A Trio of Kinston Troubles

News stories that detail some of the troubles that Utah polygamous clan/church/cult refered to as the Kingston group that has become public knowlege as of late.

Did Teen Mom Die Harboring a Secret?;

Authorities may reopen case involving polygamous clan,
allegations of incest; Young Mother: Illness Long Went Untreated


Andrea Johnson was almost five months pregnant when her kidneys stopped working properly, her blood pressure shot up and her 15-year-old body swelled like a blown-up surgical glove.

Doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section that summer of 1992, and her little boy came into the world as light as a loaf of bread, just 1 pound 11 ounces.

Andrea's symptoms were familiar to her sister. Connie Rugg had developed the common condition known as pre-eclampsia, which is easily treatable with proper prenatal care. Another of Andrea's sisters also contracted pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.

The difference was Andrea died.

Rugg said there was another significant difference: Andrea was married in a secret wedding to her half brother Jason Kingston, and the polygamous clan's desire to keep the incestuous relationship quiet prevented her younger sister from receiving the prenatal care that might have saved her life.

James B. Burns, the doctor who signed Andrea's death certificate, wrote that the girl must have exhibited signs of hypertension for ``at least two weeks'' before her death at University Hospital in Salt Lake City. He noted that the underlying cause of death, eclampsia, had persisted for an ``unknown duration.''

When the girl finally died, on June 11, 1992, Burns wrote that the immediate cause of death was a brain hemorrhage that had been developing for 12 days.

Rugg said her mother, Isabell Johnson, was well aware of pre-eclampsia's symptoms because her other daughters endured similar symptoms.

``My mother had told me at least a month before [Andrea] died that she was afraid of the swelling,'' said Rugg, a 38-year-old postal worker who lives in Salt Lake City.

Isabell Johnson denies telling Rugg any such thing. She said she thought Andrea had the flu, but refused to go into more detail.

``What does it matter?'' Johnson asked. ``It has been six years.''

Investigators with the state Human Services Department and the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office initiated a probe even before Andrea died, said sheriff's Lt. Leslee Collins. ``I was able to get enough information to get an investigative subpoena for the medical records,'' said Collins, who was a detective in the sheriff's juvenile division at the time.

The investigation slammed shut, however, when University Hospital claimed Andrea's medical records had vanished.

``That struck me as odd,'' Collins said, ``because that was a pretty powerful subpoena. Everything in that case pretty much hinged on the medical records.''

Yet, with lingering doubts about the adequacy of Andrea's at-home care -- and a hint that the records may still exist -- the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office said it would reopen its investigation.

``There is no statute of limitation on a homicide, and a death due to neglect would be at the very least manslaughter,'' sheriff's spokeswoman Peggy Faulkner said Friday. ``We are going to do the best we can to find our case report and those records would just have to be resubpoenaed.''

Last week, University Hospital spokesman John Dwan said officials could not release Andrea's medical file because of patient confidentiality. He added that the girl's mother called more than a week ago and wanted assurance the file would remain confidential.

Because investigators were told six years ago that the medical file was lost, The Salt Lake Tribune asked Dwan to confirm whether the hospital had the records or if they were indeed missing. A day later, Dwan said: ``Our lawyers said we can't tell you anything, that we can't confirm or deny that she was here because of a patient's right to privacy.''

The girl's $48,000 bill at University Hospital was picked up by Medicaid, a taxpayer-funded medical assistance program for the poor.

Andrea L. Johnson was born on July 19, 1976, the 11th child of Isabell Johnson and a fictional truck-driving father named Steven Joseph Johnson, whose name turned up on her June 13, 1992, funeral notice and her death certificate.

But according to her sister and the findings of a state investigation in 1983, all of Isabell's 13 children are the offspring of John Ortell Kingston -- the late enigmatic leader and church prophet who built the 1,500-member

Kingston clan into a multimillion-dollar business empire while allowing many of his purported 13 wives and dozens of children to survive on government assistance.

