Witness couple and two young children found dead in shocking ‘murder suicide’
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A family of four Jehovah's Witnesses have been found shot dead in an apparent murder-suicide

A family of four Jehovah’s Witnesses have been found shot dead in an apparent murder-suicide

A congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in South Carolina has been rocked by the apparent murder-suicide of a Witness family of four.

Sheddrick Miller’s mother hadn’t heard from her son and his family for two days and went to their home to see if they were ok.

She stumbled on the grim discovery of her son’s body, together with that of his wife Kia and their two young children.

Police were then called to the home near Irmo, South Carolina, and encountered what they would later describe as a “shocking murder scene.”

Police spokesman Sgt. Curtis Wilson told the Charlotte Observer that the two children were found dead in their respective bedrooms, whereas the two adults were found together in the master bedroom.

All four were shot in the upper body, and a hand gun, the presumed murder weapon, was found next to the body of the father. Initial evidence is said to suggest a domestic disturbance, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

A family friend Rachel Hinson, 25, described the Millers as a good family. She told reporters that she had attended a bible study at their home and visited the local Kingdom Hall with them. “It’s confusing, and it’s not understandable why something like that would happen,” she said.

This horrific incident will be all the more shocking to Jehovah’s Witnesses since the religion prides itself on being a “happy people” who live in a blissful “spiritual paradise” where everyone contentedly immerses themselves in doing God’s work.

Though it may never be clear what the exact circumstances were that led to this tragic incident, we can be almost certain this Witness homestead had deep-rooted problems that Watchtower teachings were powerless to alleviate. If anything, the family’s religious beliefs could have only worsened matters.

This website runs an annual survey for those connected with Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of the questions we ask is “Have you ever known or heard of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing or attempting suicide?” So far 904 people have participated in the 2014 Global Survey, and this is how they responded to that question…

Chart_Q46_140118Not long ago I had a telephone conversation with a dear friend of mine, a Witness elder from one of my former congregations, who had recently experienced a nervous breakdown. He suggested that as many as 1 in 5 in his congregation were taking antidepressants of some form due to various mental and emotional ailments. “And that’s a low estimate,” he said.

Whenever I see Watchtower boasting of how happy and joyful Jehovah’s Witnesses are, I think back to that conversation. This religion has no monopoly on happiness. To the contrary, it could be that its relentless rule-making, apocalyptic fear-mongering and threats of family estrangement for personal indiscretion make it one of the most wretched and depressing faiths a person could have.

 

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83 Responses to Witness couple and two young children found dead in shocking ‘murder suicide’

  1. Tiger says:

    @Free Thinker. Just as when a lawyer in a courtroom makes a false accusation and a judge orders it stricken from the record does not change the fact that it was said and more importantly that it was heard and influences the minds of the jurors. So it is with the “point scoring” accusation you made against Cedars and never apologized for, nor acknowledged you were wrong.

    As for my or anyone else’s “emotionally charged” response. What is your answer as to speaking out against what was done to Cedars. Do you ignore that as well? So many points were made to help you see the value of what was written.

    As for your comment “Freedom of expression carries a responsibility for us all to do so with a measure of trying to understand the other persons point of view” You made false accusations of point scoring to Cedars but you are not taking responsibility for it. Is it only your point of view that needs to be understood? Should everyone here consider only what you say? It appears you are still indoctrinated with the idea no one knows anything but you, because you are a Witness and a teacher, therefore the only viewpoint that matters is yours. Take a look around there are a lot of intelligent people here and they all bring value to this discussion, yet you do not respond to any of it. Are you, or were you an elder or a pioneer? That is the air of superiority they put off.

    I am glad to consider your viewpoint, however show me the same courtesy. Please answer just one topic.

    Have you stood up to the tyranny that took Cedars family?
    If not, why not?
    Do you come here and challenge Cedars blog and not the WT because Cedars won’t disfellowship you?
    Are you a coward to WT and a bully to those who you feel won’t hurt you?

