A new ring of panhandling fake nuns has led to an investigation into its predecessor, the 1970s cult of Devernon “Doc” LeGrand in Brooklyn, where teenage girls were kept prisoners, plied with booze and drugs into a life of madness and illegality. An investigation by the New York Post has revealed that LeGrand’s daughter-in-law, Mindy, was “pulling the same old sister act in Little Italy,” leading to awful memories about 222 Brooklyn Avenue, the Crown Heights house where LeGrand based his horrifying operation. The gruesome details make for terror the likes of an Eli Roth film.
For years, LeGrand collected concubines who would spend their days across New York City, collecting money for him under the guise of religion and “having sex with him and dropping angel dust by night.”
LeGrand fathered 46 children, many of whom lived in tiny bedrooms upstairs in the four-story headquarters where Devernon preached on the first floor. For years, kids were kept in cages, starved, and beaten — until cops busted LeGrand for child abuse in 1965.
And the scam was successful, taking in “an estimated $250,000 a year, enough to buy the Crown Heights building and a 58-acre farm in Sullivan County, which LeGrand paid for with rolls of coins.” A supplementary Post piece goes further into the bizarreness of their world, noting the names LeGrand gave to his family:
His sons include Noconda, the current leader of St. Joseph’s Church of Christ and Home, as well as Quomenters, Largarthuci, Clovelle, Prezadis, Darfaythres, and Certrondon.
Among the daughters are Veederwa, Cheyama, Teaserlene, Tasheena, Yathalea, and Tacildayus.
He told the DA the names were Biblical.
LeGrand was eventually charged with killing his first and second wife, though he was suspected of killing many more:
The cloak began to fall away in 1975 when LeGrand and his son, Noconda, were convicted of first-degree rape after they repeatedly sexually assaulted a 20-year-old woman in the church. Then two cult insiders — Kathleen Kennedy and the church handyman, Frank Holman — came forward to say LeGrand had killed his own daughter-in-law, Gladys Stewart, 18, in a fit of rage.
Tales of his violence are beyond comprehension, including bags of severed body parts and arsonist cover-ups. “I was given two large Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets with bones and told, ‘Here, try the case,'” explains the prosecutor on the eventual LeGrand murder case.
Their tradition is carried on as St. Joseph’s Church of Christ and Home, “headed by LeGrand’s son, Noconda, the convicted rapist, and is under investigation by the state attorney general.” His wife, Mindy, was the Post‘s initial subject.
When finally caught, Devernon LeGrand was convicted of a double homicide and died in prison in 2006 at age 82. More details — if you dare — in today’s Post feature.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 1, 2010