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STEWART CHAPIN RENSHAW v. WATCHTOWER SOCIETY was a 1960 Washington State civil lawsuit which Renshaw's guardian ad litem filed soon after being so appointed after the 76 year old Stewart Renshaw was committed to Eastern State Hospital. The guardian alleged that Stewart C. Renshaw had been under the "undue influence" of certain Jehovah's Witnesses when making the $5000.00 in donations, and was not legally competent at the time. The WatchTower Society quickly agreed to return $3500.00 of the donations if the charge of "undue influence" was dropped.


ESTATE OF PRINCE ROGERS NELSON. In 2016, prominent Jehovah's Witness attorney Patrick S. Cousins, of Vero Beach, Florida, submitted to the estate of deceased entertainer PRINCE a fully documented and itemized Invoice for unpaid legal services in the amount of $599,735.63. After two denials and a lost appeal, the claim was withdrawn in 2018. Multiple interesting legal documents are available for review by googling the names and keyterms at "site:mncourts.gov".

Readers also may be interested in the 2016 claim of then prison inmate Carlin Q. Williams, who alleged that he was the sole living "heir" of PRINCECarlin Williams and his mother reportedly were represented by attorney Patrick S. Cousins.


GEORGE SAMUEL ZOLLINGER v. WATCHTOWER SOCIETY was the 1948-5? Michigan CONTEST of the WILL executed by testatrix Henrietta May Riley, whom had inherited a sizable estate when her husband, Dr. William Henry Riley, had died in 1941, and her "wealthy" unmarried only child had died in 1942.

In 1948, the value of the Riley Estate was uncertain, but was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Riley Estate consisted of several real properties in Virginia and Battle Creek, Michigan, but also included unspecified valuable Oil and Gas investments, which were managed by a Texan named Almon J. White. The creation of the Henrietta M. Riley Trust on or about 1970 appears to have coincided with the death of Almon White in 1970.

George Zollinger (Tennessee) was a brother of Henrietta M. Riley, whom had been left only $1000.00, (and possibly a monthly annuity). Sister, Essie Jane Davis, of Albuquerque, N. M., was left two lots in Battle Creek, $5000.00, and $100.00 a month for life. Siblings, James G. Zollinger of Burlington, Colorado, Thaddeus G. Zollinger, and Ethel Betsie Bolton were left only $50.00 a month for life. Notably, Thaddeus and Ethel predeceased Henrietta, and the three surviving siblings died only one, two, and six years later. Thus, little money was paid out by the estate under the annuity provisions.

A bequest of $5000.00 was made to Almon J. White of San Antonio, Texas. Daughter Marian White received $3000.00. The Whites are believed to be relatives.

Henrietta M. Riley also gave $1000.00 to the Battle Creek, Michigan Company of Jehovah's Witnesses to purchase the Upton Avenue lot on which the Battle Creek Kingdom Hall was constructed.

The residue, which was nearly all of the Estate of Henrietta M. Riley, was left to the WatchTower Society. 

This lawsuit also included the dispute as to which state had jurisdiction over Henrietta M. Riley's estate given that she had lived parttime in the state of Virginia beginning in 1942 until her death in 1948. Outcome is unknown, although the MILLIONS OF DOLLARS received from the estate trust would seem to indicate that the WatchTower Society came out with most if not all of such.

In 2019-20, the Henrietta M. Riley Trust distributed roughly $825,000.00 to the WatchTower Society, and currently has remaining assets of roughly $3.1 MILLION.

Besides the gum-flapping about the investment choices of the Trustee, one realistic SCANDAL is the fact that Henrietta M. Riley was a PROMINENT SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST for most of her life. Henrietta May Zollinger had been born in Wisconsin in 1871. The Zollingers had become SDAs in 1874. George S. Zollinger, plaintiff in this civil lawsuit, remained a loyal SDA, and one of his grandsons, Robert "Bob" Zollinger became a prominent SDA leader. We have not been able to uncover WHY or WHEN Henrietta M. Riley parted company with the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Curiously, the funeral of Henrietta M. Riley was officiated by a local BAPTIST minister. 

Henrietta May Zollinger (1871-1948) met and married (1897) her husband, Dr. William Henry Riley (1862-1941), during the six years that he taught neurology at the University of Colorado - Boulder, and served as the Superintendent of the SDA's Colorado Sanitarium in Boulder. William Henry Riley, Jr., was born in Boulder in 1900. In 1902, the Rileys moved back to Battle Creek, Michigan, where they both worked at the famous SDA sanitarium for decades. Henrietta M. Riley graduated from the medical school at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, and worked as a physician's assistant there. Internationally renown Dr. William H. Riley was a director, faculty member, and physician at the facility. The Rileys knew and worked with Ellen G. White and the Kellogg brothers, and counted as patients dignitaries such as U.S. Presidents. Every knowledgable SDA member knew Dr. William Riley through his many books, booklets, and SDA publication articles.

Unmarried only child, attorney William H. Riley, Jr., predeceased Henrietta M. Riley in 1942. Junior had graduated from Harvard Law School in 1927, and had later earned a LLD from Columbia University. Junior later worked for three years in Wash D.C. on the staff of the United States Solicitor General. Socializing at the homes of SCOTUS justices and at the White House, Junior purchased a 1000 acre historic farm in Virginia. In April 1942, Junior had undergone an unspecified serious operation at Battle Creek Sanitorium. After recuperating at his mother's BC residence for three months, Junior returned home to Virginia only to die two weeks later.

Junior's estate actually appears to have been the source of his mother's greatest wealth. Between the two law schools and Wash D.C., Junior had gone to the oil fields of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, where Junior did unspecified legal work for an apparently short period of time during the Great Depression. "Someone" had to initiate and supervise this unknown enterprise, which apparently resulted in quick and possibly immoral, unethical, or even dishonest wealth for Junior. It is a real possibility that the WatchTower Society has for decades benefited from the misfortunes and/or even robberies of multiple Oklahomans, Texans, and Kansans decimated by the Great Depression and northern "carpetbaggers" seeking to take advantage of such.



April 09, 1901 



(Boulder, Colo., Sanitarium ) 

"REST in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." Ps. 37:7. 

And He said, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Ex. 33:14. 

The Lord, in His goodness and mercy, has promised to give a peace unto His people, different from that which the world gives. It is a secret rest and peace known only to the true child of God. It passes all understanding, and has the power to keep hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. The Saviour bids, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Sweet promise of rest and assurance of God's love and goodness! 

This is an age of activity, of hurry and worry, of greed and gain. Through ambition, selfish plans are pursued and carried into effect: moderation is put aside. Under this constant strain of daily cares and duties, the body and brain are overworked. Nature intercedes, and endeavors to enforce her laws. The nervous system must suffer, which has a depressing effect upon the mind if not well supported by divine strength. Discouragements and evil forebodings follow. Burdens too heavy for human hearts are carried. The result is doubting, wavering, denying the promise of the Lord: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Isa. 26:3. 

The Lord's promises are sure and unfailing. With a pitying eye He watches over His erring children. He desires, yes, yearns, to give them rest, and bids all that labor and are heavy laden to come unto Him, that He may give that promised rest. "The Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve." Isa. 14:3. 

The Lord desires perfect obedience from His children, whole-hearted labor, a work of righteousness which shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance forever. His people are to dwell in pleasant habitations, in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Job said, "Thou shalt be secure, because there is hope ; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety." The psalmist rejoiced and found perfect rest in the Lord, expressing his confidence, in these words : "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep : for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope." Here the psalmist experienced a spiritual as well as a physical rest. This is what the Lord desires from every one of His children; namely, "a daily spiritual and physical rest," that He may come into the individual heart with all fullness and joy. This will certainly dispel clouds and gloom from the Christian's life, helping him to obtain perfect victory at the throne of grace, that he may be a source of strength to others in showing Christ's love. The Lord's love and life manifested in the child in giving His word can not return unto Him void, no more than can a stream flowing in its course seaward, however lonely that course may be, fail to gladden some land.. As no star ever rose and set without its influence somewhere, so no life can be pure in its purpose, and strong in its strife, and all life not be purer and stronger thereby. 



WATCH TOWER SOCIETY v. RHODE ISLAND DIVISION OF TAXATION. This 1980 Supreme Court of Rhode Island decision is most frequently styled as "Gott v. Norberg". Fred A. Gott Jr. (1923-2018) was a FOURTH GENERATION "Jehovah's Witness" when he was born in 1923. In 1935, the names of Fred Gott and his two siblings were mentioned by newspapers as among the first children of Jehovah's Witnesses to refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school. Fred Gott Jr. served three years in federal prison, from 1943 to 1946, as a Jehovah's Witness draft dodger (see UNITED STATES v. FRED A. GOTT JR). From 1946 until 1955, Fred Gott worked as a BETHELITE at WatchTower HQ. In 1955, Fred Gott returned home as the WatchTower Society's main representative in Rhode Island. Younger brother, Robert E. Gott (b1930), worked at WatchTower HQ from 1951 until c1992, when Bob Gott and his wife allegedly were dismissed from WatchTower HQ, and forced to relocate to Naples, Florida (vows of poverty). Fred Gott's sons, Paul Gott, Carl Gott, and Joel Gott all did lengthy stints of service as BETHELITES at WatchTower HQ.

Fred A. Gott Jr. and Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company were the co-executors of the Estate of Rathbun Willard, who had died in 1968. RIHIC was a huge financial conglomerate which became a federally chartered bank in 1969, and was purchased by the Bank of Boston in the 1980s.

In 1916, with a $50,000.00 loan from the owners of the Russell Grinnell Company, of Providence, RI, Rathbun Willard (1882-1968) founded General Plate Company, in Attleboro, MA, to produce rolled gold plate for the jewelry industry. In 1923, Rathbun Willard traveled to Germany where he took advantage of that country's post-WW1 "depression" to purchase "secret" German manufacturing equipment and technology. In 1926, General Plate Company constructed a brand new 20,000 sf manufacturing plant in Attleboro, Massachusetts. In 1931, at the height of "The Great Depression", GPC merged with a Massachusetts thermostat manufacturer, and changed its name to Metals and Controls. During WW2, all of M&C's products went into U.S. military vehicles, aircraft, and seacraft. After WW2, M&C became a supplier to the new NUCLEAR industry -- becoming the world's first commercial manufacturer of nuclear fuel rods -- for reactors in aircraft carriers and submarines. Rathbun Willard was "General Manager" and corporate "Secretary" from 1916 until the death of COB/President Russell Grinnell. Rathbun Willard became COB of M&C, in 1949, until he was forced to resign during a management revolt in 1957-58. In 1959, the company was sold to Texas Instruments, and renamed Sensata Technologies. In 1963-64, the company pioneered the technology that replaced U.S. silver coinage with the copper-clad sandwich crap that all coin collectors immediately despised. TI eventually sold ST to Bain Capital for $3 BILLION.

The issue in this court case was the taxation of the $1.6 MILLION of tangible personal property devised to the Watch Tower Society as the estate's residuary legatee. Who knows how much real estate was left to the Watch Tower Society? Why? This court decision mentions a previous "WILL CONTEST". Possibly, other researchers who live near the Providence courthouse could answer the unanswered questions.

What is the full story of Rathbun Willard's association with the WatchTower Society? During Willard's lifetime how many $$$$ had he donated to the cult? What about Willard's family and heirs? Did the flower-lover ever marry a female? Was co-resident William J. Abbott really Rathbun Willard's "handyman", or Rathbun Willard's "handy man"?