Andrea grew up in a small two-bedroom home in a Kingston-owned coal yard at 197 W. 3900 South in Salt Lake County. Her mom, brothers and sisters shared the tiny quarters with another of John Ortell's wives and her children, Rugg said.

``There were a few fun times, but mostly it was crowded, noisy and there were lots of babies that needed caring for,'' said Rugg, who was 16 when Andrea was born.

Rugg rebelled when she was 17, running off with a boy who was from the group. The two married and later divorced, and Rugg lost contact with most of the Kingston sect.

But she kept in touch with her mother and some of her brothers and sisters. It was through them that she discovered Andrea had married her teen-age half brother, Jason Kingston, in a secret ceremony.

A former member of the clan, Elaine Jenkins, also confirmed that the so-called celestial marriage between Andrea and Jason took place. As is custom in the polygamous community, the ``spiritual'' ceremony was not recorded by a government office.

Jason Ortell Kingston is the youngest brother of Paul Kingston, the spiritual leader of the polygamous Latter Day Church of Christ based in Salt Lake City, which appears to hold services in Standard Restaurant Supply, a Kingston-owned business.

Jason, his mother, LaDonna Kingston, and his new bride Andrea lived in a one-story home set back from the street at 1760 S. 500 East in Salt Lake City, Rugg said. Andrea became pregnant while Jason worked on his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah.

Andrea grew sicker and sicker, but neither her ``husband'' nor her polygamous mother-in-law would take her to the hospital, Rugg claimed.

They hesitated, Rugg said, out of fear that hospital staff would want to determine the father of Andrea's baby, and his relationship to the mother.

That fear stemmed from the state suing Jason's father in 1983 for massive welfare fraud -- linking John Ortell to four polygamous wives who claimed they were single mothers needing state assistance for their 29 children.

Isabell Johnson was one of those wives.

Rugg contends the family worried about leaving a similar trail of evidence that might have led to incest charges -- a third-degree felony -- against Jason Kingston. Now 23 with an MBA under his belt, Jason is employed by the state auditor's office. He declined repeated requests for interviews.

Ultimately it was Isabell Johnson who took Andrea to the hospital.

According to Rugg, LaDonna Kingston phoned Isabell Johnson -- who lives on a Kingston-owned ranch in Ibapah in Utah's west desert -- and told her Andrea needed medical attention. Johnson sped the 170 miles to LaDonna's home in Salt Lake City.

``When they got there she was swollen beyond recognition,'' Rugg said.

``She was in bed screaming, `Why won't anybody help me?' ''

Three days after arriving at University Hospital, doctors performed a Caesarean section. The baby survived, but 11 days later, while still in the hospital, Andrea died. The child's whereabouts now are unknown.

``My daughter was well and happy, then she got sick all of a sudden one day,'' said Isabell Johnson. ``We just thought it was the flu because a lot of people were getting it. So I came in from Ibapah to see what was wrong and I took her to the hospital that day.''

Johnson claimed Andrea was not swollen when she arrived, a contention Collins refutes.

``I remember she had severe edema [swelling],'' said the sheriff's lieutenant. ``She swelled up a lot.''

Rugg said the swelling affected Andrea's brain, causing it to crush against the skull and her retinal nerves. ``She was blind by the time they took her to the hospital,'' Rugg said.

Asked why another family member couldn't have taken Andrea to the hospital before Johnson made the three-hour drive to get her, Johnson said: ``I'm not going to talk about that.''

Andrea Johnson was buried on June 13, 1992, at the Bountiful Memorial Park. Church leader Paul Kingston conducted the service and his brothers John Daniel and David were speakers.

Jason Kingston served as pallbearer, helping to carry Andrea's coffin.

Hospital records and her death certificate do not list her as having a husband. In death, her only official link to the Kingstons is the name listed on cemetery records as owner of her burial plot, ``J.O. Kingston.''

Jason is the youngest child of John Ortell and LaDonna Kingston.  He also is the youngest brother of John Daniel Kingston, 43, who is awaiting trial in Box Elder County on charges that he belt-whipped his 16-year-old daughter for rebelling against an arranged marriage to yet another of John Ortell's sons, 32-year-old David O. Kingston.

