It was late Friday, the day after the deaths, and city police Lieutenant Roger Kinnersley had already spoken that day to the East Coast, Canada, the BBC, and a reporter in Sydney, Australia.
"If this is a homicide," he kept saying, "we're dealing with the single largest homicide in our city." In the preceding seven hours he had described the death of the David family 28 times.
He told them how Immanuel David, 39, a great bearded mass of a man had his name legally changed to suit his declaration that he was a prophet in the line of David, had borrowed a white Ford pickup truck on July 31 and driven off into the mountains and was found two days later, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning, with a hose running into the car through the winged window on the driver's side and rags stuffed around the hose to seal the window.
He told them who Immanuel David and his wife, a dark-haired Swedish immigrant who took a Biblical name at the same time her husband did, had lived with their seven children in the 11th floor Alta Suite in the International Dunes Hotel since May 1977, paying $90 a day in cash - usually $100 bills - and ordering catered meals several times a week from a French restaurant so accustomed to Davids lavish tastes that the manager sometimes created unusual napoleons and cream puffs especially for him.
He told them the FBI had looked into the sources of David's money - an investigation that sent another man to jail for using interstate wires to bilk someone out of $200 for David which convinced the investigators that much of David's money, legally or illegally raised, was coming from followers who believed that he was a prophet.
He told them how Rachel David, 38, was informed by telephone of her husband's death on Wednesday evening, expressed "excitement and concern," spoke of her fears about how she would continue to pay the bills and care for their family, and the following morning at 7:21 helped their seven children step one by one onto two stacked chairs on their eleventh-floor balcony and climb over the gold railing and drop 200 feet to the roof of the hotel coffee shop. The last three children, Kinnersley said, were apparently pushed. "Three were alive; the balance were not," Kinnersley said patiently. "Two died almost immediately after arrival at different hospitals. One died at 10:03 in the morning and one died at 10:10 in the morning and I don't know which is which."
And if what the police figured was true - if the man originally named Bruce Longo, sweet-tongued native of Yonkers, N.Y., had convinced himself and his family that his divinity was all that mattered, had built such impenetrable walls against the outside world that when he died they had no choice but to follow him - then they had some explanation for what happened last Thursday morning. But it was not mass suicide. It was criminal homicide. It was a moot point, but they had to have a label for the national crime statistics. Kinnersley read aloud part of the definition of second-degree murder from the Utah criminal code: "depraved indifference to human life . . . recklessly engaged in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another and thereby causes the death of another."
"We are classifying it as six homicides and one attempted homicide," Kinnersley said. Rachel and Immanuel David have been classified as suicides, he said.
One of the children, a girl who was originally identified as Elizabeth, 14, and has since been re-identified as Rachel, 15, is alive in the intensive care unit of LDS Hospital here. She was brought to the hospital with both legs broken and multiple injuries to the pelvis, arms, jaw, teeth, tongue, shoulders, and spleen - "about as bad as you can get," Kinnersley said, "and not be dead."
So far she has received the equivalent of the five complete blood transfusions. Her hospital bill as of Tuesday was $8,500, not including 10 hours of surgery so complicated that the chief surgeon so far has refused even to guess at the cost. She is not conscious, but she was taken off the respirator Wednesday, and doctors say her chances are 50-50 for physical recovery. Mental recovery will probably be a more difficult process.
The seven children of Rachel and Immanuel David had apparently never been to a public school. Salt Lake City school authorities never took notice of them. (They said after the deaths that they had never been asked to enroll the children and that the annual census count missed them because they were living in a hotel.) Other school districts had missed them for similar reasons, and at one point the Davids ran their own school with the monitoring and approval of the local school superintendent in Manti, Utah.
They never used the swimming pool. They never used public playgrounds.Employes at the hotel said that they emerged from their suite about once a week, and that on those occasions they followed quietly behind their parents, the boys wearing the same neatly braided hair their father did, all of them orderly and polite. "Like ducklings," one hotel employe said. When people spoke to them they looked up at their father, waiting for him to smile or nod his approval, before they spoke back.
The police knew it was strange, Kinnersley said - anybody would. But they did not see what they could do about it. They could not prove David was doing anything illegal, and they were not willing to try to prove he was crazy. "In New York they would call him a nut," Kinnersley said. "Out here, because it's the home of Mormonism and organized religion . . . they're a little more kindly."
And the children were quiet, well fed, and literate - clearly very different, but they seemed to adore their father. "A year ago we would have other institution that attempted to snatch those kids away from him," he said. "That (attitude) just came to a screeching halt. They're now a helluva a lot more philosophical about what constitutes abuse."
