A Family Torn Asunder

Dugan Arnett: It was quiet the night he decided to flee.

Since moving his wife and five children to Liberty to join a fringe religious group known as the Fellowship of the Martyrs, James Todd had grown used to the late-night soundtrack that emanated from the rundown cluster of town homes the group occupied. The howls of drunks. The heavy metal music. The booze-fueled arguments that occasionally escalated into violence.

Now, in the early morning hours of Jan. 16, 2012, there was only silence.

Inside his bedroom, James sat alone, wide awake. Downstairs by the front door, his bags were already packed.

Seven months earlier, the Todds had arrived here from Houston, believing they had found a spiritual oasis. James and his wife, Jennifer Todd, envisioned a life of service and unity, a place they could help others while spreading the word of God.
But while Jennifer seemed to find it, embracing the ministry and its teachings, James had watched his life unravel. Their savings were gone, and Jennifer wanted a divorce.

The couple had fought earlier that evening. Afterward, he had discreetly filled a couple of bags with clothes, diapers and snacks, whatever he could grab.

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