JOHN BRANCA AND JOHN McCLAIN, EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF MICHAEL J. JACKSON ET AL v. HOWARD MANN ET AL was a 2011-12 California Federal court case in which the USDC granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs on their claims for: 1) copyright infringement; 2) false designation of origin; 3) misappropriation of likeness; 4) unfair competition; 5) cybersquatting and cyber piracy; 6) an accounting to reveal Defendants' profits from the unauthorized use; 7) a permanent injunction against the unauthorized use; and 8) declaratory relief as to ownership of the intellectual property at issue. The following December 2010 McClatchy-Tribune News Service article (edited) ably explains this lawsuit:

Rival takes on Jackson estate with help from Michael's mother

For someone trying to sell a book, it couldn't get much better than this: Oprah Winfrey, the nation's reader-in-chief, was holding up a glossy volume of Michael Jackson photographs for her vast television audience while tossing softball questions to its co-author, the late singer's 80-year-old mother.

The gauzily shot moment of marketing gold last month was not the work of the official Jackson estate but of a little-known Toronto businessman, Howard Mann, a brash, goateed 38-year-old who cut his teeth in the titillation trade -- nude online gambling, a naked women's wrestling league -- and is now pursuing an unorthodox plan to profit from what he calls "the most valuable name in history."

That plan is a direct challenge to the Jackson estate, the behemoth quasi-corporation whose carefully strategized promotion of the pop star's legacy and ironhanded crackdown on unlicensed merchandise have translated into hundreds of millions in posthumous earnings. The brewing fight between the estate and Mann is the latest wrinkle in the settling of his affairs and another reminder that even in death, nothing involving the King of Pop is ever simple.

Mann is taking on the estate armed with two weapons -- a legal loophole that he says gives him carte blanche to flout intellectual property laws, and an unlikely alliance with Jackson's mother, Katherine. Frustrated with the size of her allowance from the estate, the family matriarch has entered into a business partnership with Mann in which she has given her blessing to the book and other projects and he has paid her what he said was "hundreds of thousands of dollars." "I'm very pleased working with Howard. He's been very good to me," she said recently.

These joint endeavors are becoming a headache for estate administrators, who seem reticent to offend Katherine Jackson, the guardian of the singer's three children and a much admired figure to fans. A lawyer for the estate dismissed Mann's novel legal theory as flawed, but the administrators have not moved to stop sales of his unauthorized Jackson products as they have others who tried to cash in on Jackson's name or likeness. For the past five months, the estate has sat silent as Mann's company, Vintage Pop Media, has touted its ownership of a trove of Jackson memorabilia -- photos, personal papers, costumes and music -- and hawked the book, calendars and other items on its website.

Asked to explain, the estate's lawyer, Howard Weitzman, said of Mann: "His day is coming. The estate will be taking appropriate legal action." In the scope of the Jackson empire, with its $273-million deal with Sony and the $260-million concert movie, Mann's ventures -- the $39.99 book and the $27.98 calendar -- are small-time. However, his projects have hit a nerve in the delicate relationship between Jackson's beloved mother and the two music veterans he tapped in his will to control his business affairs.

Under the terms of a private trust set up by the will, the singer's children and his mother each get a 40 percent share of the trust with the remainder going to charity. Upon Katherine Jackson's death, her portion passes to the children. Jackson owed creditors about half a billion dollars at the time of his death. The estate remains in the red although massive music and merchandise deals as well as financial restructuring have significantly reduced the debt.

In a telephone interview, Katherine Jackson praised administrators John Branca and John McClain for doing "a very good job" managing the estate but criticized her monthly cash allowance of $7,000 to $8,000 as inadequate and said it left her dependent on Mann to cover her expenses. "I wish they would leave Howard alone and I wish they would leave me alone for working with Howard. I'm not greedy like people say. It's need, not greed," she said.

The estate disputes the suggestion that administrators are not meeting her living expenses. Weitzman, the lawyer, noted that the allowance was approved by a probate judge and said the cash payments were only one aspect of the financial support that administrators provided. The estate also paid off the mortgage on the family home in Encino and foots the bill for household staff, security, vehicles, food, tuition and vacations.

"The estate has spent millions of dollars for Mrs. Jackson's benefit and on the direct living expenses of both Mrs. Jackson and the children," Weitzman said. But for Katherine Jackson, it is not enough. "I think I should be getting more," she said. She declined to specify why she needed the money. Her husband, Joe, sought an allowance from the court but was denied. Several other grandchildren also reside at the family home.

Finances were on her mind a few months after her son's death when she was approached by Mann. The business partners seem an odd pair: Katherine Jackson is a devout Jehovah's Witness while much of Mann's resume is X-rated. Mann was the former chief executive of an online gambling site that featured topless porn stars as dealers and also headed up the Naked Women's Wrestling League, an outfit that made its biggest headlines when it was sued by its hostess, Carmen Electra.

But when Mann introduced himself to Katherine Jackson a few months after her son's June 2009 death, he offered her two things she wanted: money and the opportunity to protect her son's reputation from yet another damaging press report.

Both stemmed from his purchase of an enormous memorabilia collection that Jackson's parents had originally assembled for a planned family museum. Katherine and Joe Jackson subsequently developed financial problems and the collection was sold at a 2001 bankruptcy auction. Eventually, the memorabilia came into the possession of a New Jersey construction company owner, Henry Vaccaro Sr., who set up a pay-per-view website to profit from the material.

Michael Jackson sued Vaccaro and his company, Vintage Pop, for copyright infringement, cybersquatting, violation of his privacy rights and other claims in 2004, but the next year after his acquittal on child molestation charges, he decamped to Bahrain, refused to submit to a deposition and stopped paying his lawyers. A federal judge dismissed the case in 2006 "with prejudice" -- meaning the singer was barred from refiling the same claims.

After Jackson's death, word that Vaccaro was trying to sell the collection reached Mann. He wasn't a fan of Jackson's music, but he had previously considered purchasing a music catalog of early Jackson 5 recordings and he saw investment potential in the warehouse of old costumes, yellowing papers, artwork, pictures and recordings. When he looked closer, however, he concluded that the most valuable thing Vintage Pop had was not a particular piece of memorabilia but the court decision. As Mann saw it, whoever owned the company Jackson had sued, Vintage Pop, was forever immunized against intellectual property suits from Jackson or his heirs and had free rein to make money from Jackson's name. "This is effectively a satellite estate. Its value is unfathomable," Mann said.

Vaccaro and his family were stunned by his assessment of the judge's declaration. "We were thinking all this stuff, that's the golden goose, the last thing we were thinking was this piece of paper," recalled Vaccaro's son-in-law, Mark Bahary, who was involved in the negotiations. In return, Vaccaro got an undisclosed amount of money and a slice of the profits.

Mann's theory hasn't been tested in court, but Loyola Law School professor Georgene Vairo said that from a civil procedure standpoint, Mann appears to be on solid legal ground. "It's kind of like the civil equivalent of double jeopardy. You get one bite at the apple and that is it," said Vairo, a civil procedure expert. She said that by abandoning the case, Jackson "essentially forfeited his intellectual property."

"The law is rather unforgiving. (Estate lawyers) can argue that there is some reason why there should be a departure from the normal rule we'd apply, but they are going to have a tough row to hoe," she said. Weitzman, the lawyer for the estate, said he disagreed with Mann's analysis but declined to elaborate.

After buying Vintage Pop, Mann approached Katherine Jackson to seek the family approval he felt was necessary before trying to sell merchandise to fans. He said he told her that he could provide regular cash payments with more ease than the estate, which was encumbered by her son's debt. He also told her that a British tabloid was offering him "seven figures" for a "particular item" from the memorabilia locker. Mann declined to identify the item or the publication but said it was clear the paper's goal was to smear Jackson's memory. At the family's request, he destroyed the item and returned a box of other personal items to the family.

"He was nice enough to come to me with those things and I really appreciated what he did," Katherine Jackson recalled.

The relationship has not been without missteps. This fall, Vintage Pop gave the gossip site TMZ a track from the memorabilia locker that the site advertised as never before released. It turned out to be a remix of an old Jacksons track, "Destiny". The fan backlash was swift and brutal, and Mann had to issue an apology.

In addition to the book and other merchandise, Mann is working on a documentary based on 26 hours of Jackson family videotapes from the memorabilia locker. He is also planning a music-sharing site where users can remix some of the 273 Jackson music tracks from the memorabilia he bought. "Long term, we believe the fan is going to want to buy the product that his mother feels is worthy to have his name attached," Mann said.


PATSY RAY-WITTKE v. LAWRENCE G. BOHLEN was a 2003 Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision in which the court effectively reinstated a $120,000.00 verdict against Cambridge, Maryland lawyer Lawrence G. Bohlen, reversing the Dorchester County Circuit Court's entry of a judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

In 1988, Attorney Larry G. Bohlen was appointed guardian of and drafted a will for Virginia Reagan, a woman suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Since Reagan had no immediate family, she bequeathed her estate, eventually valued at over $800,000.00, to several lifelong friends. Reagan also named her caregiver, Patsy R. Ray-Wittke, as a residuary beneficiary in the will.

When Reagan died in 1997, Larry G. Bohlen could not produce for probate the original will nor a copy. The estate, therefore, was administered by intestate succession, as if Reagan had died without a will. Because Ray-Wittke was a hired caregiver, not a blood relative, she inherited nothing from the intestate distribution. If the will had been probated, she could have inherited one-sixth of the estate.

Ray-Wittke sued Lawrence Bohlen claiming negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and other counts. Bohlen filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing there was no privity between him and the intended beneficiary. The court denied the motion and the jury returned a $120,000.00 verdict against the lawyer. But the circuit court, applying the strict privity rule, overturned the verdict by granting a defense motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The Court of Special Appeals reversed.

Attorney Lawrence G. Bohlen became a Jehovah's Witness Minister after retiring from the U.S Marine Corp. Bohlen's last active duty was as Chief Appellate Justice for the Court of Military Review in Washington, D.C. During his career, Bohlen earned many honors, including the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star. Retiring after 30 years of service with the rank of Colonel, he moved to Cambridge, Maryland, in 1983, and opened his law office, where he practiced until his retirement in 2007. Given such outstanding credentials, "something" STINKS about this case. Bohlen also had taught law at Pepperdine University.

Lawrence G. Bohlen died in 2012. "He appreciated his study of the Bible in association with Jehovah's Witnesses. He regularly attended Christian meetings and engaged in spiritual activities, including the door-to-door preaching work, until his health prevented it. He especially looked forward to when this earth will be restored to its original paradise condition, and had the hope of being resurrected to be with his loved ones. An avid hunter and fisherman, he always enjoyed the outdoors, fishing and hunting locally on the Eastern Shore, as well as in Florida, Montana, South Dakota, Alaska, Africa, Scotland, and South America. ... A memorial service will be held at ... the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses ... in Cambridge, MD. In lieu of flowers, please pay your legal bills. You know who you are."

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION v. LAWRENCE G. BOHLEN was a 2009 Maryland reprimand for commingling attorney funds with client funds held in escrow.


DAPHNE PATTERSON RAND v. AMERICAN NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL was a "settled" 2009-11 California federal class action insurance fraud lawsuit, whose lead plaintiff was a 90 year-old Jehovah's Witness female allegedly suffering with Alzheimer's disease. Since the beneficiary of Daphne Rand's annuity policies was the WATCHTOWER SOCIETY, we are interested in this case only to the extent of wondering who was legally and financially "advising" this alleged Alzheimer's victim when she made these questionable investments? I wonder whether there are any WatchTower Society affiliated attorneys with offices in San Francisco, California?

In February 2005 and October 2005, Daphne P. Rand, of San Francisco, California, then age 86, purchased two annuities from ANICO which locked up her money and made Rand's money inaccessible for years when she needed it the most. The two annuities were $50,000.00 and $354,660.00, respectively. Both annuities matured in 2025, when Rand would be 106 years-old. Withdrawals in excess of ten percent annually were subject to excessive surrender charges and penalties. Daphne Rand's court-appointed conservator filed this lawsuit in February 2009. Rand died in March 2010. ANICO eventually paid back $370,256.00 to Rand, her estate, and the "Jehovah's Witnesses".



