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Chicago News "A trail of broken minds & Bodies"

from sarafina - Wednesday, January 26, 2005
accessed 1945 times

Chicago Sun-Times

'A trail of broken minds and bodies'

January 26, 2005


BLYTHE, Calif. -- The crewcut young man stares into the video camera and recites a plan to kill his mother, her husband -- and anybody else affiliated with The Family International, a church with roots in the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Between expletives, he vows revenge for physical and sexual abuse he claims was inflicted on him, his sister and ''thousands'' of other children.

'Seen how ugly humans can get'

''Anger does not begin to describe how I feel about these people,'' says Ricky Rodriguez, who loads bullets into a handgun and admiringly strokes a hunting knife. ''I've seen how ugly humans can get.''

Hours later, Rodriguez -- groomed to inherit leadership of The Family -- would stab to death Angela Smith, a former member, and shoot himself in the head. The murder-suicide has refocused attention on a group accused of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

''They've left a trail of broken minds and bodies,'' said Daniel Roselle, a former member who helps edit a Web site where ex-members post allegations.

A church spokeswoman, Claire Borowik, acknowledged that some adults may have had sex with children before criticism prompted a prohibition in 1986. But Borowik denied allegations of routine abuse and described the suicide of Rodriguez, 29, and his killing of Smith, 51, as a tragic aberration.

'Prince' sought revenge

The Family was founded in the 1960s by a self-styled prophet named David Berg. He created a secretive, authoritarian network of communes. Members cut ties with their families and were encouraged to have sex with each other and with strangers to attract new members.

Rodriguez was designated ''prince,'' the Family's future leader, by his mother Karen Zerby and Berg, his stepfather. In Web postings, Rodriguez said his preparation as an adolescent included forced sex every day with different girls and women. In the video, he said those experiences give him nightmares. ''There's this need that I have. ... It's a need for revenge,'' he said.

His goal, he said, was to kidnap Smith and force her to reveal the whereabouts of his mother. Rodriguez killed Smith in his Tucson, Ariz., home Jan. 8, then drove to Blythe. Before his suicide, he mailed copies of the video, police said. AP

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company

Reader's comments on this article

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from Sharon
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 14:46

This same article also appeared in the Hartford Courant and the Record Journal today in Connecticut
(reply to this comment)
from Inside edition
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 12:32

airing now
(reply to this comment)
From Joe H
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 13:02

When it is airing? Tonight? Your website gives no schedule information.(reply to this comment
From sarafina
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 14:48

I believe it Airs at 6.30 here in CA.(reply to this comment
From Inside Edition
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 14:02

Yes it does. Read the top and check your state. (reply to this comment
From Joe H
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 14:58

Yes, that tells me when Inside Edition normally airs. It does not tell me when their story on Ricky airs. I'm assuming it airs tonight, so I will try to be home by 7, unless anybody knows of a Web feed that I could watch from my office.(reply to this comment
From Bella
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 16:00


I just saw the clip on Ricky on I.E. (aired here in LA at 3:30). It was very short and was after the clip on Johnny Carson. Vicky - you did a good job.(reply to this comment

From Ex-member
Thursday, January 27, 2005, 14:42

Does anyone know when archives of these shows may be available, where etc? I get out of class pretty late and have missed everything so far. Thanks(reply to this comment
From sarafina
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 18:21

If you are in San Diego, it airs at 7.30 pm, it all depends on what news sation is showing it. (reply to this comment

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