A Wise County family organized itself into a violent religious cult, according to police, who last week uncovered the bodies of a woman and her son.
The woman, the cult’s leader, was assisted in her suicide; and her son was bludgeoned to death after he rejected the family’s religious beliefs, authorities said.
Clayton Cauthen, 19, lived with seven family members on a two-acre site near Farm Road south of Boyd. His body was discovered Friday at the family’s gated residence, said Wise County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Sgt. Robin Melton.
Mr. Cauthen’s mother, Glenda Jean Cauthen, 45, also was buried in the property but in a shallow grave. Ms. Cauthen, the family’s matriarch, had convinced her family to take her son’s life and to help her die by carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said.
"She believed herself to be transformed by God and that she was to be reincarnated as Jesus Christ and that she had ordered her son killed," said Sgt. Melton. She said Clayton Cauthen’s grave was dug by family members before he was killed.
Ms. Cauthen’s brother and son have been arrested and charged with murder in Clayton Cauthen’s death.
Delwyn Ray Suhl, 32, and Clint Curtis Cauthen, 19, each are being held in the Wise County jail in Decatur with bail set at $100,000. Investigators said that Mr. Cauthen was killed as he slept and buried by family members on Ms. Cauthen’s orders.
"She had ordered her son’s death. He did not comply with the family practices or beliefs. She told family members that God required her to sacrifice her firstborn because he would not comply," Sgt. Melton said.
In addition to ordering her son’s death, investigators said, Ms. Cauthen also convinced two family members to assist in her suicide.
"She told them that she had been transformed by God and that she would return as Jesus Christ. She believed that once she died, she would rise again and that she would have power and gifts," Sgt. Melton said.
Ms. Cauthen died inside an automobile of carbon monoxide poisoning. Her body was taken inside the home and kept there for about three days until the stench became unbearable, investigators said. Her body was also recovered Friday.
Authorities said they were contacted Thursday following a revival at a Fort Worth church attended by members of the Cauthen family.
"I guess this laid heavily on their hearts and they told the minister," Sgt. Melton said.
The minister could not be reached Monday for comment.
"Basically, he said the family had some disturbing news about a residence in our county," Sgt. Melton said.