JZ Knight's Rules of Murder, Hate, and Fear
By Melissa Genson South Thurston Journal
November 11, 2013
Cop Killers and JZ Knight followers Phillipe Neniere and Agnis Jardel
“How Could Murder Be Wrong?” – JZ Knight
In 1988, cult leader JZ Knight asked ABC’s Judd Rose on 20/20, “How could murder be wrong?”
Two of her followers acted on those words in 2011. A calm, cool, point blank assassination of a stranger, and a bullet to the spinal cord of another. Both victims were police officers. Both had two children. Both were just having an ordinary, peaceful day at work.
JZ Knight’s followers then tried shooting four unarmed witnesses as they fled, and chased them for miles through woods. The shooters were simply acting on JZ’s teachings. They were devoted.
JZ Knight—or “Ramtha,” as she also calls herself—has remained the undisputed guru of Yelm’s Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE) throughout its existence. She has thousands of worldwide followers. They believe her teachings are divine. They obey her commandments without question, no matter how extreme, bizarre—or deadly.
ABC’s Judd Rose described RSE as a “no fault cult” to Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters. For good reason.
Ramtha—The White Book functions as the RSE Bible. At one time, JZ Knight collected donations from her followers to put White Book copies in every hotel and motel room, like the Gideon’s Bibles. Her ex-followers still wonder what happened to their money. They never heard. Some had even given their own treasured copies back to JZ, then bought new ones from her.
In The White Book, JZ/Ramtha asks a student to define the word “evil”:
Student: Well, I would say that it’s the opposite of good. But mostly what I think evil is, is harming another person.
Ramtha: Indeed? Why is that evil?
Student: Well, for example, if someone harmed my daughter, it’s evil because, let’s say, she might die.
Ramtha: That is your judgment of evil. But what is evil about dying?
Student: So you don’t even think that killing someone is evil?
Ramtha: That is correct….
Student: So you’re saying that even murder is not wrong or evil.
Ramtha: That is correct.
JZ Knight has long predicted an imminent worldwide doomsday. She has repeatedly told her followers they will be safe here with her in Thurston County, when most of the rest of the planet is destroyed. Apparently it’s okay for JZ’s followers to want to stay alive, even if murder is perfectly fine for others.
JZ Knight’s terrified followers move here from around the globe. Some are said to remain here illegally after their visas expire, hiding out. They are afraid to go back to their home countries, believing they would soon meet a horrifying death.
Many also believe that JZ has the power to cure any illness. Terminally ill people come here from around the world, because they believe she can miraculously heal them. They stop taking their medicine. They die prematurely, far from home and family.
JZ Knight is best known for her celebrity followers over the years—Salma Hayek, Shirley MacLaine, Linda Evans, Richard Chamberlain, Mike Farrell. Few outsiders know her real teachings within the high walls of her Yelm compound. People figure that it’s lightweight, New-Agey fluff. Grown-ups goofing around and trance dancing in Harry Potter capes.
JZ Knight is proud to be a “sovereignist.” She teaches her followers to fear and hate everyone outside of RSE. She tells them to build underground bunkers and stock them with guns, gold, survival gear, and canned food to last for years. She tells them not to trust paper money, banks, and the government. And not to trust anyone who doesn’t worship her.
She teaches them that outsiders will try to steal their underground stash, when catastrophe looms. She tells them to protect their supplies at any cost.
JZ Knight’s followers will do as she tells them.
Policeman Calmly Assassinated by Knight’s Devoted Follower -
On January 14, 2011, South African policeman Jacob Boleme, 26, was shot point blank by JZ Knight’s follower, French doctor Philippe Neniere, 60. Neniere had lured Boleme and others into a casual chat, then calmly murdered him.
Officer Glenwald duToit, 42, was then shot in the spine and severely wounded by Neniere’s long time companion, Agnis Jardel, 58, also a Knight follower from France.
After years of studying JZ Knight’s sovereignist teachings, the French couple believed it was necessary to protect themselves and their cache at all costs—even by murder. Particularly since Knight also teaches that murder is not wrong.
On that fateful day, four police officers had responded to a call from farmer Gerhardus du Plessis. Du Plessis had told the police that two of his farm tenants refused to be evicted. He believed them to be heavily armed and dangerous. He was afraid for his family.
Du Plessis had let the French couple live in a house on his farm rent-free for twelve years, in exchange for keeping an eye on the rest of his property. Until the prior two years, Du Plessis and his family had a long, peaceful history with Phillipe and Agnis.
In the early years the du Plessis family had found the French couple quirky, but harmless. They all interacted as friends, and the couple was invited to du Plessis family events—even a wedding.
But things changed over time, as Phillipe and Agnis became more and more obsessed with JZ Knight and her RSE dogma of fear and hate. It gradually took over their lives.