The 16-year-old girl told police she had become David's 15th wife last October -- and came to live at the same coal yard on 3900 South where Andrea and Connie had grown up. David has been charged with incest. The girl also told police that her father, John Daniel, and mother are half brother and sister.Tribune reporter Norma Wagner contributed to this story.

Affidavits Give Peek Into Secretive and Incestuous Polygamist Clan;

Incest Prominent Feature of Kingston Polygamists

Tribune Archive August 1998
Salt Lake Tribune Types: Nation-World Published: 08/02/1998 Page: A1

Like other women and children born to the polygamist Kingston clan, the eldest daughter of John Daniel Kingston was doe-eyed and obedient.

She went to school when asked and dropped out when told.

She lived in a dilapidated white shack in a Salt Lake County coal yard even though her father and uncle are heirs to a $70 million communal empire.

And at 16, she secretly married and, investigators believe, had sex with her 32-year-old uncle.

On Monday, in a groundbreaking move, detectives will give police in Salt Lake and Davis counties affidavits alleging incest and unlawful sexual contact between the girl and her uncle, launching one of the first open examinations of incest within a secretive polygamist clan of about 1,500 members.

On the same day, John Daniel Kingston's daughter will turn 17.

With the Kingstons, the pattern of couplings is intricate and sometimes bizarre. John Daniel Kingston and the mother of the 16-year-old girl at the center of the incest investigation were themselves fathered by the same man. Besides the 16-year-old, John Daniel and Susan Nelson, his wife and half-sister, have nine other children.

In most cases where incest is brought to light, friends or close confidants are the catalysts for prosecution.

``But in the polygamist clans, they don't have friends outside, they have no contacts, no way to get the word out -- we never, ever hear a word about incest within these groups because the children are sheltered,'' says Sgt. Don Bell, who heads the sex-crimes unit for Salt Lake City police.

But when John Daniel Kingston's 16-year-old daughter fled her arranged marriage -- twice -- she was belt-whipped, allegedly by her father, and dumped semiconscious near a turn-of-the-century barn in Box Elder County owned by the Kingstons.

Alone and severely bruised, she walked several miles to a gas station, called police and opened the closet door of the Kingston clan -- where investigators say they have found evidence of child abuse and incest.

``We believe there is enough to go on -- the sexual crimes did not happen here, but in other jurisdictions,'' says Lynn Yeates, chief deputy of the Box Elder County Sheriff's department.

``And we are going to send those jurisdictions a copy of the reports and they can decide from those how to proceed.''

The affidavits gathered by investigators alleging incest between David Ortell Kingston and his niece -- which grew from the child-abuse case against John David Kingston -- will be delivered to police in Bountiful, Salt Lake City and Sandy.

Those three municipalities are common to Kingston land holdings, dwellings, businesses and, ex-members say, courtship and consummation between the Kingston brothers and their many wives -- who often are close relatives of theirs.

The ultimate decision to pursue charges falls to prosecutors in Salt Lake and Davis counties.

Salt Lake County prosecutor Neal Gunnarson did not immediately return phone calls, but deputy county prosecutor Walter ``Bud'' Ellett says the incest case is weak if it is based solely on the girl's testimony.

Prosecutors need some kind of corroborating evidence.

One investigator disagrees.

``Have we taken he-said, she-said cases?

Yes, we have. Have we lost cases based on that? Yes, we have. Have we won cases based on that? Yes, we have,'' says Bell. ``Sex offenses usually come down to he said, she said.

There usually are not a whole lot of other witnesses.''

But the fact the alleged sexual activity took place months ago does not preclude the possibility of physical evidence. If the girl had not had sexual intercourse prior to privately ``marrying'' her uncle, or since, a medical examination could prove intercourse took place.

Sex crimes involving close relatives are not uncommon and are commonly prosecuted.

