May 21, 2017

Blood ailment fatal to cult leader Tony Alamo

Septicemia among infirmities noted in cult leader’s death

Bill Bowden
Arkansas Online
May 20, 2017 .

Evangelist and cult leader Tony Alamo died May 2 of blood poisoning, according to a document from the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Alamo, 82, died of septicemia secondary to a urinary tract infection, according to a "clinical encounter ... death note" the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette received after a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Septicemia also is known as blood poisoning.

Alamo also suffered from sepsis, chronic kidney disease and diabetes, according to the document. He died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C.

No autopsy was performed, according to the document.

Alamo, whose real name was Bernie Lazar Hoffman, was sentenced to 175 years in prison in 2009 for transporting girls across state lines to have sex. At his trial, several women testified they had been sexually abused by Alamo, and some said they were forced to become his "wives."

Former Alamo followers claimed in federal court filings that they had been brainwashed, imprisoned, routinely beaten, starved as punishment for perceived wrongdoing, and forced to work long hours without pay.

In 1966, after serving jail time on a weapons charge, Hoffman married Edith Opal Horn of Alma and they changed their names to Tony and Susan Alamo.

They started a street ministry in Los Angeles in the late 1960s and moved it to western Arkansas in the mid-1970s. The group purchased land just north of Dyer and built a compound there.

After Susan Alamo died of cancer in 1982, Tony Alamo kept her embalmed body in their mansion, telling his followers that she would rise from the dead. After about six months, he was finally persuaded to entomb her body in a mausoleum near the mansion's heart-shaped swimming pool.

In 1991, just before federal agents seized the property, the front of the mausoleum was smashed and Susan Alamo's body disappeared. Seven years later, the coffin was dropped off outside a Van Buren funeral home. Susan Alamo's remains are now in a crypt in Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa.

After serving a tax-evasion sentence, Tony Alamo was released in 1998 and set up a smaller Tony Alamo Ministries in Fouke in Miller County, with branches in Fort Smith and Los Angeles.

On Sept. 20, 2008, state and federal officials raided the Fouke compound as part of a two-year investigation into allegations of child abuse and child pornography.

Alamo was arrested in Flagstaff, Ariz., five days later.

The next year, he was found guilty on 10 counts of taking underage girls across state lines for sex.

Metro on 05/20/2017

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