Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LDS Member And Prospective Missionary Christopher Gribble Charged With Murder Of Kimberly Cates And Maiming Of Jaime Cates In New Hampshire

Update March 25th 2011: Christopher Gribble found guilty of murder, sentenced to life without parole. Updated post HERE.

Update October 7th: More background information released and presented HERE. You can also express your condolences to the Cates Family on the WeAreBetterThanThis website.

A man identified as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who aspired to be appointed a full-time missionary for the Church has been arrested and charged with murder in New Hampshire. Primary media story published by the Boston Globe; additional stories by the Boston Herald, the New Hampshire Union-Leader, and the Nashua Telegraph. Post combines and summarizes different facts from the various media stories. NECN news video embedded below:

Nineteen-year-old Christopher Gribble was one of four teenagers arrested in connection with the brutal killing of a 42-year-old nurse, Kimberly Cates, and the maiming of her 11-year-old daughter, Jaime Cates, in Mont Vernon, NH on Sunday October 4th, 2009. Seventeen-year-old Steven Spader allegedly slit the young girl’s throat with a machete and, along with Gribble, fatally hacked her mother in the head, torso, left arm and left leg. The victim’s husband, David Cates, 44, a defense contractor with BAE Systems, was away on business but returned straightaway after learning of the crime.

Prosecutors have charged Gribble and Spader with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. They did not enter pleas, the customary practice for serious crimes in New Hampshire, and were ordered held without bail. The two other teenagers, 18-year-old William Marks and 17-year-old Quinn Glover, face charges of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, and armed robbery, although prosecutors said both were armed with deadly weapons and were willing participants in the crime. It appears prosecutors don't yet have evidence that Marks and Glover actually participated in the attack upon the two victims themselves, so they are not charged with murder. Marks and Glover are being held on $500,000 bail. All four are expected to appear in court on October 20th.

Prosecutors theorize that the four chose the victims' house at random, solely because of its isolation on a forested patch of land along a dirt road. The four perps came in the dark of very early morning with a knife and a machete, intent on killing anyone they found inside.

The four perps are considered a group of disaffected youths led by Spader, a high school dropout who was frequently in trouble with the law over the past several months and saw himself as a kind of gang leader. Gribble, who was home-schooled and, like Spader, once a Boy Scout, wrote on his Facebook page about a fondness for “anything sharp’’ and posted a photo of himself smiling as he held his favorite knife. Marks was described as a troubled and malleable teenager whose behavior had taken a worrisome turn after he met Spader earlier this year. But Chris Capps of Amherst, NH, suggests that Glover may have been blindsided into going along with it. “Something tells me Quinn (Glover) didn’t know that was going to happen,” said Capps.

Both the New Hampshire Union-Leader and the Boston Herald identify Christopher Gribble as a devout member of the LDS Church, and the Herald further reports that not only did Gribble actively aspire to serve a full-time mission with the LDS Church, but was taking missionary prep classes in Lowell. The latter implies that Gribble already had the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon him and was ordained to the office of an Elder, as is the custom for devout Mormon males at the age of 19. He had probably informed his bishop of his desire to serve a mission, and his bishop had most likely transmitted the information to Church HQ in Salt Lake City.

Gribble’s friends found it difficult to understand how such a pious Mormon could morph into an alleged crazed killer. “It doesn’t mesh with my knowledge of him,” said Ben Gentile of Boxboro, reached by phone yesterday at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Andrew Johnson, 18, met Gribble in the Boy Scouts when they were both 6 years old. Gribble’s father, an EMT, taught the cubs CPR for their life-saving merit badge. “He was always wicked nice,” Johnson said of Gribble. “He’d give you the shirt off his back . . . it’s incomprehensible.” Gribble's Facebook profile is a matter of considerable discussion on some of the media stories, although none of them suggest the profile gives any signs that Gribble would participate in such a crime.

Short-Term Analysis: Obviously, any prospective mission call will be put on indefinite hold at this point. As for Gribble's church membership status, because the LDS Church respects the legal presumption of innocence, no disciplinary council is likely until or unless Gribble either confesses to the crime or is convicted in court. At such time, Gribble would be excommunicated. Convicted murderers are generally ineligible for membership in the LDS Church, so even if he repented, it is unlikely he would ever be allowed to become a Church member again if excommunicated.

Long-Term Analysis: LDS doctrine on the definition of murder and the disposition of those who commit it is spelled out on LightPlanet.com. "The Church defines 'murder' as the deliberate and unjustified taking of human life. If death is caused by carelessness or by defense of self or others, or if overriding mitigating circumstances prevail (such as deficient mental capacity or state of war), the taking of a human life may be regarded as something other than murder. In making the assessment of a member's guilt or innocence of murder, Church leaders are encouraged to be responsive to inspiration and to submit the facts of the case to the office of the First Presidency for review. In the final analysis, only God, who can discern the thoughts of the heart, can judge whether a particular killing is an unforgivable murder or not".

Other doctrinal statements (from the same link):

-- "Thou shalt not kill." (Ex. 20:13.) "Thou shalt do no murder." (Matt. 19:18.) Murder, the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought or under such circumstances of criminality that the malice is presumed, "is a sin unto death" (1 John 5:16-17), a sin for which there is "no forgiveness" (D. & C. 42:79), meaning that a murderer can never gain salvation. "No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:15.) He cannot join the Church by baptism; he is outside the pale of redeeming grace.

