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Maine Church poisioning possible result of church conflict

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by TomVols, May 21, 2003.

  1. TomVols

    TomVols New Member

    Oct 30, 2000
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    NEW SWEDEN, Maine (May 20) - Investigators say they are convinced at least two people were behind the deadly arsenic poisonings at a small church, and they have narrowed the list of possible suspects to six to 10 parishioners.

    The conspirators may have been trying to poison the church's 12-member council, perhaps in a disagreement over plans to consolidate Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church with neighboring congregations, State Police Lt. Dennis Appleton said Monday.

    One man died and 15 others were sickened from drinking tainted coffee after Sunday services April 27. Five days later, a longtime worshipper, Daniel Bondeson, 53, shot himself to death and left a suicide note that convinced investigators he was involved in the poisonings and may not have acted alone.

    Investigators have since uncovered information substantiating their belief that the crime involved at least two members of the church, Appleton said.

    ``We're very comfortable with the fact Daniel Bondeson didn't act alone because of things we've learned in the last week,'' Appleton told The Associated Press. ``We strongly feel that somebody in that community helped Daniel Bondeson - helped, conspired with, planned to commit this act.''

    Appleton, who is leading the homicide investigation, would not elaborate on the new information. But in an interview, he spoke more openly than ever about potential suspects, their possible motives and intended victims, and investigators' theories of the case.

    Gustaf Adolph has about 50 regular churchgoers, and investigators have concluded that at least 40 of them were not involved in the poisonings, Appleton said. But he described a group of six to 10 people who are still considered potential suspects.

    ``I certainly hope that any co-conspirators are within that group we're looking at,'' Appleton said. ``I think when we get all through, the group's going to be a lot smaller.''

    Investigators believe the poisonings that rocked the farming community occurred when seemingly innocuous small-town church politics turned combustible, he said.

    One issue being explored is the Bondeson family's gift of a Communion table that sat unused for a few weeks.

    Another is the possibility that the 132-year-old church was going to be consolidated with neighboring congregations.

    ``There's some very traditional views, and there's some more modern views,'' Appleton said. ``And I think some of the issues ... come as a result of those differences.''

    The lieutenant raised the possibility that the church council was the intended target, noting that the council has a weekly meeting after church where members regularly drink coffee. ``There were ... a number of people on the council that were sick,'' Appleton said.

    Ed Margeson, a council member whose son was among those hospitalized with arsenic poisoning, expressed dismay that more than one person might be involved.

    ``One blow with one person is bad enough, but to have two blows or maybe three - I don't know,'' he said.

    05/20/03 20:37 EDT

    Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
  2. donnA

    donnA New Member

    Aug 10, 2000
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    So it was someone from their own congregation? Good grief, thats carrying a disagreement too far.
  3. bobfrgsn

    bobfrgsn New Member

    Mar 22, 2003
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    I agree. Most poison is carried on by gossip and backbiting. Maybe a physical poison is better. It's quick and doesn't linger on and on and on. Like with the deacons get mad a the preacher or someone gets their feeling hunt.