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Calif. pastor, followers arrested for torturing teen

Boy kidnapped to Barstow, forced to dig his own grave

CORONA • The pastor of a Corona church and two of his followers were charged with assaulting a 13-year-old boy who allegedly was tortured and forced to dig his own grave in the desert near Barstow, authorities said.

Lonny Remmers, 54, of Corona, was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and inflicting corporal injury on a child. Prosecutors charged Nick Craig, 22, and Darryll Jeter Jr., 28, with kidnaping, assault and other felonies.

They were arrested on Friday and remained jailed Wednesday.

The boy, whose name was not released, was kidnapped on March 18 after his mother took him to a group home operated by the church to seek guidance because she was having some kind of disciplinary issues with her son, police Sgt. Frank Barron said.

Remmers allegedly instructed two men who lived at the home to scare the boy, and they drove him about 100 miles to the Barstow desert, police said.

“They had him dig a hole, threatened that they would kill him, as well as hit him with a shovel and partially threw dirt on him while he was in the hole,” Barron said.

The boy was returned to the group home where he allegedly was bound with a plastic tie and sprayed in the face with Mace, Barron said.

Later, he was taken to the pastor’s home for a Bible study during which Remmers allegedly pinched him with pliers although none of his injuries required hospitalization, police said.
Remmers is the pastor of Heart of Worship Community Church in Corona. There was no phone listing for the church.

The Associated Press called the phone listing for a Lonny L. Remmers in Corona on Wednesday, but no message could be left because the mailbox was full.  

The boy’s mother, a 30-year-old Heart of Worship church member from Corona, has not been arrested, but the boy and his 7-year-old sister were taken into protective custody while the investigation continues, police said. The mother’s name has not been released.

Investigators also would like to know whether there may be other possible victims, Barron said.

If convicted, Remmers faces up to seven years in prison, and the other men face up to 19 years and fours month each, said John Hall, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

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