A Pennsylvania woman is behind bars after she allegedly admitted she fatally shot her boyfriend — but claimed he wanted her to kill him because of issues he was having with a cult.
Barbara Rogers, 42, was charged with criminal homicide and is being held without bail in the death of her 32-year-old boyfriend Steven Mineo, who was found dead in their Coolbaugh Township apartment on July 15.
After the shooting, Rogers allegedly told police that she and Mineo were members of a “cult” that focuses on “aliens and raptures,” and that Mineo asked her to fatally shoot him, a criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE states. “The victim was undergoing a lot of stress through the problems with the cult,” it adds.
“There are a lot more questions that need to be answered as the case proceeds,” Chief Chris Wagner of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department tells PEOPLE.
Meanwhile, friends are shocked at Mineo’s sudden death.
“He was not a depressive, negative dude,” Mineo’s friend Charlie Benincasa tells PEOPLE. “In the seven years I knew him, he never mentioned anything about suicide or killing himself. When I found out he died I was in shock.”
Benincasa described Mineo as funny and “young at heart,” saying he loved fishing, firecrackers and posting Youtube videos. He also said he was “big on conspiracy theories.”
“He believed that we would have to get right with God, and our rights were being violated,” he says. “Steve really believed in the Second Amendment and the right you have to bear arms. He was really big on that, 9/11, and FEMA camps. He felt that the government was going to take over.”
Deputies were called to the couple’s apartment at 2:25 am Saturday after they received a 911 call from Rogers, who allegedly told dispatch she’d shot her boyfriend. Officers found Mineo dead from a single gunshot wound to the forehead. He was shot at close range and most likely sitting on the floor at the time he was shot, the complaint states.
At the scene, officers discovered a .45 caliber semi automatic Glock pistol.
Police say Rogers gave “numerous contradictory and inconsistent statements” about the shooting, the complaint states.
She allegedly told officers at the scene that Mineo asked her if she wanted to learn how to shoot a gun. She said she agreed and claimed that Mineo allegedly put the gun to her forehead before he, holding her hands, guided the gun to his head and told her to pull the trigger.
“When she did so, the gun went off and the victim collapsed,” the complaint states.
During a subsequent interview with detectives, Rogers, who allegedly said she had been in the Army for eight years and was discharged for medical reasons, initially claimed that Mineo was standing up when she shot him. She later allegedly admitted that Mineo was seated on the floor when she pulled the trigger.
Website on ‘New-Age Alien Agenda’
Rogers told police the couple had been feuding with Sherry Shriner, the founder of a website that posts about conspiracy theories, doomsday preparations, soul scalping and a “new-age alien agenda.”
“The victim believed that contrary to her appearance, Shriner was actually ‘reptilian,'” the complaint states.
Shriner, who agreed to be interviewed by PEOPLE over email, claims she became friends with Mineo on Facebook in 2010.
“Steve liked revolution, surviving the coming hard times etc…zombie apocalypse, survival, typical stuff for guys I guess,” she says.
Shriner says they recently had a falling out over his relationship with Rogers.
“I didn’t know Barbara until Steve brought her into a private chat room we had,” she writes. “She never said anything when I was in there so I never paid attention to her being in the group so until I started seeing her posts on FB and then she had my [attention].”
Shriner claims she removed Rogers from their chat group and she “confronted Steve about her and told her who/what she was and he threw a complete temper tantrum… He was convinced Barbara was an answer to his prayers and the perfect Christian girl.”
Kevin Wade, Mineo’s friend, told WNEP that the couple left Shriner “because they were too far out, instead of being religious, it was just a cult thing, they got rid of that,” he said.
Shriner scoffs at the idea that she runs a cult. “I’m moral, ethical, grandma, no dirt… so they try to run with the cult label to try and slam and discredit me… Amusing that my chat room of 10 people who get together to chat, pray, and talk about world events is a ‘cult.’ I don’t think that would hold up in court as a defense.”
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Benincasa says Mineo reached out to him on Facebook last month and they discussed making a video as well as his relationship with Rogers.
“He said I finally met a chick and she is cool,” he says. He told him, “We are pretty much married at this point we are going to get our own house with land off the grid.”
“He didn’t deserve to die,” adds Benincasa. “I never saw a negative side of him. I don’t think he asked her, ‘Hey kill me.’ He is crazy in other areas but that is just not his M.O. … Afraid of a cult and that motivated him to kill himself? That is crazy. It is pretty farfetched. “
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 26 where she is expected to enter a plea.