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Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Supremacist sentenced to 30 years in prison for abductions

March 20, 2001

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— Anti-Jewish minister Gordon Winrod remained defiant as a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison the maximum punishment allowed for abducting his six grandchildren from North Dakota and bringing them to the Ozarks to indoctrinate them with his beliefs.

Winrod's daughter, Carol Winrod, 28, entered an Alford plea Monday to two charges, while four others were dropped. The Alford plea means she doesn't admit guilt, but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to convict her. She was expected to be released Monday. Her sentencing is scheduled for May 23.

Her brother, Stephen Winrod, faces the same charges. Jury selection in his trial is scheduled to begin today.

Circuit Judge William Mauer listened patiently for nearly an hour Monday as Gordon Winrod repeatedly referred to the court as the "Jewdiciary," and insisted the proceeding was illegal and unconstitutional. Winrod also argued that he brought the children to Missouri to protect them from abuse.

The children remained at his secluded farm in the rugged Ozarks hills near Gainesville until police found them last year. Winrod, pastor of Our Savior's Church, has been linked to the Christian Identity movement, which considers white Christians superior to nonwhites and Jews.

On Monday, Winrod, 74, objected to being referred to as an anti-Semite and white supremacist in the presentencing report that was compiled for use by the judge in deciding the sentence.

"I'm anti the same thing Jesus was," he said. "There is no Jewish race, there is only a Jewish religion. I'm not an anti-Semite. That's a lie."

Winrod was clad in orange jail clothes with white socks and thongs on his feet. He wore two pairs of glasses, apparently to help him better read court documents. He acted as his own attorney, despite being appointed a public defender. He also indicated he would file a motion to vacate his sentence.

Winrod also acted as his own attorney and refused the help of a public defender during his three-day trial in January. He then returned to his jail cell in a huff and refused to participate in two days of his trial after Mauer rejected several of his pretrial motions.

He later was found in contempt of court after ignoring the judge's warning about raising allegations that the grandchildren had been molested by their fathers.

His grandchildren began disappearing one by one from their homes near Dickey, N.D., between 1994 and 1995. Authorities long suspected they were living with Winrod in Missouri.

Police raided the 400-acre farm in Ozark County in May 2000, arresting him and then working for four days to talk the children then ages 9 to 16 into surrendering. Authorities said their grandfather's teachings were deeply instilled in the children, who had barricaded themselves in a 6-foot-by-6-foot basement room.

The children, whose fathers have legal custody, have since undergone treatment at a mental health center in North Dakota.

Before being sentenced Monday, Winrod told the judge he had a total of 60 grandchildren.

"Some are with their grandfather in their spiritual beliefs and some are departed," he told the judge. "I am sorry about that."

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