Authorities are digging up parts of 77-year-old Burrell Mohler, Sr.’s former farm near Bates City. They are searching for glass jars that might contain letters written by children younger than 12 who reportedly were brutalized by Mohler and four of his sons as far back as 20 years ago. They also are searching for a body.
Mohler is charged with presiding over systematic abuse that included “mock weddings” between young girls and his relatives. Also charged are 53-year-old Burrell Mohler, Jr.; 52-year-old David Mohler, who lives in Iowa; 48-year-old Jared Mohler of Columbia and 47-year-old Roland Monler of Bates City. Three of the men served as members of the Community of Christ lay priesthood. The church reports that their licenses have been suspended.
Arrests were made Tuesday during coordinated raids after one of the alleged victims, now 26, spoke to authorities about her experiences at the farm and the experiences of others. She told somber tails, such as one in which girls were forced to line up on their knees on a bed where each was assaulted by the men. As for the jars, she says the girls wrote notes about the years of sexual abuse and buried them in the ground, hoping that someday someone might read them and know what happened to them at the farm.
Authorities say the woman suppressed her memories for years, then came forward to speak with Independence police about the middle of August. She told investigators about years of torment, from 1988 when she was 5-years-old to 1995, when she says she had an abortion. Court documents indicate five other victims have stepped forward, now in their 20s and 30s, supporting her claims.