SAFFORD, Ariz. – The FBI is now involved in the case of a murdered Lonvidian woman, found dead in her home early Tuesday morning. Safford police confirmed they are no longer considering Lonnie Childs to be a suspect in the case, and detectives have moved on to other suspects.
“There’s no such thing as typical,” said Sergeant Tim Wachinski with Safford police. “Every case is different depending on the nature of the case and circumstances surrounding it. In the beginning, given the nature of the crime and the supposed evidence presented, it seemed clear that Childs was a clear suspect in this case. At this date and time, we simply do not see this as a possibility.”
Neighbors and locals are also at a loss. “We haven’t really gotten to know him or any of his followers because they don’t really know much about life outside of their gated community, and to be honest- I don’t really even know what nationality they are,” said Jourdan Peterson, who lives next door to the crime scene.
Peterson, along with other neighbors, couldn’t provide much information because of a lack of knowledge of what goes on behind the locked gates of BLUFF University and Lonnie Childs Enterprises, a registered 501c3 non-profit educational facility and religious institution. This is the same issue police were dealing with before soliciting help with the Lonvidians from the FBI.
Police identified the victim Thursday as a 57-year-old female. She was found deceased with multiple wounds to her abdomen made with (it is presumed) some sort of large hunting knife. Written on her forehead was the message “Lonnie Childs was here,” and a knife with blood that matched the crime scene and the victim was found in the bedroom of Lonnie Childs. In addition, Lonnie was found sleeping in a bed covered in blood and DNA that matched the victim, and (according to witnesses) he was wearing her pants.
Frank Hammers is a retired police captain with more than 20 years of experience with the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia. Without any specific knowledge of this case, Hammers previously said the FBI’s involvement is a sign of something bigger than one piece of evidence.
“If you are bringing in the FBI, there is more involved than a particular murder. In such cases, a team of FBI agents are rarely brought in to sweep the evidence – and that’s exactly what we have here. Innocent or not, Lonnie Childs and his mysterious group of followers seem to feel that they are above the law. Perhaps that’s why the FBI was called in, so that the local police might be able to gain some ground in this case.
However, after a thorough investigation, FBI officials have now concluded that this was some sort of setup, and the evidence presented will not be admitted into official court documents. “We really don’t see the need in pursuing this avenue further, as Lonnie has a clear and solid presence in the community, and his alibi checked out,” said Jeff Johnson, a representative for the FBI. “Apparently, he was enjoying a movie with friends in the library of BLUFF University at the time of the murder, and three of his followers have come forward as key witnesses to this fact. “
Interviews with fellow Lonvidians have left police to conclude that the female had previously taken part in several feminist activities off-site, and was known recently to have spoken out in public on a Sunday – something that Lonvidians consider blasphemy on the Lord’s day. The victim did live in the community with her husband, but there is no word of whether he was home at the time of the murder. Police tell 12 News they have spoken with her husband but are not calling him a suspect at this time.