A religious cult in Guthrie may have had connection with David Koresh and the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, a Guthrie police official said Friday. The official, who asked not to be identified, said he received inquiries from federal agencies about a possible connection between the Samaritan Foundation, located in the old territorial jail at 214 W. Noble, and the Branch Davidians. He said the inquiries came before the spring standoff in Waco between federal agents and Koresh and his followers. The Samaritan Foundation's existence became public knowledge Thursday during an emergency child custody hearing in the courtroom of Logan County Associate District Judge Penny Howard.
Jonathan George, 42, of Sommerville, Massachusetts, was in Guthrie to regain custody of his two children, Leila Malini George, 7, and Rami Michael George, 4. The children's mother, Nelli George, 40, had brought them to Guthrie on September 2. The Beirut, Lebanon native told her husband she wanted to spend ten days in Guthrie at a seminar. He said she described it to him as "the chance of a lifetime." Jonathan George said that once the children's mother arrived in Guthrie, he had difficulty reaching her or the children by phone and could only leave messages on an answering machine belonging to Linda Greene, head of the Samaritan Foundation.
He said he had spoken to the children a total of 12 minutes since they arrived in Guthrie. Nelli George testified she decided she did not want to go back to her husband and filed for separate maintenance. Jonathan George, a contractor who said he does the fine finish work for the television show This Old House, then sought help from Massachusetts state courts. A judge there granted him temporary custody of the children on October 5. He came to Oklahoma to get the children.
Howard ruled Friday that the children were to return to Massachusetts with their father because the state had jurisdiction and because it is the children's home state. During the course of the hearing that began Thursday, the children's father said he was afraid for them to remain in Guthrie because of his wife's "bizarre" behavior that began 18 months ago. That was about the time she began receiving literature from the Samaritan Foundation, he said. He said she began swinging a pendulum over things, including the children, to remove evil. He said she would place a circular drawing under groceries because the foundation's writings said the Universal Price Code, also called a barcode, was evil. She placed the same drawing under the children's pillows, he said.
Jonathan George said the literature his wife had received was signed with the name Linda Greene. It referred to zombies, vampires and the Antichrist. Much of it was violent in nature, he said. The Oklahoman obtained a copy of the writings, which caution believers not to talk on the telephone because vampires can gain access to them. Another describes President Clinton as "an animal-mutant zombie," first lady Hillary Clinton as "a three-virtue type zombie" and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a "five-virtue zombie." Jonathan George's attorney, Richard L. Weldon of Chickasha, said Greene claims in her writings that she is Christ because she "willingly gave her soul so that all of yours could survive. " Claire Carbone, Jonathan George's sister, said of her sister-in-law: "That woman is not Nelli. Nelli is a sweet, beautiful mother. She must be hypnotized." Carbone said Nelli George is very bright, speaks Arabic, French and English and is an accomplished potter.
Nelli George testified Thursday that she and the children were living at the former territorial jail at 214 W. Noble. She said she shared living quarters and meals with at least seven other adults and two children. She described Greene and Greene's husband, Dennis, as her friends, and said she came to Guthrie to see them. She denied Linda Greene was her teacher and denied being a member of the Samaritan Foundation.
In court Friday, Nelli George said she moved on Thursday to the Greenes' home, 909 Mockingbird, which is for sale. She said she and the children planned to live there in exchange for taking care of the house. She said Dennis Greene travels and Linda Greene now lives at 301 2nd St.
After the judge gave her husband permission to take the children back to Massachusetts, Nelli George vowed, "They'll be back with me soon."