Sister pleads for help as young woman starves

Esther as she appears in a new video

Esther as she appears in a new video

Just as I was about to post this story, a reader tipped me off to a new video on strongcity.info featuring “Esther”.  The video is nearly ten minutes in length and appears at the conclusion of this post.

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As regular readers of this blog well know, there is mounting concern for the health and welfare of a New Mexico young woman who has reportedly been fasting for about a month.

“Esther”, as she is called at the compound known as Strong City, is a member of the Lord Our Righteousness Church.  The LOR’s leader, Wayne Bent, was convicted last month of second-degree criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Esther has reportedly been “starving herself” since Bent was sent to prison.

Early this morning, Esther’s sister posted twice in a comment’s section on Beyond90Seconds.com.  In her first post, “Lorraine” shared that she is the person who requested that law enforcement check on Esther’s welfare.  Sheriff’s deputies performed the welfare check just yesterday.

Feeling that Lorraine’s plea deserves to be lifted from the depths of a comment section, I’ve decided to create this post so that her words can, hopefully, find a larger audience.

Lorrain’s 1st comment, 4:24am (PST), January 27, 2009

I am extremely sad and deeply troubled about the state of my sister Aquinnah O’Keefe (Ester)and yesterday requested the welfare check of her by the sheriffs department;I also contacted the DA’s office. She is very weak and gave them a statement stating she refuses all medical and civil intervention and refuses any resuscitation should she become unresponsive. This statement was signed by seven cult members as witnesses to her desire and “religious right” to conduct this fast without any medical or civil intervention.I am at a quandry, trying to get a grip on the standing by and allowing Aquinnah to die because she has a religious “right” to do so. If she were standing with a gun to her head(which she is…) would we allow her to do so because she has a religious right???? She has been so indoctrinated in this since she was a small child she lacks the capacity to truely make a sound decision. Her mother Hanifa is responsible for this and some day SHE will stand accountable. The legal system IS NOT the villian here. Wayne Bent reaped what he sowed. This group only accepts this truth when it pertains to the “world” yet they feel they are exempt from this principle. “Cause and effect” was preached over and over ,yet somehow Wayne is exempt from this principle also. “There is no such thing as a victim,” do they remember this???? Why now is Wayne a victim???? When do you accept that this IS God’s will that Wayne is in prison???? The Lord works in mysterious ways…. I don’t remember Jesus making an appeal to Caesar or complaining he was “tortured” as Wayne recently stated in his last letter. Wayne’s followers are incapable of seeing these truths. Wayne has done GREAT damage to many lives and those who feel sympathetic know only a fraction of what has transpired throughout these many years. I hope my sister Aquinnah O’Keefe will not die over this and that we can intervene. I will continue to work toward this. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Aquinnah is my fathers fifth daughter, the age of my own children. I nursed Aquinnah as a baby, strange as that may seem to some,I feel she is like my child in this way.To think she is wasting away on the verge of death is unacceptable. Please help me, I live in New York state, I am not very popular out there and need some feedback, what do I do???? Any legal advice that is sound??? I will make more calls today.

Lorrain’s 2nd comment, 4:27am (PST), January 27, 2009

P.S Mine and Aquinnah’s father died in 2000. He was NEVER part of this and tried VERY hard to get them out of there. He would never have tolerated this.

And now, the video featuring Esther that’s just been posted on strongcity.info, via youtube:

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22 Responses to Sister pleads for help as young woman starves

  1. avatar
    KM January 27, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Mark, I just posted on the story that Lorraine first posted on. Please feel free to move my post up to this story or if you want I’ll repost it.
    I gave her some names and numbers and told her if they couldn’t help her to ask you for my email and I’ll try to find someone else.
    Thanks!

  2. avatar
    ron January 27, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    My prayers are with you. Could a lawyer or mental health official let you know what your rights are, as far as a family member of someone who has proven to be a hazzard to themself and maybe others?

  3. avatar
    KM January 27, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Lorraine, You need a NM attorney who will try to get you guardianship of your sister. Sounds like she has signed a living will and/or Do Not Resuscitate order and unfortunately it will be honored unless someone gets legal guardianship over her. If you have that they will not honor whatever she signed and will take her out of there.

