August 4, 1978
With her husband dead of suicide, a woman and her seven children plunged 11 floors from the balcony of a downtown Salt Lake City hotel in an apparent move of religious zealotry. The mother and six of the children died.
Police, and several witnesses, said the woman, Rachel David, 38, pushed some of the children, as they screamed and struggled to hold onto a railing, and at least three older children “jumped of their own volition.”
A 15-year-old girl survived and was in critical condition.
Police said the bizarre deaths came four days after Immanuel David, 39, a bearded loner who thought he was God, committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide.
“All indications are they were religious fanatics and decided to join the father,” said police Lt. Nick Paloukos.
“Immanuel David believed he was the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ and God – all three at same time,” said police Sgt. Brent Davis, who said he was a personal friend of David’s.
Brent Davis said the family was “devoted to each other, extremely so.” He said, “These people would be completely lost without the father”.
Authorities said the family plunged from the balcony of their $90-a-day suite at the International Dunes Hotel. Some jumped from chairs stacked on the balcony.
The FBI said Immanuel David was under investigation for wire fraud, but spokesman Robert Davenport would not specify any alleged schemes. He said a follower, Matthias David, was convicted of wire fraud earlier this year for soliciting contributions by telling people his stepdaughter was seriously injured in an automobile accident.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Felix Palacios, a delivery truck driver who said he saw the woman, Rachel David, throw two children over the balcony, said Jason Maxfield, 16, of Salt Lake City. The horror of the incident became apparent when a young girl landed in the gutter, still alive, when ambulance attendants picked her up minutes later, he said.
“The people here on the street were furious,” said Irvin Rose, of Falls Church, Va. He said several people yelled obscenities at the woman and yelled for her to jump after all the children had jumped or been thrown off.
The dead children were identified as Rybeca, 5, David, 6, Joseph, 8, Debbra, 9, Joshaha, 10, and Rachal, 14. The surviving child was Elizbeth, 13, said police Lt. Roger Kinnersley. He said the children’s names were provided by a family friend and it was at first thought Rachal David was the one who lived.
Three stacks of hotel chairs were found on the balcony, and Kinnersley said at least three of the older children used them to climb up to the railing for the jump over the side to their deaths.
“Those older children were too old to be thrown out. They could have restrained the lady easily,” said Jim Bradley, the hotel manager.
The mother and four children died as their bodies hit a first-floor roof or bounced to the sidewalk. Two others died later in Salt Lake hospitals.
Immanuel David was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in a borrowed van at the top of a nearby canyon. Hotel employees said Immanuel was over 6-foot-4 and weighed more than 300 pounds. He wore a beard and braided hair.
Police said Rachel David learned about her husband’s death on Wednesday and told police she couldn’t pay for the burial.
His family had live in the International Dunes suite for more than a year, paying the bill each day in cash, said Penny MacDonald, hotel clerk.
Police said David was not apparently employed. They did not know how he was able to afford the hotel bill, which would have been more than $30.000 over the past year.
David, also known as Bruce Longo, led a small cult made up mostly of his immediate family, said Police Lt. Roger Kinnersley.
He said Immanuel David had been excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) several years ago. Mormon officials told police David frequently had tried to warn them of what he believed to be impending calamities and had demanded a share of church revenues.
David’s drivers’ license listed his home as Duchesne, a small eastern Utah community, but Kinnersley said had lived in various Salt Lake City hotels for years.
Bradley described the family as “loners, complete loners”. Other hotel employees said the children did not speak to anyone without their father’s permission, did not use the hotel swimming pool and remained mostly in their suite. They said the children were taught in the room by their parents and did not attend the school.
credit murderpedia – observer-reporter