In 1901, 56-year-old Wayne County farmer Jonathan Hunt was convicted of incest with his daughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He had three polygamous wives who died after delivering 23 children.

In 1996, when Gary Morris, a 58-year-old Michigan man, was sentenced to as many as 40 years for repeatedly raping his granddaughter -- who investigators believe was also his daughter -- Michigan and New Jersey were the only two states without a criminal incest law on the books.

Utah's statute defines incest as intercourse with an ``ancestor, descendant, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin.'' Or sex with a stepchild while the marriage is in force, or sex between a half-sister and half-brother.

Of an average 150 sex crimes investigated each month in Utah, about 60 percent involve close relatives, according to statistics from the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

``A majority of the cases the division investigates involve someone that is either a caretaker or sibling or extended relative,'' says Katy Larsen, regional director of DCFS's northern division, where John David Kingston's 16-year-old daughter has been sheltered since her May escape.

``The reason we get involved is protection issues,'' Larsen says. ``Incest is a prevalent problem, one that doesn't get the exposure because investigators and the media, out of kindness, want to protect the parties involved.'' (The Salt Lake Tribune does not publish a sex abuser's name if it identifies the victim, and in cases of incest, will only say a ``relative'' was victimized.)

Unfortunately, Larsen adds, the choice not to publicize the crime shields the extent of the problem.

And there are many problems for children of incestuous couplings.

Former clan prophet John Ortell Kingston, who died in 1987, paid the Medicaid bills for a child born with severe birth defects after Utah investigators linked the wealthy father of more than 65 children to the baby.

While he never admitted paternity with any of his children who received federal or state assistance, in 1983 Utah collected $200,000 in welfare-fraud damages from him. This includes an estimated $60,000 hospital charge for the deformed baby, who investigators said John Ortell Kingston likely conceived with a close relative.

At least two of his children, in turn, secretly ``married,'' and conceived the 16-year-old girl who told police she had been given in marriage to David Ortell Kingston, her uncle.

David is also John Ortell Kingston's son.

Children born from brother-sister, uncle-niece matings come from a closely shared and, consequently, less diverse gene pool than children from unrelated parents.

Because of more easily paired negative, recessive genes, inbred children have far higher rates of birth defects and low intelligence, including mental retardation, impaired fertility, congenital birth defects and weakened immune systems.

``For, say, parent-offspring or brother-sister matings, they share half their genes so half their genes are identical,'' said Lynn Jorde, a professor of human genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine who researches genetic causes of birth defects. ``So if you have any recessive disease gene, you have a higher probability of getting two of them.''

``There have only been a few studies done on the biological effects of incest, it's obviously hard to get subjects,'' he continued. ``But the studies that have been done generally show that a fourth to half of those children have problems.''

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Norma Wagner contributed to this story.

Dead Girl's File Exists;

Probe involving polygamists now may ensnare U. Hospital;

Medical File Has Been There All Along


[Andrea Johnson Corrections: A sworn deposition given by Jason Ortell Kingston's sister, Ruth Kingston Brown, says that he is married to his niece. The Tribune on Tuesday incorrectly reported the blood relationship of the couple.]

The medical file of a pregnant 15-year-old girl who died at University Hospital has resurfaced -- six years after detectives were told it had vanished.

Andrea Johnson, a member of the polygamous Kingston clan based in Salt Lake County, died on June 11, 1992, after allegedly suffering weeks at home with a condition known as pre-eclampsia, which affects multiple organs and the blood system.

The girl's sister contends the clan refused to get Andrea medical help for the easily treatable condition until it was too late. Connie Rugg believes clan members hesitated out of fear that hospital authorities would learn Andrea had been impregnated by her half brother, Jason Ortell Kingston.

On Sunday, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that investigators with the state Human Services Department and the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, alarmed at Andrea's condition, initiated a probe even before she died.

Lt. Leslee Collins, who was a detective in the sheriff's juvenile division at the time, said she personally delivered a subpoena to University Hospital six years ago and was told by records personnel that the file had disappeared. Without the records, the investigation slammed shut.

