With Hulu’s Sara Mast-directed’ Daughters of the Cult’ living up to its title in every way imaginable, we get a documentary series that can honestly only be described as completely baffling. After all, it delves deep into the tale of a Mormon fundamentalist cult leader by the name of Ervil LeBaron through the eyes of those to have actually lived through his extreme beliefs and actions. It thus comes as no surprise it incorporates significant mention of his 14 wives, especially the youngest Rena Chynoweth — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about her, here’s what we know.
Who is Rena Chynoweth?
It was reportedly back when Rena was merely three that her parents got involved with the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times in Mexico, unaware it would turn her world upside down. The truth is this sect was helmed by Ervil’s elder brother Joel LeBaron at the time, but a fight for leadership/power soon led the latter to break away to establish his own Church of the Lamb of God. And with the Chynoweths being devout believers, they followed in his footsteps — in fact, they later even agreed to let go of 16-year-old Rena so she could become his 13th as well as his youngest bride.
“Well, [Ervil] had been after me since I was about 12,” Rena once said in a BBC special titled ‘Mission to Kill.’ “Of course, they start early, pursuing the girls at a very young age in polygamous societies. He wasn’t the only one, but he was very persistent… I felt respect for him as a leader and as a prophet, but I didn’t want anything to do with him. I did not want to marry him.” In another interview, per the original, she’d expressed, “When you’re 12 years old, you’re pretty impressionable, especially when this big, tall, important man comes up and says, ‘You’re supposed to be my wife. God has told me so.'”
Rena continued, “For a year or two there, I believed him. During that time, he sexually molested me. Later on, I rebelled against the idea I was going to marry this man but… when I was 16, he forced me to marry him.” It turns out Ervil had ostensibly asserted she’d go to hell if she did not accept the proposal, practically leaving her with no choice since she trusted in their ideologies as well as in him being a Prophet. Little did she know that in a mere three years, she’d also be pushed into killing for him — along with Ramona Marston, she was handpicked to carry out the murder of Dr. Rulon Clark Allred.
Rulon was not only a homeopathic plus chiropractic doctor, but he was also the leader of the competitive Apostolic United Brethren group, so Ervil justified his killing order as a blood atonement. Under this doctrine, he claimed the fellow self-proclaimed prophet was a dangerous enemy of their church and hence God himself, meaning he was the reason Kingdom of God was not being achieved. Rena and Ramona thus moved forward with the planned assassination in his professional clinic, yet it was just the former who pulled the trigger before they rushed out — Ramona had utterly frozen.
Nevertheless, both of them returned mere minutes later upon realizing their explicit order was to ensure his passing, but they’d fled following just a few gunshots — they came back to finish the job. That’s when Rena put a bullet straight through his head, a technique she’d learned in the extensive training their entire community was provided: two shots to the chest plus one to the head to kill. However, because both these women were wearing baggy disguises, it wasn’t until a short while later that Ervil’s young wife was even linked to this May 10, 1977, case through the murder weapon.
Where is Rena Chynoweth Now?
Rena actually stood trial for Rulon’s murder in March 1979 in a Utah court, only to be acquitted based on lies as well as outside intimidation after two weeks of testimony plus mere hours of deliberation. According to reports, she gained sympathy as she was pregnant — she welcomed two of Ervil’s 50+ children, Erin and John Ryan, into this world – and there was doubt regarding whether she was forced to act on her husband’s behalf. Then, with no witness being able to positively ID her and alleged incidents of juror stalking, she was acquitted.
Once everything was said and done, Rena actually returned to Ervil, just to change her mind about her religion and polygamy in its entirety upon his 1979 arrest for having ordered Rulon’s murder. She hence left the cult, on the flip side of which her ex was convicted as well as sentenced before passing away in his jail cell from a purported heart attack on August 15, 1981.
Therefore, in 1990, thinking it was unlikely she’d be persecuted again for the slaying, Rena penned a memoir titled ‘The Blood Covenant’ detailing her every experience as a child bride plus a killer. But alas, Rulon’s family filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against her as they were still seeking justice, which went to trial in February 1992 in her absence — she was fearful of being ambushed and assisted by still devout members for her deviation.
In the end, Rena was found liable and ordered to pay the Allreds around $52 million in damages, yet they never collected the money — it was the guilty verdict they desired, not compensation. This ultimately enabled the former cult member to move on, so it appears as if she currently prefers to lead a rather quiet life under an undisclosed presumed name in an urban area of the United States. However, per the last reports, we do know she’s now a happily married mother of two who proudly works to help those suffering from their past or present involvement in polygamous groups. In other words, she’s an advocate for those who were once like her.
Read More: Where is Ramona Marston Now?