Jeff Lundgren signed letter envelope set
Jeff Lundgren signed letter envelope set
Jeffrey Don Lundgren (May 3, 1950 – October 24, 2006) was an American self-proclaimed prophet and mass murderer, who on April 17, 1989, killed 5 people in Kirtland, Ohio. Lundgren led a Reformed Latter Day Saint (RLDS) movement-based cult in Kirtland where he and several of his followers murdered the Avery family, fellow members of his cult, for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.
Lundgren was executed in 2006.
On April 10, 1989, in Kirtland, Lundgren ordered two of his followers to dig a pit in the barn, in anticipation of burying the Averys' bodies there. The expectation was that there could be five bodies buried in the pit. Lundgren told the rest of his followers, including the Averys, that they would go on a wilderness trip. On April 17, he rented a motel room and had dinner with all of his followers. He then called his group's men into his room. He questioned each as to their purpose in the action. All of the men assured Lundgren that they were with him in the sacrifice. Dennis Avery was not invited to the meeting in Lundgren's bedroom.
According to followers' admissions, Lundgren later went inside the barn, with a church member named Ron Luff luring Dennis Avery into a place where the other men awaited by asking him for help with equipment for the camping trip. Luff attempted to render Avery unconscious with a stun gun, but due to a malfunction a stun bullet struck Avery but did not knock him out.
Avery then was gagged and dragged to the place where Lundgren awaited. He was shot twice in the back, dying almost instantly. To mask the sound of the gun, a chainsaw was left running. Luff then told Avery's wife, Cheryl, that her husband needed help. She was gagged, like her husband, but also had duct tape put over her eyes, and dragged to Lundgren. She was shot three times, twice in the breasts and once in the abdomen. Her body lay next to her husband's. The Averys' 15-year-old daughter, Trina, was shot twice in the head. The first shot entered but ricocheted off of her skull, missing her brain, but the second killed her instantly. Thirteen-year-old Becky Avery was shot twice and left to die, while six-year-old Karen Avery was shot in the chest and head.
The barn where the incident took place was demolished November 13, 2007.
On April 18, 1989, the day after the murders, officers coincidentally came to Lundgren's farm to talk to him. After this encounter Lundgren became paranoid about being caught, and with the rest of his cult left Ohio, moving south to West Virginia. As months went by and nothing happened, Lundgren became disillusioned, and he and his family moved to California, abandoning the rest of the surviving cult members behind in West Virginia.
Nine months after the killings, on January 3, 1990, a tip from an informant led police back to the long-abandoned farm, uncovering the five bodies of the Avery family. The Lundgrens became fugitives, media attention increased, and police began to track the cult members, with the FBI joining in the manhunt. Eventually, Lundgren's followers who he had abandoned back east were found, and they helped catch him and his family. Thirteen of Lundgren's sect were arrested in early 1990, including Lundgren and his wife.
Jeffrey Lundgren was given the death penalty. Alice Lundgren received five life sentences (140 years to life) for conspiracy, complicity and kidnapping, while their son, Damon, was sentenced to 120 years to life. Ronald Luff, key in planning and facilitating the murders with Lundgren, was sentenced to 170 years to life. Daniel Kraft was sentenced to 50 years to life. Five of the cult members were released in 2010 or early 2011, after roughly 20 years of incarceration (including pre-trial period).Prosecutor Charles Coulson confirmed that the original plea agreements meant that the five were to be eligible for release "at the earliest possible time", but the Ohio State Parole Board had repeatedly denied earlier requests for parole from Richard Brand and Greg Winship (both were serving 15 years to life), as well as Sharon Bluntschly, Debbie Olivarez and Susan Luff (all were serving to 7 to 25 years). Lundgren followers Kathryn Johnson, Tonya Patrick and Dennis Patrick were determined to have not been involved in the murders, receiving one year sentences for obstruction of justice (the Patrick's sentences were suspended).
The Ohio Supreme Court set October 24, 2006, as Lundgren's execution date, and according to the state attorney general's office, as of August, 2006, he had exhausted his appeals.
On October 17, 2006, Judge Gregory L. Frost issued an order temporarily delaying Lundgren's execution. Lundgren attempted to join a lawsuit with five other Ohio death row inmates challenging the state's death penalty law, claiming that because of his obesity the lethal injection would be particularly painful and amount to cruel and unusual punishment. State Attorney General Jim Petro appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order allowing the execution to go forward. The U.S. Supreme Court refused a last-minute request to stop his execution, and Governor Bob Taft also denied clemency.
The letter and envelope are both handwritten. The letter is signed, Jeff.