Man charged with assault tells police he's a cult leader

Friday, June 6, 2008 | 1:30 a.m. CDT; updated 6:07 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

BONNE TERRE — A 22-year-old Bonne Terre man charged with assault and armed criminal action against a former friend told police he considers himself a cult leader.

Anthony Merseal was arrested Monday night after he allegedly held a knife to the throat of Zachery Metcalf, 23, and allegedly cut Metcalf’s hand in a struggle for the weapon.

Bonne Terre Officer Chad Brown reported that when he began questioning Merseal about the incident, Merseal asked the officer if he knew who Merseal was.

“He then informed me he was the leader of the Bonne Terre Cult,” Brown wrote in a police report. Merseal made a reference to the officer about having Bibles and preaching about God.

Merseal claimed Metcalf was a former friend, and claimed Metcalf had broken his window. Metcalf told the officer he didn’t know anything about Merseal’s broken window. He said Merseal and two others came over to his house, pulled out a rock, and blamed him for breaking the window.

He alleged Merseal pressed a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him. A lawyer was not listed for Merseal in court documents, and Metcalf did not have a listed number for comment. Merseal is being held on $100,000 cash bond.

Bonne Terre Police Lt. Chris Thurman said Thursday that officers had looked into the allegations about cult activity but thus far had largely been told they were hearsay.

“As for a big following, we don’t believe he had one,” Thurman said.

Robert Harris, of Republic, who provides training to emergency responders, law enforcement officials and others about gangs and cults, said Thursday he did not know of a group called the Bonne Terre Cult.

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