Members of the Amish community in eastern Ohio are the subject of a federal investigation following a wave of Amish-on-Amish incidents, FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson confirmed to CNN Wednesday.
Five men have been arrested and charged with kidnapping and burglary stemming from an incident at the home of Myron and Arlene Miller in early October in which the group of men pulled Myron out of the home by his beard, held him down, and cut off large portions of the beard. An Amish man’s beard is a significant symbol of his faith.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla, the incident at the Millers’ home was one of a handful of incidents throughout several counties in which as many as 30 men and women carried out similar attacks.
Additional arrests stemming from the other attacks aren’t likely, Abdalla said, because the other victims have not pressed charges. It is Amish tradition to solve conflicts by means of their faith and church, without the involvement of law enforcement.
The perpetrators are believed to be followers of a breakaway Amish group led by Sam Mullet. Of the five that have been arrested, three are Mullet’s sons.
Local law enforcement officials and members of the Amish community believe Mullet has created a cult and is single-handedly behind the beard cutting incidents and other crimes in recent years.
Asked by CNN whether the accusations that he’s behind the beard incidents were true, Mullet responded by asking rhetorically, “Beard cutting is a crime, is it?” He then denied the allegations that he’s running a cult before dismissing CNN from his property.