Dennis Avery Family Murders: How Did Jeffrey Lundgren Die? – Dennis Avery, 49, his wife Cheryl, 46, and their three kids, Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and Karen, 7, were found dead in a grave on April 10, 1989. All signs point to a cult-related murder in this case. On January 3, 1990, nine months after the deaths, a tip from an informant redirected investigators to the long-forgotten farm, where they discovered the five Avery family members’ bodies. Based on these murders, Netflix’s show “Devil in Ohio” depicts the cult’s leader, Jeffrey Lundgren, being imprisoned among other members. If you want to learn more about Avery Family’s murder and killer, Jeffrey Lundgren, keep reading below.
The Avery Family’s Cause of Death
The American self-described prophet, cult leader, and mass murderer Jeffrey Don Lundgren (May 3, 1950–October 24, 2006) massacred a family of five in Kirtland, Ohio, on April 17, 1989.
In preparation for burying the Averys’ bodies there, Lundgren gave two of his followers instructions to dig a pit in the barn on April 10, 1989. It was anticipated that the pit would contain up to five bodies. The Averys were among the rest of Lundgren’s followers who were informed that they would go on a wilderness excursion. He all gathered his supporters for dinner in a motel room on April 17. He then invited the males in his company into his room. He inquired about each person’s motivation for participating. Lundgren received assurances from every man that they supported him in the offering. The gathering in Lundgren’s room did not include Dennis Avery on the guest list.
Followers admitted that Lundgren subsequently entered the barn with a church member called Ron Luff and lured Avery into a location where the other men were waiting by asking him for assistance with camping gear. Luff used a stun pistol to try to put Avery to sleep. However, owing to a malfunction, the shock bullet hit Avery but didn’t manage to put him to sleep. Avery was then carried to where Lundgren was waiting while being gagged. After receiving two shots to the back, he passed away quickly.
A chainsaw was left running to cover up the gun’s noise. Luff then informed Cheryl, Avery’s wife, that her husband required assistance. She was led to Lundgren while gagged, just like her husband, and had duct tape placed over her eyes. She had three gunshot wounds—two to the breasts and one to the abdomen. Her husband’s body was next to hers. Trina Avery, the 15-year-old daughter of the Averys, suffered two head wounds. The first shot did not hit her brain because it penetrated her skull and ricocheted off of it, but the second shot quickly killed her. While six-year-old Karen Avery was shot in the chest and head, thirteen-year-old Becky Avery was shot twice and left to die.
Who Killed the Avery Family?
On November 13, 2007, the incident’s location, a barn, was demolished. The land was purchased for $350,000 and is currently home to the New Promise Church.
Officers inadvertently visited Lundgren’s farm the day after the murders on April 18, 1989, to speak to him. After this incident, he fled Ohio for fear of being caught and moved south towards West Virginia. As a result of their disillusionment after months of nothing happening, Lundgren and his family left the other cult members in West Virginia behind when they traveled to California.
On January 3, 1990, nine months after the deaths, a tip from an informant redirected investigators to the long-forgotten farm, where they discovered the five Avery family members’ bodies. The FBI joined the manhunt as the Lundgrens fled, media interest in the case grew, and police started to track the cult members. Later, Lundgren’s wandering followers were located in the east, where they assisted in capturing the latter and his family. Early in 1990, Lundgren and his wife were among the 13 cult members who were detained.
Death was meted out to Lundgren. For conspiracy, collaboration, and kidnapping, Alice was given five life sentences (140 years total), while their son Damon received a 120-year sentence. Luff, who collaborated with Lundgren to plot and execute the murders, received a 170-year to a life sentence. Daniel Kraft received a 50-year to a life sentence. After roughly 20 years in prison, five of the cult members were released in 2010 or early 2011. (including the pre-trial period).
Although Richard Brand and Greg Winship (who were both serving 15 years to life in prison), as well as Sharon Bluntschly, Debbie Olivarez, and Susan Luff, had previously requested parole, the Ohio State Parole Board had repeatedly denied their requests. Prosecutor Charles Coulson confirmed that the original plea agreements stated that the five were to be eligible for release “at the earliest possible time” (all were serving 7 to 25 years). Following the conclusion that they were not responsible for the killings, Lundgren supporters Kathryn Johnson, Tonya Patrick, and Dennis Patrick each received a one-year sentence for obstructing justice (the Patricks’ sentences were suspended).
How Did Jeffrey Lundgren Die?
The Ohio Supreme Court set Lundgren’s execution date for October 24, 2006; as of August 2006, the state attorney general’s office reported that he had exhausted all of his appeals.
Judge Gregory L. Frost temporarily postponed Lundgren’s execution on October 17, 2006. Lundgren attempted to file a lawsuit against the capital sentence in Ohio together with five other death row convicts, arguing that because of his fat, the lethal injection would be exceptionally painful and constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Jim Petro, the state’s attorney general, filed an appeal with the Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order approving the execution. The US Supreme Court denied a last-minute attempt to halt his execution, and Governor Bob Taft also rejected clemency.
Jeffrey Lundgren was put to death at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on October 24, 2006. He was buried in the jail cemetery because no one came forward to claim his body.