    Last but not least, no one is saying what caused this tragic event. However nothing can be done to help those lost now, only seek to find ways to prevent it from happening again. We can only observe the obvious truth that their is no spiritual paradise, before the spin doctors get a hold of this. That façade of a paradise is dangerous as it clouds a persons judgement as to joining this high control group.

  2. free thinker says:

    Wow again! I can only apologise to anyone who perceives my comments as arrogance as that was never my intention.I have personally made decisions to avoid shunning of family members thus taking a stand against what you call the tyranny that took Cedars family.Again it was never my intention to challenge anyone.Finally it is insulting to be accused of bullying by someone with very little knowledge of a person.Hopefully your one topic answered.

    • Rowland Nelken says:

      Have I missed something, Freethinker? Are you a JW? Do you sympathise with them? Do you realise that being one and ‘taking a stand against them’ in shunning or anything else is a contradiction? As a JW you have to obey the bosses in everything, absolutely and always, or face imminent Armageddon execution. Please clarify your position.

      • April Smith says:

        Answer to bosses absolutely and always. Spoken like a genuine product of that organization. Obey without question, or DIE! It makes me sad to read statements like this. A mass of people obeying out of fear and obligation. Not love.

  3. Renee says:

    Well said!

  4. Cynthia Rodriguez says:

    Fortunately, I’ve never known anyone who went to these extremes, but have known of many who are taking some form of anti-depressants. I am sad that this happened to them, especially the children. I hope that wherever they are now, they find the peace and the freedom they didn’t have under the control of this religion. Yes I do believe that their spirit and soul survived this tragedy, and that they didn’t go unto oblivion like the JW’s say, awaiting a resurrection that will not happen until who knows how many hundreds of years more from now. I believe that they just passed into another dimension where they will be able to review their physical lives here on this earth and move on to a better one. May all of their souls find the comfort they deserve and may peace be with the family they left behind.
    RIP

  5. free thinker says:

    Wow again! It was never my intention to come across as arrogant and to anyone who feels that way I can only apologise.In answering your one topic @tiger I have personally taken a stand against what you call the tyranny that took cedars family.It is never my intention to challenge anyone.It is insulting to accuse anyone of bullying based on your posession of limited knowledge.Finally if this discussion forum can mean that one person or family can avoid unnecessary heartache then that is a good thing.

    • Rowland Nelken says:

      Free thinker – Are you a JW? Are you considering becoming a JW? You do realise, I hope, that thinking freely and being a JW are utterly incompatible.

      You are obliged to believe every utterance and obey every diktat of the self appointed JW bosses in New York State, or be condemned to death at an imminent Armageddon.

      That the whole Watchtower setup is based upon cruel lies and fantasy is of little comfort to those who have been prey to the mind control techniques of the cult and, tragically, genuinely believe that there is truth in JW TRUTH.

      You mentioned, Freethinker, that you study JW Lit; but so does Cedars. Please clarify where you stand.

  6. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:

    Ok, folks, let’s all calm down and try to find some common ground here.

    Freethinker, you can see from the passionate and honest responses that your posts have prompted that we do not agree that we have in any way been crude or crass in commenting on this tragedy in conjunction with a discussion on the terrible mental health of many Witnesses.

    The record of the WTBTS as regards mental health is appalling. Cedars’ survey highlights that many of us, myself included, have known of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing suicide.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  7. StillShocked says:

    This is a horrible tragedy! Why didn’t this family feel they could ask for help from their “loving” elders? Obviously, something is wrong in this organization. If you’re not in the in-crowd, then you’re basically on your own. You have no “worldly” friends and even association with family who isn’t interested in your ever-changing Truth is discouraged. On another note, is there a way I could change my answer on the survey regarding knowing someone who committed or attempted to commit suicide? I remembered an elderly sister tried to commit suicide when she learned she had cancer. I had forgotten about it. I know of many Witnesses who are on antidepressants. I can attest to the poor mental health of Witnesses. A circuit overseer’s wife once commented to me that the Truth attracts mentally unstable people. What she didn’t realize is that it makes people mentally unstable because they are constantly being battered emotionally by being told they have to do more, that they’re not good enough and that they’re in a spiritual paradise when there’s no proof. Quite the contrary!