THOMAS LEHTINEN v. NORTH MANKATO MINNESOTA CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES is a still ongoing 2013-16 Minnesota WILL contest, which appears from the limited details provided in the February 2016 decision issued by the Court of Appeals of Minnesota to be an absolutely shameful, lustful attempted THEFT committed by a CULT which proclaims itself to be the "only true religion" that follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Thomas Lehtinen, born 1964, is the only child of Joan Caroline Lehtinen and her first husband, also Thomas Lehtinen, who passed in 1979. In 1980, Joan C. Lehtinen, then age 42, married her second husband, Howard Gayle Boyd, then age 50. Howard G. Boyd had four grown children. Howard moved into Joan's home located at 115 Belleview Avenue, in Mankato, Minnesota. Title to the home was solely in Joan's name, and Joan never added Howard's name to the title, despite Howard's multiple promptings. In 2000, Joan executed a WILL, in which Joan left her home to her only child -- Tom Lehtinen. The current appraised value is $271,000.00 to $312,000.00.

In 2006, at the age of 68, apparently as signs of dementia began to set in, Joan gave Howard a durable power of attorney, which gave her husband complete authority over herself and her possessions. In 2008, Howard Boyd, then age 78, initiated legal proceedings which resulted in Joan being declared "incompetent", and placed under guardianship, in October 2008. In January 2009, Howard used his durable power of attorney powers to transfer title to Joan's home into his own name. Howard's excuse to do so was that Joan needed to be placed into a long-term care facility, and in order to qualify Joan for financial assistance from the government, Joan's "estate" had to be reduced to under $3000.00.

Also in 2009, Howard Boyd executed a WILL that reflected and affirmed Joan's WILL -- including the devise of her home to her only child, Tom Lehtinen. HOWEVER, in July 2012, just six weeks before Joan DIED, Howard Boyd executed a new WILL that left all of his possessions -- including Joan's home -- to the North Mankato Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Interestingly, a different local attorney drew up the 79 year-old Howard Boyd's new WILL. It is not known who was named Executor. Joan died on August 21, 2011, and Howard died on November 6, 2012.

Probate of Howard Boyd's WILL was filed in January 2013, with objection filed by Thomas Lehtinen, and by Richard Boyd, one of Howard's sons, who did not participate in Tom Lehtinen's appeal. Initially, Tom Lehtinen's objection to probate alleged that Howard had acted contrary to Joan's express testamentary intent when he transferred her home to his name and then devised it to the North Mankato Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. However, in March 2014, Tom Lehtinen moved to amend his objection, asserting that Howard had a fiduciary duty to honor Joan's testamentary intent, and requested imposition of a constructive trust.

UNBELIEVABLY, in May 2014, the Mankato District Court denied Tom Lehtinen's motion to amend his objection for imposition of a constructive trust, and subsequently denied Tom Lehtinen's motion for reconsideration. The District Court granted summary judgment to the estate and struck Tom Lehtinen's objection to probate.

On Appeal, in February 2016, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota ruled that the District Court had "abused its discretion by refusing to permit the amendment, particularly when the estate was aware of Lehtinen's original allegation that Howard changed his will knowing that it was contrary to Joan's testamentary intent. We therefore reverse the district court's order refusing to permit Lehtinen to amend his objection to the probate petition. On remand, the district court should consider whether Howard violated a fiduciary duty arising out of his role as attorney-in-fact, his knowledge of Joan's testamentary wishes, the marital relationship, and whether a constructive trust should be imposed."

We have to wait to see whether the Mankato District Court will continue to violate basic law in order to rule in favor of the international Watchtower Cult, or see whether the Mankato District Court has been sufficiently embarrassed that it will now make the obvious ruling for the underdog citizen of the state of Minnesota.

Interestingly, there is NOTHING in Joan Boyd's obituary which would indicate that Joan had any connection whatsoever to the WatchTower Cult. In fact, Joan appears to have been a lifelong Lutheran. It certainly would be interesting to know the WatchTower Cult's connection, if any, to every single one of the above named and unnamed persons -- particularly to determine whether undue influence was brought on Howard Boyd during his final days to knowingly and intentionally violate the testamentary wishes of Joan Boyd. Readers should also understand that it is a 99% certainty that the cash from the sale of Joan's home would have been transferred in its entirety to WatchTower Cult World HQ by its local affiliate if the DC's decision had not been contested, and particularly if this entire situation had not been well publicized.


UNITED STATES v. MICHELE V. DELAINE was a 2011-15 Ohio federal criminal court case. In April 2012, Michele V. Delaine, a/k/a Michele V. Atwater, then age 54, who has previously resided in multiple suburbs around Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release following her November 2011 conviction by jury trial on two counts of theft of government funds. Michele Delaine was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,694.00 to the Social Security Administration, and $57,619.71 to the Office of Personnel Management. This conviction was upheld by the USCA in March 2013 and March 2015.&nb

Albert Smith and Michele Delaine first met in 1976 through their common Jehovah's Witness religion. Albert Smith retired from his career as a NASA scientist in 1995 -- with an above average pension income. Sometime in the late 1990s to early 2000s, the recent divorcee Michele Delaine (12/01/1999, In re Daniel E. Atwater. See Danny E. Atwater v. Michele Delaine FKA Atwater) developed a friendship with Albert Smith, whereby Delaine assisted Smith with various personal and financial tasks, including taking Smith to doctor appointments. By 2002, Smith sufficiently trusted Michele Delaine to add her as a signatory to a joint checking account, with the right of survivorship, which was Smith's checking account which received his retirement and social security benefits payments.

Albert Smith died in April 2006, but noone informed either the Social Security Administration nor the Civil Service Retirement System. Retirement benefit payments totaling $57,619.71 continued until June 2007. Social Security benefit payments totaling $31,594.00 continued until December 2009. While Michele Delaine did use a small amount of the continuing benefit payments to pay bills related to Smith's house (Trust's responsibility), the vast majority of deposits were incrementally transferred to bank accounts belonging to Delaine as soon as such were deposited in the Smith account. Michele Delaine also forged Albert Smith's signature on other unidentified checks deposited into that same checking account after Smith's death -- thus indicating that not all irregularities were even included in this prosecution.

Additionally, in 2002, Albert Smith had also created a "trust" into which he placed all his assets other than what was held in the aforementioned joint checking account with Michele Delaine. Another longtime Cleveland-area Jehovah's Witness friend, named Bruce Morrison, was named "Trustee". Michele Delaine was listed as one of the beneficiaries of that trust. While the original amount is unknown, it is known that about one month before Smith's death, Smith increased Delaine's distribution from the trust. Delaine received her initial distribution of $100,000.00 from the estate in October 2007. In February 2009, she received her final distribution of $17,000.00. Delaine also moved into Smith's home about two weeks before he died to take care of him. With Bruce Morrison's approval, Michele Delaine continued living in Smith's home until it was sold by the trust in 2007.

Interestingly, although Bruce Morrison was called to testify for the prosecution, Morrison's testimony did little if anything at all to help convict Delaine. In fact, the probable Jehovah's Witness Elder TWICE emphasized that he knew NOTHING about Michele Delaine's handling of Albert Smith's finances. The prosecutor even had to "help" Morrison with his testimony providing background info on Smith's trust. (Who do you suppose was the largest beneficiary of Smith's assets.)


KENTUCKY v. ROSE ELAINE BENTLEY involved a 2011 Rowan County, Kentucky arrest after which the criminal prosecution apparently was dropped when the 85 year-old victim died only four months after the alleged events occurred, and considering that the victim's surviving relatives all lived out-of-state. In November 2011, Rose Elaine Bentley, aka Elaine L. Bentley, age 53, of Morehead, Kentucky, and wife of Douglas W. Bentley, and a longtime and well known member of the local Jehovah's Witness community, was arrested for exploiting an elderly person while being in a caretaker role. That arrest was made by a Kentucky State Police Detective at the home of Bentley's elderly employer, 85 year-old Marcella Lambert. Bentley was "care-giver" for Lambert for only an eight day period from October 27, 2011 through November 4, 2011. KSP alleged that during that short time period that Bentley first removed $900.00 from Lambert's purse, and thereafter Bentley escorted Lambert to her bank and had Lambert withdraw $3000.00 from Lambert's savings account as an "advanced payment" for Bentley's services. Allegedly, a few days later, Bentley again took Lambert back to her bank and attempted to withdraw $60,000.00 from Lambert's savings account. The local bank apparently blocked that withdrawal attempt and notified law enforcement. Bentley spent only a few hours in jail after someone quickly posted the $5000.00 bond.


FLORIDA v. PAUL is a December 2010 Florida state criminal court case. Francis L. Paul III, age 46, of Crescent City, Florida, was charged with "Exploitation of an Elderly Person" after a more than four-month investigation by DeLand, Florida police. Francis Paul reportedly also uses the alias, Francis P. Lipani III. DeLand police allege that Francis Paul a/k/a Francis Lipani first met the mentally incompetent 84 year-old Deland female victim when he knocked on her front door with a Bible in his hand. Paul allegedly befriended the vulnerable elderly female and eventually talked her into going into a lawn care business with him. Police allege that Paul had the woman sign blank papers, which he then used to steal approximately $255,000.00 in savings and stocks. Subpoenaed documents from seven banks showed the beneficiary on many of Frances Paul's bank accounts was the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.


In her autobiography, Awakening Of A Jehovah's Witness, Diane Wilson repeated an "experience" that she had heard told at a local XJW support group meeting:

A young woman who had been raised in the organization told how her father, who served as an elder, habitually befriended frail, elderly persons with ailing health. His kindness and helpfulness were not extended out of Christian love, however, for she knew he had an ulterior motive: coercion to change their wills to leave their money to the Watchtower Society instead of their families, under the guise that this will facilitate their achieving everlasting life ... .


IN RE THE ESTATE OF LOUIS HEE was a 1971 Florida probate court case which represents one of many similar cases over the decades, in which, shortly before their death, an elderly homeowner, either without immediate family or estranged from their immediate family, is befriended by door-knocking Jehovah's Witnesses who influence that elderly homeowner to make or change their LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT to make the individual JWs, and/or the local JW Congregation, and/or the WatchTower Society the beneficiaries of the elderly homeowner's WILL. In the case of Louis Hee, his brothers and sisters fortunately learned of the situation in time to have the JW WILL, which previously had been admitted to probate, revoked, and the appellate court upheld that revocation. Unfortunately, there have been many other cases in which the deceased's relatives did not learn about the matter in time, or the deceased's family was not able to develop sufficient facts about what occurred prior to their family member's death in order to convince the court that something amiss had occurred. The Florida probate court ruled, in part:

"This cause came on to be heard before the Court on the petition of Juliana Hee Toth, Maria P. Andras, Bertha Hee and Sandor Hee, sisters and brothers of the decedent, Louis Hee. They seek to revoke the admission to probate of an alleged last will and testament of the decedent, Louis Hee, heretofore admitted to probate by this Court on June 2, 1969. Petitioners allege that the last will and testament admitted to probate was the product and result of undue influence exercised upon the decedent by certain members of a religious organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses and that by their undue influence and coercion the decedent left his entire estate to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a Pennsylvania Corporation, the parent organization of the religious organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses.

"The Court has heard extensive testimony in support of the petition for revocation and from the proponents of the will as well as argument of counsel. Being fully advised in the premises, the Court finds:

"Louis Hee was an elderly resident of Dade County, Florida prior to his death on May 21, 1969. He lived alone and had no immediate next of kin resident in Dade County, Florida. For some time prior to his death he had been in extreme ill health to the point of being confined to his bed a great deal of the time. He was primarily cared for by a friend, Stephen Bertok, who looked after his personal needs for some time prior to his death.