The couple talked of JZ Knight’s increasingly disturbing beliefs. They began openly performing Knight’s prescribed rituals—the red wine ceremony, trance dancing in dark capes, and rubbing other people’s foreheads because JZ Knight teaches that there is a hidden third eye. They began talking about JZ Knight’s bizarre brand of quantum science, where people are able to change reality with their thoughts.
Phillipe and Agnis then demanded that du Plessis build them a doomsday bunker because of JZ Knight’s terrifying predictions of worldwide disasters. They were angry when he laughed and refused. They began stealing from the du Plessis family. They stole the farm workers’ food.
When du Plessis suggested that the RSE couple find work so they wouldn’t need to steal, Phillipe responded that intelligent people didn’t have to work—another of Knight’s teachings.
Just as JZ Knight teaches that geniuses abide by no laws.
The Final Days -
Lena Botes, 49, had lived and worked on the duPlessis farm for three years before the shootings, and had gotten to know the RSE couple.
She told Johannesburg’s Times Live reporter Nashira Davids, "Philippe told me there is no such thing as God. He doesn't exist. I told him that that is not true.
He shook his head and I warned him that it is because he has such an attitude that he is struggling the way he is," she said.
"They would collect firewood with the twigs that fell from the trees to make a fire to keep warm in winter. And they didn't have much money for food."
Lena had assumed that the couple’s financial state was dire, considering that they had been stealing her food. But her assumption was wrong. Among the couple’s possessions later found in their home were cases of wine, boxes of canned food and ammunition, survival and medical gear, and French designer clothes.
Lena Botes said that Agnis would sit at a nearby dam for hours at a time. Botes watched Phillipe read from a thick book, then tear out the pages and hand them to Agnis to burn.
By January 2011, Gerhardus du Plessis had become quite fearful of these thieving tenants, their obsession with JZ Knight’s bizarre teachings, and most of all, their suspected illegal weapons stash. He tried to evict them, but they refused to leave his farm. He felt he had no choice but to call the police.
In the final days, farm worker Lena Botes had also noticed changes in the RSE couple. She told Johannesburg’s Times Live that, a few days before the shootings, “…something strange happened. We could hear them fighting. And then she (Agnis) ran out of the house crying and screaming.
She started to do scary martial arts moves. I couldn't believe such an old woman could jump and kick so high. And then it was all over and she was fine again."
When four policemen arrived at the farm after the call, du Plessis’ two adult sons, Jaen, 26 and Cobus, 28, took them to see Phillipe and Agnis.
When the group first arrived, the RSE couple appeared rational and non-confrontational, and calmly allowed the police into their home to remove their illegal weapons. Phillipe even helped the police take their weapons from the house.
Jaen du Plessis described what happened next to Helen Bamford, deputy news editor for Cape Argus:
“It was relaxed, as if we were all standing around at a braai (barbecue). Philippe then leaned over against my brother’s vehicle and when he straightened up he had a handgun.
“He shot the police officer standing between me and my brother. He then leaned over and shot him again, in the head.”
Jacob Boleme, 26, died at the scene.
Agnis Jardel then shot Officer duToit in his spinal cord, severely wounding him. DuToit fell to the ground, and appeared dead.
Jaen and Cobus du Plessis and the two remaining policemen then turned and ran for the bush. They were all unarmed at this point. The RSE couple shot out the tires of the survivors’ vehicles. Then they chased them for miles through the wilderness, shooting after them. Eventually they gave up the pursuit and disappeared into hiding.
Farm worker Lena Botes came to Jacob Boleme a few moments after the shooting. She told Johannesburg’s Times Live reporter Nashira Davids that she could not forget the blood. "The blood streamed from his body like water.”
The Days After -
A massive manhunt followed. Warnings were posted throughout the area, describing the armed and dangerous fugitives. Information was distributed about the murderers’ U.S. doomsday cult—Yelm’s Ramtha School of Enlightenment. People remained in their homes.
After six days, police located the couple’s remote hideout and surrounded it. Refusing to surrender, Phillipe shot Agnis in the head at point blank range—just as he had killed Jacob Boleme. Then he turned the gun on himself.
Constable Jacob Boleme leaves behind two small daughters. Gerhardus du Plessis has talked of how hard it is to live with the tragic consequences of his call to the police that day.
Officer Glenwald duToit was first taken to the nearby Sutherland Hospital, and then airlifted to N1 City Hospital in Cape Town. His wife Wendy, a schoolteacher, rode with him.
When the Cape Times reporters entered Du Toit’s intensive care ward, his pastor Aubrey Adams was there, praying for him.
“It could have been worse,” Wendy duToit told the Cape Times, “but God protected him.”
JZ Knight sent condolences to Boleme’s survivors, and get well wishes to duToit—who is also a father of two. But at the same time, she defended her sovereignist teachings to the South African press—the same teachings that inspired the shootings.
