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'Cannibal killer' escapes jail along with 48 followers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Convicted rapist and cult leader Stephen Tari, also known as Black Jesus, accused in the horrific murders of three girls whereupon he ate their flesh and drank their blood, has escaped from his Papua New Guinea jail cell -- with 48 other prisoners.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A huge manhunt is underway in the nearby jungles for Tari and the other inmates. The gang broke out of prison in Madang in the north of the country while a guard changed shift.

"The guard left his tower," PNG Correction Service's spokesman Richard Mandui told reporters.

"While the shift was taking place, the detainees used a tool to cut through a fence and they left for freedom.

"We're working around the clock to find Stephen Tari and the other men," Madang's Acting Provincial Police Commander Inspector Jacob Bando said.

The public is warned that some of the escapees are very dangerous and stressed officers are working "around the clock" to catch them.

A failed Bible class student, the 49-year-old Tari proclaimed himself as Black Jesus when he travelled through the highland jungles in 2006. Gathering thousands of disciples. His "flock" traveled with him. He was eventually accused in the rape, murder and cannibalism of three young girls. Villagers eventually captured him in March 2007, beat him into unconsciousness, tied him up and handed him over to police.

Convicted of four counts of rape in 2010, he was not charged with murder due to lack of evidence, despite protests by the relatives of three dead girls.

Wearing long white robes as he perched on a rock in a jungle clearing, Tari preached his own gospel to his disciples.

Before his arrest Tari recruited at least six thousand disciples by telling them they would receive gifts from heaven if they followed him.

Jungle communities were horrified to hear that the leader had sacrificed three young women, drinking their blood and eating their flesh as part of his bizarre religious ceremonies.

One mother who had fallen under his influence claimed to have drunk her own daughter's blood.

Tari never stayed for long in one place and was always warned by his disciples when police were in the area.

When he turned up in Matapi village, an isolated town seven hours from the nearest road, frightened villagers pounced on him while he was sleeping in a hut and tied him up.

His recent escape has spurred fears that he will accrue even more followers. 

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