Baby's death draws attention to Wells religious group

Updated: Mar. 22, 2016 at 9:48 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WELLS, TX (KTRE) - They walk up and down the streets of Wells. Bibles in hand, ready to preach a word from God.

"They run around telling everybody they are going to hell," said Samantha Shelton. "They ride their bikes all throughout the night. They're strange."

A religious group investigators believe has ties to the Church of Arlington have found an East Texas town to call home.

Residents are less than thrilled.

"I think it's reeked some havoc on the town," said Kristy Tobure. "We've made it known as far as the town they are not welcome."

Sunday morning, investigators were called to an apartment where a three-day-old infant died. The six adults that were inside are all members of the religious group.

Officials say parents, friends and church members prayed for the baby inside the apartment instead of calling the proper authorities.

"My neighbors, they said it sounded like a bunch of howling and it went on for hours," Shelton said.

"Investigators arrived on the scene and that's when we learned the child actually passed away on Saturday," said Capt. John Raffield of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.

While the cause of death hasn't been determined, Raffield says the child did eventually go into distress.

It's even unclear where the child was born.

"It was not in a hospital," Raffield said. "I don't know if it was born in the apartment or another church member's house."

William, a member of the church, says the group has been told to keep quiet about the situation.

When asked about their religion, he said to look in the New Testament. Those teachings are the foundations of their beliefs, he said.

On the surface, the church's website doesn't appear to be to radical compared to other Christian denominations.

Wells resident Kristy Tobure says members of the group have approached her and she finds them intimidating.

"They try to force their beliefs on the weak," she said. "They kind of talk down to you."

Up until this weekend, law enforcement has not found a reason to be concerned about this group, except for one disturbance.

"There's been an incident where they disrupted a church service at a point a couple of months back," Raffield said.

The situation was resolved before deputies arrived and no report was filed.

Now residents are trying to adjust to life with neighbors and make sense of Saturday's tragedy.

Raffield said the following websites have been connected to the group:

Calls to national organizers of the group for comment were not returned Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.