best; basing my prayers on His words; scripture.

I’ll add to, Pastor Pat Crisler’s, message title…For a Sudden, Unexpected Death, An Unexpected, Sudden Answer.

For a Sudden, Unexpected Death, An Unexpected, Sudden Answer. #JusticeForLynn

Thank you for joining in this prayer.

*This article is a re-write of: Lynn Messer: Reversal of Destiny, 2016.

_______________________________________________

¹Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman, Beth Moore; LifeWay Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 2008

²http://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/forensic-soil-analysis/

Domestic Violence and Murder

Murdered Wives and Girlfriends

 “Women and girls have banded together to fight for themselves because no one else would do it.” – Rachael Denhollander, American lawyer and former gymnast. She was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor, of sexual assault. Denhollander is a TIME 100 honoree and a 2018 Glamour Woman of the Year.

*Red text indicates a link to the original source of information.

“Three-quarters of domestic violence homicides by men are committed after she leaves.”

These are not acts that happen in the middle of an argument or are considered crimes of passion. These are acts that are carefully planned because the abuser believes she has no right to leave.  He also doesn’t want her to find happiness, nor does the abuser want anyone else to have her.

It’s important to remember when someone reports abuse and you can’t imagine the accused abuser is capable of what’s been reported, that abusers are grand actors and liars. If often takes years for the victim to come to understand and come to terms with the abuse…and they are the one being abused. Of course, an outsider would doubt.

You may think: He’s always been a great guy; we hung out together, did Bible study together, shared meals in each other’s homes, watched each other’s kids on occasion.  He was never angry, aggressive, rude, controlling or anything negative. I never saw him acting abusively toward his wife or children.

Those things can all be true because abusers rarely abuse everyone they come in contact with; it’s usually immediate family members, a romantic interest, and occasionally acquaintances or co-workers.

Did scripture point out anyone suspecting King David of murdering Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband after David abused his power and raped her? (She had no choice. He was the king). David plotted, deceived, and covered- up Uriah’s murder.  Those under David’s command or in his network of friends may have said something like this:  “David is a man of faith; he defeated Goliath when he was still a young man, he was a terrific friend to Jonathan, he cared for Saul’s crippled grandson Mephibosheth, he spent time with his God. I know David and I know he would never do that.”

We should never be surprised when someone we know does something out of character for them. We never know what is going on in someone else’s personal life, heart, or mind.

Pondering an unsolved death

I’ve been writing about a Missouri woman for the last few years who I think was killed by her husband. Did she discover another woman and decided to leave? Did her husband want more than one woman in his bedroom and she decided she wouldn’t go along with it? Did she think she was in an abusive relationship and decide to leave? Was she devastated after her years of faithfulness to know he wasn’t faithful? Did she think he had tried to kill her through accidents and prescription drug problems and decided her life was in danger? Was there a different reason? What she may not have known is that the probability of murder goes up when a victim decides to leave. We know three-quarters of domestic violence homicides are committed by men at the time of leaving, or after she leaves.

“Many victims realistically fear that their abusive partners’ actions will become more violent and even lethal if they attempt to leave. The abuser may have threatened to kill them or hurt their child or family member if they leave.”

“Many abused people leave and return several times before permanently separating from the abusive partner. In fact, it takes many survivors approximately 7 attempts before they actually leave their abusive partner permanently.”

1st degree or 2nd degree murder

Missouri needs to work better when it comes to justice for women murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

Most often the murderer is charged with 2nd degree murder. Why not 1st degree? Is it because women typically don’t have as much worth as men and juries rule by this erroneous standard?

What justifies first degree murder in the state of Missouri?

First degree murder is the most serious of the homicide crimes in Missouri. In order to prove that the defendant committed first degree murder, the prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally and deliberately killed a person without a legally justified reason (such as a police officer shooting an armed bank robber with hostages). Serial murderers who kill for fun and individuals who plot and execute a revenge killing of someone who allegedly slighted them would both be examples of first-degree murder.

Missouri first degree murder laws treat the offense as a very serious crime. The penalties are based on the circumstances of the crime. If the criteria for first degree murder isn’t met, the defendant may still be found guilty of a lesser murder charge, such as: second degree murder (killing without premeditation), voluntary manslaughter (“heat of passion murder”), or involuntary manslaughter (an accidental killing).

