tv Criminal Mindscape MSNBC January 9, 2016 5:00pm-6:01pm PST
you are about to enter the criminal mindscape of ron luff. a man who tried to usher in the second coming of christ by systemically killing a family of five. >> within a few days, those of us who had prepared the pit in the barn understood that someone could die. >> after joining a small religious group, luff becomes captivated by the leader. >> he came in and mentioned, are you in or out? he says, i want them brought out to the barn from oldest to youngest. >> he's willing to do anything to prove his devotion to the man
that controlled his mind. >> i was the one that led each member from the house to the barn and delivered them to that pit. >> including murder. >> we had a clear a route in all the garbage in that room to get to that pit, that night at 9:07 p.m. we found the first body of an adult male. >> anybody who would carry a little girl to her death has to be the grim reaper. >> i mean, that is someone who seems relatively normal, to get sucked in so far that they're willing to commit violent murders. >> forensic psychologist n.j. berrill sits face to face with this once mild-mannered family guy -- >> people died. >> -- to unveil how he turned killer. >> was it a power trip or i'm showing these bad people? >> i think it was me trying to overcome the fact this was a traumatic hell. if you were to look into the pit of hell, that's exactly what
that looked like. >> forensic psychologist n.g. berrill has built his two-decade career on probing the minds of some of the nation's most violent criminals. now he's been granted access to ron luff. in 1990, luff was convicted of aggravated murder and kidnapping for his role in the cult murders that took the lives of five family members. he is serving five consecutive life sentences at the ross correctional facility in ohio. >> what i'm looking for in today's interview is try to get a sense of what this man's history was like, to see if
there was anything unusual that would have contributed to his becoming a cult member. it is difficult to conduct an interview in a prison setting. usually, being in a prison ups the anxiety level. i guess the curiosity of doing this sort of thing, you can never predict how someone is going to behave. >> hi, i'm dr. barill. i'd like to thank you for participating in this interview. i want to start off asking you some very basic questions. what precisely were you convicted of? >> five counts of aggravated murder and four counts of kidnapping. >> the real question becomes, how did you get to that place? >> everyone has a vulnerable time in their life but they're vulnerable to a certain kind of setting. if that setting crosses a path of their life at that vulnerable time, that's a real train wreck and it's rare that it happens. >> you don't spend time going
over the past, asking how could i have been so foolish, how could i have been so -- >> i spent the last 20 years doing that. >> december 31st, 1989, kirtland, ohio. the local police department receives an alarming tip from atf officials in kansas city, missouri. >> the dispatcher told me, he had the foreman who said there were five bodies buried in a barn on chardon road in kirtland. >> the sergeant heads to the abandoned property to search for any signs of a possible grave. >> we walked inside, there was a concrete floor. saw no evidence of anything suspicious. the next day is when i called the atf and asked them to talk to their informant, draw a diagram and fax it to us so we knew exactly where these bodies were located. >> the informant is a former member of the local religious
group that used to reside on the farm. he draws a precise grid of the barn to show the kirtland police where the bodies are located. >> once clear and the dirt floor was exposed, you could tell the ground was very spongy, like somebody had been digging there. so we started digging that night. 9:07 p.m. we found the first body of an adult male. >> five victims are eventually exhumed. within days, a man turns himself in to authorities in kansas city, missouri. >> he was the first man in custody, because he turned himself in at the atf. he walked in and gave a confession. >> i would ask you to please state your name, spell it. >> my name is ronald luff. that's r-o-n-a-l-d. my name is last name is luff. l-u-f-f. >> let me ask you now, did you voluntarily come down to our
