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Police: Pocono shooting may be tied to cult

Published July 16. 2017 09:21AM
(AP) A 42-year-old woman is accused of fatally shooting her 32-year-old boyfriend in the head early Saturday in an case that may involve an online group police describe as a cult. Barbara H. Rogers told police her boyfriend, Steven Mineo, asked her to kill him, said Lt. Steven Williams of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department. "Apparently they belong to a cult," Williams said, relaying what Rogers told authorities. "He was upset with members of the cult, felt he was being harassed, and he was frustrated. And he asked his girlfriend to kill him. And she did." The organization the lieutenant referenced is headed by a person known as Sherry Shriner according to its website, which includes commentary on what the group calls a "new-age alien agenda" and emphasizes apocalyptic biblical benchmarks from the Book of Revelation. In a Facebook post on Thursday, Mineo told friends he was watching "Resident Evil: Vendetta" and referenced his beliefs. "These apocalyptic movies (always) give you a glimpse of what's coming," he wrote. "Become a (doomsday) prepper and get right with God!" Authorities first went to the couple's studio apartment at 661 Laurel Drive in the village of Tobyhanna after Rogers called 911 at about 2:25 a.m. to report she had shot her boyfriend, police said. Upon arrival, officers put Rogers in handcuffs and found Mineo dead on the floor, Detective Cpl. Lucas Bray and Detective John Bohrman wrote in a criminal complaint. Rogers was awaiting arraignment on a criminal homicide charge as of Saturday night. Mineo appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound to the center of his forehead, police reported. "From his position, it appeared that he was sitting on the floor at the time he was shot," the officers said. "The apparent gunshot wound to his forehead appeared to have occurred at very close range, probably a contact wound, with the muzzle of the firearm pressed against the victim's forehead." Police found a .45 caliber semi-automatic Glock pistol near Mineo's body, although Williams said police also found another handgun and rifle along with spent casings both inside and outside the apartment - and would need ballistics to confirm which weapon delivered the fatal shot. Rogers told police the couple had gone in the woods behind the apartment that night and fired several rounds from the Glock. At the scene, Rogers initially told police that Mineo offered to teach her to shoot a gun; held her hands, guiding the gun to his forehead; and told her to pull the trigger, the criminal complaint said. At headquarters, Bray and Bohrman described the story changing. "The defendant related that she and the victim are members of a cult headed by a woman named 'Sherry Shriner," the complaint said. "Recently they became upset with Shriner. The victim believed contrary to her appearance, Shriner was actually 'reptilian.' The defendant did admit there were tensions between the couple over issues with the cult." An email sent to an address listed on the website was not immediately returned Saturday. Rogers told police that Mineo was under a lot of stress because of problems with the Shriner group and that he wanted her to kill him. Police found no signs that Rogers had been injured. Rogers was being held at Monroe County Prison Saturday.

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