“Esther” returns to Strong City

Update (February 9, 2009 / 2:35pm PST): A note from Esther


She’s back.

25-year-old Aquinnah O’Keefe (aka Esther) returned to the Lord Our Righeousness Church compound known as “Strong City” on Saturday afternoon. According to strongcity.info, O’Keefe returned to “the land” in remote northeastern New Mexico around 2:30pm local time.

A photo posted on the church’s Web site shows O’Keefe with her half-sister, Lorraine Irwin. The Web site reports that Irwin returned O’Keefe to the compound.

Last month, Irwin appeared on the Dr. Phil television program. The episode was titled, “Family Cult, part 2″.

Armed with a court order, authorities removed O’Keefe from the LOR property on January 28th. The young woman had reportedly been fasting since LOR leader Wayne Bent was sent to prison on December 30, 2008.

On January 29th, strongcity.info posted video of law enforcement and aid workers removing O’Keefe.

On February 1, KOB-TV aired an exclusive interview with O’Keefe. She told investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola that she was fasting because God had instructed her to do so. She also said that she was “willing to die on what I stand on.”

In December, a Taos jury convicted Bent on one count of second-degree criminal sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

15 thoughts on ““Esther” returns to Strong City”

  1. Personally, I never for one minute thought Esther would not return to her home. She has a right to return and she should, if that is what she wants to do. It is not the life that most of us would chose, but that does not necessarily make it wrong. It seems very peaceful and tranquil and we all could use a little bit of that in our lives.

    It is the only life Esther has ever known. She feels safe there. I am sure it would be very difficult for her to all of a sudden adjust to the world, outside Strong City.

    It would take truly highly skilled professionals to deprogram Esther. It would take months, maybe years of intense therapy. And for what? Do any of us, even her family have the right to force that on her?

    The issue was one of her safety. The issue was her life. Her life was at risk. If the only thing that was gained from her removal, was perhaps showing her that fasting till death was not a wise choice, then it was worth it. Hopefully, somehow on some level Esther was “reached,” and will no longer “fast for Wayne’s release.”

    Saving her life was important, and hopefully those at Strong City will now see what happened, as one of their “signs” that God wanted her to stop fasting, and she can continue her life there, safely and in a healthy manner. I think that is what we should all want for Esther.

  2. People are capable of adjusting to anything, but there will always be scars. As time goes by, I believe that people will leave Strong City and see Wayne for the flawed human that he is.

  3. It will be interesting to see how it will all go down when they realize that Bent isn’t getting out from behind the “concrete walls” any time soon. From the video’s I’ve seen of Jeff, this whole saga has been weighing heavy on him, he’s not a strong man. Who will lead them??

  4. avatar
    Give me a break!

    This womans life was saved from starving to death and it didn’t take letting the dirty old man Wayne Bent out of jail to do it. How do the people of Strong City explain this one? Maybe the real GOD is trying to show them something here if only they will listen to him.

  5. The people of strong city should be thanking my mother for saving Esters life!…while they were sitting there watching and videotaping her starve to death, my mother had the courage to go there and do something about it. knowing that she would be hated and called the devil!…she did it out of love for her sisters!
    Since they were all so troubled by her being “taken”, I wounder what they would have done if she had died instead!… Some of the would be sitting with their “messiah” in prison for assisted suicide! …Eileen you should thank my mother instead of critiscing her for doing what you should have done!

    …Maybe god has delivered them from evil, they’re just to ignorant to see that wayne bent is a fraud!
    Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 KJV).

    A temptation is an enticement to do wrong through a promise of pleasure, ease or advantage.

    Everyone is tempted. Jesus tells us to pray for God’s help. He told Peter, James and John in the garden: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40). “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The disciples wanted to do what was right, yet later that night they left Jesus.

    What is the source of temptation? “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15).

    “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13). We must take advantage of the way of escape that God provides.

    Read your bibles now that wayne is gone and listen to what it really says!

  6. Moriah,
    As we were all screaming out from our laptops for someone to stop Esther, Lorraine did. I am so grateful for your mother, she is the true hero in all of this.
    You said you wonder what they would have done had Esther died? They would have been pointing fingers and blaming the people that put Bent in prison. Hanifa herself has said she holds them all responsible. But the fact that she was callously using Esther for their own interests doesn’t apply here because they live behind those gates. Laws, rules, the Commandments, etc. do not apply to them. Or so they think………
    It will be interesting to see what’s next from them.

  7. Moriah, Your Mom was awesome. She even had a smile (a sad smile but still a smile) on her face when she dropped Esther back at SC. I hope Esther will remember her when the going gets tough again and know she’s someone who will be there no matter what.

    If Esther had died it would not have gone unnoticed by law enforcement and I agree with you that some people would be sitting in jail.

    It makes me wonder about the other deaths out there. Were they reported, were death certificates issued? I’m not questioning the burial of someone on their own land, happens where I live quite often, but you do have to report a death and either a Doctor or someone from the Office of Medical Investigators has to state a cause and issue the certificate. In an older person, or one who had a known terminal illness that wouldn’t cause too many questions but a previously very healthy young woman would get lots of attention. Especially after posting what she did on the internet.

    I’ve said it often but I’ll say it one more time. It is against the law in New Mexico to help someone kill themselves. Assisted Suicide means someone is helping you to end your life. There are many ways of assisting someone to die and encouraging someone to starve themselves is one of those ways. People who assist in a suicide go to jail!