office today? >> yes, i did. >> did you voluntarily come in to give a statement about a matter up in kirtland, ohio? >> yes. >> okay. >> how does a seemingly normal man turn into a mass murderer? >> he came in and mentioned are you in or are you out? so then he says, well, i want them brought out to the barn, from oldest to youngest. >> what would drive him to aid in the killing of an entire family? >> and i was the one that brought them out. >> it's important to interview people like luff for many reasons. seemingly normal fellow, coming from the midwest to love's garden country, a married man who, you know, in his young adulthood gets sucked into a cult. then there's the whole idea house, do you get drawn into a cult anyway? how does someone who seems
relatively normal, you know, get sucked in so far that they're willing to commit violent murders? >> maybe it would be easy to go backwards and find out a little bit about your early years, when you were a kid. if you can tell me a little bit about the family you were raised in? >> i was a fifth-generation member of a branch of mormonism known as the reorganized latter day saints. i was really very active. >> inside the family, what were things like there? what was the tone growing up in your house? >> the tone was pretty oriented around the church. it wasn't a perfect lifestyle. i mean, i know for myself, i -- i fell away from faith a little bit later on in my high school years and -- >> let me stop you there. you said it wasn't a perfect house. what about living in that house
would not have been perfect? >> my dad was a -- you know, we didn't really understand each other real well. one thing i saw in my dad, he had a tremendous amount of love but he didn't always know how to express it real well. >> there is something in there, maybe even his own temperament, that left him feeling alone, disconnected and particularly in need of a bigger structure that could give him direction and make him feel part of something. >> like a lot of teenagers, luff begins to rebel and distances himself from the church. >> i began to drink and act wild. >> which is really not consistent with what they expected at home. >> not at all. which really drove a wedge there, you know? >> as luff pulls further away from his family and religion, he searches for new outlets to fill the void. at age 18, he joins the navy. >> the navy would have been the next big affiliation? >> it was a strong, structured
environment and so, yeah, i could understand it and find my place in that. >> after getting married and starting a family, luff leaves the navy. the lack of structure leaves him floundering. he turns back to his religion for stability. >> he needed an awful lot, i think, psychologically. he talks about going to the navy and finding some satisfaction in associating himself with a larger group, where there's structure and he can follow directions and commands. once out of the navy, still searching for something, and in this case, what he was searching for, i guess a certain kind of spiritual or religious certainty. >> luff's constant search for structure and acceptance within a group setting starts him on a dangerous path that will change his life forever. coming up -- >> who art thou that judges? >> there was no gut instinct or reflex or something that predated your involvement in
this group? >> i wish there had been. to me, it was like going into jericho, you know, it was terrible carnage that day but it was something that was commanded so that's what had to be done. . progressive insurance? uh, i save people an average of over $500 when they switch? did you pack your own bags? oh! right -- the name your price tool. it shows people policy options to help fit their budget. [ scanner warbling ] crazy that a big shot like me would pack his own bags, right? [ chuckles ] so, do i have the right to remain handsome? [ chuckles ] wait. uh-oh.
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1984, ron luff settles down and marries 22-year-old suzy, a fellow mormon. they start family and luff leaves the navy after six years to be closer to them. soon, the lack of structure leaves luff searching. he turns back to the church for guidance. >> so where does this story take its turn? i mean, so far. >> well, the real thing that happened was in april of '84 there had been a world
conference for the church. at this particular world conference, they introduced a new direction for the church and it split the church wide open. now, for me, i was getting out of the military and i was starting a huge life, but the church, which was a huge part of my life, was in utter turmoil. >> looking for answers, luff takes a fateful trip with his family to an ohio town, known as a kind of mecca for mormons. kirtland, ohio, this small farming town hosts hundreds of mormon tourists annually. they come to visit the kirtland temple, one of the first religious structures for mormons. >> it's primarily a historical landmark. we have visitors from all over the country. it was built for joseph smith in the 1800s. >> in the spring of 1987, 27-year-old ron luff visits the
