MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA—The late cult leader Kevin Smith had instructed one of his followers, 37-year-old Andre Ruddock, to decapitate a female church member after ordering Ruddock to slash her throat, according to an unnamed witness to the “human sacrifice” killings that took place in the Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Church in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Oct. 17.
Jamaica’s Director of the Office of Public Prosecutions (DPP) detailed the macabre eyewitness accounts from survivors in a statement released Wednesday night. The shocking accounts throw light on the bizarre world Smith had created within the confines of his church—and the hellish nightmare he led his flock through that Sunday, which left three people dead.
Smith died last Monday in a car accident alongside a police officer who was escorting him to Kingston to face murder charges. The DPP’s statement identified the church members who died as a result of the Oct. 17 ordeal as Tanika Gardener, Michael Brown, and Kevaughn Palmer—all followers of the disgraced pastor.
According to a person who was identified only as “Witness A” in the DPP report, Smith had walked into the church that day yelling that he was “God in the flesh, come in the ark before it closes,” before instructing more than 100 followers at the church to start throwing away certain items in the property, including wipes, tissues, and soaps.
“While disposing of the items a bottle of wine broke,” read the DPP statement. “Approximately 20 minutes later, Dr. Smith told the now deceased Kevaughn Palmer that whoever was in front of the wine, he [Palmer] should cut that person's throat so that they could enter into the kingdom. Dr. Smith instructed the now deceased Kevaughn Palmer to cut the throat of Witness A and other persons.”
Witness A said he then walked away from Smith, who then handed Palmer a knife and told him to slash the throat of another follower, identified in the statement as “Witness B.”
“The now deceased Kevaughn Palmer chased Witness B and [another] person and stabbed them in their backs,” the statement read. “At this juncture, the other members of the church lay down on the ground and covered themselves. Dr. Smith then began to destroy the glass on the altar, the window, and other items.” In the midst of the chaos, Smith allegedly handed knives to other followers, telling them that they were “Arch Angels” and encouraging them to slash their fellow members.
One of the most horrific anecdotes included in the statement is the killing of church member Michael Brown, who “was suffering from a health issue which resulted in tubes being attached to his body.” According to the DPP report, Smith told Brown: “You have to die, but you will rise again because I am the resurrection and the light,” before “pulling the tubes from Mr. Brown who then bled to death.”
At some point, female church member Tanika Gardener arrived at the church and was allegedly subjected to a series of questions by Smith, including, “Do you believe I can raise you from the dead?” to which Gardener answered “Yes.” At that point, Smith asked Witness A to cut Gardener’s throat. When Witness A refused, he asked another follower, Andre Ruddock, to slash Gardener. According to the statement, Ruddock obliged.
“When the accused Andre Ruddock got to where Ms. Gardener was located, she knelt down before him. At this point, the accused Andre Ruddock used a knife to cut Ms. Gardener's throat. It is said that the deceased Tanika Gardener did not make a sound or scream, but Witness B heard a gurgling sound,” reads the statement. “Witness B indicates that Dr. Smith told the accused Andre Ruddock to cut Ms. Gardener's head right off, she is a goat, she has to die, she is a sacrifice. The accused did not cut off Ms. Gardener's head.”
When police stormed the church in response to a phone call, they were greeted with gunfire from inside the building and exchanged fire. According to the DPP, church member Kevaughn Palmer “advanced towards the police officers, armed with a machete.” Palmer was shot and killed in the altercation, and police eventually entered the building and found the bodies of the deceased members.
The DPP report also sheds light on other requests Smith had allegedly made to his followers prior to the killings, including asking them to address him as “Daddy,” demanding they get his permission to go on vacation, and warning them against taking the COVID vaccine, calling it the “mark of the beast.”
Kevin Smith has been posthumously charged with murder in connection with the incident. Andre Ruddock, who reportedly acted as Smith’s personal bodyguard, remains in police custody, and is also facing murder charges.