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Posted: 5/20/2003 11:49:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/20/2003 11:53:33 AM EDT by DoubleFeed]
inside church politics may be motive
]HOULTON, Maine (May 20) - Police now say they are convinced that at least two people were behind the arsenic poisonings at a small church that killed a man and sickened 15 other people, and have narrowed their list of possible suspects to six to 10 parishioners. The victims drank tainted coffee after the April 27 worship service at Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden. Five days later, a longtime worshipper, Daniel Bondeson, shot himself in the chest and left a suicide note that convinced investigators he was involved in the poisonings and may not have acted alone. Investigators have since obtained information substantiating their belief that the crime involved two or more members of the church, Maine State Police Lt. Dennis Appleton said Monday. ``We're very comfortable with the fact Daniel Bondeson didn't act alone because of things we've learned in the last week,'' Appleton told The Associated Press. ``We strongly feel that somebody in that community helped Daniel Bondeson - helped, conspired with, planned to commit this act.'' Appleton, who is leading the state's homicide investigation, declined to elaborate on the new information. But he spoke more openly than ever about potential suspects, their possible motives and intended victims, and investigators' theories of the case. There are about 50 regular churchgoers at Gustaf Adolph, and investigators have concluded that at least 40 of them were not involved in the poisonings, Appleton said. But he described a group of six to 10 people who are still considered potential suspects. ``I certainly hope that any co-conspirators are within that group we're looking at,'' Appleton said. ``I think when we get all through, the group's going to be a lot smaller.'' The only thread linking the potential suspects is their membership at Gustaf Adolph, Appleton said. Investigators have not wavered in their belief that the poisonings that rocked the farming community occurred when seemingly innocuous small-town church politics turned combustible, he said. One issue being explored is the Bondeson family's gift of a Communion table that sat unused for a few weeks. Another is the possibility that the 132-year-old church was going to be consolidated with neighboring congregations. ``There's some very traditional views, and there's some more modern views,'' Appleton said. ``And I think some of the issues ... come as a result of those differences.'' The lieutenant raised the possibility that Bondeson, 53, and any co-conspirators were trying to poison the church's 12-member council. He noted that the council has a weekly meeting after church where members regularly drink coffee. ``There were ... a number of people on the council that were sick,'' Appleton said. 05/20/03 10:50 EDT Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
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[red]I fixed this from one HUGE link that didn't go anywhere, to a quote. -DF [/red]
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