-- The call to repentance and baptism which includes murderers (3 Ne. 30) has reference to those who took life while engaged in unrighteous wars, as did the Lamanites, because they were compelled to do so, and not because they in their hearts sought the blood of their fellow men. On the other hand, the Jews on whose hands the blood of Christ was found were not invited to repent and be baptized. (Acts 3:19-21.)

-- Murderers are forgiven eventually but only in the sense that all sins are forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost; they are not forgiven in the sense that celestial salvation is made available to them. (Matt. 12:31-32; Teachings, p. 356-357.) After they have paid the full penalty for their crime, they shall go on to a telestial inheritance. (Rev. 22:15.)

Consequently, if the prosecution has theorized correctly, Christopher Gribble has committed premeditated murder, as described above. If found guilty, this means he loses his Church membership, cannot get it back (although he can still attend services), and loses any chance for celestial glory or terrestrial glory. Instead of coming forth in the first resurrection, the Resurrection of the Just which will occur after Christ's Second Coming, he must remain in spirit prison until the second resurrection, the Resurrection of the Unjust to take place 1,000 years hence. At that time, the best he could hope for is telestial glory.

What a waste!


Bryan said...

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints here in Boston. Christopher Gribble was no Mormon. His parents are Mormons, and very good people. Chris is a rebellious snot headed teenager, who utterly rejected his loving parents (ran away for over a year), rejected all he was taught by the Church. - to live a life of service, to love others, to not only live to do good, but to be good.
So to paint Gribble as an "aspiring" missionary is totally false. I'm sure his desperate, aching parents wanted more than anything to have their son choose to change his life and be the kind of young man who would be able to serve others for 2 years as a missionary. However Chris was FAR FAR from that person. He wasn't on the verge of going. We know that because he is already 19. He obviously wasn't on track to even be considered to go.

The only connection this has to the Church, is that his parents were good caring Mormon people. Chris rejected everything EVERYTHING the Mormon people and faith are about.

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for the clarification, Bryan. The media was reporting that he was supposedly aspiring to be a missionary. They subsequently reported that Gribble's stake president had asked him to straighten out his personal life before asking for a mission call.

pollyanna said...

What a disgrace Nancy Grace. You have just put thousands of LDS Missionaries lifes in danger. If you don't understand our religion enough to know that Gribble could not have possibly been a Mormon Missionary because it takes applications and approvals from many before he/she ever gets called to serve. You are an embarrassment to your profession! Also if research shows he was a Boy Scout at 6 years old. He was a Cub Scout. Get it right.

limegreen71 said...

Chris was in my home 3 times this past summer, assisting the Elders, who were teaching the discussions to my friend. I have known his parents for 10 years and him as well. His parents are saints! I last saw him in July and he was putting his papers in to go; last I heard. That being said, the LDS Church began a heavy screening process, several years ago,focusing on pysch evals. There is no way he would have passed the evals.

Bystander said...

But, Gribble couldn't seriously imagine himself as a missionary, unless he were already a baptized Mormon.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Gribble was the one who planned out the whole thing. Check the video on WMURTV youtube channel of him. He's a sociopath and I bet that Mormon homeschooling contributed to his behavior. Most of the people I know who were homeschooled are not well adjusted to life and have sociopathic tendencies from lack of interaction with others. I really hope that homeschooling ban passes in New Hampshire.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I have to comment, being both from NH and LDS.

Just because he wanted to serve a mission doesn't mean he didn't have sick twisted desires going on in the background. He could have an amazing testimony of Christ, and still be tempted by Satan to kill people (and give in).

I'm not making any excuse for what he did, nor am I standing up for him; what I AM saying is that even though Judas turned in Christ, he killed himself over it, because he once HAD a testimony. We are not this man's judge of character, only for the acts he committed in this life can we judge him, by the laws of our land.

And homeschooling is NOT to blame for this. I know many homeschoolers (both LDS and non) in NH and other states. If a parent includes them in religion, sports, band, or other social activities outside of the home, they can turn out perfectly normal(though often still shy).

Especially in the LDS church, he would have been exposed to other people through church services, group youth activities, scout camp, possibly youth conference or EFY, attending a YSA ward, institute, etc. If he were so inclined. But we seem to get such different accounts of this man as to leave us all befuddled.

Was he the bloodthirsty killer who was hiding behind a facade? Or the pious mormon who just snapped one day? Is he somehow both? Once again I say, we cannot decide. He is not ours to judge. We can punish him for the acts he committed against others, according to the act of our conscience, but we cannot condemn him, lest we be ourselves condemned in the eyes of God.

Just pray for his family, the family of the deceased, and praise the Lord for our strict laws on sentencing in the granite state!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous March 25:

I'm not saying LDS homeschooling was *the* factor that drove him, I'm just saying that there's a good chance that it might have *contributed* to his already sociopathic nature. I'm from NH as well and I know of people who were homeschooled. They turned out very weary of others and not well-adjusted to life outside their parents' homes AT ALL. The problem with most homeschooling is that it isolates children from the outside world. There's more to going to school than just learning facts in the classroom. It's also about learning social skills, working in groups, getting along with adults other than your parents, playing fair with others and a bunch of other things. The people I know who were homeschooled lacked experience in all of these fields. Again, I'm not bashing homeschooling all together. I just think the lack of interaction with others could have *possibly* enhanced Gribble's sociopathic nature.