  8. JB says:

    If I understand correctly, free thinker just questions whether referencing this tragedy as part of the discussion is OK or not. Or at least, using it so soon …

    free thinker, if this was what you meant, I think it’s a nice thought. To tell you honestly, I didn’t know such pressure made so much misery in peoples’ lives. When I read others’ experiences I really feel myself, kind of, lucky. Though, I think quite a number of people would like such misery to cease and I completely agree.

    You know, the news is on the internet, everyone can read it, and the ones reading it wish that doesn’t happen again, IF it’s purely a result of the pressure in the congregation this article deals with.

  9. Hakizimana Jean de Dieu says:

    When inside the cult, I do not know what blinds people not to see it is a misery. It is when I left the cult that I mapped a lot of scandals including a young lady who hanged herself when her parents had gone to their Sunday meeting! Back from door-to-door to spread the “good news”, “bad news” was awaiting them. Their daughter was dead, hung!

    The father was a Bethelite and Elder. He was disfellowshipped and I hear he has been now reinstated at the price of his daughter’s blood!

    The story and the reasons behind were covered up but most JWs say there misunderstanding between daughter and father! The daughter wanted to marry a pioneer and the father was opposing it saying pioneers are poor (have a low pay) and the daughter was thinking they are rich spiritually accusing the father to have taught her that.
    Misunderstandings ended with the daughter hanging herself and the father disfellowshipped, humiliated by the Watchtower!!

  10. Tiger says:

    @Free Thinker, I am glad you took a stand. I believe so many enjoy this place albeit in cyberspace that Cedars has provided for all of us. I feel we are his guests and he has opened a place for us to speak learn and offer and receive insight. It is at websites such as this one that so many find out that they are not alone and avoid making tragic decisions. So to you, I say best wishes. To Cedars a continued hearty thanks!

  11. free thinker says:

    Maybe I didnt express myself very clearly but my questioning simply related to the timing of some of the more outspoken and unrelated comments. I think it is a good thing that everyone has a voice and the knowledge and ability to express it. This site gives anyone interested enough the opportunity to do that. When something as tragic as this happens sometimes silence over the reasons and a voice expressing sympathy can be great healers.

  12. Cedars says:

    Hello EJB – welcome to JWsurvey, a place of calm and reason away from the mental prison of the Watchtower and its denunciation of “independent thinking.”

    If you’re going to criticize me for calling it a “murder-suicide” you may as well post a similar comment on each and every newspaper report that described it in the same way for the sake of consistency. Will you be doing that? Or would you rather focus your frustration on me because I don’t believe the Governing Body are essentially God’s representatives on Earth? I based my description of the case on media reports, and I have no shame in doing so.

    That this Witness homestead had deep-rooted problems is self-evident from the fact that all are now dead and police are not pursuing a suspect from outside the family. If you think it’s normal behavior for a person to shoot themselves after shooting their spouse and kids you are welcome to that viewpoint (although in that case I won’t be accepting any dinner invitations from you any time soon). I for one don’t think that’s normal and see nothing wrong in highlighting the views, not just of myself, but of visitors to this website regarding mental health and suicide among JWs.

    Please excuse me if I’m not afraid to “call a spade a spade” on this website. If you’re looking for fluffy non-news and mindless chatter that makes JWs appear wonderful, carefree and transcendent of the world’s woes, I suggest you stick to JW.org.