    Please call the State Bar of New Mexico at (505) 797-6053. Ask for Kasey Daniel. She is the Director of Public and Legal Services. She is somewhat aware of what is happening but probably doesn’t know about this new turn of events. Unfortunately you probably won’t be able to get a Lawyer for free but hopefully she’ll be able to direct you to someone who will help for a smaller fee or on a contingency bases.
    If she can’t help you, ask who can. You can also ask for Kate Mulqueen at (505) 797-6064. She works with the Equal Access to Justice program in NM. She is also aware of what’s happening. Please tell them that this is an emergency, that it can’t wait a day and ask them to recommend someone in Clayton or Raton who will get you temporary legal guardianship until Esther is out of danger. Then it might require something more to retain guardianship if she is not capable of making her own decisions. You might find someone who will file paperwork without you flying out here but you will need to be here if it gets signed to take charge of your sister. Make sure the lawyer knows that you are her sister, your mother is in too deep and you want to stop this fast until you can get Esther a psychological evaluation. Tell them what you wrote in the above post.
    If you need more assistance, please ask Mark Horner for my email and I will try to give you more numbers. The people I mentioned above know all the attorneys in the state and hopefully they will help you find one.
    I’m praying for you and your sister.

  4. avatar
    EMC January 27, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    One thing of interest about the affidavit of Religious Fast signed by Aquinnah: the witnesses are Jeff Bent . . . and the other six virgins. I wondered if a case might be made that she is under undue influence, in addition to the question of whether she is truly capable of making an informed decision.

    Just a thought.

    I’m reminded of an old, old joke. Rivers are rising and an old man living alone, stands on his porch and watches. Neighbors come by and offer to give the gent a ride out of the area. Man says, “No, thanks, God will take care of me!”

    Sometime later, water fills the street, and a boatload of firefighters comes along and offers the man a ride to safety. “Thank you, but God will provide.”

    Soon, the man is sitting atop the roof of his house and a helicopter hovers overhead and offers to bring him on board. “No,” the man yells into the wind, “God is all I need.”

    The man drowns, and upon arriving in Heaven, says, “God, why didn’t you fulfill your promise and care for me?”

    God says, “I sent you a car, a boat, and a helicopter – what more could I do?”

    Aquinnah, Lorraine has come to visit, officials have come to perform a welfare check, Wayne has encouraged you to eat, people have sent e-mail after e-mail expressing concern.

    If you listen to Father, listen now. He’s sent many messengers. LISTEN to their love and cease this harm.

  5. avatar
    Stephanie January 27, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    This has to be one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen aside from the documentary CNN did on Jonestown.

  6. avatar
    MoMoYa January 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    This is so very sad and tragic. Even sadder is that her own Mother is in agreement with her daughter doing this. I can see that she means to see this through, but I also see that she is in relatively good condition and there does not appear to be any ill health effects just yet.
    I hope that this young woman can pull herself together and come back to “life”. I have read most of the posts on this site as well as Prudence’s site and along with Johnny Millers thoughts and through all of those writings – I have come to understand the complexities of this situation. My heart goes out to all of them and their families. I can only pray that God will take care of Ester and bring her out of this.

  7. avatar
    Lorraine January 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    Thank you all for your insights and comments. I am doing all I can at this time. Hopefully the right pieces come together quickly.

  8. avatar
    Stephanie January 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    From the SC website WB wrote:

    “After a week and a half of Aquinnah’s fast, I appealed to her to eat, but she told me that she could not.”

    WB has asked Esther to cease her fast yet she continues. She no longer sees WB as her Saviour? She no longer listens to WB?

    Why?

  9. avatar
    Casidi January 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    I don’t mean to sound heartless or mocking, this is a very serious issue, but there were several times I rolled my eyes watching Esther’s movie. The background music, the way they show her walking all bent over and slow in and out of the back room, how she keeps pausing to gulp loudly, etc. It seems so rehearsed… like she’s trying too hard to seem like she’s on her last leg. And why did they shoot just her on the dirt path last summer? What was the point of that clip when they shot it? Why do they have so many theatrical/rehearsed movieclips/pictures laying around? Is this really a cult of actor’s that never made it and this is their last shot at stardom with a reality show? (I keep waiting for somebody to say this is all set up by VH1)

    If she is so weak why not just have her sitting and talking? By creating all the dramatics of the walk to/from the bedroom they are using up her remaining energy. Why the silly, sappy music if this is only about her “statement” against the incarceration? It’s like those badly done infomercials about abandoned animals where they guilt you into giving money or adopting a pet with sad music and pics of big puppy eyes or animals in casts. This whole movie seems intended to pull heartstrings/guilt the viewer so we will give them money or rally for their cause of releasing Wayne. I’m not even sure anymore if this is about Wayne being in prison, but rather just trying to get people to give them money.

    I was also surprised that after CryTears shouted about an update on Esther to get money they actually went along with it. I’m not sure if that was a coincidence, but it sure went right along with what CryTears said had to be done to get money. It really is seeming like they are reacting on feedback. Esther even says “all of you want to know how I am”. All of who? To me that says that they are closely listening to our reactions (aren’t we the beast world?) and not God.

    I hope that my skepticism is all unfounded, but this whole recent fasting/movie/dramatics is sitting in my gut as a sham of some sort. I can’t believe they really think this is going to release Wayne.

