What a story

Michael McGuire

– Missing pastor found alive in Arkansas using identity of man killed in Norwich
CENTERTON, Ark. – According to several newspaper reports, a pastor once believed kidnapped and murdered by Satan worshippers was found alive in Arkansas last week working as a small city mayor using the name and Social Security number of a man killed in Norwich nearly 50 years ago.
After disappearing in 1980, Donald L. LaRose, a former Baptist minister in Lancaster, Pa., Broome County and Indiana, was found last week in Centerton, Ark., living under the name Bruce Kent Williams.
Based on the report, the real Bruce Kent Williams was a 19-year-old man killed in a car wreck in Norwich in 1958. It is unclear how LaRose obtained his name and Social Security number.
It was not known Wednesday if Williams was a Norwich resident.
Before twice disappearing – once briefly in 1975 and then again in 1980 – LaRose claimed he was being threatened by Satan worshippers. Now the mayor of a small city in Northwest Arkansas and re-married as “Ken Williams,” LaRose says he left his first wife and their children so the Satanists would not harm them.
From 1972-75, LaRose was a pastor in the Town of Maine, located in Broome County. While there he went missing briefly before turning up in Minnesota, claiming Satanists had abducted him in Binghamton and brainwashed him into believing he was Bruce Kent Williams.
In 1977, he moved to Hammond, Ind., where he went missing for the last time in 1980.
For the last 27 years, LaRose has been a local radio personality in Northwest Arkansas.
His identity was discovered by reporters who received a tip from LaRose’s family who discovered a website, www.donlarose.com, that is registered to a “Ken Williams” in Centerton.
On his website, it reads, “Since my unveiling on Wednesday, November 21, 2007, I have revised this report to delete portions of the story designed to keep people from following my trail. All changes will be included in bold letters.”
As it turns out, Bruce Kent Williams – the identity Don LaRose assumed – was not killed in Norwich. Neither the city or town have records of such a person dying in a car accident here.

I figured that busted pretty much any local connection to the story.

However, after reading the article, a Norwich woman called in and said she knew Don LaRose when he was her pastor at the First Baptist Church in Maine, NY, where she lived before moving to the Norwich area 10 years ago.

While LaRose has been somewhat vilified, she claims the man she knew was loved by all, and when he disappeared, it frightened and devastated an entire community.

“Everybody loved him,” she said, recalling LaRose when she was 15 years old. “As a pastor, he really fit the needs of our community.”

The LaRose she knew was kind, outgoing and popular with people of all ages. “He was a caring man, a great family man, and he was very funny.”

LaRose had a distinct laugh and a great singing voice, too, she said. “If I heard them today, I’d know it was him without seeing him,” she said.

For all intents and purposes, LaRose was the squeaky clean leader of a wholesome church.

Then, on election day, 1975, everything changed.

He claims to have been abducted and brainwashed, waking up homeless in Chicago and then Minneapolis – without any idea how he got there – believing he was “Bruce Kent Williams,” with no idea who Don LaRose was or anything about his past life.

You can read LaRose’s account of the whole story at www.donlarose.com. (The woman I spoke with says the transcripts on that website describe LaRose’s story just as it happened).

Can’t say I believe it, but it’s a fascinating read.

Regardless, the facts are clear. Feared kidnapped and killed by Satanists, this guy was gone for 27 years. All the while he was a radio host and mayor in Arkansas most of the time.

It’s a hell of a story, if nothing else.