Well I will say what I have been saying for years no- elders need more and more training in counselling and shepherding and need to spend less time on judicial and field service
The Day two JW kids murdered their parents.
They got life in prison, which is where they are.
It shows that the elders of the JWs are amateurs and not suited for dealing with complicated problems and they mess up the lives of many R&F JWs especially with their judicial committees what is needed here are trained councelors. In mainstream religions there are more professional trained leaders.
As for those kids who knows how much emotional strain they were under due to the JW shunning policies but it looks like another family that was greatly harmed by the WTS.
Boy... I could tell you some stories...
The degree of lunacy would be funny, if it weren't so sad.
So, were they bullied at school first, and then also at their Kingdom Hall?
'The evidence shows that the boys did not rebel against their parents until after they were bullied at school.
In the Oxygen article, it says, “Both parents had met in the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and brought their sons up in their faith, but the two older boys had begun rejecting it in junior high when they were bullied for their differences (my italics).” Then they turned to substance abuse and were sent to the rehab facility.
In the TV episode, Jaccii Farris, a journalist and filmmaker, was quoted as saying the following: “The kids at school would pick on them because they had to wear a suit and tie or because they couldn’t hang out with them. The taunts grew as they got older.”
In 1995, when the media covered this story, the only mention of bullying was what the boys did to others; nothing was said about the bullying that they experienced first.
The reader and the viewer were left—and still are—with the impression that religion is the real problem, not the role played by bigoted students who stigmatized them, making them outcasts.
Why does this matter? If school officials had been attentive to the bullying of the Freeman brothers, perhaps they would have intervened, and perhaps future events might have been different. We will never know.'
The first signs of trouble were in 1991, when the boys were 13 and 11 years old; the boys refused to attend the Watchtower meetings. What seems to have happened is that the Freeman family developed problems that needed professional intervention .
What they got instead were the local , untrained elders. When the boys refused to acceptably respond to this lay ‘treatment’, the boys were ‘marked’; shunned, isolated from the only family and friends they had ever known their whole lives.
And the Freeman family war was on. If their parents and little brother (who at age 11 had no choice but to join in the shunning) didn’t want them, then there were other people who did.
Around this time Dennis was no longer an elder; no one has told the reason why. One night, 12-year-old David put animal parts in his Aunt Valerie’s bed.
Instead of mental health professionals, the local elders were called again. Later, David threatened to kill his high school football coach. Again the local elders were called.
Finally, the Freemans committed David to psychiatric care for a month in 1992. But by now it was too little too late.
A precious year had been wasted while the Freemans allowed untrained elders to practice psychiatry and psychology on their children.
David had been abusing alcohol and drugs for years, and needed professional help, not prayers; he needed hugs and medicine, not shunning and threats of everlasting destruction.'
Brothers who killed their parents 29 years ago to be resentenced in Lehigh County
- Updated: Feb. 12, 2024, 6:30 p.m.|
- Published: Feb. 12, 2024, 4:57 p.m.
Bryan and David FreemanCourtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
A pair of brothers who killed their parents 29 years ago in Salisbury Township will be resentenced this week in Lehigh County.
Bryan was 17 and David was 16 when they killed their parents Feb. 26, 1995, in their family home. Bryan admitted he killed his father with an aluminum baseball bat and David admitted he stabbed his mother to death. Each received a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a mandatory life sentence for a child is unconstitutional. Children ought to be treated differently than adult offenders, according to the appellate court.
After years of legal wrangling, the matter is now before Lehigh County Judge Douglas Reichley.
Court records say 46-year-old Bryan Freeman is represented by Philadelphia attorney Karl David Schwartz. David Freeman, 45, is represented by Lehighton attorney Matthew Jared Rapa. Neither attorney returned a message seeking comment Monday.
Nelson “Ben” Birdwell III admitted he participated in the murder of the Freemans’ father. Birdwell was 18 at the time. His life sentence stands. He is the cousin of Bryan and David Freeman.
The Freemans were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses but became neo-Nazis at the time they killed their parents.
