Groups‎ > ‎

Children of Thunder

Defense Cites “Impact Training” Influence
Attorneys for convicted murderer Glen Helzer, formerly leader of the four-member Children of Thunder, are telling a Sacramento sentencing jury that the personal problems underlying his crimes may have been exacerbated by his passionate participation in Impact Training and similar programs run by Impact graduates. [csr 4.1 2005]

They say that trainers in the “experiential” group sessions, similar to the ones pioneered by est [Erhard Seminars Training] and Lifespring, and still widely available today, emotionally tore down participants and humiliated them so they could recover their “inner selves.” Many claim to have been helped by such trainings. Some say the courses, given by non-professionals, damaged them.[csr 4.1 2005]

Helzer’s attorney said her client used the training’s ideas to “justify his incredibly bizarre ideas,” and the attorney for Helzer’s brother Justin, also convicted of the crimes, said the trainings made it difficult for his client to reject his brother’s plans. (Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 12/14/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Found Sane in Murderous “War Against Satan”
A Contra Costa County, CA, jury has found Justin Alan Helzer [a member of the Children of Thunder] sane following his recent conviction on murder and extortion charges. It was alleged that he joined his charismatic older brother and leader, Glenn Helzer, to murder an elderly couple in preparation for Christ’s return. The defense argued that Justin suffered from the rare “shared delusional disorder” and should have been declared insane. (AP, Internet, 7/16/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Guilty of Murder in “War Against Satan”
A Contra Costa County, CA, jury has found Justin Alan Helzer, a member of the “cult-like” Children of Thunder, guilty of five murders and extortion. It was alleged that he and a roommate joined with his charismatic older brother and leader, Glenn Helzer, to murder an elderly couple with a hammer, eviscerate them, and dismember the bodies with a saw before stuffing them in gym bags and dumping them into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Glenn Helzer earlier pleaded guilty to the crimes.[csr 3.2 2004]

The roommate testified that Glenn Helzer led the kidnapping of the murdered couple, for whom he once acted as stockbroker, in order to extort $100,000 from them to finance his money-making schemes. These included a prostitution ring that would use sex with underage girls to blackmail stockbrokers, and an orphanage in Brazil — where he was once a Mormon missionary — that would train children to kill Mormon leaders in Utah so he could become the Mormon “prophet.” This was allegedly part of wider scheme to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ.[csr 3.2 2004]

In the coming “sanity” phase of the proceedings, Justin Helzer’s attorneys will have to prove that a mental disorder rendered him incapable of knowing right from wrong. One of his attorneys will argue that brother Glenn may have altered Justin’s personality during secret Children of Thunder sessions. (Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 6/17/04; Matt Krupnick, Contra Costa Times, Internet, 6/17/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]