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Alvin Lee KING III





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: In a Baptist church - Revenge
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: June 22, 1980
Date of arrest: Same day (suicide attempt)
Date of birth: 1935
Victims profile: 2 women, 2 men and 1 girl
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Daingerfield, Texas, USA
Status: Hanged himself in the Morris County Jail with strips of a towel January 19, 1982

Kicked open the doors of the Baptist church June 22, 1980, shouted, ''This is war," and sprayed the congregation with gunfire - apparently because members had refused to testify in his behalf at his incest trial scheduled the next day.

He hanged himself in the Morris County Jail with strips of a towel two years later.



Mass killer hangs self

Philadelphia Daily News

January 20, 1982

DAINGERFIELD, Texas - A former school teacher, who burst into a church service 18 months ago and killed five people with an automatic rifle, hanged himself in his county jail cell, authorities said.

Alvin Lee King III died yesterday, just hours before he was to have returned to a courtroom where a district judge was considering whether to relocate a court hearing to determine if he was competent to aid in his defense at his murder trial.

He hanged himself in the Morris County Jail with strips of a towel. There was speculation King might have been affected by testimony Monday in the change of venue hearing in which his wife and son - with whom he had not had contact since the shootings - testified in favor of moving the competency hearing.

KING KICKED open the doors of the Baptist church June 22, 1980, shouted, ''This is war," and sprayed the congregation with gunfire - apparently because members had refused to testify in his behalf at his incest trial scheduled the next day.

Five church members died and 10 were injured. In Indianapolis, another accused mass killer tried to hang himself in a holding area adjacent to a courtroom before the second day of jury selection began.

King Edward Bell, 32, who is charged with killing his four young children, his estranged wife and her mother last Aug. 21, appeared dazed but was not hurt, said deputies who cut him down.


Alvin Lee King (6)

Alvin was an atheist eccentric with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a taste for crime. In 1966 he accidentally killed his father with a shotgun blast. In the summer of 1980, the Sunday before he was scheduled to go to trial for allegedly molesting his daughter, he tied his wife to a kitchen table, dressed up in military drag, and set off to the First Baptist Church in Daingerfield, Texas. As he busted in the packed church, he screamed "This is war!" and started firing. In ten seconds he killed five and wounded twelve. He then fled to a fire station where he tried and failed to commit suicide. Happily he did succeed while in jail, by hanging himself with a towel.


Gunman declares 'war,' kills 4 in church

June 23, 1980

DAINGERFIELD, Tex. (UPI) - Dressed in combat gear and armed with four guns, former math teacher Alvin Lee King 3d brought his "war" to the First Baptist Church, where he had unsuccessfully sought character witnesses for his incest trial, police say.

King, 45, burst into the church auditorium yesterday morning as the choir was midway through "More About Jesus," announced "This is war," and opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, police said.

A 78-year-old woman and a 7-year-old girl were killed before King could be wrestled out of the building. In less than a minute, 11 people were wounded.

Once on the front lawn, King pulled a .22-caliber pistol and killed two men who had tried to subdue him, officers said. He then went across the street to a fire station and shot himself in the head.

HE WAS SENT in stable condition to a Tyler hospital where his wound, a slight graze, did not require immediate surgery.

Facing four murder complaints, King last night was transferred to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, which police said had a more suitable criminal detention center.

Dan Gilmore, a minister and music education director at the church, said church officials had no explanation for King's actions.

However, Morris County Attorney Bill Porter said King, described by a former student as an atheist, had asked several members of the church to testify in his behalf at his incest trial, scheduled to begin today in nearby Sulphur Springs.

KING, WHO ONCE taught at Daingerfield High School, was indicted in October 1979, in a 1977 incest incident involving his daughter, who was then 18.

"I had heard that he had approached several members of the congregation and asked them to testify," Porter said. "I know of one incident specifically where the person said they wouldn't (testify). I don't know if anyone had agreed to be a witness or not."