“A sovereign person is able to support their life without gambling on banks, the stock market, or paper investments. I am very proud of this culture of RSE and that our students have heard this message from Ramtha for over 25 years,” Knight explained to Johannesburg’s City Press after Constable Boleme’s murder and Officer duToit’s bullet wound to his spinal cord, by two of her followers.
Jacob Boleme’s funeral was huge, with full honors and color guard. His family was handed the flag from his casket. His mother’s face told the whole story.
No family or friends claimed the killers’ bodies. The local authorities eventually buried them.
A year after the shootings, the South African police marked the anniversary with a wreath laying ceremony. They held a police run from the du Plessis farm to the local station, to remember Jacob Boleme.
“The run will signify police running for lives,” said local station commissioner Captain Zaki van Wyk.
Thurston County Assessor Steven Drew Tells Staff to Take On Local RSE Sovereignists -
Thurston County Assessor Steven Drew says that he will be sending his employees to enter and inspect the underground bunkers of JZ Knight’s RSE sovereignist followers in the Yelm area. The same bunkers where Knight’s followers stash their gold and weapons, preparing for Knight’s terrifying, bizarre prophecies.
The same prophecies that drove Knight’s followers to shoot two police officers in South Africa, and to try to kill four other people.
Assessor Drew was quoted in the Nisqually Valley News that, in recent years, he has noticed a large influx of detailed “No Trespassing” signs that speak directly to government employees.
We can only guess that Drew doesn’t believe the signs. Even after the international publicity following the 2011 shootings of police officers Boleme and duToit—and the connection to JZ Knight and RSE.
“We’re Going Out in a Blaze of Glory” -
JZ Knight proclaimed to her cheering audience in March 2011, “We’re going out in a blaze of glory in this life.” There were children in that audience. RSE parents teach their children to revere JZ Knight as their god. They believe her teachings are divine, and the absolute truth.
She made that vow just two months after her followers murdered Jacob Boleme and wounded Glenwald duToit, then died in a murder-suicide, half a world away.
We can remember other secret groups who went out in a blaze of glory, in other places. Other secret groups who took their children to glory with them. Just as we remember Constable Jacob Boleme.
JZ Knight makes her followers sign secrecy oaths before they can attend any RSE events, promising not to tell outsiders of her teachings. The secrecy oaths forbid them from even telling of a dream they may have had about RSE and Knight’s teachings.
These secrecy oaths last until twenty-one years after JZ Knight’s death. So far, these written oaths have been upheld in court as valid contracts. JZ does not hesitate to drag anyone into court who she suspects of sharing her secret teachings with outsiders.
People who preach all sweetness and light do not turn around and fight tooth and nail to keep their teachings secret, at any cost.
Our community living outside the high walls of the RSE compound has the right to know the reasons for all the secrecy. Particularly any Thurston County employees who may be sent on a naïve, misguided mission to enter an armed doomsday bunker surrounded by “No Trespassing” signs.
Especially if those signs were put up by someone who believes that there is no right or wrong—not even murder.
And as far as my husband Steve and me—we will do our best to learn what is behind the secrets and behind the high RSE walls, and to share it with you—our community.
A World of Her Own -
JZ Knight continues to live in her luxurious Yelm mansion. It’s surrounded by high walls, and reported to be patrolled by armed guards. She still jets to glamorous spots around the world with the rich and famous. She is buoyed by her celebrity friends, and her wealth accrued from decades of brainwashed followers.
JZ Knight is aided by her New York PR firm, who can apparently handle anything—including the assassination of a young father, who was just doing his job that day. In the eyes of JZ’s followers, Constable Jacob Boleme was apparently a person of little importance.
JZ Knight and the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, however, are names that are still well known in both South Africa and France.
Soon after her followers murdered Jacob Boleme, JZ Knight videotaped herself gushing to her throng about her bikini adventures on a luxury yacht. She devoured a Twinkie on stage during a camera close-up, playfully opening her mouth to show off the half-eaten contents.
As JZ had explained on ABC’s 20/20, “If a person is ever sorry about what they ever did, then they will never learn, and they never progress and go forward.”
JZ Knight has also been well protected over the years, quite efficiently, by her secrecy contract, her cache of lawyers, and her apparent influence with local and state government. And she has been protected as well, by the fear that she has managed to instill in so many.
The kind of fear that led a South African farmer to call the police. The same kind of fear that put a bullet in Officer duToit’s spine, and ended Constable Boleme’s life, leaving his daughters without a father.
The same kind of fear that could greet a Thurston County employee who was sent to enter an armed RSE sovereign bunker, which hides the owner’s gold stash. Built by someone who has been brainwashed to hate and fear everyone, particularly the government.
Built by someone who has been taught that there is no right or wrong – not even murder.
This is a risk that Assessor Steven Drew seems willing for his employees to take.
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