Why Did Ron and Dan Lafferty Kill Brenda and Erica Lafferty?

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FX on Hulu’s crime series ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ centers around the double murder of Brenda and Erica Lafferty, a Mormon mother and her daughter. Detectives Jeb Pyre and Bill Taba’s efforts to solve the case lead them to Brenda’s husband and Erica’s father Allen Lafferty and his family. They unravel the fundamentalist beliefs of the family and connect the same to the murders.

Eventually, Pyre and Bill suspect that Allen’s brothers Ron and Dan are the murderers. Their suspicion proves to be right when Chip and Ricky reveal to the detectives that the brothers indeed killed Brenda and Erica. Naturally, one must be intrigued to know about the reason/reasons behind their actions. If that’s the case, you are at the right place!

Why Did Ron and Dan Kill Brenda and Erica?

Ron and Dan decided to kill Brenda and Erica upon believing that they were asked by God to put an end to their sister-in-law and niece’s lives. “Thus saith the Lord unto my servants the prophets. It is my will and commandment that ye remove the following individuals in order that my work might go forward. For they have truly become obstacles in my path and I will not allow my work to be stopped,” Ron wrote about the supposed revelation he received from God. “First thy brother’s wife Brenda and her baby, then Chloe Low and then Richard Stowe. And it is my will that they be removed in rapid succession,” Ron’s note, infamous as “the removal revelation,” read.

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According to Jon Krakauer’s eponymous book, the source text of the show, Ron and Dan had become two Mormon fundamentalists by the time of the murders. Ron apparently received several revelations, including the removal revelation, from God concerning the actions of the School of the Prophets, a fundamentalist group formed by Prophet Onias. However, Ron and Dan’s motive may not be strictly limited to the revelation the former received. Brenda, Chloe Low, and Richard Stowe, three of the four individuals listed in the revelation, were the ones who helped Dianna to attain divorce from Ron.

As per Krakauer’s book, Ron considered Brenda, Low, and Stowe as the ones who were responsible for Dianna’s separation from him. Krakauer states that Dianna’s separation had formed an “implacable rage” in Ron, most of the anger directed towards Brenda, Low, and Stowe. It cannot be a coincidence that God supposedly asked him to kill the same three individuals. Even though Ron and Dan wanted to kill Low and Stowe as well, they couldn’t fulfill the same. Low wasn’t present at her house when they arrived at the place to kill her and the brothers eventually dropped their plan to kill Stowe.

Image Credit: Deseret Morning News archives

As per the source text, Ron and Dan had more reasons to despise Brenda. She didn’t let Allen join the School of the Prophets with his brothers. In addition, Brenda challenged the fundamentalist beliefs of Ron and Dan with her knowledge of the LDS scripture. “They [Ron and Dan] came to despise her for defying them and for her influence over Allen,” Krakauer wrote in the book. Brenda was killed by Ron and Dan possibly because she challenged Ron and Dan’s fundamentalist beliefs. The revelation Ron received supposedly from God might have turned out to be the essential motivation they had needed to commit the crimes.

Read More: When and Where is Under the Banner of Heaven Set?