Police: Ex-Gay Leader of Cult-Like Prayer Group Conspired to Kill Wife
BY Michelle Garcia
November 20 2012 2:01 PM ET UPDATED: November 20 2012 6:18 PM ET
The ex-gay leader of a Christian prayer group is under investigation for possibly coordinating his wife's murder.
Tyler Deaton, 26, of Kansas City, Mo., is under investigation for allegedly coordinating the murder of Bethany Deaton, 27.
A member of the prayer group, 23-year-old Micah Moore, told investigators that Deaton persuaded him to murder Bethany, and make it appear as a suicide. Moore has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Moore also told investigators many details of the group's inner workings, according to The Kansas City Star. Moore said the group, which lived together in a home in Grandview, Mo., used sex as a means of spirituality. In the four months since the Deatons got married, several male members of the group allegedly sexually assaulted Bethany.
The Deatons attended the Methodist-affiliated Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. At school, Tyler Deaton became a forceful defender of his faith and the Bible, and started his own campus organization when he found the existing groups were not strict enough.
“Everything had to go his way,” former classmate Christy Little told the Star. “One time he said there would be no discussion until everyone agreed that the King James version was the only true version of the Bible. Well, I was Catholic so I had a problem with that. So we argued and of course Tyler won everybody over because that’s what he did.”
A member of his campus group added that it was clear he was struggling with his sexual orientation, but "he believed God could fix things." Another student added that Deaton eventually "overcame" his homosexuality, and that it was considered a victory.
After graduation in 2009, Bethany and Tyler Deaton came to Kansas City, Mo., to join the International House of Prayer's school and ministry, with other classmates. Bethany and Tyler wed in August. Since then some of the members of the group began drugging and assaulting Bethany, while also engaging in sexual acts with Tyler, as part of the "religious experience," witnesses told police.
Moore said Tyler was worried Bethany would tell a therapist about the assaults, which is why they conspired to kill her.
International House of Prayer's leaders have condemned Deaton and the breakout prayer group, saying they had "secretive, perverse, cultic practices," according to Yahoo News. Leaders added that they "deeply regret our failure to discern the nature of Deaton's alleged secretive, perverse, cultic practices. We further regret his admission to IHOP-U four years ago and all connection he had with our organization."
The organization Truth Wins Out says that IHOP is covering up Deaton's ties to IHOP. Deaton was reportedly one of six division coordinators for IHOP, even though IHOP claims that their organizers have never even heard of Deaton.