"The evidence before the Court discloses that some few months prior to the death of Mr. Hee members of the religious sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses called at the home of Mr. Hee to interest him in their literature and religious beliefs. Several return visits were made during which time other members of the religious sect also called upon Mr. Hee. Among these visitors were John Hartley, Jr. and William H. Payne, who are members or ministers of the Jehovah's Witnesses. During these several weeks of visiting, Mr. Hee remained a member of the Christian Church of his faith and just before his death attended his church on Easter Sunday for Easter Sunday services. He was never a member of the religious sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses or in any manner connected with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a Pennsylvania Corporation.

"The evidence before the Court discloses that during the week of March 8, 1969 and shortly before that day Mr. Hartley had sought the services of A. C. Lowery, Esquire, an attorney at law of this city who was an attorney for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society to go to the home of Mr. Hee to have a will prepared by him and that it had to be done immediately. Upon Mr. Lowery advising him that he could not immediately take care of the matter, Mr. Hartley then proceeded to prepare a will for Mr. Hee's signature. In company with William H. Payne and Lillie Mae Payne, who were also members of Jehovah's Witness, the three of them proceeded to the home of Mr. Hee where they obtained his execution of the alleged last will and testament on March 8, 1969 in which will Mr. Hartley and W. Harold Payne were named as Co-Executors and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania was made the sole beneficiary of the will. The will also directed that the funeral services of the testator were to be conducted by a minister of Jehovah's Witnesses under the direction of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. No provision was made for the church of which he was a member, or for any services by the minister of his own church in any manner whatsoever. Immediately after the execution of the will aforesaid on March 8, 1969, the named executor who had prepared and obtained the execution of the will immediately forwarded the original of the will to the main office of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York, where it remained in the hands of officials of that corporation until the decedent's death some seventy-five (75) days later.

"No copy of the will was left with the testator. The decedent's closest friends and minister had no knowledge of the execution of a last will and testament and no disclosure of its existence was made until after the death of Mr. Hee. The Court finds that where a last will and testament, unnatural in its content and disposition, is procured and prepared by the sole beneficiary thereof, either individually or by its agents, officers or members, where they are the sole witnesses to the execution of the will and where it is kept in the possession of the beneficiary without disclosure to anyone, the burden is upon the proponent of the will to show by preponderance of the evidence that the will was in truth and fact the free and voluntary act of the testator and expressed his wish and desires and was not the instrument of undue influence, overreaching or coercion.

"Reviewing the evidence in this cause as a whole and even most favorably in behalf of the proponents of the will, the Court finds that there has been a complete failure on the part of the proponent of the will to carry this burden of proof. The preponderance of evidence in this cause demonstrates that the last will and testament of Louis Hee which was offered and admitted to probate in this Court was the result of undue influence and overreaching on the part of the members of the religious sect of which the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is the parent head; that the last will and testament was not the free expression of the decedent, Louis Hee, but was the expression and desire of those who procured the execution thereof. The premises considered and the Court being fully advised in the premises, it is:

"Ordered and adjudged that the order of this Court of June 2, 1969 admitting the proffered last will and testament bearing date March 8, 1969 of the decedent, Louis Hee, be and the same is hereby revoked, cancelled and declared null and void, that the letters testamentary heretofore issued by this Court to John Hartley, Jr., as executor dated June 2, 1969, be and the same is hereby revoked, cancelled and annulled.

Readers should know that John Hartley, Jr. was no out-of-control low-level JW Elder. During the 1950s-60s, John Hartley served as the WatchTower Society spokesperson for the south Florida area.


IN RE ESTATE OF JULIA ECKART was a 1972-73 New York WILL contest in which the mother, Julia Eckart, of Queens, NY, devised her entire estate to the WatchTower Cult, with the exception of $50 being bequeathed to her surviving daughter and son (whom Eckart refused to acknowledge as her son). This WILL likely was worded by the Cult's Legal Dept, which made the mistake of including additional verbiage completely disinheriting the rest of Eckart's relatives. That mistake gave the appellate court all it needed to "hang its hat" for its ruling that Eckart's two children had not been disinherited, so they were permitted under then NY law to "elect against an excessive charitable disposition". The outcome is unknown, but Eckart's son and daughter likely received half of their mother's estate.


IN RE LAURA M. BRACKETT (1956) and MARY LENORA BRACKETT and SARAH CORNELL v. A. G. WAKEFIELD ET AL (1957-59) were related Florida COMPETENCY proceedings and a WILL CONTEST which involved the WatchTower Society's chief spokesperson in south Florida, A. G. Wakefield (Extensive WatchTower Resume), and the two rightful heirs of deceased Laura M. Brackett, of Clearwater, Florida.

Laura M. Brackett had been an 81 year-old childless widow who had lived alone for twenty years after her husband had died in 1946. Shortly after the death of her husband, Brackett had executed a WILL naming her sister-in-law and sister (plaintiffs) as equal beneficiaries. When Laura Brackett died in December 1956, Jehovah's Witness Elder Averett G. Wakefield quickly offered for probate a later WILL executed by Laura Brackett in June 1956, which named Averett G. Wakefield as Executor, and which named the WatchTower Bible and Tract Society as her sole beneficiary.

Laura Brackett had been baptized into the WatchTower religion by Averett Wakefield in September 1955. In February 1956, Averett Wakefield contacted an attorney of his own choosing to draw up a "new" WILL for Laura Brackett, although Brackett already had her own regular attorney. Wakefield's new attorney dutifully had Brackett examined by a physician, who declared Laura Brackett to be legally incapable of making a new WILL. However, a second examination with a different physician was then scheduled, with A. G. Wakefield present for that second examination. Not surprisingly, that second physician declared Laura Brackett to be legally capable of making a new WILL.

More interestingly, Laura Brackett's sister and sister-in-law had been notified of the execution of that new June 1956 WILL, and they had quickly initiated competency proceedings in local county court. In July 1956, the county court adjudged Laura Brackett to be "legally incompetent" by reason of chronic senility. Her sister, Sarah Cornell, had been appointed guardian of her person, and The First National Bank of Clearwater was appointed guardian of her property.

Undoubtedly under the explicit instructions of Hayden Covington and the WatchTower Legal Department, Averett G. Wakefield persisted in offering the June 1956 WILL for probate in January 1957. After the probate proceeding, at which Averett Wakefield and a number of other local Jehovah's Witnesses testified, the probate court Judge declared the June 1956 WILL invalid for lack of testamentary capacity, stating in part:

The will here in issue, dated June 4th, 1956, was executed shortly before Laura M. Brackett was adjudged incompetent, and by its terms she completely departed from a long declared testamentary intent. Her acquaintance with the proponent A. G. Wakefield had been relatively brief and was related to their mutual affiliation with Jehovah's Witnesses. She had been baptized by A. G. Wakefield in September, 1955, previous to which time their association had been casual and confined mainly to an occasional meeting at religious services. At her home on or about February 9th, 1956 she indicated, according to A. G. Wakefield, a desire to will her estate to Jehovah's Witnesses. Thereafter, according to his own and other testimony, his visitations and attendance upon Laura M. Brackett became frequent and constant.

It was A. G. Wakefield who directly supplied the data for the preparation of the will and it was prepared by an attorney who was unknown to Laura M. Brackett and who now represents A. G. Wakefield as the proponent in these proceedings. Laura M. Brackett previously had been represented regularly by the attorney who prepared her will of June 7th, 1949, ... Attended once by the attorney's secretary and at another time by A. G. Wakefield, Laura M. Brackett was interviewed and observed separately by two doctors whose reports conflicted. ...

During the period prior to June 4th, 1956 Laura M. Brackett's sclerotic condition became more pronounced and marked changes in her appearance, speech and demeanor were observed by visiting friends and acquaintances who had known her for a considerable number of years. For example, she began to speak of her deceased husband as alive and physically present. She imagined that an airplane had dropped certain insects found around her home on Clearwater Beach. She would forget, remember and again forget the promised gift of a personal article to the son of one of her friends whom she greatly admired. On occasion she did not recognize the attorney who prepared her will of June 7th, 1949 and who had constantly represented her although the attorney was then present and conversing with her. After she was injured in a fall and was hospitalized on July 14th, 1956, she referred to the same attorney as her attorney. During the same period she referred to the disposition of her estate according to her will of June 7th, 1949 as though it were still her will, indicating that she had forgotten the will here in question.

... Mental illness in itself does not, of course, necessarily denote testamentary incapacity; but the entire factual picture of this case impels the conclusion that Laura M. Brackett could not form and retain a plan of disposition of her estate and, moreover, could not publish any such plan in the form of a will without active guidance and direction such as the evidence abundantly discloses on the part of A. G. Wakefield.

A holding of invalidity due to incapacity would seem also to be the most charitable basis for the decision of this case. It is assumed that the proponent A. G. Wakefield, representing a zealous and sincere religious society, is a kindly man who did not realize that he was promoting the execution of a will by a person incapable of making a valid will. His good intentions may be fairly postulated but, assuming Laura M. Brackett to have been competent, it is conceivable that his well intended acts could have amounted in law to undue influence. ... ...

Unbelievably, the WatchTower Legal Department would NOT give up. They directed A. G. Wakefield to APPEAL what any reasonable person could have seen as being a correct decision which had no chance of being reversed. In fact, the probate court's decision was affirmed in January 1959, and Wakefield's request for a "re-hearing" was denied in February 1959. We suspect that Wakefield and the WatchTower Legal Department probably attempted further appeals, but were denied.


DIETZLER, ET AL v. LEMAY, MISSOURI CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, RAMONA LYNCH, AND AL LYNCH was a 1986-91 Missouri probate court case whose outcome is unknow. The following facts are extracted from the 1990 appellate case opinion, which reversed the probate court's ruling, which had favored the JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Anna Marie Garrett died on November 18, 1986. Thereafter, Ramona Lynch, her husband, Alfred C. Lynch, and the LeMay, Missouri Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses offered to probate a will dated August 28, 1985, which the probate court admitted in August 1987. Garrett's will left her entire estate to a "pour-over" trust, which had been established the same date as the will. The Named Trustee was "Ramona Lynch", and the beneficiaries of the trust were "Al and Ramona Lynch" and the "LeMay Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses."

Helen Dietzler and the other named plaintiffs/appellants were Anna M. Garrett's "heirs-at-law". The HEIRS-AT-LAW filed a petition to contest the will claiming that the will was not properly attested, that the decedent was of unsound mind at the time she executed the will, and that Alrred and Ramona Lynch, exerted "undue influence" over the decedent. The HEIRS' petition named as defendants: Al and Ramona Lynch, individually, and the LeMay Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, an unincorporated association (as listed in the Trust document).

In April 1989, the LeMay, Missouri Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, A CORPORATION, entered its appearance and filed a Motion to Dismiss the petition on the TECHNICALITY that the petition failed to name them as a defendant, and thus failed to serve all necessary parties within 90 days of the filing of the petition, as required under Missouri law. In May 1989, Al and Ramona Lynch filed a motion to dismiss which incorporated by reference the SAME TECHNICALITY utilized in the CORPORATION'S motion. WWJD ---- WWJD ---- WWJD --- WWJD ----WWJD

In June 1989, the probate court dismissed the HEIR's petition and found that: 1) the plaintiffs did not timely serve all necessary parties; and 2) the plaintiffs failed to name and serve the Trustee of the trust, Ramona Lynch, as a defendant. On appeal by the HEIRS, the appellate court reversed and remanded, stating in part:

... the corporation was never a party to this will contest and never sought nor received the right to intervene ... . ...

