Grief is not the only emotion at funerals of ex-followers of late polygamist Ervil LeBaron - they also bring extreme fear.
That is because LeBaron's group once planned murders - and committed at least one - just in hopes that the resulting funerals would lure other targeted people out of hiding and allow waiting hit squads to kill them.That is why Houston police are planning "maximum security" at the joint funeral Saturday afternoon of three ex-LeBaron followers and a daughter of one of them killed in simultaneous attacks Monday at three sites.
Houston Police Sgt. David Calhoon said dozens of officers from his department's Special Weapons and Tactics team, special operations, homicide and patrol division will be present at the funeral. The FBI and investigators from Utah are also expected to be there to keep track of who attends.
The victims were brothers Mark and Duane Chynoweth; Duane's 8-year-old daughter, Jennifer; and their longtime associate Eddie Marston. The older Chynoweths and Marston all once followed LeBaron, and were even accused of committing murders on his orders, but they later abandoned his church.
Police want to question three of LeBaron's sons - Heber, Andrew and Aaron - about the killings.
LeBaron died in 1981 in Utah State Prison, where he was serving a life sentence for the 1977 murder of rival polygamist Rulon Allred in Murray.
That murder, according to the book "Prophet of Blood" by Ben Bradlee Jr. and Dale Van Atta, was ordered by LeBaron mainly to lure Ervil's brother and rival, Verlan, out of hiding to attend Allred's funeral to kill him.
As hoped, Verlan attended the funeral at Bingham High School in South Jordan. But a three-man hit squad - which the book said included Marston, who was killed Monday - backed out of attacking him when they saw heavy police protection and several news reporters present.
Houston Police Sgt. J.W. Belk said, "We hope the same thing happens here."
The book also said Allred's murder was not the first time LeBaron's group sought to kill only to lure someone else to the subsequent funeral.
It said the group plotted to kill Rhea Kunz, a Salt Lake County polygamist, also in hopes that Verlan would show up at her funeral. Kunz reportedly avoided being killed when she decided at the last minute against meeting an anonymous caller at a remote site to discuss religion.
Threats of violence also came after the funeral in Colorado last October of Dan Jordan - a one-time LeBaron lieutenant who also left his church and was murdered near Manti.
The night after the funeral, Jordan's family told police that Aaron LeBaron -who had sought and received refuge with it for several weeks - claimed life-and-death authority over family members and brandished weapons.