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10-07-2011, 05:21 PM
Amish Men's Beards Cut Off; Police Suspect Amish-On-Amish Violence


First Posted: 10/7/11 11:25 AM ET Updated: 10/7/11 11:27 AM ET

Sheriff's deputies are closing in on suspects from a troublemaking Amish splinter group in Ohio who have broken into homes and cut off the beards and hair of other Amish men.

Authorities tell HuffPost Crime they are planning to arrest at least four men who are followers of Sam Mullet (Sam MULLET?! :facepalm:), a bishop who Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said has clashed with other Amish leaders for years.

At least three attacks in rural eastern Ohio since September prompted the victims -- all Amish -- to look outside their traditionalist community to seek help from local police.

In one nighttime raid in Carroll County, a group of men knocked on a door, pulled a man out by the beard and tried to chop off his facial hair, the Wheeling Intelligencer reports.

In Holmes County, a posse allegedly broke into a home, lopping off the hair and whiskers of everyone inside, including a 13-year-old-girl and 74-year-old man. There were no serious injuries, according to police.

"Who knows where it's going to end?" Abdalla said to The Huffington Post. "That's why we have to make these arrests."

Holmes and Carroll County sheriff's officials didn't return calls from HuffPost.

The unnamed suspects could be charged with kidnapping, assault, burglary and trespassing, the sheriff said.

Police say Mullet is not a suspect, but he is said to exert influence over the approximately 18 families that live near him in the village of Bergholz. The attackers in Carroll County allegedly identified themselves as the "Bergholz clan" to the victims. One person that deputies plan to arrest is a son of Mullet, Abadalla said.

The victims of the tonsorial onslaughts include two Amish bishops. Abdalla believes that Mullet is a ringleader who ordered his followers to launch the attacks against his potential rivals.

"Those people don't make a move out there without his orders," Abdalla told The Huffington Post. "He calls all the shots."

The Amish community in Jefferson County is small, numbering around 100 individuals, Abdalla said, but is much larger in the neighboring areas.

In Trumbell County last month, men and women allegedly invaded a home and returned to Jefferson County with the freshly cut locks as proof that they carried out Mullet's commands, according to The Intelligencer. The victims said their sons and son-in-law were the culprits, but refused to file a complaint, the Associated Press reports.

Amish do not shave or cut their hair, believing that it's forbidden by the Bible, said Donald Kraybill, an expert who studies the religious minority at Elizabethtown College. To forcibly lob off their locks is a direct insult to their identity, Kraybill said.

"This is very odd and clearly outlier behavior," (NO!) he wrote to HuffPost. "Amish-on-Amish violences is extremely rare. ... These appear to be malicious assaults on symbols of Amish identity by a wacko little group."

The Huffington Post could not contact Mullet. Bryan Felmet, an attorney who represented Mullet four years ago, said he's no longer a client.

The haircutting banditry is the latest form of tumult that Sheriff Abdalla attributes to Mullet's colony. During a custody dispute in 2007 between Mullet's daughter Wilma Troyer and her husband, armed deputies stormed a schoolhouse to seize Troyer's daughters. At a subsequent hearing, Abdalla claimed that Mullet had threatened his life and that sexual abuse in the Amish community had been covered up.


10-07-2011, 05:23 PM
Oh snap...

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Rain Man
10-07-2011, 06:15 PM
This is why I would never live in an Amish community. Way too violent.

Easy 6
10-07-2011, 06:22 PM
This is why I would never live in an Amish community. Way too violent.


10-07-2011, 06:24 PM
This is why I would never live in an Amish community. Way too violent.

Oh, I'm with you.

Took me forever to grow a 6 or 7 inch goatee.

Man, I'd be biblical pissed off if I'd been working on that thing since 14 and at 45 some dude breaks in and with a razor and sleep-shaves me...

10-07-2011, 09:15 PM
Whatever happened to shunning?

11-11-2011, 08:13 PM
Sheriff: Amish man's beard cut in new Ohio attack

updated 11/11/2011 2:38:02 PM ET

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio An elderly Amish man was attacked by his own son, who a sheriff said cut the man's hair and beard in the latest incident in a breakaway Amish community. The victim told the sheriff he was scared and upset but wouldn't press charges.

"I'm frustrated with it. I'm upset with it. And, here again, the man doesn't want to file charges because of his belief," Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Friday.

Abdalla warned the son in advance that he didn't want trouble and parked nearby during the father-son reunion, the first in several years.

The sheriff said the elderly man was attacked Wednesday while visiting his son in the breakaway Amish community that's home to five suspects charged in an earlier beard-cutting attack. The son, whose father-in-law is the group's leader, wasn't among those charged earlier, Abdalla said.

Authorities in three other counties are investigating similar alleged attacks.

Such hair-cutting attacks are offensive to the Amish because they believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.

The man, who Abdalla said was in his 70s, went to his son's home and the two talked. The man said his son then attacked him, with the help of the son's children, and wrestled the elderly man to the ground, Abdalla said.

The sheriff said the elderly man's wife tried to help her husband but was held back by her daughter-in-law.

"This guy was just totally destroyed after this happened. They just humiliated him. I talked to him. I mean, the guy's a broken man," Abdalla said.

Abdalla said the beard-cutting incidents are related to Sam Mullet, leader of the breakaway Amish group in the Bergholz area. The group has had differences with other bishops over the handling of church matters, and Abdalla said the son of the latest victim is married to Mullet's daughter.

Mullet told The Associated Press last month that the hair-cutting was a response to criticism of his leadership from other Amish bishops.

"They changed the rulings of our church here, and they're trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we're not going to do that," Mullet said.

The sheriff said the latest victim traveled from Ashland County in response to an invitation from his son.

The attacks in September and October struck at the core of the Amish identity and tested their principles. While it's uncommon for the Amish to take disputes public and enlist authorities, there is no central authority to decide so it usually falls to the church leaders or those involved.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has said an Amish man came to his office with an attorney earlier this fall and tried to surrender in the September attack on a couple in Mesopotamia in northeast Ohio. Watkins said he turned the man away because no charges were filed in that case.

In that case, a 57-year-old woman blamed her sons and a son-in-law for an attack on her husband and said they were involved in a cult in the county 75 northwest of Steubenville.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.