... Ramona Lynch is not named in her capacity as trustee. ... It cannot be said that Ramona Lynch was unaware or without notice of the import of the present action upon the trust. Ms. Lynch had personal knowledge that she was the trustee and had actual knowledge of this proceeding. A dismissal in this case, we feel, would work an injustice, denying appellants their day in court, through a mere mistake. ...


ELLIOTT v. NASH was a 1995 Ohio probate court case which is extremely interesting even despite the fact that most of the juicy details never made it into the published decision. This drama involved several African-American members of a Cleveland, Ohio area Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, who apparently did not like each other, and the non-JW relatives of the deceased, who were prominent Cleveland citizens active in local politics and civil rights. Can you guess who the JW Elders sided with?

Howard Hawkins was an elderly, widowed, and childless Jehovah's Witness, who died in July 1993, without having executed a will. Hawkins' "heirs-at-law" were Clover Elliott, a prominent Cleveland political activist, and her son, Steven James Terry, a prominent Cleveland attorney. Clover H. Elliott was appointed Administratrix of Hawkins' estate. As Administratrix , Elliott brought an action in probate court seeking a declaratory judgment to set aside a quit-claim deed and a Veterans Administration Change of Beneficiary Form, both of which had been executed by Howard Hawkins in April 1992.

Clover Elliott and her son, Attorney Steven Terry, and her brother, Howard Hawkins, had been estranged since 1981/2, which was the result of previous litigation between Elliott and Hawkins, which involved a trust estate that had included a $100,000.00 rental house owned by Hawkins'. The Change of Beneficiary Form named Ples Nash as Hawkins' beneficiary, and the quit-claim deed transferred Hawkins' ownership of the rental house to Minnie Nash, wife of Ples Nash. The Nashs were fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, and longtime friends of Hawkins and his deceased wife. The Nashs began helping take care of Howard and Ethel Hawkins back in 1981, after Howard was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, because Ethel had already suffered a stroke. Ethel Hawkins died in 1991. The Nashs then moved into Hawkins' residence for a ten month period, and took care of all Hawkins' needs, including the inserting of catheters.

During this time, the Nashs and Hawkins agreed that the Nashs would move into the run-down rental house, and renovate it such that Hawkins and his elderly, invalid brother, Ulysses Hawkins, could live there with, and be taken care of by the Nashs. In exchange, Hawkins agreed to transfer ownership of the property to them. In March 1992, Hawkins gave Minnie Nash power-of-attorney over his affairs. The quit-claim deed and the Change of Beneficiary Form were executed a few weeks thereafter.

Soon after Hawkins gave power-of-attorney to Minnie Nash, the Body of Elders at the Nash's and Hawkins' local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses decided that they needed to stick their noses into the dealings going on between Hawkins and the Nashs. Two JW Elders, Mark Smith (now of Toledo, Ohio) and Leroy Farmer, asked the Nashs and Hawkins to meet with them, which they did -- twice.

At trial, both JW Elders Leroy Farmer and Mark Smith testified on behalf of local power broker Clover Elliott, and against their fellow JWs, Ples and Minnie Nash. Farmer and Smith claimed that the local JW Elders intervened only after Hawkins asked for their help with his property matters, and that Hawkins actively participated in both meetings. At the second followup meeting of the parties, Farmer and Smith claimed that they submitted the BODY OF ELDERS' "Recommendations" as to how Hawkins should manage/dispose of his property, which are not disclosed in the appellate opinion. Curiously, Leroy Farmer (and probably Mark Smith) testified that Hawkins wanted his estate, including the rental house that had already been transferred to Minnie Nash, left to his estranged nephew, Attorney Steven James Terry. Hawkins lived another 15 months before he died. If those were in fact his wishes, he had opportunity to memorialize such.

According to the Nashs, Howard Hawkins had himself once been a JW Elder, but that he had been "deleted" at the instigation of Leroy Farmer. Farmer also had been noticeably absent from Ethel Hawkins' funeral. The Nashs claimed that Hawkins opened his mouth only one single time during both meetings with Farmer and Smith. On cross-exam, Leroy Farmer refused to discuss the deletion of Howard Hawkins as a JW elder by claiming "ecclesiastical privilege". (In June 2011, Judge Steven J. Terry was convicted on three federal corruption charges -- soliciting bribes for favorable rulings.)

Hawkins' attorney testified that Hawkins had discussed with her much of his dealings with the Nashs, and that he was of sound mind during that time period. A second attorney who drew up the power-of-attorney also testified accordingly; as did the LPN who regularly provided Hawkins with in-home care which the Nashs were unable to provide. Despite the testimony of the two JW Elders, the local probate court ruled in favor of the Nashs. On appeal, the Ohio appellate court affirmed that decision.


IN RE ESTATE OF EDITH KAM was a 2005 Hawaii court decision which is too lengthy and convoluted for a full summary on this page. Edith Ing Kam was a wealthy longtime Jehovah's Witness born in Hawaii in 1903. In the 1990s, when Kam began to suffer from dementia, a contest relating to Kam's estate developed between Kam's attorney, his paralegal, and Kam's JW friends and relatives. Interested readers should read the full text of the case easily found via google.

In 1996, Edith Kam's JW Friends and relatives filed complaints with the the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services, which included the allegation that the attorney's paralegal, Paz F. Abastillas, had developed a controlling relationship with Kam; and had told Kam that she was studying to become a Jehovah's Witness; but was not participating in JW activities.

Paz Abastillas countered that when she initially met Edith Kam that one of her Jehovah's Witnesses Friends -- a Hawaii real estate agent, named Paulette Paonessa, a/k/a Paulette Pearson -- had induced Kam to purchase a Cadillac for which she had no need, plus had involved Kam in a real estate investment which turned out to be a scam in which Kam lost her entire $150,000.00 investment.


ESTATE OF JESSIE D. WIILIAMS v. PHILLIP MORRIS, FRED MEYER, ET AL was a 1990s-2000s Oregon state "products liability" court case brought by the surviving African-American Jehovah's Witness relatives of the deceased former Jehovah's Witness, who had been disfellowshipped back in the 1970s, because he had refused to stop smoking within six months as then required by the WatchTower Society. The plaintiffs alleged that Jessie Williams had unwittingly died from cancer caused by the defendant's cigarette products, and that he had done so because he had relied solely on the cigarette company's claims that smoking was not harmful. We simply found some of the statements made by the deceased's Jehovah's Witness Widow, named MAYOLA WILLIAMS, which were made in a followup deposition in September 1998, to be extremely "interesting". Here are some scattered excerpts (defendant's attorney questioning and Mayola Williams answering) which I don't expect those unfamiliar with Jehovah's Witness beliefs and practices "to fully get". Even most Jehovah's Witnesses won't "get it", unless they were JWs back in the 1960s and 1970s, and lived with family who were smokers, or who grew tobacco. Keep in mind that Jessie and Mayola Williams became Jehovah's Witnesses in 1962, and had been faithful readers of the Watchtower and Awake magazines "cover-to-cover":

Q. Did the Jehovah's Witness fellowship teach that cigarette smoking was addictive or an addiction? A. No. They didn't teach that it was. There have been articles where -- that they've quoted other people as saying it was addictive.

Q. When did you first discuss with your husband the addictive nature of smoking? A. (Skipping non-answers) Basically, after he was disfellowshipped. That's the most time I mentioned it to him.

Q. Did you at all times agree with all Jehovah's Witness teachings about smoking? A. I believe in Jehovah's teachings about religious matters, all of what they teach about religious matters. And smoking is not a religious matter, so I didn't have to believe or not to believe.

Q. So even though his church taught [smoking] was harmful, he didn't believed that because he believed more in the tobacco companies? A. ... after he was disfellowshipped from the Jehovah's Witnesses, he didn't read the literature any more. ...

Q. Do you recall testifying in your prior deposition that he read the Jehovah's Witness literature regularly up until his death?

Q. ... from the period of time when you joined the Jehovah's Witness fellowship until he was disfellowshipped, would you and he discuss what the Jehovah's Witness fellowship taught about smoking? A. ... No. We didn't discuss religious matters on smoking ... . Q. Did you talk about it when there would be an article in Watchtower or Awake about smoking that week? A. No. ... ... A. ... We used the Watchtower magazine for our religious teachings to study the Bible, as a bible aid. So that's what we did together as our family. We studied the Bible, not discuss articles that was, you know, such things, smoking and other articles that didn't have to do with teachings from the Bible.

Q. [During meetings at the Kingdom Hall,] were articles from the Awake magazine ever the subject of discussion? A. No. Q. Never? A. No. Q. Why not? A. ... [Awake] doesn't have anything to do with our religious teachings from the Bible.

Q. Isn't it fair to say that Jehovah's Witness literature has been consistently critical of the tobacco industry over the years? A. I would not say that, no.

Q. Isn't it also fair to say that over time that Jehovah's Witness publications have attacked tobacco company advertising as misleading and deceptive? A. I don't recall Jehovah's Witnesses attacked anybody for any subject or anything.

Q. Did you ever discuss your belief the tobacco industry was deceptive and not to be trusted with your husband? A. No, I never.

These are simply scattered excerpts extracted to give readers a "feel" for how went this deposition. Interested readers should click the link and read the entire deposition.


STATE v. STEPHEN VAN DER SLUYS was a 1986 New York criminal court case which involved Stephen Van Der Sluys, 34, who was an active minister in the Syracuse, New York; Farmington, New York; Mechanicsville, New York; and Canandaigua, New York Congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. Van Der Sluys apparently first came to the attention of law enforcement in Spring 1985, when he was convicted and jailed for one year for sodomizing and raping a teenage foster child ($$$) who had been placed in the family's home through the state foster care program. At some point, New York authorities also began to investigate the deaths of Stephen Van Der Sluys' three children, which had occurred in the late 1970s. Heath, age 16 months, died in 1976, supposedly from choking on a quarter. Heather, age 3 months, died in 1977, supposedly from SIDS. Vicki, age 14 months, died in 1979, supposedly from SIDS.

The first two children each had a $10,000.00 life insurance policy. Vicki, the third child, had a $30,000.00 life insurance policy. After Vicki died, Van Der Sluys and his wife, Jane, then had three more children. Although there was no indication that Jane knew about the prior murders, a Prosecutor told a reporter that the only reason those three children were not killed was because Jane would not allow Stephen to buy a life insurance policy on them. In the 1986 murder trial, Stephen Van Der Sluys was convicted of second-degree murder for the suffocation death of Heather. Van Der Sluys pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in Vicki's death, which was also believed to have been by suffocation. Van Der Sluys was sentenced to 25 years to life for the 1977 murder, and 8 1/2 to 25 years for the 1979 slaying. The Prosecutor decided not to pursue the 1976 death. The primary motive in the deaths was the insurance money given the family's history of financial problems.


