Bethany Ann Deaton’s death appeared to be a suicide. Sheriff’s deputies in Jackson County, Mo., discovered her body in a van at Longview Lake in Kansas City on Oct. 30. There was a note, an empty pill bottle, and a plastic bag over her head, but for prosecutors, something just didn’t add up.
According to The Kansas City Star, authorities say Deaton, a 27-year-old newlywed who had just graduated from nursing school with hopes of one day serving overseas on the mission field, allegedly was murdered to cover up a history of sexual assaults on her by several of her roommates, several of whom had ties to the International House of Prayer ministry in Kansas City (IHOP-KC). These roommates, according to International House of Prayer University (IHOPU) President Allen Hood, lived together as part of a close-knit group lead by Deaton’s husband, Tyler.
IHOPU student Micah Moore, 23, of Kansas City, who had known the victim for several years, has been charged with first-degree murder, the Star reported. Moore had previously admitted to a Grandview Police detective that he had killed Deaton.
Moore and several witnesses said they had been roommates at a home in Grandview, Mo., with Bethany Deaton and her husband, Tyler, who served as the “spiritual leader” of their “community.” Hood said the group was small and operated under a veil of secrecy, independent of IHOPU, though some of the members were students. Bethany Deaton participated in a six-month internship at IHOPU in 2009.
According to the Star report, the detective’s statement said one witness believed Tyler Deaton was attempting to make him a part of “their sexual group” The detective’s statement noted that another witness said Tyler Deaton appeared to be “angry” and “frustrated” in the weeks leading up to his wife’s death, and that he told the witness “he had had a dream that he had killed his wife by suffocating her.”
Moore claims he was told to kill Bethany Deaton by someone who said he knew “Micah had it in him to do it,” though that person’s name has not been released. Moore has been charged only with murder for now, though he said he’d admitted to Pastor Shelley Hundley that he’d committed sexual assaults. Hundley, who serves on the executive team at IHOP-KC, declined to comment Saturday night, according to the Star, but court documents affirm Moore had talked with Hundley at the Grandview (Mo.) Police Department, admitting the assaults.
Bethany Deaton’s funeral was held in Texas, where she was born and raised, on Tuesday.
In an online obituary, family described her as “a brilliant, multi-faceted, and precious jewel,” who loved “books, writing, nature, deep conversations, dance, worship, and most of all, Jesus.”