temple on a pilgrimage with his wife and two children. there, he meets a local tour guide. luff becomes enraptured by this man's passion for religion. his maim is jeffrey lungren. >> there were people saying this guy, jeffrey lundgren really knows it and is a special one. he taught sunday school classes there. >> a disagreement with church elders over his teaching practices pushes 37-year-old lundgren out of the temple. he moves his small group of followers to a nearby farm. >> it was roughly in 1987, is when i started to see jeff lundgren and his people move into the farmhouse on u.s. route 6. >> jeffrey lundgren has more than 20 disciples. they gather daily at lundgren's farmhouse, taking in every word. ron luff and his wife, suzy, are captivated. it becomes clear to local authorities, this small religious group is quickly
morphing into a cult. >> so where does this fellow, lungren, come in? >> my faith was very much everything and i'm looking to a lot of answers to questions. i decide that i want to go to kirtland temple and just visit the place. i'd never been there. pray, meditate, and see if i can, you know, if god will touch me in any way or let me know anything that he wants in my life, a direction in my life. okay. >> and so i've never heard of jeff lungren before that day. that was where we first met. we spent about six hours after that tour talking with him and his wife and some of the things going on in the church and so forth. we met some of the other people that were there. what there seemed to be is a
collection of people who all seemed to have the answers to their questions. that was very attractive to me, because i was still not finding those answers to my questions. and everything that i was reading was saying, okay, you have to go to ohio to get it. i became convinced we would have to move up there if we were really going to get the answers we were looking for. >> abruptly, he decides to move his family from missouri to ohio. >> you have to think of this step as almost like a seduction and people are just awfully welcoming, they're awfully nonjudgmental, and for that individual who's searching and looking for some kind of connection, some kind of attachment to something bigger than themselves, finds the seduction very appealing. >> just weeks after moving to ohio, ron luff settles into his new life with ease. the more time he spends with jeffrey lundgren, the more convinced he becomes this man will lead him to the path of salvation, the path ron luff is desperately seeking. >> when you talk about any critical event that takes place,
the pieces have got to come together at the same time for something bad to occur. the idea that anyone in his shoes would have done the same thing, i don't know if that's true, i really don't know if that's true. >> how quickly was it that you sort of melded and got involved and sort of decided this is a fellow that's now going to play a major role in my life? >> you really have to understand the mormonism and the book of mormon specifically because prof prophesizes on a choice seer. he is like moses and he will establish the new jerusalem. >> luff quickly becomes convinced that lungren may be the choice seer predicted in mormon's scripture, that this man may be holding the answers that he's been seeking for most of his life. >> this is when i began to realize that maybe there's something unique about this guy.
>> how many months before you became convinced he was? >> oh, it wasn't probably about six or eight weeks. >> in six or eight weeks you're convinced after moving there he has the answer, that he is, in fact, a prophet, is what you're saying? >> sure. by this time i was convinced he was the prophet. >> as luff quickly immerses himself into the group, he begins to lose touch with the outside world. his days are dedicated to lundgren's teachings and his thoughts are fueled by lundgren's words. >> it's not overnight but over time, i recall it might be like a group thing where the thoughts and behavior are continuously on a daily basis reenforced by their fellow congregants or group members. it becomes difficult after a while for any independent thinking or judgmental thinking. coming up --
>> there's threats of eternal damnation going on here, not just your own. it's your wife, it's your children but it's also the whole world because if this thing doesn't happen people will die. yeah. now you would think your insurance company would cut you some slack, right? no. your insurance rates go through the roof... your perfect record doesn't get you anything. anything. perfect. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident. see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance.
