Peacock’s ‘Krishnas: Gurus. Karma. Murder.’ covers not one but multiple criminal incidents, all of which have left a huge mark on those close to the cases. This includes the death of Stephen “Steve” Bryant (AKA Sulocana Das, AKA Sulochana Das), the circumstances of which led to many startling discoveries of the workings of the Hare Krishna community that was based in West Virginia’s New Vrindaban. Given the detail in which the case was discussed in the documentary show, people are eager to learn what they can about it, and we are here to share what we know about the same!
How Did Steve Bryant Die?
Steve Bryant had joined the Hare Krishna community willingly but soon started to become disenchanted after he started feeling like his wife was drifting apart from him and listening more to the higher-ups of the New Vrindabana hierarchy. As such, he decided to uncover the inner workings of the community and gather whatever evidence he could. In the Peacock documentary, it is shared that Steve had apparently approached the local Sheriff with his findings.
Apparently, Steve’s plan was to present his findings to the global conference of gurus with the help of the Sheriff. However, the Sheriff had allegedly first suggested that Steve should get a gun for his safety and then had gotten him arrested for possession of a firearm. At this, the Sheriff apparently showcased all the evidence collected by Steve to those in the Hare Krishna community. After this, Steve seemingly became even more frustrated and decided to leave town, apparently giving up on the hopes of uncovering the truth.
Sitting in his 1976 Dodge van in Los Angeles, California, Steve had apparently been rolling a joint on May 22, 1986. He was parked under a streetlight about half a mile away from the local ISKCON temple. However, someone approached Steve’s vehicle from the driver’s side and shot him twice in the head with a .45-caliber handgun. The injuries sustained from the gunshots led to Steve’s death. The clear case of murder left the authorities scrambling as they searched for just who may have made this killing.
Who Killed Steve Bryant?
Only five days after Steve Bryant’s death, Thomas Drescher, or Tirtha Das Swami, was arrested and charged. The case was a hard one for the authorities, but as the case unraveled, things became more and more clear. In the documentary, it is revealed that following his gun possession arrest about three months before his death, Bryant was being surveilled by Drescher. Apparently, the order to do so had come directly from Keith Ham or Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, the New Vrindaban guru.
While Drescher claimed that he had been in Ohio at the time of Steve’s death, Russell “Randall” Clark Gorby, an associate of New Vridnabana and Drescher, claimed that the suspect had told him himself that he had been the one responsible for killing Steve. Apparently, after he did so, he parked his rental car at Los Angeles International Airport and told the rental agency to pick up the vehicle from the parking lot. Drescher’s arrest also opened up the investigation into the death of Charles St. Denis, AKA Charkradara.
While the investigation for the Charles St. Denis case was an easier one, the investigators had to work hard to prove Drescher’s involvement in the case of Steve Bryant’s murder. The first trial for the case had been declared a mistrial since the jury had not been able to reach a verdict. A second trial started on July 9, 1991, and concluded on August 20, 1991, with Drescher being declared guilty of the murder and was given a life sentence in addition to the one he had already been given in the previous case. Though he refused to implicate Kirtanananda Swami initially, Drescher would ultimately reveal the guru’s involvement in 1996. Presently, Drescher is still serving his sentence at the Mt Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County, West Virginia.