Shunning By Jehova’s Witnesses Preceded A Family’s Murder-Suicide

Lauren Stuart, 45, allegedly murdered her husband and two adult children before taking her own life.Screengrab/News Mencos/YouTube

After leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Stuart family was ostracized. Now, all four of them are dead.

When 45-year-old Lauren Stuart left the church she and her husband had grown up in, she faced a life of isolation from those to whom she had been very close.

Going against the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses faith means giving up everything - effectively being shunned - but five years ago, that is what Stuart and her husband, Daniel Stuart, decided to do.

Though it seemed the family was on its way to a new and better life, what follows is a horrific story of desperation, murder and suicide.

Friends and others believe that struggle with being shunned may have driven Stuart to do the unthinkable.

Last week, Stuart shot and killed her husband and two adult children, and then killed herself. Police found the bodies Friday morning while responding to a call from a concerned relative.

According to Joyce Taylor, a longtime friend of Stuart, and other former Jehovah's Witnesses the drastic shunning has resulted in more than one suicide:

They believe Stuart was one more casualty — a point that Taylor drove home as she barged into a Kingdom Hall meeting in Union Lake over the weekend, stood on a chair and lambasted the gathering.

“Excuse me everyone, My name is Joyce Taylor ... Two days ago, four people died as a result of your shunning process," Taylor said, while batting away members and yelling at them. "Five years ago you people pulled your support from this small family, the only support they had was you people. You turned them away and you shunned them."

"For what?!!," she screamed loudly. "Because they wanted to raise their children as they saw fit.”

At issue was the couple's decision to allow their children to attend college, something the religion strictly forbids.

"All they wanted to do was raise their family the way they wanted to," Taylor told the Free Press Monday, saying the Stuarts were ostracized by their parents and everyone in the Jehovah's Witnesses community when they left.

"They were shunned every way possible. If Lauren went to the grocery store, they didn't look her in the eye," said Taylor, a former Jehovah's Witness herself. "When you are raised a Jehovah's Witness, they choose your friends. They choose who you associate with. And if you go against that, they will disfellowship you, or shun you."

Taylor said the last time she saw Stuart, which was a week before the incident, nothing indicated she was about to do something so drastic.

Police has been tight-lipped, citing the ongoing investigation.