as ron luff and his wife become more enmeshed in the cult, they begin to lose sight of reality. luff is captivated by the teachings of the group's leader, jeffrey lundgren. and like all the group's members, is a devoted follower. >> you never considered yourself a cult. in fact, i don't think the idea ever came to mind, the whole notion of a cult, which i knew nothing about anyway, was never mentioned. >> how many would have been in the group at this point? >> about 20 people. >> when did the requests or dictates become even more unorthodox or more, i guess, would be opposed from traditional church? >> it's hard to break down steps because there's so many of them,
and they're gradual. >> lundgren's behavior becomes bizarre and even cruel. >> now i say go on to jerusalem. >> he tests his followers' devotion by holding bible class from morning until 2:00 or later. and he challenges their will power by insisting that they fast while he eats a lavish lobster dinner in front of them. luff follows lundgren's demands without hesitation. >> did any part of you ever say to your wife, gee, this is a little weird, i don't know, this fellow is maybe just a flimflam and i just don't know? >> it's like that blowing of the frog slowly. by the time you realize anything, you don't realize it. >> cults are not democracies. cults have a leader at the top of the pyramid who calls the shots and there can be no room for questioning. >> isolated on a remote farm,
lundgren is able to control all of his followers. he dictates their every move. for some, even their thoughts. >> no one around you ever had secret discussions? >> no, in fact, that kind of communication control is a huge part of the setting. without the setting, you don't have the effects that this kind of thing can bring about. >> how was that imposed? how did he impose the control over 20 people? >> well, there's the subtleness of eventually keeping certain conversations restricted. in other words, there are certain things you don't need to talk about and there are certain things you shouldn't talk about. and there's a lot of reprisals for any time someone would do something. a form of nonphysical punishment. >> lundgren convinces luff and the other followers that their sins will delay the second
coming of christ. >> there's threats of eternal damnation going here. it's not just your own, it's your wife, it's your children, but it's also the whole world because if this thing doesn't happen, people will die. >> lundgren manipulates the group to convince them there are consequences, mandated by god, if they do not follow his every word. >> we had a rabbitry, a couple pets like this, well, they would end up dead. of course, it's pretty obvious, i think now, that lungren was killing these creatures. and so every time that happened, he said that's because they're sin in the midst. that meant that there would be a cost. at this point, it was a cost to some animal. but it also meant that it would postpone this fulfillment that we were supposed to be seeking, which meant that more people would die. >> were you afraid, living in this context?
was it a joyful experience? >> you become desperate. >> desperate. >> you become desperate to bring these things about because this is what it has to be, it's the only access to life that there is. >> to control his followers, lundgren also uses guilt as a manipulation tactic. luff is told the sins of the world rests on his shoulders. it is a burden that is almost too much for luff to bear. >> the whole ethiopian famine was personally attributed to me as being failure on my part, so these people died. i remember tears coming out of my eyes, coming out of class at night, thinking my god, all these people are dead and it's my fault, you know? so i felt these things. they were real to me then. >> so a terrible burden to bear, this entire famine rests on your shoulders? >> and the fate of the world. a state of dread. you become completely dependent
upon the one that's in charge, the prophet. and you have no ability, no capability of your own. so you completely relying on him and it's dreadful because there's nothing you can do about it. and so you're desperate. and it's desperate as somebody that's floundering around in the water looking for a breath of air. >> as lundgren's control continues to take a dark turn, some group members fear what is to come. one man flees the group and warns authorities that this cult is on a path toward carnage. >> curry, who left the group and finally called the fbi, said they were afraid to leave. he was afraid to leave. he was afraid that jeff had enough information, was powerful enough he would track him down and kill him for sure. >> as the fbi begins to monitor the group, lundgren devises his next test for his followers. he tells them that the second coming of christ will only occur once the group is free of sin
and the wicked are delivered to god for judgment. it is a prophecy that can only be fulfilled through bloodshed. coming up -- >> you knew something bad would happen? >> i would say within a few days at least, beforehand, those of us that had prepared the pit in the barn understood that someone could die. ♪ but i can't come home right now... ♪ ♪ me and the boys are playing.♪. ♪ and we just can't find the sound... ♪ just a few more hours... ♪ ♪ and i'll be right home to you.♪. ♪ i think i hear them calling... ♪
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hi, i'm richard lui with the top stories. mexican officials say they aim to fulfill the u.s. extradition request for the notorious drug cartel leader known as el chapo. joaquin guzman was arrested yesterday. his lawyers have filed motions to block the extradition. in oregon a convoy of armed pen arrived at the national wildlife refuge that's been occupied for a week by ranchers in protest of the government.
the men claim they're there to provide security and deescalate the standoff. now back to our msnbc special. ron luff has been a devoted member of a religious cult for two years. one day, leader jeffrey lungren approaches luff with a plan that epitomizes all the control he holds over luff and the evil in which he is capable. it revolves around a family named avery who are fellow group members.