Missouri domestic violence homicides that made the news in 2019:

This summer a St. Louis woman managed to catch her own murder on her cell phone. Her video recorded her husband beating her in a parking garage near Busch Stadium. That husband was only charged with assault…and it was on video. Then in September the charges were dropped. We are still waiting to find out if new charges will be filed. “Court records show that Jenkins had previous run-ins with the law, even while working as a correctional officer. He faced felony aggravated battery charges on two separate occasions, and pleaded guilty to a lowered charge of misdemeanor battery in both cases. He received 18 months probation for the first offense in 2012 and 24 months probation and two days in jail for the second offense in 2017. A woman requested a protective order in 2012 that would bar him from contacting her, but a judge dismissed the complaint.”

Last year an elderly man from Arnold murdered his wife by shooting her in their living room recliner. He received probation. No time served.  

The 2006 disappearance of Megan Shultz led to her remains likely recovered in a Columbia, Missouri, landfill. “Police Chief Geoff Jones says that while evidence points to the remains being those of Schultz. Police began the dig after Shultz’s former husband, 37-year-old Keith Alan Comfort, allegedly confessed to killing her and putting the body in a trash bin. Comfort is now charged with second-degree murder.

“CLAYTON, MO – The St. Louis County woman found dead in Lincoln County one week ago was pregnant when she died, according to a source close to the investigation. The source adds, the woman’s husband, who is charged with her murder, was having an affair. Beau Rothwell, 28, is being held at the St. Louis County Justice Center without bond. He is charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the death of his wife, Jennifer.”

Bobette Everhart-Boal, 59, had filed for divorce from her husband, Michael C. Boal, 59, in August, and a hearing in the case was scheduled for Thursday, December 14, 2019. Sunday, December 8, 2019, she was found dead in Chesterfield shortly before her husband’s body was found after a fire at their former home in Wildwood. Investigators believe that Michael Boal killed his wife, then set the house on fire to kill himself.

The husband of  missing Missouri woman, Mengqi Ji Elledge, allegedly took a “long drive through unfamiliar remote areas” of the state before he reported her disappearance to police, according to court documents filed with his arrest last week. Those details came in court documents identifying Joseph Elledge as the subject of an investigation into the disappearance of his wife, 28-year-old Mengqi Ji Elledge, who has been missing for three weeks and was last seen Oct. 8, 2019. Joseph Elledge has been arrested on charges of child abuse and his bond was set at $500,000. Law enforcement began “searching the Lamine River in Cooper County November 26, 2019. Crews have searched an area near the De Bourgmont access point 10 times.”

“MAYSVILLE, Mo. – The 49-year-old boyfriend of a Cameron woman whose body was found at a Maysville home has been charged in her death. Kenneth Wykert is charged with second-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse in the death of Leah Dawson.”   He said he was going to kill her. Later he told an inmate he killed her accidently when she said she was going to leave him.

“December 31, 2019, SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Authorities have found the body of a missing 19-year-old woman and are investigating her death as a homicide. Officers discovered the body Mackenna Milhon on Monday afternoon outside a home north of Springfield. Police and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office said she had been reported missing Dec. 20.”

“A St. Louis man who was facing domestic assault charges in jail posted $5,000 bail thanks to a non-profit group, then allegedly went to his wife’s home and beat her to death. Prosecutors have charged Samuel Lee Scott, 54, with first degree murder. Scott was initially arrested on April 5 and accused of hitting his wife, Marcia Johnson, in the face, injuring her ear and cheekbone back in January. He had also threatened to kill her, according to a probable cause statement.”

Mexico, MO. • A man convicted of killing his wife and dumping her body in a septic tank more than 20 years ago was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Douglas Howery, 60, was found guilty of first-degree murder last year in the 1992 disappearance and death of his wife, Betty Ann Howery, 44, of St. Charles. She vanished in February 1992 after a night at their family farm in Annada, Mo., in Pike County near the Mississippi River. She was missing until October 2008, when a crew bulldozing the land found her skeleton in an abandoned septic tank. Authorities found a .38-caliber revolver in the septic tank where Betty Howery’s body was discovered.”