Dr. William Carr on the staff at Hospital of the Pines, where many of the wounded were taken, supported Porter's theory.

King resigned his teaching job in 1973 and since had acquired a Ph.D. and worked for a trucking firm. Police said recently he had lived fairly reclusively on a farm near Hughes Springs.

KING'S WIFE, Gretchen, said he tied her up and left the house yesterday about 9 a.m. without hurting her. He showed up at the church at 11:20 a.m. wearing Army fatigues, a helmet and a bulletproof vest. Jennifer Linam, 7, of Lone Star, died at the church after being shot in the head and Thelma Richardson, 78, died of head and back wounds.

The shots and commotion was audible on the church's tape recording of the sermon - broadcast live on station KEGG.


"This Is War!"

The mystery of Alvin Lee King

Monday, Jul. 07, 1980

To dramatize his sermon against Communism last year, Minister Jim Powell had several uniformed men rush into the First Baptist Church in Daingerfield, Texas, and fire blank cartridges. Thus most of the 350 worshipers in the church last week thought it was just another example of play-acting when Alvin Lee King III, 46, burst in as the congregation was singing More About Jesus.

King was wearing Army fatigues, a flak jacket and helmet, and carrying an arsenal: an AR-15 rifle with a bayonet, an M-1 rifle, a pearl-handled .22-cal. pistol and a .38-cal. pistol. Slung over his shoulder was a pack stuffed with 250 rounds of ammunition.

"This is war!" he shouted as he opened fire with the AR-15. He killed five people, including a seven-year-old girl, and wounded eleven before fleeing to a nearby fire station. There he critically wounded himself with a shot in the forehead from the .22-cal. pistol.

When policemen went to his isolated farmhouse eight miles from Daingerfield (pop. 2,800), they discovered his wife Gretchen bound to a kitchen chair with rope and telephone cord. On a table was a note: "Jeremiah says the King is the King of Kings."

In the basement, the officers found a letter from the Soviet embassy in Washington informing King that he could not become a Soviet citizen, plus records of about $300 deposited this spring in a Swiss bank and passports for King and his wife. Said Deputy Sheriff Emit Kennedy: "He definitely had something planned."

But what? No one could say. And, even more puzzling to the people of the northeast Texas farm town was Alvin Lee King himself. Raised in Corpus Christi by parents who owned a liquor store, pawnshop and jukebox leasing company, King came to Daingerfield in 1966 with Wife Gretchen, Daughter Cynthia and Son Alvin Lee King IV to teach high school math. That same year, while King was visiting his parents in Corpus Christi, he was examining a 12-gauge shotgun when it somehow discharged, killing his father. The coroner ruled the death accidental.

At Daingerfield High School, King was considered brilliant but an oddball. He refused to sign an oath, required of all local teachers, acknowledging God. His teaching methods were somewhat bizarre. For instance, he let students whose marks fell between Bs and Cs cut a deck of cards to determine their final grade. In 1972 he quit rather than teach retarded students, then became a truck driver.

Five years later, his house burned down under mysterious circumstances, and King moved his family to the 100-acre farm, where he raised peas and cucumbers, collected guns and practiced judo.

As far as most people in Daingerfield were concerned, the Kings had dropped from sight until Cynthia, 21, showed up at the police station last October and complained that for ten years her father had been forcing her to have sex with him. She told the officers that she had finally decided to file charges of incest against him at the urging of a friend, Stanley Sinclair, 20, son of a Methodist minister.

The following month Sinclair was stabbed to death in Houston. King, who was scheduled to go on trial for incest last week, asked several townspeople who happened to be members of the First Baptist Church to testify as character witnesses; all refused.

On Sunday, the day before the trial was to open, King rose early, ate breakfast and then suddenly overpowered his wife and tied her to a chair. Said he: "I love you and I don't want to hurt you." He scribbled the cryptic passage on a scrap of paper, armed himself and sallied forth in his white Ford Fiesta to make "war" on the parishioners.



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