The children left artwork in the motel, charcoal sketches and water colors of perfectly ordinary looking landscapes, the hotel manager said. They reportedly left compositions, also, in which they wrote what they had learned - that their father the holy man was going to save the world. The words on one piece of paper in carefully printed pencil, read, "Praise thee to Immanuel, king of holiness - our father." The Son of David
In an earnest, commanding, and often courteous voice, Immanuel David told anyone who would listen that he was the son of David the prophet and was himself both a prophet and the Holy Ghost. He said the Mormon Church, which had accepted him many years ago as an enthusiastic convert and, then excommunicated him when his beliefs began to change, was inspired by the devil. A great cloud was going to descend on the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, a bolt of lightning would split it in half, and the entire building would be consumed by fire. Mount Timpanogos, a mountain about 40 miles south of the city would be transferred to the town of Manti, where David had once lived communally with others families who apparently shared his beliefs.
And he was going to be fabulously wealthy soon, David would say - so wealthy, he once told his friend Skip Daynes that he could march right down to the shopping center in downtown Salt Lake City and buy a million dollars worth of socks. He showed Daynes photographs of an $8,800,000 Spanish colonial estate in Phoenix that David said he was going to buy. He brought over what appeared to be a signed purchase order for something like $320,000 worth of rare imported china. He visited a car dealer regularly to study the Rolls Royces, and once a year or so he would drive out to a Salt Lake City home he liked, one on almost two acres of land, to knock on the door and tell the owner, politely, that he admired his home and would like to buy it from him.
He gazed directly at his listener and his eyes were blue-gray and his face, from what people say, was sometimes so suffused with enthusiam that even those quite certain he was not God found him interesting to talk to. "He could have sold refrigerators to the Eskimos," David's younger brother, Dean Longo, said dismally in the hotel room where Longo and his mother were staying while they made funeral arrangements. "He would have made a terrific salesman."
Which is, in its way, what Immanuel David was. 'Answer to Everything'
He was born in Yonkers, the elder of two brothers the son of a well-established famlily physician. His mother was Episcopalian and his father was a lapsed Catholic; neither was enormously religious, but the whole family went to the Episcopal church on Sundays. Bruce Longo was an altar boy. He was also a kid with a gift for convincing people of extraordinary things. He would show up late for school with wild excuses, saying his father had suffered a broken leg, or some terrible crisis had befallen Bruce en route to school, and the teachers often believed him. When he was 5 years old he threatened to run away and his mother paid not attention. Not only did Bruce make good on his threat, but he talked a police office into lending him enough money to take a bus and then a taxi to his grandfather's house.
He went off to the army at 17 - first to Korea, and then to Fort Bragg, where he trained as a paratrooper and for the first time, apparently, began to take seriosly the religious beliefs of some Mormon soldiers he had met. He went to church with them. He began reading The Book of Mormon, Church of Latter Day Saints text that the Mormons believed was translated into English from ancient gold plates by an 18th century New Yorker named Joseph Smith. And when Longo was discharged in 1959, he told his parents that he had wonderful news for them.
"It was the right answer to everything," said his mother, Lousanne Longo, who now lives in Florida with her son Dean (Dr. Longo died in 1969). "He became fanatical. This thing changed him so much, all his friends the people who had known him since he was born . . ."
He had given up smoking and drinking, he said, in keeping with the tenets of the church. He worked full time in New York LDS activities. He had a book of Mormon quotes he thought appropriate for every occasion. He insisted his entire family was doomed to hell because they had not seen the truth of the LDS church. One day he looked his godmother in the eye and told her that he was no longer her godson.
"Hurting was very easy for him to do," Mrs. Longo said.
At Brigham Young University, where Longo finally enrolled as a Spanish major, he met a young Spanish woman named Margit Ericsson and declared - after a "revelation," Margit Ericsson's toommate said later - that she was to be his wife. Margit had become a Mormon at 18, baptized in Sweden by Gordon Riddle, a Utah Mormon who remembers her as a soft-spoken young woman with an easy chuckle and a quick, unskeptical acceptance of the LDS church. "Not what you would call one who challenged everything," Riddle said.
She had come to America to serve in the church and when Longo, this good-looking and articulate Mormon with nice eyes, proposed, Margit dropped out of school mid-semester to marry him, support his church work, become a good LDS wife. They had two children (rambunctious, noisy, charming children, Mrs. Longo recalles, he graduated and went off to teach Spanish, and apparently peculiar things began to happen. The 'Revelations' Begin
Longo went to Uruguay some time in the early 1960s, part of a mission to convert native people to the LDS Church. Skip Daynes, who now runs a music store in Salt Lake City, was on the same mission, and remembers Longo as a missionary of such enormous zeal that he memorized the entire Book of Mormon and kept forgetting to eat. He got sick: hepatitis and jaundice. He was sent home by way of a hospital in Montevideo, where Daynes said Longo baptized his doctor and two nurses into the LDS church before leaving for America. He stayed for a while with Daynes' parents, but they asked him to leave. They were not members of the church and Longo kept trying to convert them; Mrs. Daynes had arthritis, but Longo insisted that she pray on her knees anyway.