>> the avery family had been a part of the group early on. they had lived up there before we moved up. he had basically emptied them of everything they had. when they moved up they had money, and it was his. they had a second car and he got one car and left them the one that didn't run. when it got to the point where he had basically used them in every way then he had no use for them. they were seen as unwelcome. and so he looked at me, we were
working out together, just the two of us out in the barn, and he says, i just want you to know one thing, we're not bringing friends this time. >> lundgren approaches luff and tells him to dig a large pit in the barn. it is another command luff follows without question. >> you knew something bad would happen? >> i would say within a few days, at least, beforehand, we certainly -- i mean, those of us who had prepared the pit in the barn understood that someone could die. >> a tip from a former member of lundgren's cult leads authorities to the discovery of
a body. the body is found underneath an abandoned barn on the farm where lundgren's cult used to reside. experts are quickly brought in from departments across the county to aid in the excavation and search for clues. >> i sat down with him before we started this and said, what do we know? the main part they knew is that they had been bound with duct tape. >> the process takes an emotional and physical toll on everyone involved. >> they had deteriorated badly enough that we just used white sheets in the ambulances and brought them up carefully so they remained in tact as much as possible for the coroner to examine later on. i went home and i burned the clothing i was wearing because it stunk so bad. i cleaned out the inside of my nose with alcohol because the odor is there.
the taste of death is really there. it's not your imagination. >> it takes two days and dozens of people to excavate two adults and three children buried under the barn. all five victims are found bound with duct tape and shot several times. during the excavation, police estimate the youngest victim to be 6 years old. >> there
were three little kids, golly, that this is -- it's so tragic and bad. it's two generations wiped out, because that's the human part of it. anybody who would carry a little girl to her death has to be the grim reaper. >> police quickly identify the victims as the avery family. they are also members of lundgren's group. >> i don't see how it could be much worse when you're talking about the murder of five family
members, including three children. i don't see how it could be much more atrocious, much worse, much more violent. >> as kirtland investigators begin the search for suspects, they receive a surprising phone call. ronald luff has turned himself in to authorities. he informs then that lungren's cult is responsible for the killings. >> a suspect in another murder case tonight, jeffrey lungren, the leader of a fanatic religious group. tonight he and four of his followers are wanted by police. >> luff also professes to be a leading figure in the murder of the avery family. >> i want to reiterate you have the right to stop this questioning at any time. do you understand that? >> yes, i do. >> he makes his confession after hearing about the discovery of
the avery's bodies. >> the statement that you gave us previously regarding your association with mr. jeff lundgren and others, was that statement done voluntarily without any threat or intimidation? >> completely voluntarily. >> he provides authorities with a detailed account of the murders as well as the motive behind their deaths. >> the whole reason for the avery homicides was that they had to what they call quench the fire of god, to make him refine his fire. and basically, jeff determined through his interpretation five had to be killed. >> lundgren convinced his followers the second coming of christ would only be possible through human sacrifice. >> earlier, you mentioned about feeding the fire. >> to put it into a simple explanation was that god's wrath must go out. when there's wickedness and there's always wickedness, and his wrath goes out. what produces the fire is that
you send the wicked before him, as before his altar so to speak, or the judgment bar. >> how would he get rid of the wicked? >> he would kill them. coming up -- >> i placed them down in and then i walked away. >> you literally walked away, you didn't watch them get shot? >> no. >> did you hear them scream? >> no. trina said, ouch. >> you heard that? >> yeah. april 17th, 1989. all: milk! milk! milk! milk! milk!
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about no communication, even within the group, you cut off ties from the outside world but you don't even talk about most things within the group. now, this form of isolation is just -- it's hard to imagine, but there are certain things you don't talk about. there are certain things you don't think. it was called supposing of yourself. for example, the night that the averys, when i brought them out to the barn one at a time, now, i didn't know what would happen with them. >> at all? >> all i had -- i had every reason to believe, but what i'm saying is that any time he could have offered grace, and it wasn't for me to think that he wouldn't. you understand the difference? >> right. but i understand that in essence once the dye was cast and the hole was dug -- >> these people, you have let go of these people. that's right. >> there was no gut instinct or reflex or something that predated your involvement in this group?
