GRANDVIEW, Mo. - There are a lot of prayers going out Monday from a metro church, as a former intern for the International House of Prayer University, or IHOPU, is found dead, a current student confesses to the murder and an investigation reveals an allegedly twisted case of sex, drugs and religion.
IHOPU and the victim's family both released statements Monday.
Jackson County authorities said it initially appeared 27-year-old Bethany Deaton took her own life in late October. But Friday, 23-year-old Micah Moore confessed to suffocating the young nurse.
County prosecutors said Moore lived with Deaton, her husband and other men. A probable cause statement reveals Moore told a detective he and the other men in the home, including Deaton's own husband, drugged her and sexually assaulted her for months.
The statement said witnesses called this a "religious community" where they had sex with each other. According to the witness statements, Deaton's husband, Tyler Deaton, was the spiritual leader.
In the statement, Moore also tells investigators he killed Deaton to keep her from telling her therapist about the attacks.
Tyler Deaton has not been charged with any wrongdoing in connection to the death of his wife.
An IHOP spokesperson said Moore was a student at IHOPU.
University President Allen Hood said in a statement Deaton interned at the university for six months in 2009. Allen said some of the members a part of this religious community were enrolled there but said, "This group has always operated independently of the university and it is important to all of us that this group's secrecy and disturbing religious practices are fully exposed."
Allen said the group started out of Georgetown, Texas more than five years ago and relocated to the Kansas City area over the last few years under a veil of secrecy.
He said IHOPU was saddened by the tragic death Deaton. Allen said they are taking all necessary steps to minister students and ensure their safety and well being. Allen also said they are working closely with the sheriff's office in this investigation.
Deaton's family is from Texas. Her father released a statement Monday about the new details in this case.
"We are deeply grieving the loss of our beautiful and innocent daughter. We are shocked and horrified by the information now coming forth. The betrayal, the subtle and increasing manipulation, and the brutal victimization which occurred is beyond tragic. We pray for the truth to be revealed. While it is important to understand how Bethany died, it is even more important to understand how she lived. Because of the ongoing investigation, we do not have any further comment at this time," the statement read.
The family is getting a lot of prayers from the IHOP community.
"That's the response you'll get from 98 percent of this community, is keep praying," Aj Haste said. Haste said he sometimes attends services at IHOP and has a lot of friends who are a part of the staff.
Other students told FOX 4 off-camera they are praying for those involved in what seems like a twisted sexual religious group, but separate from IHOP.
Even so, Haste said the news has hit the community hard.
"I know a lot of these guys are tight-knit because it's small, they all go to school together, they hang out together, most of them live together, everybody is roommates, so it's shocking and I know it's a big deal to them," he said. Haste adds, "They're really nice people."
Micah Moore is being held on a $500,000 cash bond. He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
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