Three charged in Amish-on-Amish violence

BERGHOLZ, Ohio, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Authorities said they have charged three Amish men accused in a series of Amish-on-Amish attacks across four eastern Ohio counties.

Levi Miller, 53, Johnny S. Mullet, 38, and Lester Mullet, 26, have been charged with aggravated burglary and kidnapping in one of the attacks, which involved cutting off the beards and hair of an Amish family, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. They were being held on $250,000 bond, the newspaper said.


Police determined a fourth man taken into custody, Lester M. Miller, 37, of Bergholz, (no relation to Levi Miller) had been mistaken for a brother, and was subsequently released, The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (W.Va.) News-Register reported Sunday.

Two more arrests were expected, authorities said.

The Post-Gazette said the two Mullets are the sons of Sam Mullett, 66, who heads a breakaway group of about 16 Amish families dubbed the Bergholz Clan.

The trio charged in the Tuesday home invasion in Holmes County allegedly got a 74-year-old man out of bed, held him in a chair and cut off his beard with scissors and clippers.

"One Amish told me he'd rather die than have his beard cut off. It's humiliating, embarrassing, degrading to them," Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said.


"It's bizarre," he said of the crimes. "I guess the reason it's gaining so much publicity is that no one has ever heard of Amish-on-Amish crime like this."

The sheriff said the elder Mullet was upbraided four years ago during a meeting of about 300 Amish bishops from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York for his leadership of his group and for ordering the "shunning" of two families.

"They brought him on the carpet, and he told them to go to hell. He thumbed his nose at them," Abdalla said.

Beverly Cushman, Westminster College associate professor of religion and Christian education, said the act of cutting a woman's hair and a man's beard is to humiliate them.

"The Bible says women are not to cut their hair, that hair is a blessing and is part of a woman's beauty and it belongs to their husband. To have hair forcefully cut is to be shamed," Cushman told the Warren (Ohio) Tribune Chronicle. "For the men with a beard, you can only begin to grow a beard when you get married. It is a symbol of full status, a symbol of your adult manhood."

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