>> i wish there had been. to me, it was like going into jericho. it was terrible carnage that day, but it was something that was commanded and so that's what had to be done. conscience, itself, becomes malleable at this point. >> when i compare luff's interviews with serial killers, serial rapists, luff comes across as very serious. he takes, i think, his role in this crime seriously in the sense he's not proud of what he did. >> after dinner, lundgren brings ron luff and five other men into a bedroom. there, he lays down their final test. he instructs luff to escort the averys into the barn one by one. there, they will be duct taped and put in the pit. it is the last time the averys would be seen alive. >> was it a power trip or
something like, boy, i'm showing these bad people -- >> i really think it was just me trying to overcome the fact this was a traumatic hell. because when i looked in that room and a single incandescent bulb was in that room, and it just looked hideous. the whole thing was hideous -- >> the barn or the people in the barn -- >> the barn where they were actually shot. if you were to look into the pit of hell, that's exactly what that looked like to me. >> did you look in? >> i don't have any memory of actually focusing on anything because i guess i just didn't want to. >> so in walking or escorting these people into the barn, you didn't wait and see them tumble into the hole? >> i was, i guess you call the judas goat. i was the one that led each member from the house to the barn. and then from there, they had to
symbolically have tape around their hands and feet and on their eyes. >> after delivering dennis and cheryl avery to their deaths, ron luff retrieves their three young daughters one by one. trina, rebecca and karen are inside, watching tv. to coax them to the barn, he tells them they're going to see the horses. he gives the youngest daughter, karen, a piggyback ride. >> now, the avery children didn't ever understand, this was just a game to them, it wasn't intended to be fearful. cheryl seemed to fear it. dennis definitely did. he felt -- he was, i guess, supposed to know that this was going to be bad, whatever it was going to be.
and but each person had to be prepared the same way and delivered into that pit. i placed them down in and then i walked away. >> so you literally walked away, you didn't watch them get shot? >> no. >> did you hear them scream? >> no. trina said, ouch. >> i don't imagine there was an awful lot of ambivalence. i think he felt that lungren had sized up the situation probably accurately and that he was proud and able to participate in this thing as he was asked to do, being a loyal member of this cult. >> after lundgren delivers the final shot, he leaves ron luff and the other men to cover up the crime. >> did you assist in burying the bodies? >> yeah. >> all right. so you confronted the actual corpses? you saw them?
>> while we were covering the bodies i don't recall ever looking in. i don't think i really wanted to. i think that was sort of a -- you know, just didn't want, to and
i didn't. i have vague images of the pit, but i didn't really focus on that. >> immediately after the murders, the cult leaves the farm and roams the country for the next few months. slowly, the members disband and luff returns to missouri. his role in the murders starts to weigh on him. >> nine months was -- it was december when i got out. >> you got out how? just remind me. >> well, by this time, we had been moved back to missouri. that's where he lost control of the group. it was unavoidable to have them contact with outside again. >> did you review your own complicity in the crime at that point?