  13. Tiger says:

    @Free thinker. It is good to question, you are right, as Cedars has done. I will speculate on my own here and say most of us have had our lives altered in some way by the WTBS and their G.B. We do our best to be balanced and consider others feelings. However, I can say for certain I make mistakes in that regard because of the hurt from the past. I wish you the best and I appreciate your stand to talk with the disfellowshipped, that makes you a non witness or a dissenter on a very important subject that has destroyed so many lives. So to you I say thank you for your courage and best wishes. If more people, or more specifically our families would still be a very active part of our lives and while we would obviously disagree with the GB’s lies it would not be such a big deal. Best wishes to you!

  14. Tiger says:

    * note

    If more people would take the same stand, or at least our families it would not be such a big deal.

    sorry, I was tired when I typed should have proof read first.

  15. L fields says:

    This is truly, truly a crying shame (especially for the children 3 and 1). I’m sure they are still investigating this situation to see if it’s in fact a suicide-murder case. Someone posted on another message board that he was a barber and that he contacted some of his clients two week before the tragedy about closing up his business. Things many times are never what they appear to me, especially with JW’s. They are selling a dream.

  16. Tanya says:

    I guess I’m confused…I have been away for a while but for some reason I didn’t think JW’s were allowed to have guns unless they were for the purpose of hunting…I must be wrong??

  17. Cedars says:

    So the opinions of visitors to this website represent “hokey website statistics?” You sure know how to ingratiate yourself don’t you.

  18. So glad to be out says:

    Hey EJB,
    I guess we all deal with the fallout of abuse by JW’s in different ways. I am glad Cedars highlights these things and makes the connections. I would have family who would be alive now if someone (including myself) had spoken up before about how this organisation can unhinge people. Hope you read some of the other articles and recognise the value of what Cedars is doing. There was nothing when I came out 30 years ago. If you do a simple google search and put Jehovah’s Witnesses and depression or Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mental Health you will find a lot of evidence.

  19. Cedars says:

    Don’t worry, you’ve articulated yourself quite sufficiently. Nothing has been lost in translation. It’s just that I don’t agree with you, and from the rest of the comments it seems your viewpoint is in the minority on this website. Can you handle that?

    Let me put it another way. You’re entitled to say I am reporting “opportunistically” simply because I am saying something negative about the organization in the wake of a tragedy. I take your comment on board, but I don’t agree with it – nor am I required to agree with it. As far as the case itself is concerned, I have only repeated what has already been reported in the media – and you are welcome to take up any grievances with the newspapers as to their “reported allegations” rather than fixate on me if you so wish.

    Any opinions are expressed as my own, with my name at the foot of the article in big letters so that all can see this is a personal blog with my own conclusions on the matter – and my opinions are founded on not just my personal experience but the experiences of those who visit my website – opinions you dismiss as “hokey website statistics.”

    So, now we have established what you think and what I think, and that there is discord between the former and the latter, are we going to leave it there, or would you prefer to continue to troll the article and see what happens?

  20. Cedars says:

    Any welcome you have received befits the temperament you have displayed.

  21. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:

    EJB,

    I am one who has contributed to the “hokey website statistics”

    I see nothing in the comments on this tragic case that is wrong or distasteful.

    If you agree that JWs have a disproportionate level of mental illness and suicide, then you need to help those poor unfortunates to realise that their religion is “hokey” and does not have a monopoly on Christianity.

    You could contribute to the survey, and you could research just why the JWs have such a poor record on mental health.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  22. So glad to be out says:

    EJB
    As I said we all react/respond in different ways. I have been out 30 years but even after ten years, there was no way I could have challenged the JW mindset. Cedars is three weeks officially out. I can only imagine what emotions he is dealing with, whilst at the same time writing stuff. I feel its a process of working out for yourself what feels good and right for you. I think maybe I can say, some of the language used is also because he is a “northern lad”. (No offence Cedars). People from the north of England have a reputation for not usually taking prisoners and they call a spade a spade. My husband is from that region. something about the genes. You just have to love em though. (Don’t mean to patronise.)

