St. Louis Church in Kidnapping Case Had Cult-Like Conditions, Prosecutor Says

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A bizarre kidnapping case that allegedly occurred this past weekend in south St. Louis got a lot stranger this afternoon at a bond hearing for one of the defendants.

Over the weekend, police were called to Minnesota Avenue in the Patch neighborhood after a woman was found bound by ropes and bleeding from the head. She later told police she had been confined against her will in a room at the nearby Mount of Olives Ministry church. Three men were charged with felony kidnapping and assault.

This afternoon, at a bond hearing for one of those men, 28-year-old Grace Kipendo, Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Faerber described cult-like conditions at Mount of Olives Ministry.

Faerebr said in court he’d be reaching out to federal prosecutors regarding the case.

He said that officers at the scene reported that members of the church referred to women as “angels” and there was a “white room” where there were women referred to as “good angels” and wore white veils.

“Officers tried to lift their veils to check on their well-being and the women started screaming,” Faerber told Judge Heather Hays, in arguing that Kipendo should remain in the City Justice Center without bond.

Faerber quoted one of the officers at the scene who said, “If I hadn’t seen this with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

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