INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The parents who say a cult is responsible for their daughter’s death talks only to FOX 4 about their daughters death, their lawsuit, and their vindication. Gail and Darrel Mansfield won a $108.6 million wrongful death civil case against their daughter Misty Horner’s husband and his siblings. They tried to argue it was a religious freedom case, but the jury found them negligent in Misty Horner’s death.
The Mansfields say the day the jurors came back with the verdict, they were very nervous. All their hopes for justice were in the jurors’ hands, and since it’s a civil case they only needed nine jurors to agree with them.
“And then when they gave us a 12 to nothing…” Darrel trails off, his eyes welling up with tears. “Awesome, it was totally awesome,” he said.
In December 2006, Misty and her husband Caleb planned a home birth for religious reasons. Caleb’s brother John Horner is a selfproclaimed apostle of a set of religious beliefs that include faith healing, and they shun modern medicine. But Misty spent four days in labor, baby Sydney was breach, and died of asphyxiation. It an attempt to save the baby, Caleb admitted he used household scissors to perform an emergency episiotomy. Misty got a terrible infection and suffered for 31 days before she died.
“Letting her lay in bed and every organ shut down until she died,” Gail says shaking her head. “He didn’t love her, he used her.”
The couple’s lawyer, Danny Thomas, said the Horners used Misty as a spiritual guinea pig.
“(To) watch her slowly die for 31 says is simply inhuman to me,” he said.
Thomas took the case even though most lawyers in town wouldn’t touch it because the Mansfields were told it was a religious freedom case. In closing arguments, the Horner brothers and sister Amber Horner Leathers all asked the jurors to respect Misty’s religious beliefs. But Thomas is glad the jury didn’t buy that.
“When people get hurt because of your religious beliefs, you will be held accountable,” Thomas said.
Thomas and the Mansfields know John Horner continues to spread his beliefs. Lately he’s been going to Mexico, but they hope the jury’s $108 million judgment will slow the Horners down.
“I said it at trial, “We’re going to put him out of business,” Thomas said.
“These people need to be stopped so they don’t hurt anybody else,” said Gail. “They need to be stopped.”
The Mansfields say when they do get money from the Horner’s they plan to donate much of it to charities Misty cared about, like City Union Mission and Hope House.
Thomas says his legal fight with the Horners may not be over yet, he says his investigation revealed at least 10 more deaths of babies and adults — people affiliated with Horner’s religious sect.