The David Family Suicide: Tragedy in Utah
By Kim Miller - Voices.yahoo.com
On August 3, 1978 Rebecca David took her seven children to the
eleventh floor balcony of the International Dune Hotel in Salt
Lake City, Utah. The older children began to willingly jump off of
the balcony. Rebecca threw the younger children off. One of the
younger children grabbed the railing and fought, but Rebecca
pulled him loose and threw him off.
I remember when this happened. The news reported that the
onlookers were shouting "No," "Stop," as the children either
jumped or where thrown off the balcony. When Rebecca got to the
railing after all of her children were on the ground the onlookers
yelled, "Jump! Jump." She then jumped to her death.
One of the children amazingly survived the horrific tragedy.
Rachel David, fifteen at the time, sustained severe injuries that
confined her to a wheelchair.
Rachel's father, Immanuel David believed himself to be a
descendent of the House of David. He committed suicide two days
before Rachel and her family jumped from the balcony. He died from
carbon monoxide poisoning.
Immanuel David changed his name from Charles Bruce Longo to
Immanuel David because he believed himself to be a prophet of God.
Many times he even claimed to be God, Jesus, or the Holy Ghost. He
had a small cult of followers called the Family of David. Those
who still belong to the Family of David believe that the Star of
David belongs to Immanuel, not Jesus. They also believe that when
Immanuel killed himself, his family had to be with him because
they could not be apart. A former follower said that Immanuel
killed himself because he was facing indictment charges of wire
fraud or tax evasion. Immanuel's huge ego would not allow him to
go to jail so he killed himself.
The children were described and bright, well dressed, and very
polite by a family friend. They had absolute faith in their father
and his power. It is believed that the family did not think they
could function without him so they followed him in death.
Mother, Six children Die in
Plunge From Utah Hotel
August 4, 1978
Salt Lake City (AP) - With her husband dead of
suicide, a woman and her seven children plunged 11 floors from the
balcony of a downtown Salt Lake City hotel Thursday in an apparent
of religious zealotry, police said. The mother and six of the
Police and witnesses said the woman, Rachel
David, 38, pushed some of the children as they screamed and
struggled to hold onto a railing and at least three older children
"jumped of their own volition",
A 15-year-old girl survived and was in critical
Police said the bizarre deaths came four days
after Immanuel David, 39, a bearded loner who thought he was God,
committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide.
"All indications are they were religious
fanatics and decided to join the father," said police Lt. Nick
"He believed he was the Holy Ghost, Jesus
Christ and God - all three at same time," said police Sgt. Brent
Davis, who said he was a personal friend of David's.
David said the family was "devoted to each
other, extremely so." He said, "These people would be completely
lost without the father".
Authorities said the family plunged from
the balcony of their $90-a-day suite at the International Dunes
hotel. Some jumped from chairs stacked on the balcony.
The FBI said David was under investigation for
wire fraud, but spokesman Robert Davenport would not specify any
alleged schemes. He said a follower, Matthias David, was convicted
of wire fraud earlier this year for soliciting contributions by
telling people his stepdaughter was seriously injured in an
"I just couldn't believe it," said Felix
Palacios, a delivery truck driver who said he saw the woman throw
two children over de balcony said Jason Maxfield, 16, of Salt Lake
City. The horror of the incident became apparent when a young girl
landed in the gutter, still alive when ambulance attendants picked
her up minutes later, he said.
"The people here on the street were furious,"
said Irvin Rose, of Falls Church, Va. He said several people
yelled obscenities at the woman and yelled for her to jump after
all the children had jumped or been thrown off.
The dead children were identified as Rybeca, 5,
David, 6, Joseph, 8, Debbra, 9, Joshaha, 10, and Rachal, 14. The
surviving child was Elizbeth, 13, said police Lt. Roger Kinnersley.
He said the children's names were provided by a family friend and
it was at first thought Rachal was the one who lived.
Dr. Terry Clemmer of LDS Hospital said Elizbeth
was in surgery most of the day Thursday. "I have great
reservations about her chances for survival," he said.
Three stacks of hotel chairs were found on the
balcony, and Kinnersley said at least three of the older children
used them to climb up to the railing for the jump.
"Those older children were too old to be thrown
out. They could have restrained the lady easily," said Jim
Bradley, the hotel manager.
The mother and four children died as their
bodies hit a first-floor roof or bounced to the sidewalk. Two
others died later in Salt Lake hospitals.
David was found dead of carbon monoxide
poisoning in a borrowed van at the top of a nearby canyon Tuesday.
Hotel employees said David was over 6-foot-4 and weighed more than
300 pounds. He wore a beard and braided hair.
Police said Mrs. David learned about his death
Wednesday and told police she couldn't pay for the burial.
His family had live in the International Dunes
suite for more than a year, paying the bill each day in cash, said
Penny MacDonald, hotel clerk.
Police said David was not apparently employed.
They did not know how he was able to afford the hotel bill, which
would have been more than $30.000 over the past year.
David, also known as Bruce Longo, led a small
cult made up mostly of his immediate family, said Police Lt. Roger
He said David had been excommunicated from the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) several years
ago. Mormon officials told police David frequently had tried to
warn them of what he believed to be impending calamities and had
demanded a share of church revenues.
David's drivers' license listed his home as
Duchesne, a small eastern Utah community, but Kinnersley said had
lived in various Salt Lake City hotels for years.
Bradley described the family as "loners,
complete loners". Other hotel employees said the children did not
speak to anyone without their father's permission, did not use the
hotel swimming pool and remained mostly in their suite. They said
the children were taught in the room by their parents and did not
attend the school.
Survivor of '78 family
suicide jump says her father will return to earth
April 10, 1993
Rachel David, sole survivor from her family's
suicide plunge from a downtown Salt Lake hotel balcony in 1978,
says she still believes her father is God and will return to
"I remember my father said he will be back. I
know he will," David said in an interview to be broadcast Monday
on the TV magazine program "Inside Edition." "My father never
lied," she said. The program said she has continued to try to
follow the suicide order and has attempted to kill herself several
David was 15 when she, her mother and six
brothers and sisters plunged from the 11th floor of the then
International Dunes Hotel on Aug. 3, 1978. The family had been
living in a room at the hotel for more than a year. The jump came
three days after the family's patriarch, self-proclaimed prophet
Immanuel David, took his own life by carbon-monoxide poisoning.
The children either jumped or were thrown from
the balcony by their mother, Rebecca, before she herself jumped as
morning commuters, pedestrians and construction workers looked on
in horror. Rachel was hospitalized for months, then state Family
Services officials said she was being placed with a foster family.
She had not been heard from until tracked down
by "Inside Edition" correspondent Dan Noyes.
She is confined to a wheelchair and lives with
an uncle, Lennart Eriksson, according to a release late Thursday.
Their location was not disclosed.
David, 39, who had changed his name from
Charles Bruce Longo, claimed to be a descendant of the House of
David. The children did not go to school and the source of the
family's income was never clear, but authorities said it
apparently had run out at the time of the suicides.
Rachel, who said she jumped willingly, believed
her death and those of her family were ordained, according to the