Arrests in Ohio Amish Beard- and Hair-Cut Attacks

Three men are in custody for allegedly terrorizing the Amish community.

ByABC News
October 10, 2011, 3:05 PM

Oct. 10, 2011 — -- Three men from a renegade Amish sect accused in a series of beard- and hair-cutting attacks that terrorized the Amish community remained in police custody Monday, while Ohio police said they expected to make more arrests.

The Jefferson County Police Department identified the men in custody as Johnny Mullet, 38, Lester Mullet, 26, and Levi Miller, 53.

The attackers are believed to be from a group of people who were once Amish, but have now gathered together near Bergholz, Ohio, in Jefferson County, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The group consists of about 18 families, most of whom are related.

Sheriff Fred Abdulla of the Jefferson County Police Department told the Post-Gazette that the attacks seemed to be tied to criticism the group's leader, Bishop Sam Mullet, received four years ago when 300 other bishops questioned his leadership abilities.

"They brought him on the carpet and he told them to go to hell. He thumbed his nose at them," Abdulla said.

Although police said at least five families had been victimized by the group, they were only able to take action after two of the men who were attacked agreed to press charges, which is not a common practice in the Amish community.

"[The Amish] are loath to press charges because it conflicts with their religious beliefs about nonviolence and not using force [or the force of law] in their daily life," Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College and an expert on Amish life, told ABC News.

The attacks carry tremendous symbolism and show the attackers' degradation of the Amish faith, where men grow their beards after marriage and women do not cut their hair in order to adhere to Biblical teachings.

Myron Miller, one of the men pressing charges, was attacked last Wednesday night at his Mechanicstown, Ohio, home. Miller's 15-year-old daughter answered the door after a group of four to six men knocked. They asked for her father, who is the bishop for the Mechanicstown Amish church, the Post-Gazette reported.

When Miller appeared at the door, according to the newspaper account, a man grabbed him by his beard and forced him out the front door.

The attackers then cut out a chunk of the bishop's beard with scissors, according to the account. Miller struggled to get away, and the attackers were unable to cut off his entire beard. The leader of the attackers ordered the group to flee.

The three men are being held on charges of kidnapping and burglary.