Bryan and David FreemanUndated file photos
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'Assistant prosecutor Gregory Englert asked Stiles if the Freemans should remain imprisoned for life.
“I think that’s exactly what these two animals need,” Stiles said.'
'"Valerie Freeman said she isn’t troubled by the idea of the pair serving life terms.
“I don’t know where the violence came from, or why it went that far,” she said. “I don’t know how someone could take a life, period.”
Lehigh Valley skinhead brothers who killed family return to court for resentencing hearingFILE PHOTO, THE MORNING CALLA file photo shows Bryan Freeman, then 17, Nelson Birdwell III, 18, and David Freeman, 16, who killed the Freemans’ parents and younger brother in February 1995. The Freemans are in Lehigh County Court this week for a resentencing hearing. (TOM VOLK/THE MORNING CALL)By DANIEL PATRICK SHEEHAN | The Morning CallPUBLISHED: February 12, 2024 at 4:51 p.m. | UPDATED: February 12, 2024 at 5:06 p.m.
In appearance, at least, the cold-eyed neo-Nazi skinheads who shocked the Lehigh Valley in 1995 by slaughtering their parents and younger brother are long gone.
Bryan and David Freeman have grown into middle-aged men who no longer shave their heads but are losing their hair to nature. Only the words tattooed on their foreheads — “Berzerker” for Bryan, “Sieg Heil” for David — are a concrete reminder of the days when they rejected their Jehovah’s Witness upbringing, embraced white supremacy and revolted against their parents’ strictures to the point of murder.
Both sat in the Lehigh County courtroom of Judge Douglas Reichley on Monday for the first day of what is expected to be a week-long hearing to determine if they will ever see freedom again.
Bryan was 17 and David 16 when they joined a cousin, Nelson Birdwell III, in fatally beating and stabbing Dennis and Brenda Freeman and 11-year-old Erik Freeman in the family’s split-level Salisbury Township home.The brothers were charged as adults and given automatic life sentences without parole when, to avoid the death penalty, they pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Birdwell was charged with the three murders and convicted of killing Dennis Freeman. No one was convicted of Erik’s killing, but prosecutors maintain Birdwell was the culprit.
Since then, a series of federal and state court rulings have held it unconstitutional to impose mandatory life-without-parole sentences on juveniles, so the Freeman brothers became eligible for resentencing. Birdwell turned 18 shortly before the crimes, so his sentence of life without parole stands.The Freemans’ attorneys hope to persuade Reichley that their clients have fundamentally changed during decades in prison and deserve at least a hope of tasting freedom again.
Karl Schwartz, who is representing Bryan Freeman pro bono, said his client is remorseful — expressing “utter and desperate sorrow” over his crimes — and is a model inmate, often acting as a peacemaker among other prisoners.
“The commonwealth is going to say he’s making it all up, he’s a psycho, and if you give him a ray of hope that there’s a future, this could happen again,” Schwartz said.
Eric Dowdle, first assistant district attorney, said the prosecution’s task is, indeed, to make sure such crimes never happen again.
“They’re safe right where they are, and so are we,” he said.
The murders happened Feb. 26, 1995, but weren’t discovered until the next day, when Dennis Freeman’s sister stopped to visit.
What Valerie Freeman saw in the house that day, the courtroom audience saw Monday, in a grainy but harrowing crime scene video.
It shows Dennis Freeman in bed, his skull smashed, his face beaten beyond recognition and his throat cut nearly to the point of decapitation. Prosecutors said David Freeman and Birdwell carried out the attack with an aluminum baseball bat and metal exercise bar.
Erik, in his bedroom, is likewise in bed, his skull shattered by blows from a three-foot pickaxe handle allegedly wielded by Birdwell.
Brenda’s body is on the lower level of the house, pushed against a radiator. Prosecutors said Bryan grabbed his mother, stuffed a pair of shorts in her mouth and stabbed her repeatedly.
The brothers and Birdwell fled in Brenda Freeman’s car and were at large for three days before being arrested in Michigan at the home of a fellow skinhead the Freemans had met at a concert in New York.