  10. avatar
    Casidi January 27, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    And, Lorraine, my heart goes out to you. I mean no ill thoughts to you or to make light of the situation, but I just have this strange feeling that we aren’t getting the full story and that things that are going on are meant to manipulate the rest of us. Hopefully that is partially true and Esther is acting more than actually doing.

    It’s just all so unbelievable. My thoughts go out to you.

  11. avatar
    Lorraine January 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    They have been very good at theatrics and the song is being sung by Ester’s mother believe it or not. I do believe Ester is still in danger and this was recorded 4 days ago so she would be even weaker. I feel a great responsibility to her despite her affidavit and her insistence that this is her “right.”
    She was a child when her mother joined this group and to see this video today is SO sad to me. She has been manipulated,brainwashed,controlled and broken. She once had a spirit that was so full of life and energy as a little girl, she was broken and this is what they have done to her. No hope for any life, or family, or dream… She will give her life in vain and waste her talents to no avail and those around her will say this is of God. It is not. I truely believe Jesus would say “depart from me,I never knew you”…..

  12. avatar
    KM January 27, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    I can’t remember how old Esther is but she’s still an adult. As an adult, she has the right to do what she’s doing even if others are exploiting her (which they are). It also means her mother doesn’t have any legal grounds to speak for her.

    What Lorraine wrote is very true “She has been so indoctrinated in this since she was a small child she lacks the capacity to truely make a sound decision. Her mother Hanifa is responsible for this and some day SHE will stand accountable. The legal system IS NOT the villian here. Wayne Bent reaped what he sowed. This group only accepts this truth when it pertains to the “world” yet they feel they are exempt from this principle. “Cause and effect” was preached over and over, yet somehow Wayne is exempt from this principle also. “There is no such thing as a victim,” do they remember this???? Why now is Wayne a victim???? When do you accept that this IS God’s will that Wayne is in prison????”

    I agree the movie is sappy and obviously rehearsed. From what she said I feel like at this point she’s probably still taking water but she won’t last forever. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very sadden that she is killing herself but these types of publicity stunts don’t work and all that’s going to happen is she’ll end up dying and WB will still be in prison.

    I truly hope Lorraine will be allowed to help. It’s hard to obtain guardianship over an adult but with what Esther’s written and said, what her mother has written as well as WB’s numerous diatribes I think a judge might feel like she does need to be evaluated. A judge might even appoint a guardian (not family) for the time being who would look after Esther’s best interest (about her physical and mental health) until Lorraine could obtain legal guardianship.

    There is little time to waste!

  13. avatar
    EMC January 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    The video of Esther’s welfare check has now been posted on the Strong City site.

    The deputies went out of their way to try to help Esther.

    I literally cried – what a sad situation.

    I was very disappointed by the behavior of one individual on the video. I think I’ll leave it at that, because I’m trying to be nice.

  14. avatar
    Casidi January 27, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    Like I said I meant no ill will and hope I didn’t offend. Part of me is angry at the older members there that are pretty much sacrificing her and then exploiting her for a group gain. I wasn’t referring to the song that was sung, that actually made sense, but the background music as she was talking. And the way they filmed it, they are doing what they accused Ben Anthony of, manipulating people to do/feel things. It seems like the other folks there are dramatizing this for their own gain. It’s all very sick and twisted to have her as the poster child of what’s going on. They are exploiting her and I find that detestable. Why aren’t the rest of them fasting? Why aren’t there sad movies of the pain the rest of them are feeling complete with sad music and shots of themselves suffering?

    As for this fast being her “right”, it would be if she was doing it completely alone, with a completely sound mind and as a religious experience rather than a protest, but there are other members there egging her on, telling her that if God said so then they won’t stop her… in other words saying that it’s acceptable. And then they are making movies of her for a group gain (the group wants Wayne back). I believe they are capitalizing on her suffering. If there was ever a more vile exploitation, I’m not sure what it would be.

  15. avatar
    Suzanne January 28, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    Lorriane,
    You or Bambie being family may be the only ones that can do anything about getting both your sisters out of there. I’m praying for your success on that. I posted.. on their website hoping to give Aquiannh some food for thought…..as to why she should eat…but who knows if she even saw or heard what I said. I sent Dr Philp an email with my contact info, hopefully you recieved that. Both your sisters use to work for me, and I loved them like daughters. I live just outside strong cities fences and it is very hard to see whats going on….if you need to come to NM and need help or just a friendly shoulder to lean on please contact me.

