KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Less than three months after he stood as a groomsman in the wedding of two friends he had known since college in Texas, Micah Moore walked into a suburban Kansas City police department and unloaded a dark secret: He had taken the woman’s life at the request of her new husband, a charismatic prayer-group leader.
Police said Bethany Deaton’s death initially appeared to be a suicide. Officers found a note and empty bottle of over-the-counter pain medication along with her body in a minivan parked by a lake on Oct. 30.
It wasn’t until Mr. Moore confessed nearly two weeks later that police announced she had been killed. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on a first-degree murder charge Wednesday.
In the criminal complaint filed in support of the charge, police detailed a stunning series of allegations that Mr. Moore made as part of his confession.
Mr. Moore, 23, lived with Mrs. Deaton and her husband, Tyler, in a communal home shared by male members of their prayer group. He told police that several members had sexually assaulted Mrs. Deaton and that they were worried she would tell someone. Mr. Moore said that’s when Mr. Deaton ordered him to kill Mrs. Deaton, according to a criminal complaint.
Mr. Deaton has not been charged in his wife’s death. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Mr. Deaton was under investigation, but she declined to elaborate. Mr. Deaton does not have a listed phone number and did not respond to requests for comment The Associated Press made through Facebook and phone and email messages to his father.
Mr. Moore’s attorney, Melanie Morgan, declined to comment.
Mr. and Mrs. Deaton moved to Kansas City in 2009 from Texas to attend a six-month internship at the nonaccredited International House of Prayer University. The two had met as freshmen at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in 2005, and two years later Mr. Deaton started a prayer group, a former longtime member of the group told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was afraid of retaliation from Mr. Deaton.
Mr. Deaton was listed at one point as a division coordinator for IHOPU’s “friendship groups,” but the school said that was a mistake. It issued a statement distancing itself from Mr. Deaton after Mr. Moore, a student at IHOPU, was arrested.
“Since Bethany’s death it has come to light that over five years ago, both she and Mr. Moore joined an independent, close-knit, religious group in Georgetown, Texas,” the school said in a statement. “This religious group of fewer than 20 people was led by Tyler Deaton. They relocated to Kansas City over the last few years and operated under a veil of secrecy.”
IHOPU is the educational arm of International House of Prayer of Kansas City, an evangelical Christian group focused on missions and preparation for the end of time.
The Deatons’ prayer group had at least two houses, with women living in one and men in another. Mrs. Deaton, 27, moved into the men’s house with her husband after they married in August.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Moore told police that men in the house began drugging Mrs. Deaton and sexually assaulting her soon after she moved in. He said she was seeing a therapist and group members became concerned she would tell the therapist about the assaults.
Mr. Moore and other men who lived in the house told police that several group members also were having sexual relations with Mr. Deaton, unbeknownst to his wife. One man, whose name was blacked out of the criminal complaint, told police that Mr. Deaton said after Mrs. Deaton died that he had had a dream he killed his wife by suffocating her.
Mr. Moore told detectives Mr. Deaton instructed him to kill Mrs. Deaton because he knew Mr. Moore had it in him to do it, and that Mr. Moore reported back to Mr. Deaton after she was dead. Mr. Moore told police that he had placed a bag over Mrs. Deaton’s head and held it there until her body shook.
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