  23. Cedars says:

    I’m delighted to hear that JWsurvey readers have succeeded where I have failed. This is the benefit of working together as a group. My forthright tone may fall on deaf ears for some, whereas for others a “softly-softly” approach may reap dividends. I’m glad you’re slowly getting it.

  24. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:

    EJB,

    I am glad that my comments have helped you. Mr. Cedars’ anger is entirely justified. His former religion have weaponised his family, and they are now shunning him.

    I am in the fortunate position of having a family member who disagrees with many of the outlandish interpretations of the GB, whilst still wanting to go to meetings.

    I think that anyone would be angry that a religion could steal their family from them. Especially with a baby on the way. This should be a time of celebration for Cedars’ family, but they have been coerced into shunning him through misapplied scripture.

    I am sure that you can understand his anger and pain. I for one have deep sympathy with his fury and I wish him and his wife all the luck in the world.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  25. Silver words says:

    You should think before you think Buddy,

    Have you come on this website to support the watchtower then? It does not matter what us XJW think for you JW. So why are you on here again? Or don’t you know you will be DF for even reading this website? Remember the Devil = Governing Body so make your choice on which side you are God or Devil (Governing body)

  26. Silver words says:

    But if you happy as a JW why are you even writing on this site then. Not a very welcome? lol Next time you take time to respond to something that you dislike on this site know this: – Don’t read articles that the GB forbid then. Then you will never have to defend them don’t you think?

  27. Silver words says:

    They have suchpoor record of mental health because the cult is based on hatred and power. Now you have your answer.

  28. Kidney Kid says:

    I live in Columbia, SC where this tragedy occurred last month. One of the elders in my wife’s congregation told me that the husband had served in the military prior to becoming a JW, and suffered from PTSD and schizophrenia. The elder said that the man had stopped taking his meds a few weeks before the murder/suicide, and this probably was the cause.

  29. H.K. Fauskanger says:

    It is of course quite impossible to know what role the family’s religion played in this tragedy, or whether it was relevant at all. It would seem that the father somehow snapped and wiped out his family, himself last.

    What can be said, more generally speaking, is that immersing oneself in Watchtower doctrine can be dangerous if one is already somewhat unbalanced. I remember reading a book by a former Witness here in Norway, who struggled with mental illness during his time in the “truth”. The vivid Watchtower scenario of the ever-impending Armageddon with the total annihilation of all of non-Witness humanity was NOT what he needed. Often he was convinced that he was not good enough for Jehovah, so that he would never make it through into the glorious New World.

    And interestingly enough, in a rather disturbing way: If I remember his life story correctly, he at one point considered murdering his entire family and then kill himself last. He “knew” that he could then never qualify for resurrection, but in the New World, HIS INNOCENT FAMILY WOULD BE RESURRECTED! He would have saved them! If he lived on, he feared that his own troubles would somehow drag his family down with him, and they would all perish in Armageddon. After all, the Watchtower has been known to teach that the fate of little children is decided by the religious choices of their parents.

    The plan happily never came to fruition, and he eventually left the movement (and wrote his book!) But within the Watchtower belief system, there was actually a certain logic to what he planned to do.

    As the teaching goes, nearly all who die before Armageddon will be resurrected in paradise. On the other hand, NO non-believer who is alive at the moment Armageddon strikes will be spared or ever resurrected. Taking this logic to its extreme, why shouldn’t an “unselfish” parent who is willing to sacrifice his own place in paradise make sure that his children are well and truly DEAD before Armageddon comes? After all, if he allows them to simply grow up, statistics indicate that only one in three will stick to the faith …

    Think about it: Every year thousands and thousands of young people “leave the truth” and forgo their chance at eternal life in paradise just because the parents were selfishly clinging to their OWN salvation and failed to bring out the rifle in time!

