Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods
Scandalous Evangelists
Amish Beard Cutting
The F.B.I. is currently investigating a rash of beard-cutting attacks in eastern Ohio's Amish country that started in early October 2011. Five men have been arrested in connection with the forced beard-cutting of Amish man Myron Miller at his home. The Amish believe shaving is a form of vanity, and so the men's beards have evolved into a symbol of their faith. Miller was reportedly assaulted by a group of men in his home, dragged out and held down while the men cut off large parts of his beard. The wives were also assaulted, their hair crudely cut short, leaving bald patches. Several such assaults occurred in at least three different counties involving as many as 30 assailants. The attackers allegedly hired a driver to take them to the various victims' homes. Though authorities believe there may be more victims, most Amish prefer to resolve such issues through their church and community, rather than involve the police.

According to Jefferson County Sherriff Fred Abdalla, the men would enter a victim's home saying, "Sam Mullet sent us here, and we're here on religious business," and then perform the assault. Three of the five men arrested, Levi Miller (left), Johnny Mullet (center), and Lester Mullet (right), are the sons of break-away Amish preacher Sam Mullet. The men are charged with kidnapping and burglary. Sam Mullet, who insists that police should not be involved, says that he didn't order the assaults, but he did not condemn them either. He says that he and his followers have been wrongly branded a cult, and that they should be allowed to punish their detractors. He is also reportedly angry with the local sheriff for prosecuting one of his son's in an alleged sexual abuse case, and for siding against his daughter in a custody battle.
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