Bethany Deaton’s death was believed to be a suicide but, days after her funeral, a member of Tyler Deaton’s flock admitted to killing the 27-year-old.
The Kansas City Star reports:
Bethany was sexually assaulted over a period of months while drugged with someone else’s prescription anti-psychotic, witnesses in the house told authorities. This was happening, the witnesses alleged, in a period of time that male members in the house were involved in sexual relationships with Deaton, one saying it was part of a “religious experience.”
The statements unfolded with Moore allegedly saying that people in the group feared Bethany was about to tell her therapist about the assaults, and that he killed her with the plastic bag over her head at Longview Lake.
He did it, his statement to detectives said, because Deaton told him he knew Moore “had it in him to do it.”
Moore has been charged with first-degree murder and 26-year-old Tyler Deaton, as well as other members of his religious group, are currently under investigation.
Tyler started his prayer group while at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in response to what he felt was the Methodist university’s religious shortcomings. Michah Moore, 23, was considered one the of the group’s most devoted members—and “really good friends” with Bethany, 27—but he later confess to her murder.
According to members, Tyler Deaton believed religion could fix anything—including his own homosexuality. “He struggled with it, but he overcame it,” a member of Deaton’s group at Southwestern told The Star. “It was a victory.”
The group—and Deaton’s control over it—quickly weirded-out the university and it was subsequently barred from using the chapel chapel. But Deaton had his eyes set on Kansas City and the International House of Prayer, the mecca for evangelicalism.
Deaton graduated from Southwestern in 2009 and initiated the process of moving his followers to Kansas City, but he would not sever ties with the Texas group for another two years. During that time, the Kansas City group became more insular and relatives of its members reported losing contact with them for months.
Bethany and Tyler got engaged on Valentine’s Day, and wed in August. The couple lived in a house in Grandview along with several members of Deaton’s group. Neighbors noted that dozens of people, mostly men, would flow through the house, but Moore’s confession shed some light on what was going on behind those doors.