    Any faithful Witness would of course say that this is a completely twisted way of thinking, but is it? Is it not simply the logical consequence of Watchtower doctrine worked out in full, if disturbing, detail?

    A sane and balanced person would of course have inhibitions that would stop him or her from “taking action” based on such logic, but what about those who lack such mental balance? I fear this tragedy could be the result of a family father taking the Watchtower “data” at face value and actually doing the math.

  30. So say goodnite to the badguy says:

    I heard of several suicides,like this. The ‘sister’ shot her husband one Sunday morning.(in the bed with a pillow over his head.) Then she shot herself. So sad. I refuse to let getting DF or ‘dissed’ as they say here,get the best of me. They want you to get depressed ,or catch a STD so they can point their fingers and say “see I told ya!..hes worst now,without us.” I chose to have new ‘friends’. Plus you don’t have to turn into a slut or whore,because you are no longer a Witness.I can get married and respect my wife’s beliefs. When you wasted decades in this religion,you have to make up for ‘lost time.’ Start immediately! Act like you just got out of prison.No more time wasting.I always stayed in apartments, thinking ‘the end’ would come.( just bought a house)I always wanted to be a comic book artist,so I am.Now I want a wife and son..that’s my next goal.No more wasting time peddling mags and bothering people at their homes.Am from the “stay alive til 75″ generation.No more wasting time!!!

  31. So say goodnite to the badguy says:

    1982:Would you guys believe, that the ‘brother’ that was studying with me, pulled a gun out and pointed it at my head, and said” don’t worry it ‘s not loaded”? He was joking and playing with a firearm. Later after the study.. through prayer ,he said he made a mistake.He would follow me on Fridays and Saturday nights to see what I was doing.I was 23 years old and living with this much older woman. I was told I had to marry her, in order to gain salvation.Yep,I did. He didn’t even show up at the wedding!! But he cracked jokes about my marriage problems with the other brothers in the Kingdom Hall “click”. The first thing he said after the wedding was to give me a list of forbidden sexual practices. Later he was appointed an elder, they really needed elders back then.Very young too. Me bitter?,yep..but success is the best revenge.

  32. Maria says:

    People have choices in life that is why we were not created as robots, whether your a jw or not, you have to choose what course you will take, who ever said that jw did not have problems or woes in their life, the watchtower never said that if you become a jw you will never encounter problems, Satan is among all of us, Yes their is a struggle but the bible says draw close to God and he will draw close to you,what ever happened to this family how dare people blame the religion, and they do put out very up building watchtowers that talk about wonderful things now and things to come,, like what was said long time ago Don’t worry about them coming and knocking on your door now,worry about when they stop,,food for thought!

  33. Maria says:

    People have choices in life that is why we were not created as robots, whether your a jw or not, you have to choose what course you will take, who ever said that jw did not have problems or woes in their life, the watchtower never said that if you become a jw you will never encounter problems, Satan is among all of us, Yes their is a struggle but the bible says draw close to God and he will draw close to you,what ever happened to this family how dare people blame the religion, and they do put out very up building watchtowers that talk about wonderful things now and things to come,, like what was said long time ago Don’t worry about them coming and knocking on your door now,worry about when they stop,,food for thought!

    • Rowland Nelken says:

      JWs talk about ‘wonderful things to come’, but it is sheer dangerous and cruel fantasy. All their prophecies have proved false. There is zero evidence, anyway, for the authority of the JW bossess. Or can you, Maria, present eveidence to demonstrate that Jesus really did appoint the JWs as God’s exclusive earthly agent in 1918? Is there anything at all to connect the JW Gov. Bod. with ‘The Faithful and Discreet Slave’ of Matthew 24? This is the basis of the claim to authority of the JW bosses. I have asked countless JWs to present some supporting evidence. None has done so. There is a reason for this. There is no evidence. The calim is bogus.

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