Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves.
A man is known by his actions….
Armstrong Follower Held In Murder of Daughter
On Sept. 20, 1984, Armstrong follower Lois Marie Elliott of North Tonawanda, New York was charged with second- degree murder. Police say that before dawn that day, the 36-year-old woman stabbed her four-year-old daughter to death in the child’s bed, knifed herself in the chest, in an apparent suicide attempt, and then telephoned police, saying, “I killed her.” Officers dispatched to the scene discovered the pajama-clad body of the little girl, Roxanne Elizabeth, in her own bed. She had already died from multiple stab wounds, mostly to the chest. Mrs. Elliott was found nearby bleeding from a wound to her own chest. (The Buffalo News, Sept. 20, 1984, p. 1 and Sept. 21, p. C- 5.)
Elliott was divorced from her WCG-member husband Frederick R. Elliott of Kenmore, New York, and had been living with her widowed mother Olive Baldassara. Mrs. Baldassara was home the night of the tragedy, but was apparently asleep in another room during the attack.
Investigators say that Elliott had telephoned police the previous evening claiming her ex-husband had sexually abused their daughter. But police have since concluded that there are “no facts to support that allegation.” After Elliott was treated at a hospital and released into police custody, she told investigators she had “committed a sin that would carry on through her bloodline” and that her daughter had “committed an unpardonable sin and didn’t pray enough.”
Neighbors described Elliott as a reclusive “religious fanatic” who rarely allowed her daughter outdoors to play. Church acquaintances told us that although Elliott had been disfellowshipped from the WCG, she had remained faithful to church teachings and had desired to be reinstated in the church. Reinstatement was not forthcoming, however, because she had been labeled as having a “demon problem.”
One of Elliott’s church friends said, “I don’t think Pack [Dave Pack, a WCG minister in the Buffalo, New York area] ever encouraged her to get psychiatric help. And if he really thought she had demons, why didn’t he just cast them out, like in the Bible?”
Another acquaintance said, “We could sense Lois had a problem, but her church experience and her marriage problems didn’t help her. Then after she was disfellowshipped she seemed to get worse. She really needed help.”
Niagara County First Assistant District Attorney Stephen P. Shierling told the Report he fully intends to prosecute Elliott on the murder charge. But Elliott’s attorney, James Perry of North Tonawanda told us that his client has been declared mentally incompetent to assist in her own defense, has been committed to a state mental hospital for treatment, and that there is no way to know if she will ever recover sufficiently to be able to stand trial.
Whatever the legal outcome, the fact remains that a pretty little four-year-old girl is dead. Neighbors told reporters how Roxanne’s father had visited the little girl at least twice each week and how happy she always seemed to be when he arrived. The Buffalo News story of Sept. 21 had this ending:
Although neighbors Thursday said that they never saw the little girl playing outside, her father, Mr. Elliott, talked about her energy and her precociousness. She loved to dance and draw and could name all the states, he said.
“She had a mind like you wouldn’t believe,” he told The News. “She was like a little adult, a little Shirley Temple. She was so vivacious.” Mr. Elliott then politely declined any further comment, and broke down in tears.
David Pack’s Reign of Terror
On the night of Roxanne Elliott’s death, one of the last people – probably the very last one – Lois Elliott phoned before the tragedy was WCG minister David Pack, pastor of the Buffalo (North), New York congregation.. Exactly what was said, we don’t know. At least not yet. That information may well come out should Lois Elliott ever recover sufficiently to stand trial. What is remarkable, however, is how often Pack’s name seems to appear in conjunction with tragedies in the WCG. For a number of years now, no WCG minister’s name has appeared more often in letters written to the Report complaining of ministerial abuse.
Pack, a burly 6-foot, 5-inch Ambassador College graduate known locally for his authoritarian style, has so incensed some in his flock that a group have circulated an open letter detailing his abuses and have called for his removal. The letter describes Pack’s ministerial leadership as a “Reign of Terror.” On the cover page, addressed to WCG headquarters leaders, they wrote: “David’s power-crazed quest to totally dominate the mind, body, and spirit of church members has not been done in a corner and has been done clearly in view of all to see at headquarters in Pasadena.”
On the following 13 pages of their letter the allegations about Pack read like a horror story. The authors contend that Pack constantly intimidates members, uses threats and mind-control methods, is given to extreme emotional outbursts, is highly political, believes in winning at all cost, has disfellowshipped members for trivial faults, prescribes diets while “playing M.D.,” insists on being addressed as
Mr. Pack, enjoys wearing skimpy, skin-tight shorts to sporting events, has actually worn a wolf costume to church socials, enjoys putting down women, and told one married woman with children, “It would be better for you to shack up one night with a man than wear makeup.”
The letter quotes Pack as having said, “Everyone who has challenged me has either died, been seriously injured or has been eliminated from the work.” And, “God backs me even if I am wrong.”
On page 7 the authors made this statement to Pack (emphasis ours):
Doesn’t it bother you that while you were in charge of the Rochester and Syracuse area there were three suicides? One can only wonder why they chose to kill themselves while you were their main advisor in the area. Perhaps you suggested to one or more of them that they would in no way make it into the Kingdom of God…. A statement such as, “You are no longer in the body of Christ,” could have caused one to give up and kill himself.
The above quote was written well before the Elliott family tragedy. Some who knew little Roxanne and her mother Lois Elliott wonder if it might have been a prophecy.