Amish members of a community in Ohio are being closely investigated after several homes were robbed with the hair and beards of the residents being chopped off in the process. This behavior is especially concerning because hair holds special religious significance for the Amish.
Even more troubling is the fact that the hair cutting robbers have expanded their activities across four different sheriff's departments in Ohio. Sheriffs in Jefferson, Carroll, Holmes and Trumbull Country have reported similar incidents involving involuntary hair chopping.
The group of Amish men who are allegedly yanking victims out of their homes by their beards and chopping off their their hair is known as the 'Bergholz Clan'. The name was revealed by The Carroll County Sheriff's Department.
A group of detectives were said to be stopping suspicious Amish buggies and horse trailers to search for any evidence of the hair cutting assaults. Deputies and detectives have been hampered by the reluctance of Amish to press charges.
The Bergholz Clan is thought to consist of a group of men and women from mainstream Amish families who have been disavowed. The Clan as a result have terrorized fellow Amish.
In Holmes County, a group of 27 men allegedly burst into a home and cut the hair off men and women inside and cut the beards off the men. Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly told The Wheeling News Register the victims included a 13-year-old girl and a 74-year-old man. The sheriff says the motive may be related to religious differences involving nearly 20 Amish families.
The Amish community in Jefferson County were among those affected by the hair and beard-cutting incidents. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said there was a similar incident in Trumbull County three weeks ago.
He said hair from the victims was brought back to Jefferson County to prove to Sam Mullet, the bishop of the Bergholz group, that Mullet's orders concerning the hair cutting was being followed.
No charges have been filed, but several victims suffered minor injuries. Sheriff Zimmerly said that Holmes County will be seeking felonious assault and burglary charges against the men involved. Sheriff Abdalla said Carroll County also will be pursuing criminal charges.
In 2007, the Bergholz Amish community was again thrust into the spotlight after it was alleged that sexual abuse was prevalent in the community.
Sheriff Abdalla testified that a 12-year-old girl was brutally raped in the community, and he expressed concern that there could be more potential victims.He also said that the community was being intimidated by Bishop Mullet saying that he 'has fear instilled in all those people; mind control in all those people'.