A woman with alleged ties to the House of Yahweh, a religious cult in Abilene, faces extradition as early as today from the Jack County Jail to Callahan County to face felony injury to a child charges, according to Callahan County Attorney Shane Deel.
Deel said Deziree Kay Gideon, 35, was arrested last week in Young County on an outstanding Callahan County warrant.
Deel said Gideon allegedly performed surgery on her 7-year-old daughter, now deceased, to remove an infection from her leg. He said she used a scalpel to make an incision and stabbed her with a needle in 2003, using packing peanuts to stop the flow of blood. Then Gideon failed to get medical help for her daughter and withheld information from doctors. She was indicted in May 2003. If convicted, Deel said Gideon could face anywhere from five years to 99 years or life if found guilty.
Deel said he had heard a number of reports of people associated with the House of Yahweh failing to seek medical treatment, but they involved adults for the most part.
"If you have an adult who doesn't want to go to the doctor, then that is their business. But if they start cutting into 7-year-old kids, that's going over the line," Deel said.
Young County Sheriff Bryan Walls said Gideon is being held in the Jack County Jail, which houses Young County Jail overflow, on $75,000 bond. He said she will be extradited to Callahan County sometime this week.
Deel said Texas Rangers and Child Protective Services have been investigating the case since the later part of 2003. He said Gideon had made her way to Georgia and even had a Georgia driver's license. He said a police officer in Griffin, Ga., made contact with an informant who told the police officer that Gideon was living in Young County with a family member.
The House of Yahweh in Abilene was established by a former Abilene police officer, Bill Hawkins, in December of 1980. Hawkins changed his name to Yisrayl and claims he and his late brother Yaaqob are the two witnesses prophesied in Revelations Chapter 11.
The sect theology is a mixture of Sabbatarian (Sabbath is Saturday), Sacred Name and Anglo-Isreal teachings. The House of Yahweh does not believe in the Trinity and denies the pre-existence of Christ. They celebrate major Jewish holidays such as Passover, along with three additional feasts during the year, each celebration lasting about one week at a time. In 1987, the cult reported seven congregations served by 35 ministers. One hundred followers were said to live in the Abilene headquarters.
The sect received media attention in 1996 when several hundred followers changed their last names to "Hawkins" after their leader.
Deel said Gideon may not have been an official member of the House of Yahweh but was associated with the group.
The House of Yahweh had not returned calls seeking comment by press time.