He was having revelations, he told people. He was going to be a key figure in the church. He had reportedly blessed his first son to be a prophet, which made people angry, and acquaint ances have said although the church has officially denied comment - that Longo demanded that tithing, the donation of 10 percent of their income that Mormon make to the church, be paid to him. He was excommunicated.
Longo changed his name legally in 1970. He wa living in Manti, sharing a home with a communal group that ran a knife factory, according to reports in the Salt Lake City papers. One Manti neighbor told the Salt Lake Tribune that the man now named David - bearded, long-haired, and getting fat - carried a 3 1/2-foot sword around with him and "claimed a time would come when it would be used to lop off thousands of heads."
He visited his home in New York and told his mother, in the congenial sort of voice he might have used to describe the weather, that he was the Holy Ghost.
His mother said she was sorry if that was how he felt, because she was not convinced.
He asked her to come live with him, providing she obeyed his rules. She declined. They changed the subject. It was the last time they spent more than five minutes together. He would call home every so often, usually from a hotel, saying the family was fine, that he was sorry he had disrupted their lives. At one point he called every day from Holiday Inn in Bethesda, talking cheerfully for an hour at a time, telling Mrs. Longo that he had occupied a whole floor at the hotel and had great plans for them all - a yacht, big mansion, a huge shopping spree in New York, with lodging at the Waldorf Astoria. "Where are you getting this money?" Mrs. Longo would ask, having long since stopped granting her son's constant requests for loans. "You'll see," David would say.
What David was doing, as far as anybody could tell, was moving with his family all over the country from hotel to hotel, establishing himself as a good customer by paying cash in large amounts, and then frequently running up huge bills before being asked to leave. He stayed at the Bethesda Holiday Inn from August 1974 until June 1975, moving eventually into a five-room suite that cost about $120 a day, ordering room service meals and paying at first with what he said were money orders from Sweden. Long-distance phone calls came in from Sweden almost every day. Gradually the money stopped coming - David had paid between $20,000 and $30,000 cash by then - and by the time the hotel evicted him for nonpayment, David had run up a bill estimated at about $10,000.
He did the same thing at the Red Lion Motor Inn in Missoula, Montana. By the time he left there he owed $5,000.
The sources of all this money is still under investigation. Some of it is believed to have come from Scandinavia, where Rachel David's brother and parents live; more is thought to have come from a handful of people who apparently believed what David said about his own divinity. One man who gave money to David, a follower who took the same last name, calling himself Mathias David, was sent three months ago to Terminal Island Pententiry in California for calling an acquaintance in another state, saying he was related to a 9-year-old girl suffering paralysis in a hospital and pleading for a donation to help with her medical expense. The acquaintance sent the money, but the family of the paralyzed girl (at least that part of the story had been true) and Mathias David was no relation to them at all and that the money had never been donated to help with her expenses. Mathias David was convicted of using interstate wires to defraud someone of money. Two other followers are still under investigation.
There are no real theories about what brought on Immanuel David's suicide. Skip Daynes, who disagreed violently with David's religious beliefs, had arranged to order two enormously expensive pianos for David - $47,000 apiece. David said he wanted them for his family; Rachel had been a good pianist in Sweden. He said he wanted the children to play. An estate was about to be settled, David said. He would receive enormous wealth. He wanted the very best. He was impatient with the $47,000 pianos. Was there nothing better? Did Daynes have a quiet place where they could count the cash out? Had Daynes ever made a deposit of $100,000 cash before?
On July 28, David borrowed Daynes' jeep and said he was taking his family to see the new, expensive house they would move into. Daynes said he brought the jeep back that evening, looking crestfallen, and said the children had declared that they loved the hotel too much to leave. Two days later, David dashed into Daynes' shop and cried that he must have the pickup truck, must borrowed it immediately, that everything was coming to a resolution. Daynes told him the keys were in the truck, and David disappeared into the mountains above Salt Lake City.
The funeral was Wednesday, in a small cemetry south of Salt Lake City. There were eight caskets, all grey. The children's caskets had The Longos stood together and a few pink for the girls. The parents' caskets were bare.
It was not a private funeral, but there were not a lot of people there. The Longos stood together and a few dozen others stood around them. "The children should at least have somebody to be here when they're buried," a woman whispered. It was very hot in the cemetery and the funeral director stood bareheaded for a moment before he looked at the people standing around and began, gently and slowly, to recite the Lord's Prayer.