“O’FALLON (AP) – A St. Charles County man is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife.
Police arrested 42-year-old Michael Rone of O’Fallon on Saturday. Authorities say he admitted killing 38-year-old Stacey Rone during an argument.
Michael Rone is jailed on $250,000 bond and does not yet have a listed attorney.
Police say Stacey Rone’s relatives found her dead Thursday. She had been strangled.” As a side note: strangulation is a favorite tool of dominations for domestic abusers. If a woman has been strangled once, and lived to tell about it, her chances of dying by her abuser go up greatly.

 “58-year-old Delores Kirk was pronounced dead at the scene. Police took Kirk’s boyfriend into custody as a person of interest. The interim police chief said he expects the boyfriend will be charged. Kirk’s family was left grieving Tuesday, saying her boyfriend was abusive and the violence culminated with her death. St. Louis County court officials confirmed Kirk was granted a temporary restraining order against her boyfriend in January. However, the case was dropped after neither Kirk nor her boyfriend showed up for a court hearing.”

Abuse survivors on average file a petition for a protective order against their abuser seven to eight times before going to their hearing to receive it, or leaving the abuser.

“KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Missouri man was found guilty Friday of first degree murder for murdering his wife after the couple’s daughter found the woman’s body in the basement. According to court documents, police found Melissa Byers’ body covered with carpet, sheets, clothing and plastic. A medical examiner said she died from multiple stab wounds.

Here is a national murder from 2019

November 2019 the jury convicted Patrick Frazee of first-degree murder in the killing of Kelsey Berreth. Prosecutors believe Berreth was murdered in her Woodland Park home in Colorado. She was last seen on Thanksgiving Day 2018 on security video at a grocery store. Her body has not been found.

2 unsolved local cases

There are two local cases in which families of deceased women continue waiting for charges to be filed in the death of their loved ones; Amanda Jones and Lynn Messer.

According to family members, Amanda’s case and evidence were not professionally or properly investigated, processed, or taken seriously from day one. Amanda Kay Jones was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she disappeared. The alleged father of her unborn child, Brian Westfall, is reportedly the last known person to see her. The two met at the Hillsboro Civic Center on August 14, 2005, at 1:00 p.m. During the meeting, Amanda answered a call on her cell phone at approximately 1:15p.m. After the meeting, no one else is known to have seen or heard from Amanda. Later that night, Amanda’s blue 1997 Pontiac Sunfire was found unlocked and abandoned in the Civic Center parking lot. Her purse, car keys, wallet, and cell phone have not been found.

Lynn Messer disappeared July 8, 2014. We now know that Lynn has been deceased the entire time and I have been told by law enforcement that Kerry Messer, her husband, has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.  Kerry is a Missouri state lobbyist who represents family, homeschooling, right-to-life, gun safety, and Christian/Biblical values. Upon her disappearance, the family farm where Lynn lived with her husband was mapped with grids and searched by rescue and recovery teams, along with trained search and rescue dogs. Searching was done by air, foot, and all-terrain vehicles; by day and by night.  Rescue dogs are trained in locating human remains by tracking, trailing, and air scenting. This should have been an easy job in the outdoor air of the extreme summer heat during July and August. Law enforcement did not find Lynn in those early days and were certain she was not on the farm. Three years ago, November 1, 2016, Lynn’s remains were found on the farm; recovered from the direction of the scent found that first morning in 2014.

On Lynn’s death certificate the state could have listed the cause of death as ‘unknown’. They didn’t.

Instead it says, ‘MANNER: PENDING INVESTIGATION’ 

‘UNDETERMINED AT THIS TIME’

The death certificate does not say ‘Could Not Be Determined’. Undetermined at this time leaves legal room to easily come back and make changes to the certificate. This case is not closed and the death certificate gives me hope that #JusticeForLynn does exist.

Ste. Genevieve Country Prosecuting Attorney Wayne Williams is quoted in an article by Leader Publications, written by Laura Marlow as saying about the Lynn Messer case, “We have to be very careful,” he said. “Because, if we file charges and it goes to a jury trial and we lose, double jeopardy forever bars us from bringing any charges again. On the other hand, there is no statute of limitations on a homicide.

For more information on domestic abuse that ends in murder, check out:

This is the ‘last warning shot’ before a man kills his partner

Expert: Choking strongly predicts homicide

Dawn Elizabeth Wilcox is a domestic abuse advocate and nurse who tracks America’s epidemic of murdered women. You may find her on Facebook at Women Count USA

92% of female murder victims are killed by a man they know.

