A self-proclaimed psychic is accused of murdering a woman whose death he supposedly “predicted.”
Jury selection in the murder trial of Daniel U. Perez starts Monday in Wichita, Kansas. The 55-year-old is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the death of 26-year-old Patricia Hughes, who was found floating in a pool nearly 12 years ago.
Prosecutors say Perez, the leader of a Kansas commune, killed the young mother in 2003 to collect $2 million in life insurance money, according to the Wichita Eagle.
Hughes wasn’t the only member of the commune to die under suspicious circumstances, authorities say. They’ve been investigating the deaths of a number of people associated with Perez’s so-called “family.”
Others include Hughes’s husband, who was crushed to death by a car, and a woman who was killed in a plane crash. Police say Perez received a $700,000 life insurance payout from the plane crash victim’s death. All of the deaths have appeared to be accidents. Hughes’s death was originally ruled an accident.
Perez faces 38 criminal charges, including rape, sodomy and sexual exploitation of a child, the Associated Press reports. Perez has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Witnesses have said that the 55-year-old cult leader told his followers he was hundreds of years old and needed sex from someone pure to survive, according to the Eagle.