3 sus­pected of ab­duc­tion from church

Rel­a­tives feared the man was be­ing ‘brain­washed’ by Twelve Tribes group.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Tony Perry tony.perry@la­times.com Twit­ter: @latsandiego

SAN DIEGO — Three peo­ple were ar­rested in Vista on sus­pi­cion of kid­nap­ping a rel­a­tive from the Twelve Tribes Com­mu­nity/ Church be­cause they feared he was be­ing “brain­washed” by the de­voutly re­li­gious group, the San Diego County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment said Satur­day.

The in­ci­dent be­gan with what looked like a hit-an­drun traf­fic ac­ci­dent Fri­day night, ac­cord­ing to Sgt. Pa­trick Yates.

When a deputy stopped two vans that had fled “at a high rate of speed,” he found three per­sons had ab­ducted a 23-year-old rel­a­tive, Yates said.

An­dres Martinez-Manso, 51, Eliza Martinez, 25, and Robert Harry Matthew, 25, were ar­rested. The rel­a­tive was re­leased, ap­par­ently un­harmed.

Twelve Tribes is a re­li­gious com­mu­nity whose mem­bers live in a house in Vista that also serves as a church. Oth­ers live on a 66acre avo­cado ranch in Val­ley Cen­ter.

The group also runs the Yel­low Deli in Vista and its mem­bers are of­ten seen at farm­ers’ mar­kets sell­ing pro­duce.

Satur­day af­ter­noon, Twelve Tribes iden­ti­fied the per­son who was al­legedly kid­napped as Robert Martinez and said that he “be­came a part of our com­mu­nity al­most five years ago.”

In a state­ment emailed to re­porters, the group ex­pressed sad­ness at the in­ci­dent: “We are very thank­ful that he is back at home with his wife, who is ex­pect­ing their first child next month. We do not know of the mo­tives for this ac­tion.”

The group is part of a na­tional move­ment that be­gan in 1972 in Chat­tanooga, Tenn., a breakaway from the Je­sus Move­ment. The na­tional leader refers to him­self as Yoneq.

In Vista and at the Morn­ing Star Ranch, devo­tees live a com­mu­nal and pa­tri­ar­chal life­style, with fam­i­lies work­ing on the farm and chil­dren home-schooled. The men of­ten have full beards, and the women dress plainly. Twelve Tribes fol­lows cer­tain bib­li­cal scrip­tures but does not con­sider it­self Chris­tian.

“We live as a big, ex­tended fam­ily be­cause we love one another,” the Vista group said in its state­ment. “We love to work to­gether in our Yel­low Deli, where many, many peo­ple in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia come and con­tin­u­ally wit­ness our life and our re­la­tion­ships. We are not hid­den or in­ac­ces­si­ble.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent con­tin­ues, the Sher­iff ’s De­part­ment said.

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