Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Students Planned Cult, Says Sheriff Teens Also Targeted Girls, He Testifies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Students Planned Cult, Says Sheriff Teens Also Targeted Girls, He Testifies

Article excerpt

Two students at a secluded private school who are accused of killing a fellow student had plotted to kill the adult staff, take over the school and create a Waco-type cult, according to court testimony Tuesday.

Wayne County Sheriff Nathan Hale said they also planned to "have their way" with the girl students at their school, the Mountain Park Baptist Church and Boarding Academy.

A preliminary hearing was held Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action against Anthony G. "Tony" Rutherford, 18, of Siloam Springs, Ark. Rutherford and a 15-year-old student are accused of killing William A. Futrelle II, 16, of Boca Raton, Fla., in a wooded area of the campus on March 25.

Shortly after the killing, the suspects told school officials they had done something wrong and led them to Futrelle's body. He had suffered a five-inch gash to his throat and blows to his forehead that caused a brain hemorrhage.

After hearing 75 minutes of testimony Tuesday, Associate Circuit Judge Randy P. Schuller ruled there was enough evidence to put Rutherford on trial and ordered him held without bond. Steve White of Poplar Bluff, a public defender who is representing Rutherford, said he would plead innocent at arraignment Thursday.

A hearing on whether the 15-year-old also should stand trial as an adult on the same charges will be held here May 21. He is from California.

Another 15-year-old, who also was present at the killing, already has been sent to juvenile detention on a lesser charge of concealing a crime.

Mountain Park Baptist academy is on 165 acres just west of the St. Francis River, about 110 miles south of St. Louis and 12 miles from Greenville, the Wayne County seat. The school for troubled teen-agers enrolls about 170 girls and 30 boys.

The Rev. Bobby Wills and his wife, Betty, run the school with several relatives and other staff members. The Willses believe in strict discipline and conservative Christianity.

Rutherford has been in the county jail on the third floor of the co urthouse since March 25. He appeared Tuesday in a white shirt, brown slacks and brown tie. He rarely spoke to White but was attentive and closely followed the testimony.

His maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Russell of Siloam Springs, were his only relatives at the hearing. Rutherford's father is Bruce Rutherford, the presiding administrative judge of Benton County, in far northwestern Arkansas.

Chief sheriff's deputy Larry Bruce testified that he questioned Anthony Rutherford at the school shortly after the killing. Bruce said Rutherford told him that he and the other suspect talked earlier that day about killing Futrelle, a new student whom they had been told to monitor, to get him out of the way.

Rutherford's written statement, which Bruce read in court, says they planned the killing "so we could roam freely, to break into a house and get our hands on a gun or some other weapon to attempt to take out the staff and start a cult, as was in Texas. …

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