ILLINOIS v. ROBERT C. THOMPSON was a 1994-5 Illinois criminal court case. In September 1994, a Jehovah's Witness Elder, named Robert C. Thompson, who was President of the ten year-old Chicago area insurance and investment firm, Corporation of Financial Planners Inc., was indicted by a Cook County grand jury on one count of theft and one count of securities fraud. In October 1995, Thompson pleaded "guilty" to the theft charge only, in exchange for a 9 year prison sentence. The Illinois Secretary of State already had shut down Corporation of Financial Planners Inc. in February 1994.
According to the Attorney General's office, Robert Thompson approached a fellow Jehovah's Witness congregation member, named Patricia Bridgmon-Balentine, in July 1992, after she survived a car accident that killed her husband and oldest son. Thompson urged Patricia Bridgmon-Balentine several times to secure a solid financial future for her surviving son by signing over three death benefit checks, which totaled $224,590.00. Thompson claimed that he would invest the money in blue-chip stocks that would earn 10 percent annually. According to the attorney general's office, Thompson used his position as a Congregation Elder to instill a sense of trust, and used Bible quotations in his sales pitch. Once Thompson had his hands on the money, in typical "Ponzi" fashion, Thompson used Patricia Bridgmon-Balentine's money to payoff investors in an even earlier investment scheme. Several of those previous investors reportedly were Thompson's own Jehovah's Witness family members, who apparently did not return Patricia Bridgmon-Balentine's money to her, given that Patricia Bridgmon-Balentine reportedly had only recovered about $2000.00., as of Thompson's sentencing. Patricia Bridgmon-Balentine reportedly was also considering a civil lawsuit against Thompson in an attempt to recover more of her money, but he claimed to have no assets.
REDMAN ET AL v. WATCH TOWER SOCIETY, MARIE HOLLOPETER, and WALTER KOBIL was a 1988-94 Ohio state WILL contest in which an Ohio Jury decided that the WILL in question was the result of DURESS and UNDUE INFLUENCE from the decedent's Jehovah's Witness sister, named Leah Marie Hollopeter, from other Bowling Green, Ohio Jehovah's Witnesses, and particularly from the WatchTower Society Attorney named Walter Kobil, who had drawn up the second WILL in 1972 to replace the decedent's already existing WILL.
Otterbein Duesler died at the age of 91, in September 1988. The divorced, childless Duesler was survived by his four sisters and their ten children, and their children, and their children. Duesler's 1972 WILL devised roughly 85% of his $450,000.00 Estate to the WatchTower Society -- his small farm valued at $103,000,00, $267,000.00 in cash, and personalty valued at $14,000.00. Duesler's second WILL left only $10,000.00 to each of his four sisters. A female friend received $7000.00. Remaining miscellaneous personalty was left to Duesler's sisters and a nephew.
The lengthy five day trial included much testimony, including that from Dr. Gerald Bergman, a former Jehovah's Witness, and author, college professor, and psychologist. Bergman had once attended the same Bowling Green Kingdom Hall that Druesler occasionally attended in the latter 1970s and early 1980s, plus Duesler had seen Bergman professionally during those same years. In fact, Bergman testified that, in 1980, Duesler had indicated to Bergman that he did not recall having a WILL. Bergman later wrote that during those years that he assessed Duesler as "mentally borderline functioning", and that Duesler "had emotional problems".
While Otterbein Duesler evidently had occasionally attended the Bowling Green Kingdom Hall for decades, there was conflicting testimony as to whether Duesler even was a "Jehovah's Witness". The Bowling Green JW Elders claimed that Duesler was an "active" Jehovah's Witness when his last WILL had been prepared in 1972, and that Duesler had been a Jehovah's Witness since the 1940s. However, Bergman later wrote that "Duesler was not a Witness, and had expressed some dissatisfaction about the Watchtower [Society] when alive." Bergman also later wrote that Duesler's non-JW sisters' Attorney had stated that "the Jehovah Witnesses would not accept Mr. Duesler as a member because his behavior violated Watchtower policy, and they concluded that he would not convey the image the Watchtower is trying to present to the public. Had they genuinely endeavored to help him as a person, the family would have been less concerned about his bequest to the Watchtower." We have also found comments which seem to suggest that Duesler's wife was a JW, and that their marriage had fallen apart due to the religion.
Whatever was Duesler's actual status in the Bowling Green congregation, Duesler apparently had not always had the best relationship with the Bowling Green Jehovah's Witnesses. Thus, Duesler's three non-JW sisters contended that, in 1972, when Duesler was 75 years-old, that the Bowling Green Jehovah's Witnesses had convinced their elderly brother that the only way that he could "inherit everlasting life" was for him to "will" the bulk of his Estate to the WatchTower Society.
At trial, the Wood County Jury decided to set aside Duesler's 1972 WILL because the Jury believed that the 1972 WILL had been completed under DURESS and UNDUE INFLUENCE, and the Jury further decided that such duress and undue influence had continued right up until Duesler's death. Thus, Duesler's Estate would have to go through probate court.
The WatchTower Society appealed the Probate Court's decision to the Ohio Court of Appeals, which REVERSED the jury's decision. The Court of Appeals ruled that the Probate Court Judge had improperly permitted testimony from Bergman which violated Ohio's Rules of Evidence, which in part states, "Evidence of the beliefs or opinions of a witness on matters of religion is not admissible for the purpose of showing that by reason of their nature his credibility is impaired or enhanced." Bergman had CORRECTLY testified with regard to the testimony of local JW Elders, and particularly with regard to the testimony of WatchTower Attorney Walter Kobil, who had prepared Duesler's 1972 WILL, that the WatchTower Society's definition of a "lie", along with the WatchTower Society's interpretation of related Bible verses, not only permitted Jehovah's Witnesses to LIE to advance the causes of the WatchTower Society, but even encouraged JWs to do so. Bergman's testimony had thus given the Jury reason to doubt the credibility of Kobil and other JWs who testified.
Duesler's three non-JW sisters then appealed the Court of Appeals' adverse decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio, which affirmed the Court of Appeals decision. The case was REMANDED back to the Wood County Probate Court for a "new trial" consistent with the Supreme Court's decision. Unfortunately, we can find no record of a new trial. That would seem to indicate that the WatchTower Society decided to settle the case with Duesler's three non-JW sisters rather than face another local jury.

FAMILY OF HERMAN JOHN BAUBLITZ v. FREDERICK MARYLAND CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES was a 1973-75 WILL CONTEST. In a WILL dated July 8, 1971, Herman J. Baublitz, of New Market, Maryland, devised the bulk of his estate to the Frederick, Maryland Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Herman Baublitz's eight siblings and heirs-at-law contended that the childless widower had intended to leave his estate to them until, in 1971, with tales of impending Armageddon, the local Jehovah's Witnesses had used "influence, coercion, and duress" to convince Herman Baublitz to devise the bulk of his estate to the Frederick, Maryland Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Herman Baublitz, age 69, had died in July 1973, after his 80 year-old wife had died in 1969. Susan Margaret Sheets brought three step-children into the 1944 marriage, who were nearly as old as was Baublitz. Outcome unknown.

WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY v. FAMILY OF PAUL MEYERS was a 1963-64 Colorado court case. Paul E. Meyers Sr., age 79, of LaSalle, Colorado, died in a Longmont, Colorado nursing home in October 1963. After his death, the Watch Tower Society submitted a WILL and a CODICIL to the Probate Court in which Meyers had devised practically his entire $40,000.00 estate to Watch Tower Society. The original WILL, which had been executed by Paul Meyer in May 1961, devised the various assets of his estate to various children -- along with a $1000.00 bequest to the Greeley, Colorado Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. However, a codicil typed by a "Servant" at the Greeley, Colorado Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses had been executed in January 1962, which effectively negated the entire 1961 WILL, and left everything to the Watch Tower Society. That WILL/CODICIL was challenged by Meyer's three surviving children, and as a result was denied probate by the local court. The local Judge ruled that Paul Meyers had lacked testamentary capacity at the time that he had signed the WILL, plus that he had been under the "undue influence" of various members of the Greeley, Colorado Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. The WatchTower Society then began its SOP of "appeal until you can't appeal anymore" before finally losing.
LEWIS WILL was a 1950 Supreme Court of Pennsylvania case regarding the validity of a WILL which had been prepared the day before the decedent died in July 1948. Rose Lewis, age 76, left an estate valued at $26,232.00. Surviving Lewis were the five children, including two minors, of her deceased only child. Despite being in her 70s, and suffering from multiple serious ailments over the years, Rose Lewis had never previously made a WILL.
Nine days before Lewis died during her last visit to the hospital, Lewis supposedly told her sister, Carrie C. Bevan, that she wanted to make a WILL. For unknown reasons, Bevan had the hospital's switchboard operator, Agatha Mayhew, come to Lewis's hospital room and write down Lewis's bequests. That WILL left specified amounts to each of her five grandchildren (totaling only $6000.00), with remainder of Lewis's estate going to Bevan. Mayhew and Lewis's neighbor and supposedly BFF, Marie Leitner, age 79, signed Lewis's WILL as "witnesses". After Mayhew left the hospital room, Bevan wrote on a separate piece of paper, and Lewis signed, a $1000.00 bequest to Marie Leitner. Two nights later, Carrie Bevan went to Mayhew and told Mayhew to add an additional bequest to Lewis's original WILL of $200.00 to the WATCHTOWER SOCIETY.
Marie Leitner later testified at trial that at the "suggestion" of the nearly dead Lewis that Leitner inquired of some unidentified "bank employee" about the legality of that first WILL. Leitner then supposedly informed Lewis that the "bank employee" had suggested the involvement of an Attorney. Lewis then supposedly told Bevan to hire an Attorney, who came to Lewis's hospital room the day before she died, and supposedly drew up a second WILL in the presence of Bevan, Leitner, and Lewis. That Attorney testified at trial that the second WILL was supposed to be a "copy" of the first WILL, with only "slight changes", but in reality it contained many -- some impossible -- changes. The total amount left to the five grandchildren was increased to $9000.00 -- but there were no assets to fund such. The amount left to the WATCHTOWER SOCIETY was increased to $300.00. Lewis's realty, which was $26,000.00 of her $26,232.00 estate, was then devised entirely to Bevan, while Bevan was also named the Executrix. After completing the second WILL, the Attorney supposedly drew up a separate CODICIL, which again also devised $1000.00 to Marie Leitner -- although there were no such assets.
After the WILL was admitted to probate by the local Scranton, Pennsylvania court, the five heirs-at-law challenged both the testamentary capacity of their grandmother, and asked the court to determine whether the WILL had been procured via "undue influence". The local court DISMISSED the grandchildren's case, and they appealed. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed the lower court's decision.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania noted that Lewis's attending physician had testified that on the day the second WILL was executed, Lewis was in a semi-comatose or stuporous state, and that she was unable to recognize him. In his opinion, Lewis's condition was such that she could not know the extent of her property, recognize the objects of her bounty, nor realize what she was doing sufficiently to make a will, and that Lewis could not reason or think well and was not of sound mind.
Seven attending nurses testified that on the day the second WILL was executed, Lewis was mentally confused, rambled in her speech, was depressed, did not know where she was, and was unable to recognize them; that her mental condition was such that she was unable to realize what property she owned, or who her relatives were, or to make an intelligent disposition of her property; that she was not of sound mind, and did not have sufficient mental capacity to make a WILL. Lewis was also receiving injections of morphine.
Seven lay witnesses, who had known Lewis for a long time and visited her at the hospital during the week prior to her death, all testified that Lewis could not talk intelligently and did not recognize them. In their opinion, Lewis did not know the extent of her property, or the objects of her affection, and did not have the mental capacity to make an intelligent disposition of her property. Several of these witnesses stated that Lewis had spoken deprecatingly of her sister and had said she was going to leave her estate to her grandchildren.
The published opinion does not indicate who was the Jehovah's Witness, or Jehovah's WitnessES, in this DRAMA, but we have our suspicions given that the WATCHTOWER SOCIETY was ADDED as an afterthought to the first WILL, and had the bequest amount INCREASED in the second WILL. Undoubtedly, there were many more spicy details missing from this account than were included.

JOHN ANDREWS AKA JOHN ANDREADACE ET AL v. WATCHTOWER SOCIETY OF NEW YORK was a 1934 New York state civil WILL contest. George H. Andreadace was the father of three sons and one daughter -- John Andrews, Michael Andrews, Constantine Andrews, and Hope Andreadace Curtis. George Andreadace died in March 1934, at the age of 75. Andreadace was a small shoe polish manufacturer, who left half of his $35,000.00 estate to the WatchTower Society, and the other half to WatchTower D/O William E. Van Amburgh, or if deceased, Joseph F. Rutherford. The four children contested the WILL, and were able to convince a JURY via several witnesses that their father had been of unsound mind when he had made his latest WILL after their mother had died in 1932. George Andreadace had been a Jehovah's Witness for several decades, but he also had been bat-crap crazy for just as long. Typically, William Van Amburgh, the WatchTower Society, and its in-house legal staff fought this case vigorously -- supplying their own pre-prepared coven of "witnesses".