Retired police Chief Allen Stiles, first to take the stand at the hearing, recalled that three-day period as a fraught time in the township.
“I received calls from parents, staff, requesting additional police at the [high school],” he recalled. “They were worried these individuals would come into the school and do something.”
Stiles recalled the deep trauma he and his officers experienced investigating the crime. The Army veteran likened the carnage to the kind he witnessed during his one-year tour in Vietnam, and said it exacerbated the post-traumatic stress disorder he carried home from the war.
“All that trauma at one time and in one place had a terrific impact on everyone,” he said.
Police were called to the Freeman home about five times in the months before the murders to intervene when the brothers threatened their parents. Stiles said the boys could have been taken into the juvenile system but their parents refused to press charges, preferring to seek help through counseling and other avenues.
Assistant prosecutor Gregory Englert asked Stiles if the Freemans should remain imprisoned for life.
“I think that’s exactly what these two animals need,” Stiles said.
A troubled family
The next witness was Valerie Freeman, who haltingly and tearfully recounted her discovery of the bodies. She had lived in the house for about 17 years but moved out because she felt threatened by the brothers as they dove deeper into the neo-Nazi culture.
Freeman spent the evening before the murders watching television with Erik — she was protective of him — and recalled his haunting last request as she left for home.
“He wanted me to take care of his dog in case anything happened to him,” she said.
It wasn’t the first time Erik had suggested he might come to harm. Once, Valerie Freeman arrived at the house to find Erik tied to a chair in the sweltering garage. His brothers had left him there.
“I went to see Erik as often as I could,” she said. “One time we went to Florida just to get away.”
Under questioning by David Freeman’s attorney, Matthew Rapa, Valerie Freeman said the brothers’ fascination with Nazism and decline into violent and antisocial behavior roughly coincided with the beginning of their relationship with Birdwell.
“I thought Nelson was a very bad influence on both brothers,” she said.
Throughout this testimony, Bryan Freeman hunched over the defense table, crying and hanging his head. David Freeman appeared impassive. Both had chosen to stay in the adjacent holding cell while the crime scene video played.
While some members of the Freeman family — including Brenda’s sister, Sandy Lettich — have forgiven the brothers and believe they have been rehabilitated, Valerie Freeman said she isn’t troubled by the idea of the pair serving life terms.
“I don’t know where the violence came from, or why it went that far,” she said. “I don’t know how someone could take a life, period.”
The hearing began with an unsuccessful attempt by the defense attorney to have Reichley recuse himself.
As a Lehigh County assistant district attorney in the 1990s, Reichley was involved in the prosecution of Jeffrey Howorth, a 17-year-old Lower Macungie Township boy who shot his parents to death the day after the Freemans and Birdwell were captured.
“Those kids in Salisbury, they were cool. They killed their parents,” wrote Howorth, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remains institutionalized. “I would be rough [cool] if I did that.”
Reichley’s linking of the cases during Howorth’s trial suggests he couldn’t be impartial in evaluating the Freemans’ resentencing, the attorneys said.
Reichley rejected the argument, noting that he had no role in prosecuting the Freemans or Birdwell and instead was being asked to evaluate the nature of the sentence and not the culpability of the Freemans, which is a settled matter.
Morning Call reporter Daniel Patrick Sheehan can be reached at 610-820-6598 or [email protected].'
Prosecutors said David Freeman and Birdwell carried out the attack with an aluminum baseball bat
Pehaps if the father allowed his sons to play sports and baseball at school they would have learned to use the baseball bat in the way it was intended.
But then again, that would have exposed them to evil worldly people who are under demonic influence wouldn't it?
Wow.. You can never know when people will snap or who is truly rotten to the core. I hope they stay behind bars where they belong & stay away from society.
"Perhaps if the father allowed his sons to play sports and baseball at school they would have learned to use the baseball bat in the way it was intended."
In Agatha Christie's Ordeal By Innocence, the police inspector opines that the previous suspect was "a wrong'un". Basically morally flawed and destined for certain patterns of behaviour.
These brothers may have been headed for some similar results, no matter how they were treated.