Wisconsin: Religious Leader Dies after Beating
Group Member Charged with Battery, Property Damage and Obstruction

Telegraph Herald
October 26, 2008

AUGUSTA, Wis. (AP) — The founder of a small religious group that opposes embalming has died 10 days after being beaten at her Augusta home.

Sheriff's officials said they forwarded reports on the death of Kathryn Padilla, 62, to the Eau Claire County district attorney for possible additional charges against a man accused of the beating.

Sheriff's Capt. John Vogler said Jeffrey Rodrick, 49, of Seminole, Fla., had joined Padilla's religious group. He faces charges of substantial battery, criminal damage to property and obstructing an officer in the Oct. 12 beating.

Padilla died Wednesday at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. An autopsy was done Thursday but results were pending.

Padilla, who described herself as a prophet, led a group called The Rest of Jesus Ministries, which contends that embalming desecrates the body, and she believed that the dead should be wrapped only in a simple white sheet.

She was in the news six years ago when charged with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct for writing threatening letters to two funeral homes in Eau Claire.

The letters were delivered just days after two funeral home workers were killed in Hudson, about 65 miles away. Padilla initially was considered a suspect in the slayings, but police found no evidence of involvement by her or her followers.

A judge has since reviewed all the evidence and concluded that the Hudson deaths were committed by a Catholic priest who later committed suicide.

The disorderly conduct charges against Padilla were eventually dismissed, along with two misdemeanor counts of stalking. She agreed to write no more letters to funeral homes.

According to a criminal complaint, the letters said, "Thus saith the Lord, Because you have heard not the words of the Lord, I take from you your sons and daughters into early graves. Prepare for burial yourself."

Padilla told The Associated Press at the time that her group had sent about 400 of the letters to funeral homes the previous year and dozens more early in 2002.


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