CARRIE MATTHIESSEN v. WATCH TOWER SOCIETY was a 1930-35 Iowa court case in which the estranged sole heir of Mary Wickham, of Tipton, Iowa, challenged Wickham's WILL after Mary Wickham left her entire $12,600.00 Estate to the Watch Tower Society (which she had inherited from the plaintiff's father, and which she herself had done little to "deserve" beyond possessing as a life estate, and which she definitely had no moral right to dispose of as she did).
Mary Wickham was a lifelong NUTJOB who immigrated to Iowa from England around 1885 to marry her husband's father, but instead ended up marrying one of his sons whose first wife had died leaving him with a young daughter to rear -- Carry Wickham. Fancying herself to be a poet and musical composer, the lazy Mary Wickham spent 25 years in bed in protest after her husband refused to name her the sole beneficiary in his WILL. After he died around 1915, Mary Wickham attempted to resume a normal life, but she was physically unable to do so after having spent 25 years bedfast. Mary Wickham's stepdaughter, Carrie Wickham, who had relocated to Minnesota after marrying a man named Matthiessen, was Mary Wickham's only heir. Mary Wickham's exact age was not known, but it was believed that she had been born in the late 1860s. She died in April 1930.
After a 4+ year long legal battle, during which Carrie Matthiessen alleged both "incompetency" and "undue influence", the Watch Tower Society received 60% of the estate, while Matthiessen received only 40% of the estate. Although the specifics of the alleged "undue influence" are unknown, Mary Wickham died without any family other than Carrie Matthiessen, and reportedly without many or even any friends, due to her increasingly unfriendly disposition and general nuttiness. In her final years, Wickham's only relationship was with the elderly couple who lived in her home and cared for her during the last decade of her life. Although Mary Wickham is EXACTLY the type of person in a community who might be targeted by local "Bible Students" as someone who would welcome their home visits, it most likely was this live-in elderly couple who were the "Bible Students" who convinced Wickham to name the Watch Tower Society as the sole beneficiary of her Estate.
READERS, answer us this. If instead of "Judge Rutherford", "Jesus" had been named the sole beneficiary of Mary Wickham's WILL, would "Jesus" have engaged in a 4+ year long legal battle with Wickham's stepdaughter, or would "Jesus" have quickly walked away empty-handed after learning the specifics of the situation? How bad did "Jesus" need this money? Did "Jesus" have no better way to obtain money? Now, go place these same questions at the end of every lawsuit summarized on this webpage. WWJD.
Those readers who are unable to "read between the lines" in the following court cases should go to our webpages containing Divorce cases from the 1930s to the 1950s and read some of those cases. In all probability, the same situation that occurred in many of those divorce cases occurred in this scenario.
MARY JENT v. JENT FAMILY HEIRS was a 1923-30 Oklahoma Supreme Court decision. John Jent, husband of Mary Jent, died at the age of 80 years-old in 1923. John Jent named "numerous" Jent Family members as heirs in his WILL. Because John and Mary had no surviving children, it is believed that John devised only a "life estate" in their 150 acre farm to his elderly wife, with "remainder" going to named Jent Family heirs. Probably under the influence and advice of local "Bible Students" leaders A. J. Sauls and A. L. Tucker, the 74 year-old Mary Jent legally contested her husband's WILL.
The local County Court ruled that the Jent Farm had been owned jointly by John and Mary Jent, and ruled that Mary Jent was the sole owner of that farm after the death of her husband. The District Court then further ruled in Mary Jent's favor by quieting her title to the farm. On appeal by the Jent Family Heirs to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the District Court's decision was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Those further proceedings never occurred because 81 year-old Mary Jent died the day before this decision was handed down, and Mary Jent allegedly died without a WILL. (Years of litigation should have impressed on Mary Jent the value of having a WILL, and following of the law with respect to distribution of the property of a decedent.)
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF MARY JENT v. A. J. SAULS and A. L. TUCKER was a 1930-35 Oklahoma Supreme Court decision. The Administrator of Mary Jent's Estate filed a lawsuit against Sauls and Tucker under the Oklahoma law which reads:
"If any person before the granting of letters testamentary or of administration, embezzles or alienates any of the moneys, goods, chattels or effects of a decedent, he is chargeable therewith, and liable to an action by the executor or administrator of the estate, for double the value of the property so embezzled or alienated, to be recovered for the benefit of the estate."
The local Superior Court ruled in favor of the Administrator and found that Sauls and Tucker had alienated $1140.00 belonging to the decedent, rather than surrendering such to the decedent's Estate, and rendered judgment against EACH of the defendants in DOUBLE that amount -- $2280.00. On their appeal, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision.
Remembering that Mary Jent had been ruled by the local courts to be the sole owner of her 150 acre farm, almost immediately after the death of John Jent in 1923, Mary Jent began living at the homes of both Sauls and Tucker -- two men whom the Court's decision never fully identify. We believe both of these men and their wives to be "Jehovah's Witnesses", or as they were known in the latter 1920s, "Bible Students".
According to the testimony of Sauls and Tucker, their wives, and possibly others, Mary Jent had paid Sauls and Tucker monthly "rent" of $25.00 (exorbitant rent for a "bedroom" in state of Oklahoma during the 1920s), plus had even paid Sauls and Tucker and their wives EXTRA for taking care of her and performing errands. Sauls and Tucker gradually came to take over the financial affairs of Mary Jent, who habitually would sign her name to blank checks for Sauls and Tucker to oversee her financial affairs.
The elderly Mary Jent evidently became ill in the summer of 1930, and was scheduled for some type operation in an Oklahoma City hospital, where she stayed for 10 days during August 1930. Sauls and Tucker testified that prior to going to the hospital that Mary Jent instructed them to take all of her money out of the bank ($1,650.20 -- $24,000.00 in todays dollars -- an amazing amount during the 1920s in Oklahoma given that Mary had received no cash from the settlement of her husband's estate, plus the fact that Sauls and Tucker siphoned off Mary's $40.00 monthly Civil War pension -- thus probably indicating farm income) so that if she died none of her "kin" would get it (Mary Jent had NO immediate family). Jent allegedly further told Sauls and Tucker that if she died that they were to use the $1,650.20 to pay for her funeral, tombstone, and other final expenses, to take out whatever she owed to Sauls and Tucker and their wives, and for them to send the remainder to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY.
Four days after Mary Jent's death in September 1930, Sauls and Tucker mailed the WatchTower Society a cashier's check (no stopping payment) for $1140.00. That was the alleged balance after paying all of Jent's outstanding debts, her funeral, and her tombstone. Sauls and Tucker settled Jent's estate all by themselves, without any input whatsoever from "the world" or its laws and courts. It eventually cost each of them $2280.00. (Does anyone really doubt that Sauls and Tucker were doing exactly what Judge Rutherford had instructed them to do from Brooklyn -- knowing full well that he was hanging those two Okies out to dry for a mere $1140.00? The WatchTower Society has continued doing the same thing to its JW members for decades. The WatchTower Society could care less what something costs individual JWs so long as it is gets or saves even a small amount of money for them. The WatchTower Society is just like my soul-less brother who will talk my widowed mother into wasting $1000.00 on something just so he can get his hands on a $100.00 or so of the wasted money.)
It came out at trial that Sauls had paid his own wife $195.00 ($2800.00 in today's dollars) out of the $1,650.20 for caring for Jent that last month of her life. The last six $40.00 monthly Civil War pension checks went unaccounted for, except for the last one, which Sauls admitted that he cashed and kept for his expenses -- supposedly at the instruction of Jent. Sauls also admitted to selling 270 bales of hay for Jent for $85.00, which he pocketed for his having taken care of Jent. (Who knows what else was sold off the farm during those 7 years.)
MARY E. DAVIS v. WATCH TOWER SOCIETY was a 1915-16 New Jersey WILL contest which contains lessons still appropriate for the 21st century. First, when it comes to $$$$MONEY$$$$, don't expect for a second that the WatchTower Cult will take the right, proper, moral, or ethical road. Second, children who have elderly parents with any associations/connections whatsoever with the Jehovah's Witnesses need to proactively keep watch over that parent's finances -- especially their WILL.
In this WILL contest, sometime prior to 1910, Mary Davis's widowed elderly mother, Sarah M. Payne, of 40 Hudson Street, Freehold, New Jersey, apparently had come under the spell of Pastor Charles Taze Russell's prediction that Jesus Christ was going to return to Earth in October 1914. It was in September 1910 that Sarah Payne executed a WILL that highly favored the Watch Tower Society. During the later litigation, it was learned that Sarah Payne either had sent copies of that WILL to Pastor Russell and "Judge" Rutherford for their approval, or possibly even had had them to draft the WILL for her. In any event, Payne's WILL left her $6000.00 home in Trust for the Watch Tower Society and Payne's daughter and only child. The Watch Tower Society and Mary Davis were to equally share the rental proceeds, and eventually the proceeds from the sale of the home, only if Mary Davis was alive five years after Payne's death. If Davis died within five years of Payne's death, then the Watch Tower Society was to receive all of the proceeds from the sale of Payne's home. (We suspect that Payne wanted to make certain that Davis survived the forecasted events during/after October 1914.) Mary Davis did receive the bulk of Payne's $2000.00 personalty. One exception was that the family's fine English china was to be sold, with the proceeds going to the Watch Tower Society.
Sarah M. Payne died in October 1915. Mary Davis challenged her Mother's WILL in court -- alleging that Payne was not of sound mind when she executed the WILL in September 1910. A former "roomer" of Payne's during that time period testified that Payne repeatedly instructed her to lock her bedroom door at night so that the "evil spirits" could not get in her room. A neighbor testified that Payne had told her that her deceased husband was going to be resurrected after October 1914. The very Executrix named in Payne's WILL presented a Letter written to her by Payne in Spring 1915, in which Payne stated that she was leaving her home and all of her property to Davis. Davis also alleged "undue influence", which should always be suspected in these cases, but we don't know all the details submitted by Davis other than the fact that Payne had submitted the WILL to Pastor Russell for his approval. The trial was more than adequate -- it took two days -- but the trial judge ruled in favor of the Watch Tower Society. Even in 1916, New Jersey judges were either incompetent fools or corrupt.
FAMILY OF JOHN H. WILSON v. WATCH TOWER SOCIETY was a 1916 Kansas court case in which the natural heirs of the deceased 79 year-old John H. Wilson of Iola, Kansas -- one son and six daughters -- challenged his WILL after John Wilson devised most of his $12,000.00 Estate to the WatchTower Society, while leaving only small amounts, nominal amounts, or nothing ($1950.00 total) to his seven children and numerous grandchildren. John Wilson's children claimed that the elderly Wilson had been a lifelong member of the Methodist Church up until his final few years when his health began to decline, which was when John Wilson became literally obsessed with the end-times teachings of Charles Taze Russell. In November 1915, John Wilson, whose wife Julia Wilson had recently died in August 1915, changed his WILL -- purportedly due to the "undue influence" of the Russellites with whom he had surrounded himself. John Wilson died in February 1916, in Tampa, Florida --where Wilson had traveled without any other family members, to stay with unknown Russellites, in November 1915. It is unclear whether this court case was settled or went to trial, but the heirs did manage to recover 50% of their father's estate, with the WatchTower Society retaining the remaining 50%.
SOUTH AFRICA v. VELA MABENA and THANDI MAQUBELA is an ongoing 2010-15 high profile MURDER case. The 60 year-old victim, Judge Patrick Maqubela, was an Acting Judge on the Western Cape High Court Bench, who was seeking a permanent appointment at the time of his death. At the time of his murder, in June 2009, Judge Patrick Maqubela was a NON-JW married to a JEHOVAH'S WITNESS WIFE, Thandi Maqubela, age 54, who was one of the two persons charged with the Judge's murder.
Thandi Maqubela was also charged with altering her deceased husband's Will, and forging his signature thereto, as well as fraudulently submitting such into probate as her husband's Last Will and Testament. The forged WILL left everything to Thandi Maqubela and her children, and nothing to Patrick Maqubela's own children.

