The new FX/Hulu limited series “Under the Banner of Heaven” is based on Jon Krakauer’s 2003 true-crime bestseller of the same name. It follows the investigation into the 1984 murders of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her daughter, Erica Lafferty, and its relationship to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that has shocked the Mormon community. The book, and now the show, delves into how religion played a role in the murders.
How was Brenda Lafferty murdered?
On July 24, 1984, Brenda Lafferty was found dead by her husband on the floor of their home with her throat slit, according to court documents (via Justia Law). His granddaughter, Erica, was also murdered in her crib. Notably, the murder took place on Pioneer Day, an official holiday in Utah that commemorates the first group of Mormon pioneers settling in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.
Who Killed Brenda Lafferty?
Brenda Lafferty was killed by Ron and Dan Lafferty, the older brothers of her husband, Allen Lafferty. According to court documents, the brothers were part of the School of the Prophets, which is a small extremist sect of Mormonism that they joined after being excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1983 for their increasingly extreme fundamentalist views. — including polygamy.
Why did Ron and Dan Lafferty kill Brenda Lafferty?
Dan and Ron Lafferty claimed to have killed Brenda because God told them to, according to KSLTV.
Brenda was reluctant to have her husband, Allen, join the School of the Prophets, which Ron and Dan saw as trying to split the family. Later, Ron’s wife, Diana, not wanting to practice polygamy, divorced her and moved their six children to Florida. For this, Ron also blamed Brenda. In March 1984, Ron wrote what he claimed was a divine revelation which is now called “The Suppression Revelation”, which stated that Brenda and her daughter, who he believed would become just as “despicable” as her mother , according to him. court documents (via The New York Times), were “obstacles in his path” and should be killed. When he shared the note with the school of prophets, however, they also excommunicated the brethren.
Four months later, on Pioneer Day, Dan and Ron Lafferty murdered Brenda and Erica. According to court documents, Ron and Dan planned to murder two other members of the LDS church, Ron blamed for the disillusionment of his marriage, but their plans fell through because someone was not home and they got together. are lost trying to find the fourth. the person’s home.
Where are Dan and Ron Lafferty now?
According to Time, after Brenda and Erica were murdered, Ron and Dan fled Utah to Nevada, where Ron and Dan were caught in a casino buffet line in Reno and arrested.
The brothers were convicted in 1985 in two different trials. According to KSLTV, Dan was sentenced to life, while Ron was sentenced to death.
In 1991, Ron’s verdict was overturned and a new trial was ordered because the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the legal standard used by the court to assess his mental capacity was flawed. While in 1992 he was found mentally unfit to stand trial, he was later found fit to stand trial in 1994. In 1996, Ron stood trial again, at which time his original sentence of death has been confirmed, according to The New York Times.
Ron Lafferty spent 34 years on death row and died in 2019 aged 78 of natural causes. Dan Lafferty is currently serving a life sentence in Utah State Prison.