  16. avatar
    Kathy O'Keefe January 28, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    I cannot believe that I am writing this. I am Aquinnah’s oldest sister. Sadly I have never had the opportunity to know my youngest sisters. This is a nightmare!!! Their mother (Hanifa) Eileen O’Keefe and Wayne Bent are to blame for this. What kind of mother condones this? She has caused so much heartache in my family. She has many sins to attone for in her own right, yet she can sing that awful song and then watches her die. Aquinnah was never allowed to know any other way. She and her sisters were raised in this “church” from very early childhood. Bambi escaped, Lorraine left because she saw the Wayne was manipulated the group. This is not the Messiah!!! God did not appoint Wayne to be the Messiah in Jesus’ place. The bible was thrown out the door many years ago and Wayne like so many others twisted the bible’s message to fit his own needs! I am fully supporting my sister’s actions whatever they may be. I am praying to the true Lord that Aquinnah lives to know the truth. Aquinnah’s family do indeed love her even if she doesn’t believe it. It was not our fault that we did not get to know her as Lorraine does. I do hope the authorities take action to protect my sister’s life. Religious groups like this are deadly for the members. Wayne has taken everything from them and now he takes her life!

  17. avatar
    Dr. Cult January 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    I still have a family member in there and seeing things like this just scares me because they could all start starving themselves, and they are all such skin and bones already since all their other fasts.

  18. avatar
    Moriah February 1, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    In response to Eileen’s Open letter to my mother!
    ~the would not post it their site..

    Eileen,
    I think you are such a hypocrite!
    You also had children out of wedlock,
    one of which was “Esther”!
    You grew pot and slept around.
    You suffocated me when I was a baby,and showed no remorse! Correct me if I’m wrong but you said, “that’s a rebellious child.”
    So, before you go saying these things about my mother. I ask you to not forget who you once were ,and still are… Eileen O’keefe!
    My mother loves her Sisters very much and wouldn’t waste her time and money on this if she didn’t! I may be a young mother and not be married,but I would never watch my daughter starve to death! You are the jealouse one, living the life you covet through your daughter! When you are busy pointing your finger at people, look and see how many of your fingers are pointing back at you!
    Have you lost your bible or your mind?
    Are you one of gods people?…

    “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the LORD your God…

    ONE: ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’

    TWO: ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.’

    THREE: ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.’

    FOUR: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’

    FIVE: ‘Honor your father and your mother.’

    SIX: ‘You shall not murder.’

    SEVEN: ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

    EIGHT: ‘You shall not steal.’

    NINE: ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’

    TEN: ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.’


    I think you can answer that for yourself!

  19. avatar
    CSC February 1, 2009 at 11:33 pm #

    Moriah
    I think you said more than a mouthful in that post. I may not be a religious type of person, but even I have standards and morals. So many things they proclaim to be of GOD (Father) Michael (or whoever they want to claim for the day)make me want to gag.
    Let He who has not sinned (done anything wrong) cast the first stone. This I do believe includes the Laws of the Land. A regular poster here compiled all the Laws of the Land ( I for some reason think this might just include New Mexico and the United States of America) recently broken by the members of Strong City. Jeff Bent of all people should know these laws seeing how he used to be a police officer. OK! I forgot this is the same person that allowed his wife to sleep with his father multiple times.
    Mark, I hope to see in the near future you covering the arrest, trial, and conviction of those members who signed the document condoning and encouraging the fast till death of Esther (Aquinnah). Somehow I can almost see it happening sooner than later or maybe it’s wishful thinking. What kind of sick and demented person could sit back and watch a person kill themself? In this case I hope the Wheels of Justice roll swiftly before another person is harmed.
    Lorraine, I think what you did by asking for help is admirable. Even though I am not a fan of Dr. Phil I know he has helped a lot of people and I hope he is helping you now with this. I know the cost of all the psycological therapy your sister is going to need will be quite extensive. My thoughts are with you during this time of struggle.

  20. avatar
    Albuquerque Journal February 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    This message is for Lorraine, Kathy O’Keefe or any other relative of Aquinnah, aka Esther.

    The Albuquerque Journal would like to contact you about the ongoing situation regarding Aquinnah and would like to hear your opinions.

    Please e-mail reporter Vic Vela at vvela@abqjournal.com

    Best,
    Vic Vela
    Albuquerque Journal

  21. avatar
    Beyond90Seconds February 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    Message has already been forwarded to Lorraine O’Keefe.

  22. avatar
    magdalena February 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    Most of the people of the world are blind for the spiritual things, blinded by fears, hate and other negative emotions which they carry in themselfs.Lorraine seems to be posessed by many unclean emotions,anyone with a clean consiousness can see that, so it is impossible for her to see the truth, forgive Lord, for she knows not what she is doing.As for NOW it is not the time to find fault in the other but rather seek the Lord with pure heart and direct our cries to Him,and pray and keep praying untill the Mighty One answers,but pure heart and clean spirit are required.

Thank you for visiting.

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