San Diego police arrested three people for kidnapping a relative from a commune, who they say was being brainwashed by a religious cult.
Police Sgt. Patrick Yates said the suspects were apprehended on Friday at a traffic intersection after deputies followed them in a high-speed chase. The chase ended at the 1500 block of Foothill Drive at 5 p.m..
“I saw two vans flying out of the entrance of the Twelve Tribes commune. A tan van was just feet from a red van and the the red van’s side door was still open,” said witness Tim Harwick.
San Diego 10News reported that The Twelve Tribes Community, which has communes nationwide, has been accused of oppression, racism, anti-semitism. Commune leaders reject the accusations.
Christian Joubert, a friend of some who live at the commune claimed the alleged victim married one of the members last summer. The man’s father attended the wedding and was unhappy about his son being part of the group. “I could feel the tension,” he said about the father’s visit.
The three suspects arrested for kidnapping were Andrews Martinez-Manso, 51, Eliza Martinez, 25, and Robert Harry Matthew, 25, Yates said.
Joubert said that the father and other family members went to the commune for a planned visit with an offering of 20 live chickens, then forced the son into the van, prompting a commune member to give chase.
Joubert said that the son has been with the commune for nearly five years and is back now having rejoined his wife who is seven months pregnant.
“We are extremely thankful that the young man was successfully returned to our community, unharmed. (As for his rescuer),that young man is a hero,” a Twelve Tribes leader stated.