DomesticShelters.org

Police say 11 questions can reduce domestic violence. Why aren’t more police officers asking them?

If you are in a destructive relationship, please contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. It is free, confidential, and judgement free. Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224

Family Court Protest 10/18/2019

Family reunification camps and policies like those run by Overcoming Barriers https://overcomingbarriers.org/trainings/  are proven to be ineffective and dangerous to children. Overcoming Barriers is in town tomorrow to lead judges, lawyers, guardians ad-litem, and mental health professionals in a conference. The purpose is to help court personnel learn how to force children to spend time with both parents, and how to give financial consequences to parents who don’t agree, or don’t want to make their children comply. The Washington Post reported in 2017 that Overcoming Barriers workshops were shut down after studies failed to prove their efficacy. These camps are a danger to all children, but imagine the impact especially if the child is afraid of a parent due to prior abuse and then is court-ordered to attend camp with the abusive parent. It is NORMAL for a child to be scared of their abuser and to suffer from a trauma or stressor-related disorder such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or have suicidal thoughts. It is NOT normal or healthy to require a child to let down their protective barriers so they ‘get over’ being scared or stressed by their angry and controlling abuser, or so they believe the abuser loves them, wants the best for them, and is worthy of a closer relationship with them.

Here is a snippet of my interview with FOX 2 news from Tuesday.

Dr. Leslie Drodz says the training is “to arrive at actual solutions instead of endless court battles.” Here’s the problem: When you are dealing with an abuser and a protective parent there is no solution that will please the parents or the court. The abuser is out to hurt the protective parent’s heart, turn family and friends against them, and financially ruin them. The protective parent’s goal is to insure the children are safe. The court wants shared custody, or at least visitation, regardless of abuse. The court needs better training to help the victims. I’m not sure I can agree with Judge Banas that highly contested custody cases are the problem and the reason for needing ‘Overcoming Barriers’ to hold a conference this Friday. The problem I see and continually hear about is domestic violence being seen by the court as a high conflict divorce/custody case. High conflict divorces and domestic violence are NOT the same thing. This is why court personnel need training on how to identify and deal with domestic abuse. This will require ongoing education; not a 5-8 hour class. This is why I’m participating in a peaceful protest outside the court house this Friday at 10:30 AM. Please join me!

Watch Judge Burlison’s rebuttal below..

Organizers of the protest suspected she would say she takes the side of the protesters, and she did so. Judge Burlison says a parent can be stripped of their rights if there is abuse. They can, but are they?

What about all the protective parents who come in with professional documentation from one or many of these? Child protective services. child psychologist, family therapist. school counselor or teacher, or a police report. These reports are most commonly ignored in St. Charles County family court. And…if a child discloses abuse they have to disclose it a second time to the ‘correct’ county child advocate so it can be video recorded as evidence for court. If the child doesn’t re-disclose…it’s as if the abuse didn’t happen in the eyes of the court. For toddlers and preschoolers it is often difficult to get them to re-disclose. The interviewer isn’t allowed to ask leading questions in hopes of retrieving the information from them.

Of all the women I, Carolyn, have ministered to in St. Charles County who left their abusers, only the one whose husband went to prison was able to have the abuser’s rights taken away. Another was able to get the abuser to leave them alone if they agreed to a minimal financial settlement.It wasn’t because the court was willing to take his rights away. I also know of multiple cases where the protective parent lost custody to the abusive parent. This happened when they provided professional evidence to abuse. Bringing up abuse to the court often doesn’t end well and is used against the protective parent.

Organizers of the protest believe that more than a ‘parenting plan’ and the right of an abusive parent to have a relationship with a child; a child has a right to a non-abusive home.

Don’t just say these things have to be looked into. LOOK INTO IT! Children’s safety is in your hands and are you are not using the fullest extend of the law, state statutes, to protect them. Criminal courts would not get buy with ignoring and over riding professional testimony like family court does!

Dear readers, please go to overcomingbarriers.org and read for yourself what they teach in their seminars. If our judges want to do a better job for children of family court; we recommend ALIVE STL, BarryGoldstein.net, or https://www.law.gwu.edu/joan-s-meier #CourtToo

Link to FAMILY COURT WATCH: ST. CHARLES COUNTY’s Facebook page here to find out the many reasons the protest is being held. I know it’s last minute, but please, join the protest.