    Uggh! I hate to agree with Hanifa on anything but when she said God used Lorraine to end Esther’s fast I have to agree. Not in the negative way Hanifa put it but because Lorraine loves her sister so much. The people at SC could have ended it anytime but they are unfeeling and thought they could force WB’s release by Esther’s death. To let your own daughter die because your sex partner is locked up is unforgivable. I know, I know, they’ll say they’re married to him but polygamy is also against the law.

    God bless!

  8. Lorraine, Thank you so much for having the love even in the midst of a lot of negativity to help out your sister in this most frustrating situation to so many of us who know and love these dear people who are so deluded, brainwashed, imbalanced and hypnotized by Wayne Bent.
    Only the comments that agree with Strong City are allowed on their website, as they screen all the others out. Even this shows their controlling ways as they don’t want anyone to be able to influence those that are at their compound nor those who read the comments into realizing that not all are in agreement with their choices.
    I feel the most for the young people who have grown up in this twisted atmosphere not knowing anything else. In many ways it is such a good environment… i.e. eating healthy food, singing hymns, studying the Bible, working together, living in the country. This is actually what makes it SO dangerous. The devil never gives us poison alone, but always mixes it with good, otherwise we would not be deceived by him in to accepting it. Oh, how I wish that they could be in an environment of the good that they have chosen, along with the balance of homes with a father and mother in them, where the elements of love, respect, and commitment are present. They have been so long with the screwed up thinking and mind control, that it would take nothing short of a miracle to free them from the power of the influences in their lives. For that I am praying.

    I have a dear friend there, and my heart has been burdened for years as I have seen families disintegrate, young people who don’t have a clue who they really are and what talents they have to share and bless the world, and lives and affections invested in an immoral, controling human being.

    With a heavy heart, I keep praying… and hoping!

  9. What is going on with Elisha’s fast? He wrote about a week ago on their blog that he was going to start a fast.

    I have a question regarding NM laws and assisted suicide. Is it still considered assisted suicide if Esther were to have drawn up documents stating that this was her choice and her doing? I’m very confused about where the line is drawn on that issue.

  10. Ron, that’s the truth!

    Ann, that’s so true. I wish those kids could get out for just awhile and see the world isn’t really the horrible place they’ve been told.
    Like you said all those gifts they have to share and they can only share them with certain select people. Very sad!

  11. Stephanie, the way I understand it, document or not, you can’t help someone kill themselves and encouraging them to keep fasting or watching while they do and doing nothing to stop them is helping them. Oregon is the only state (unless others have passed a law recently) where Assisted Suicide is legal and they have specific laws and criteria that have to be met.

    Just because you write words on paper and have someone witness them doesn’t make them legal. For instance, someone in the end stages of a terminal illness can’t get a Doctor to legally prescribe them the drugs that will end their life. Does it happen? Probably, but it still is illegal and would cause all sorts of problems for a Doctor that got caught doing it. It’s more clear cut in the case of someone with MS who is paralyzed, can’t go get a gun out of the closet, hold it to their head and fire it. Someone would have to assist them, illegally, and I’m sure that type of death would be suspect.

    End of life documents (what Esther signed) are for certain situations. Examples: You’re in a horrible car wreck and the only way you can be kept alive is by machines. If you’ve drawn up a living will the hospital will usually honor your wishes (but not always, esp. if there is doubt about your condition) and normally in the document you’ve appointed someone you trust to act as your voice in that type of situation. Or you have a terminal illness and there isn’t anyway for you to survive it, same thing with the documents. Many people use hospice care and die in their own homes. That’s one of the big reasons for the do not resuscitate order. You are dying and you don’t want a panicked family member calling 911 and they arrive and start CPR, you want to die peacefully surrounded by your family.

    Esther wasn’t in an accident or terminally ill, she was fasting and willing to die if WB wasn’t released and she wrote and talked about it in several places including the internet. That’s suicide and if she had died I think a court would have found that she was assisted by the people caring for her. I doubt that document would protect them from being charged with a crime because the death wouldn’t meet the criteria for a DNR. They could tell people all they wanted that she didn’t want to be revived and had signed that document but there wouldn’t have been a valid reason for her to have died in the first place except her own act of fasting until WB was released.

    Just my two cents worth mixed in with some laws that I’m pretty familiar with. The whole thing seemed manipulative and I guess it worked because many of us were drawn into the drama. If it had been one of the older women or one of the men (like Elisha) most likely it wouldn’t have gotten the attention it did.

  12. Still waiting to hear how Wayne is doing. Is he being a good little deity? He could make some good friends in the pokey if he would turn the water to wine.

  13. I have written on my blog (which can be found at samredman.wordpress.com ), a new post entitled, Understanding Evil.

    This is actually my review of the book,“People of the Lie,” by the world famous psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck. It is a rather lengthy article, but I think you will find that it is worth reading… you will discover also that it is quite topical to this case. Anyone who has followed the Wayne Bent story (no matter what your level of exposure) will see how amazingly “right on” the observations of Dr Peck are concerning the characteristics of the truly evil. If you have read the writings of Wayne Bent, you will see how well he fits the profile, as well as do those who were associated with encouraging the recent threatened death of “Esther.” It is nothing short of uncanny.

    You can just click on the link associated with my name to the right to go directly to the blog. –>

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