LEXINGTON, Mo. — The macabre story of the Mohlers took an even darker twist Tuesday — random murder, little girls with knives and a sex slave hidden in the crawl space.
The new information comes from search warrants in the Lafayette County case that started explosively enough last week with the arrest of a senior citizen and his four middle-aged sons. All are charged with sex crimes against six children of the Mohler family, based on the allegations of a 26-year-old woman in August.
It steadily got worse. A great-uncle in Florida was accused of taking part in the rapes once at the family farm south of Bates City.
On Monday, new allegations by an older sister of the first woman doubled the number of sex charges.
Now, new chapters: A "300-pound man" allegedly abducted from his driveway and killed, and a young woman held captive under the family property so long that the little girls supposedly wondered whether she was a sister they didn’t know about.
Acting on the accusations, law enforcement authorities last week used machinery to tear up a 55-acre property. They confirmed they were looking for bodies as well as other evidence, including mysterious glass jars.
The search reportedly found a bone of an unknown type, a credit card, eyeglasses and the sole of a shoe or boot.
Prosecutors have declined to comment on specifics of the investigation, saying it is in its early stages.
As five accused men, Burrell E. Mohler Sr., 77; Burrell E. Mohler Jr., 53; David Mohler, 52; Jared Mohler, 48; and Roland Mohler, 47, attended a hearing Tuesday, about two dozen relatives packed the front row of the Lafayette County District Court room to give them moral support. Later, like other family members contacted in recent days, they protested that the stories could not be true.
“Burrell and I go back to 1951, and I don’t believe any of it,” said Ron Gamble, a brother-in-law of the senior Mohler.
Gamble, of Independence, said that he had visited the Mohler place over the years and had seen nothing suspicious. He called the deceased wife of the senior Burrell “very religious, very strict,” and she would not have condoned any of the behavior listed in the many charges.
Those allegations include rape, sodomy and bestiality against small children. They were first brought to light by the 26-year-old woman, who said the outrages against her started about kindergarten and went on until an abortion before her 12th birthday.
Some abuse cases based on suppressed memories have proved to be untrue. In this case, authorities say siblings have all supported her allegations, with the 29-year-old sister relating more memories that amounted to 17 more charges.
Two of the sisters told of "mock weddings" in which they were matched to an uncle before heading to the chicken coop for consummation.
Now comes the recounting of a murder that allegedly occurred in April 1988, when three of the girls would have been 8, 7, and 5. The allegations in the search warrant state that:
The women recalled being with their father, Burrell E. Mohler Jr., when he followed a large man from the Independence Center shopping mall to his driveway. The girls were told to tell the man their father was suffering a heart attack to bring the victim close enough to be subdued by their father.
The women reported that they were blindfolded as the man was transported to the rural property owned by Mohler’s father.
There, the girls were told that they must kill their captive or be killed themselves. Given knives, the girls heard their father count to three. The 29-year-old woman recalled jumping on the victim's back and trying to choke him with her arm, but being knocked off when he quickly rose up from the ground. She said she jumped on his back again and stabbed him repeatedly, but the man did not die until her father allegedly stabbed him in the chest.
Once dead, the man was propped against a tree and the father asked the girls if they wanted to stab the dead man in the face. One said she did and stabbed him. The girls were then forced to help dig a grave for the man.
But the Missouri Highway Patrol Web site shows only one missing man in 1988, and he was from the St. Louis region and disappeared not long before Christmas that year.
No murder charges have been filed in the Mohler case.
The second freshly revealed chapter involves more sex crimes, this time the repeated rape of a woman supposedly held captive so long that she went through two pregnancies. Those babies were also the subject of the two days of searching at the property once owned by the Mohlers.
The woman, who would be the seventh victim of the Mohlers listed in the court documents, apparently was unrelated to the family. She reportedly came forward after seeing news reports of last week’s arrests.
She alleged she was held in a crawl space under the home between sexual assaults by all the Mohler men.
“Following her delivery of the first baby,” Burrell E. Mohler Sr. and Burrell E. Mohler Jr. put the infant in a box and buried it in the basement’s dirt floor.
The affidavit makes no reference to the baby being dead or alive.
The floor was later covered in concrete. Court documents indicate that ground-penetrating radar was used to search the basement of the home last week. An object “consistent with the shape of a box” was detected under the concrete floor, the affidavit said. Jars of soil were removed for analysis.
The affidavits also show an interview was conducted on Nov. 4 with Jeanette Cyr, the first wife of Burrell Mohler Jr., who divorced him March 5, 1998, a decade after the captive woman allegedly was on the property and the unknown man reportedly was murdered. Cyr stated that she recalled her daughters asking her whether they had another sister who did not reside with the family. The affidavit also said Cyr provided a photograph of a crawl space at the Mohler residence.
Another twist in the affidavits is that the women’s brother told authorities that while digging on the same property he found jars containing letters by his sisters. The brother said the sisters once told him the idea was that if something bad happened, they should write about it and place the paper in a jar and bury it.
The brother told authorities that he put the jars back where he found them. There’s no indication of when he, the only brother, did the digging.
Those jars were among the items authorities said they were seeking. The affidavit shows that a broken glass jar was recovered during the authorities’ recent search of the property.
The men have been held in jail in Lexington since their arrest a week ago. Only Jared Mohler appeared with counsel Tuesday. He waived the reading of the charges and pleaded not guilty.