An accomplice charged in this murder was Vela Mabena, who was a then 46 year-old male JEHOVAH'S WITNESS MINISTER, who reportedly was Thandi Maqubela's business partner in a Forever Living health products distributing business. Interestingly, Vela Mabena was previously the "Chairman" of a School District in South Africa, and a media report links him to efforts to supply needy schools in SA and other African countries with "books". More interestingly, Vela Mabena was arrested at his residence on the grounds of the French Consulate, where his wife was employed.

In the months leading up to the murder, Thandi Maqubela had went to great lengths to document the multiple affairs of her philandering husband. Thandi Maqubela then took the acquired evidence and began a campaign of character assassination against him. In June 2009, after Thandi Maqubela learned that her husband had made plans to divorce her, security staff at one of Judge Patrick Maqubela's apartments which he used when he traveled as a judge discovered Judge Maqubela's partially decomposed corpse in his bedroom. The death was initially attributed to a heart attack, but a criminal investigation was quickly began when more and more incriminating evidence gradually came to light which pointed at the Judge's wife, and eventually her JW friend and business partner, Vela Mabena. The JW Duo were formally charged with the Judge's murder in March 2010.

In November 2013, Thandi Maqubela was found "guilty" of altering her deceased husband's WILL, and forging his signature thereto, as well as fraudulently submitting such into probate as her husband's Last Will and Testament in an attempt to defraud his surviving children by previous wives and/or mistresses. Thandi Maqubela was also found "guilty" of the charges related to murdering her husband, but her fellow Jehovah's Witness business partner was found "not guilty", due to the prosecutor's inability to prove his guilt to the satisfaction of the jury. The sentencing process has been drawn out until mid 2015 as Thandi Maqubela's attorneys have done everything they can do to postpone such. The presiding judge made the point that Vela Mabena had not been proven to have been "innocent" of the murder charge, but that there simply had not been sufficient evidence to convict him. Notably, during the trial, fellow JWs Vela Mabena and Thandi Maqubela claimed to barely know each other. That, despite the fact that Mabena visited Thandi Maqubela at the apartment where Maqubela was found to have murdered her husband, on the day of the murder. The JW Duo also telephoned and texted each other multiple times during the two days before the judge's corpse was discovered, and thereafter.

Finally, in March 2015, after 60 year-old Thandi Maqubela had done everything she could possibly do to delay her sentencing for 16 months -- including changing attorneys multiple times and even feinting "mental incompetency" -- she was sentenced to 15 years for murder, three years for forgery, and three years for fraud. The three years each for forgery and fraud are to run concurrently, so Thandi Maqubela was effectively given an 18 year prison sentence.


Excerpt from online "testimony". Time period probably 1980s:

A local [Jehovah's Witness] elder and his wife were studying with an wealthy elderly lady. They became quite friendly. The elder, who was employed as a janitor, suddenly began acquiring some expensive items. One day, I visited her (wealthy lady's) house ... she asked me if I could help her balance her check book. Upon opening the ledger section of her book I saw a number of cheques made out to the elder -- over $2000 over the course of the previous month. I asked about these, and her words are now burned into my mind: "Oh, he and his wife would always be saying how little money they had and it would be nice to buy this or that, so I just gave them the money for what they wanted." I asked if they had ever refused her largesse. She explained, "They said that if you're going to give us money we could use this much or that much." ... I got her permission to look at the rest of her ledger. I was able to go back 5 months, and discovered that in this period, she had given them close to $20,000. ... I felt that this sort of thing was unethical but didn't know what to do with the information. The elder somehow found out that I had looked into the old lady's books. At the very next meeting he called me to the back room at the [Kingdom] Hall and proceed to chastise me for being nosy. ... He said he could remove my status as ministerial servant if I didn't mind my own business. In the year that followed, ... The elder and his wife would pick up the old lady to bring her to meetings. One day they showed up in a luxury car, which was priced well beyond his janitor's salary. ... Later on, he took his family on a south seas tour. Even with [the WatchTower] Society sponsorship, the price for the tour was $7500. When they returned, they started to build a new house. They said they were building a room for her to live, in the basement. ... The elder's fleshly brother (also an elder), asked me to donate some work to help build the house. I was not comfortable with the situation, so I declined to participate. Shortly thereafter, I found myself totally alienated from the congregation. ... many of the elders were related to each other ... I finally approached the circuit overseer about all this. He told me to mind my own business. I later discovered that ... the elder in question had contributed generously to the circuit overseer's needs.

Contributor (JWC) relates that he was reared as a 4th generation Jehovah's Witness -- with his paternal grandparents having done as much of his "rearing" as was done by his own father and mother. JWC's Grandma had professed to be "one of the Anointed Remnant", aka "one of the 144,000", since the 1930s. Although JWC's Grandpa was never baptized as a "Jehovah's Witness", Grandpa had been reared as a strict Methodist, lived by Freemason principles, and was by far a much better "christian" than was Grandma.

Over the decades, JWC's Grandpa opened his home to WatchTower Society Special Pioneers and Regular Pioneers -- both for them to room and board in without cost, plus in which for them to hold WatchTower Society meetings in his living room. During the 1960s, when Grandpa only brought home around $40-50.00 per week, Grandpa would purchase far-over-priced, high-commission $800.00 vacuum sweepers and $800.00 sets of pots and pans from Jehovah's Witness Pioneers. One of such Jehovah's Witness Salespersons even cheated Grandpa out of $1000.00 --which was Grandpa's entire savings at the time. Grandpa was such a "known easy mark" that JWs living in other areas would travel to take advantage of his generosity. Nearly every time that Grandpa attended a Meeting at the Kingdom Hall, he deposited a significant donation in the contribution box. When he did not attend meetings, he often gave Grandma or one of his children or grandchildren money for the contribution box (whether that money made it in there is another story).

Over the decades, as a child, teenager, and even adult, on multiple occasions, JWC overheard many of those same Jehovah's Witnesses whom Grandpa had put food in their mouths and a roof over their heads, speak disparagingly about his Grandpa time after time after time -- often sitting in his home while he was at work earning the money they lived from -- because Grandpa refused to be baptized as a JW due to the WatchTower Society's rigid requirement that he "sell" WatchTowers door-to-door. When Grandpa passed away in the 1990s, a prominent JW Elder, whom Grandpa had once housed for several months decades earlier, and whom had thereafter failed to help Grandpa with the JW Salesman who had cheated him out of the $1000.00, grudgingly returned to deliver Grandpa's funeral talk -- because there was no local JW Elder willing to do so. The only positive thing that JWC recalls that that JW Elder said about Grandpa's "christianity" during the funeral talk was that Grandpa "had allowed JW Elder to study the Bible with him" during the time that JW Elder had lived in Grandpa's home.

JWC's Grandma died two years before Grandpa died. By that time, JWC lived several HOURS drive time from his home area. Several months after Grandma's death, during a visit back "home" and a after visit to Grandma's gravesite, JWC discovered that no monument had yet been erected at the gravesite which would soon include his Grandpa, who also was in rapidly declining health. JWC went to visit Grandpa to inquire why he had not yet purchased a headstone for his plot.

Grandpa initially complained of financial difficulties -- stating that his youngest JW Daughter, her daughter, and another granddaughter regularly DRAINED his bank account DRY every single month when his retirement and social security proceeds arrived. (Although a moderately well-off person by the time that he retired at age 72, Grandpa lived like a pauper in smelly, dirty clothing the last two or three years of his life.) However, JWC knew that Grandpa also had one small asset that the vultures could not get their hands on, and such could be easily liquidated for more than enough to buy a gravestone. Grandpa acknowledged such, but then gave JWC a lesson in family ethics and morality. His poor financial situation was NOT the issue. The frail and elderly Grandpa became angry and stated that he was aware that his five children were REFUSING to buy the headstone, and he further stated that he absolutely REFUSED to pay for his OWN headstone when he had FIVE CHILDREN whom he had given many TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS over the decades, because THEY had the moral and ethical OBLIGATION to pay for their own parent's gravesite monument. Then, Grandpa began to CRY, and eventually, so did JWC. JWC does not recall what all was exchanged thereafter, but JWC knew that he must take the bull by the horns and get the five children on the ball.

Grandpa's five children consisted of one son who was a successful business owner, two daughters who were schoolteachers, and a son and step-son who were state government employees. JWC already knew that most of them were soul-less and moral-less CRETANS, but given that they were the heirs to Grandpa's significant estate, JWC never for a moment entertained the thought that a headstone split five ways would be a problem with any of them. Boy, was JWC ever WRONG. JWC only spoke with three of the children. That's all it took. The best response was that they would kick in their share when they saw that the other four children had paid in their share. The other two children stated: "LET DAD PAY FOR IT!!!" as they ended the conversation. Even then, JWC did not really take the A-Holes seriously. JWC again assumed that if he simply would take the bull by the horns that his father, two uncles, and two aunts would come through with the money when the time came for them to do so.

JWC went and picked up Grandpa, and the two of them traveled to the local monument company. There, while shopping for the headstone, both Grandpa and JWC fought sporadic outbreaks of tears -- not over the deceased Grandma, but over the antics of the five children. JWC could stand things no longer, and JWC told his Grandpa that if he would pick out a monument that he would write the check. Grandpa flatly refused. Once again, Grandpa informed JWC that payment for his and Grandma's headstone was the sole obligation and responsibility of their five children. As they continued to walk amongst the display models, JWC came up with another angle that he hoped Grandpa would find acceptable. JWC proposed to Grandpa that he would write the check then and there to facilitate the purchase of a headstone, but that JWC would then collect the proportionate share back from each of the five children. Although Grandpa was receptive to this proposal, Grandpa would NOT give his consent until JWC swore an Oath that he would collect his money back from Grandpa's five children. JWC swore that Oath with every intention to honor that Oath in that he would collect the full amount back from the five children. JWC has long forgotten the exact amount, but JWC wrote a check to the monument company for something around $2500.00.

Grandpa died less than two years later. By that time, not a single one of the five children had repaid or even had offered to repay a single penny to JWC for their parent's headstone. Despite relating the story of HIS SWORN OATH TO GRANDPA to those five children months later at the final settlement meeting of Grandpa's estate, at which the five children received a check for around $55,000.00 each (plus interest in Grandpa's home and personalty), NOT A SINGLE CHILD repaid or even offered to repay JWC for their parents' headstone before scurrying out of the meeting like cockroaches. STUPIDLY, JWC had even decided to attempt to teach those FIVE CRETANS a moral lesson by declining the standard Executor's fee for having settled Grandpa's Estate. Not a single one of the CRETANS has ever said so much as a "Thank You" for JWC's having done so.

THAT WAS 20 YEARS AGO. JWC has never received a SINGLE PENNY from even one of the FIVE HOODLUMS -- including his own father, who is now deceased, as is the stepson. May "GOD" repay each and everyone of the CRETANS accordingly!!!

If any of you CRETANS ever read this, you no longer owe JWC 1/5 of $2500.00. Each of you that are alive now owe JWC the full $2500.00. That is the interest rate and penalty charged to CRETANS for 20 years of unpaid debt. Whoever of you DIE before this is paid, "May GOD take it out of your arse."




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