were you able to say to yourself -- >> well, i began to doubt whether i could continue any farther because god had gotten too ugly, just plain too ugly to follow anymore. that grew eventually into serious doubts about whether or not what we did was right and then eventually to a conviction and it was wrong. >> luff's growing realization he participated in a terrible crime prompts him to turn himself in to authorities. it is a step that initiates the end of jeffrey lundgren's cult. coming up -- >> you sit here today, i think anyone listening to you speak would say you seem bright, you seem rational. how in the world -- >> well, you can recover. >> is that how you view this? as a recovery from -- >> a recovery from, i mean, you can say a nightmare. all those dreams of what was going to be turned sour. one month after the
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one month after the discovery of five bodies beneath a farm in kirtland, ohio, 12 of jeffrey lungren's followers are under arrest in connection with the murders, including ron luff and his wife, suzy. >> the 39-year-old leader of a religious cult is under arrest in california. he will be returned to ohio where he is charged with killing a family of five. >> an ohio grand jury has charged lundgren and a dozen members of the religious cult he headed with killing a man, his wife and their three children. >> a highly public trial consumes the area as several members recount each step of the murders. some members accept plea bargains to escape harsher
sentences. >> by my hand they were to be killed. >> more than a year after the discovery of the avery's bodies, a dozen cult members plead guilty or are found guilty of sentences ranging from conspiracy to commit murder to aggravated murder. jeffrey lundgren is handed the death penalty. he is executed by lethal injection on october 24th, 2006. suzy luff is given a sentence of 7 to 25 years for conspiracy to commit murder. she is eligible for parole in 2010. ron luff's role in the murder, his second in command position within the group, pushed the prosecution to seek the death penalty. his attorney fights it. >> my job, as i viewed it, was to keep him out of the electric chair. i wasn't going to walk him out of there.
i just wanted to keep him out of the electric chair. >> luff receives 20 years to life for the murders of dennis and cheryl avery and 30 years to life for their three daughters. the judge orders luff to serve his sentences consecutively. ron luff will spend the rest of his life in prison. >> ron luff deserved the death penalty, there's no question he should ever be able to step outside the prison again. those murders wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for ron luff and the other people involved. again, he may not have pulled the trigger, but he led each of them one by one to their grave. >> after his conviction, luff loses touch with his family. he hasn't spoken with his wife, suzy, since then, and has had virtually no contact with his children. for 18 years he's lived a life isolated from the world he used to know, except for his own memories.
>> i accept where i'm at and i understand these circumstances. my only -- just like with this, my only point is to maybe help it not happen again. but i understand and accept where i'm at. i understand that. i have a hard time admitting to it, because i never desired the avery's death, i never planned their death and i never physically caused their death, but i'm responsible because i participated in their death. >> right. >> so, yeah. part of me says yes, but part of me says yes, but. and -- >> so you believe lungren, the fellow who pulled the trigger -- >> i think that he had a desire to take human life. and he found a way to act it out. >> you sit here today, and i think anyone listening to you speak, and i'm sure you're not surprised to hear this, you seem
bright, you seem rational. how in the world -- >> well, you can recover. >> is that how you view this, as a recovery from -- >> a recovery from, well, you can say a nightmare. these settings can happen. people's lives can get grossly manipulated. i think that the best defense we can have is realize -- realization that we do have those vulnerabilities. we may not know what they are, but we should at least recognize we do have those and always question and never allow ourselves into a setting where those questions are not allowed. always keep the windows open for a little air of cross flow, you know? always make sure that the exchange of ideas can be voiced. by not being able to voice it, eventually you forget that it's your opinion. >> right. i think that's what we wanted to know. all right. thanks. you know, he conducted himself
in a rather quiet, respectful manner. he was willing to answer almost anything. until you're sitting in a room across from someone, you know, you really don't know how they're going to express themselves. >> people will die. >> in talking to luff about his early years, and i don't want to make it too simplistic, but this guy has always been looking for a father. and in that sense, we have a little bit of a clue psychologically as to how he would have been drawn into this kind of a cult. >> i was concerned with who these witnesses would be. >> the ability to think that through and to make good decisions, rational decisions, seems to have evaporated. it was almost operating almost like a robot, if you will, like a zombie. i think he recognizes that he really got drawn in.
he was sucked in, hook, line and sinker and as a consequence committed, you know, cold-blooded murder. i think that's something he finds difficult to live with. you see, you know, in talking about the kids, for example, that it still weighs heavily on him. it seems there is some memory of what occurred there. he was not unconscious, but i would probably make the psychological argument that he was not fully conscious either. there was a disassociation. and i think it's not shocking at the end of the day that it's even possible some 20 years later he's still startled by a memory that gets kind of shook loose. in fact, he whispered sort of when the cameras weren't rolling, i'm not going to sleep for a couple weeks now. i believe that that may be the case. i think it stirs up things that this guy just can't control very well.
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