Now the hospital is saying the file was there all along. The Sheriff's Office, which has reopened its investigation into Andrea's death, has not ruled out the possibility that the hospital could be investigated for obstruction of justice, said sheriff's spokeswoman Deputy Peggy Faulkner.

Hospital spokeswoman Anne Brillinger said Monday that the files were not intentionally kept from investigators.

``I can't go back to 1992 and remember what was said to whom and with what effect, but I can tell you we do have the medical record, we have always had it and we want to cooperate with the law-enforcement investigation,'' Brillinger said. ``I'm sure Miss Collins is accurate in her memory but we have no memory of what happened in 1992.''

Record keepers may have refused to turn over the file because it might not have been complete, Brillinger said. For example, it might have lacked an autopsy report or a relevant doctor's report.

``If the record was not complete at that time, we would have said, `No, you have to wait until it is complete and then you can subpoena the record,'' Brillinger said.  ``It would not have been representative of a patient's total care.''

But Collins on Monday insisted hospital record keepers never told her to come back for the complete file.

``What I was told was that the files were missing.''

Without reviewing her records, Collins could not recall what follow-up she did with the hospital officials, but added, ``I'm sure we made some calls.

I'm sure I didn't just say, `OK, bye, see you later.' ''

Last week, a hospital representative refused to acknowledge whether Johnson was ever even a patient. But aware of the publicity surrounding the death, Brillinger said she called sheriff's investigators Monday afternoon to say the file existed -- and investigators were welcome to see it.  She made the call despite a request from the girl's mother, Isabell Johnson, asking that her daughter's records not be released.

``It is my impression law enforcement can get the file with just an ordinary subpoena, despite the mother's wishes,'' she said.

Faulkner said detectives have retrieved the sheriff's case file from archives. Collins, who is now a watch commander, will assist Det. Marianne Suarez in the investigation.

``She [Collins] has always had a lot of heartburn over how this case wound up back then,'' Faulkner said.

``She asked to be included.''

Suarez also is investigating an incest and child-sex-abuse case filed against David Ortell Kingston, a clan member accused of having sex with his 16-year-old niece, who police say was his 15th wife.

That same 16-year-old girl is at the center of a Box Elder County case in which her father, John Daniel Kingston, has been charged with child abuse after allegedly belt-whipping her for rebelling against an arranged marriage to David.

The two cases have reignited a statewide debate on polygamy, a practice that was outlawed by the Utah Constitution and banned by the Mormon Church more than a century ago.

Andrea Johnson was a daughter of John Ortell Kingston, the late leader and church prophet of the Kingston group, otherwise known as the Latter Day Church of Christ, a state investigation in 1983 found.

Andrea was the half sister of John Daniel and David O. Kingston.

[Andrea Johnson Corrections: A sworn deposition given by Jason Ortell Kingston's sister, Ruth Kingston Brown, says that he is married to his niece. The Tribune on Tuesday incorrectly reported the blood relationship of the couple.]

According to her sister, Rugg, Andrea was married in a secret ceremony to another half brother, Jason Ortell Kingston, who was 17 at the time. She became pregnant soon after.

The doctor who signed the death certificate wrote that the girl would have displayed symptoms of pre-eclampsia -- including severe swelling -- for at least two weeks before her death.

But Isabell Johnson told The Tribune her daughter was not sick until the day Isabell rushed 170 miles from Ibapah, in Utah's west desert, to Salt Lake City to take her to the hospital. Johnson believed Andrea suffered only from the flu, she said.

Three days after Andrea arrived at the hospital, doctors performed an emergency Caesarian section, delivering a 1 pound, 11 ounce boy.  The boy survived, but 11 days later Andrea died.

The whereabouts of the boy are unknown.  His father, Jason, now 23, works for the state auditor's office.

A sworn deposition given by Jason's sister, Ruth Kingston Brown, to the state Attorney General's Office in 1994 indicates he is now married to his niece. Jason has ignored repeated requests for interviews.

Back, a little.