Family Values

After four years, pastor charged with kidnapping

While keeping his grandchildren on his 400-acre farm in the Missouri Ozarks, Christian Identity pastor Gordon H. Winrod made sure to teach them the anti-Semitic beliefs that his father — the infamous "Jayhawk Nazi" — passed on to him.

Now, though he can't be put on trial for indoctrinating the six children, Winrod does face charges that he orchestrated their kidnappings and hid them from their fathers for four years.

The children were allegedly taken from the homes of their fathers, brothers Tim and Joel Leppert, in 1994 and 1995, and brought to the Winrod farm. By day, they were home schooled in a shed, away from prying eyes. By night, they played together on a lighted court.

All the while, they were exposed to the anti-Semitic and antigovernment preaching of Winrod, whose Our Savior's Church was housed on the farm. Winrod, 73, is well known in Ozark County for his mass mailings contending that "Jewdicials" cover up the Jewish ritual murders of whites.

Winrod's daughters, Sharon and Quinta, the mothers of the children, are already in prison in connection with the abductions. Winrod, his son Stephen, and his daughter Carol pleaded innocent to kidnapping charges after being arrested in May. They are being held on $500,000 bond each.

Winrod's influence on his grandchildren is evident. After their "guardians" were arrested by police, the children — apparently trained for such an eventuality — headed straight to a hidden compartment in the farmhouse basement, which they referred to as a "priest hole."

When they were finally coaxed out by a shackled and orange jumpsuit-clad Winrod following a four-day standoff with police, they shouted at deputies, "Get your Jew hands off me!"

During the standoff, police worried that the children, aged 9 to 16, might try to use some of the many weapons stashed at the farm. A rambling letter discovered on the floor of the "priest hole" showed that their fears were well-founded.

"We don't plan on them getting us unless they either get shot or us in this [priest hole] and drag out the corps[es] or they might have to try to catch us trying to escape in the night with guns afire and knives a-waving," Winrod's home-schooled 16-year-old granddaughter wrote.

"I hope they kill me trying to get these children."