THE DIAMOND HOUSE.....BEGIN AGAIN...THE LIGHT SHINED IN.

DIAMOND HOUSE MANSION...."Begin Again" THE DAY THE LIGHT SHINED IN. 


Having been built by some of the best masons on the planet, and with no cost spared in the creation of the spectacular Diamond House Mansion in 1918, Benjamin Purnell made it extremely clear from the very beginning that THIS was to be only HIS private domain, and only those in his inner circle were to be invited thru those locked doors. It remained that way until his untimely death in December 1927. Once the colony members calmed down after mass pandemonium upon the knowledge of their Messiah dying when he taught that they would NEVER die, they had his body embalmed and placed into the hermetically sealed glass coffin, and soon his second floor parlor in the Diamond House Annex would become closed off even to members, and only opened for the mortician who would check on him every few months or by just a few of his previously trusted pillars in his circle to pray to him. The two doors that had previously been used to enter and exit this second floor annex were now changed out with a huge bank vault door and another heavy steel door to assure the safe keeping of his tomb. After that point only Tom Dewhirst (who was the head of the colony after his father Judge Dewhirst passed away in 1947) and Etidorpha Moore (who gave birth to Benjamin's illegitimate daughter) were allowed to live in the mansion, along with Coy Tyndall who was there as a guardsman. As these individuals passed on through the years, sections of the Diamond House Mansion would slowly be closed off, and never reentered, or so they wished. In the fall of 1988 the peaceful feeling that the last few colony members held in regards to their leader resting in his tomb was to disappear forever! According to testimony from two of the 4 individuals involved in that day's break-in, they had studied out the traffic patterns that took place around the mansion for several weeks, taking into mind what days and what times the colony members would not be anywhere close to the mansion. They found one particular day and a certain time of day that no one was around week after week. They waited for the exact right moment and moved to the property, climbing to the roof, and cutting a hole to lower themselves down into the mansion. They began on the east side of the home and started loading up Oil paintings, rare furniture, vases, and a massive amount of items. They testified that they actually had stolen seven van loads of precious items that day. That's when things got very sticky. They shared the fact that with Benjamin's tomb being so close to where they had been stealing these items, they felt compelled to try to enter his secret resting place. At first they tried to figure out a way to get the giant vault door opened, But to no avail. They then figured out that if they knocked a huge hole through the stone wall that separated them from Ben's tomb, they could gain access. One of them sped home to grab a giant ramming bar and came back to the mansion, And with the help of the other thieves they rammed a hole through the stone wall into his sacred tomb. As each of them pulled their bodies through the hole that they just created, what they saw was nothing they were prepared for that day. The personal interview that I had with two of those thieves went like this: "As we all got into the room with King Ben's glass coffin we were so scared and so shocked that we shook terribly and all 4 of us had to sit on the floor and try to breath. We knew that Ben's body was going to be in that room, but what we did not know was that he not only was up at an angle like he was actually looking at us but also piled around him were gigantic piles of beautiful jewelry, vases, urns, pocket watches, statues...like a Pharaohs tomb. We were in absolute utter shock! I wasn't even sure if I could walk at that point. What we did then is probably something that we should never have dreamed of doing, but we did it anyway. We took that giant prybar and pryed the glass off of King Ben's coffin. Once we removed the big piece of thick curved glass off of his coffin, we jerked the beautiful necklace off of his neck, And we pulled the gigantic diamond ring off of his finger. We grabbed a few of the things piled up around Ben's tomb, and then we saw this huge solid gold cat with rubies for his eyes and a big diamond in his mouth, it must have stood 3 feet tall!! We thought for sure that we were not going to leave without that giant gold cat. But when we tried to pick it up we could barely even budge it. We tried so hard and fell on the floor twice, and then gave up and ran out the door." After hearing this story face-to-face from two of the people that had broken into the mansion that day, I too was in utter shock!! Here I stood inside my museum in Riverside, some 12 years later, hearing a story that I had read about, heard about, but never fathomed the details I had just witnessed. I asked the individuals if they ever got caught and they said yes we did but it took them a long time to catch us. They said.."Do you know what Chris, we would do it again in a heartbeat because of the rush we felt that day"! At that point I looked at my mother, who was standing there listening to the story alongside me, and a panic covered my whole body knowing that they were standing inside my museum which was packed full of House of David artifacts! I did not know what to do, but I knew for sure that my security system might not be as good as what I had hoped!! Roughly 3 months passed after my encounter with these two interesting characters, and a gentleman entered my museum that seemed very fascinated with the story. As I began to show him around the museum and answer questions for him, I could tell that he had something on his mind. He said (after a little bit of conversation) that he was the police officer that made the arrest of the Diamond House break-in back in 1988...!! Now talk about somebody being in shock!!! His story went something like this.... "After the mansion was broken into for the second time in two years, Our police force was sure that we would catch those thieves in a very timely manner. We knew exactly what they took, we had photos of the items, and many of which were definitely one of a kind pieces. But two years passed and we still had no solid leads. Then one day my partner and I were driving our patrol car thru an area called Benton Heights. We had kept the photos on a clipboard inside our car, just in case we ever came across any of the items. I looked over in front of a small home and there was a little nickel-plated woodstove sitting in the front yard with flowers growing in it. I quickly pulled over, and grabbed the clipboard and flew through the photos, And sure enough there was an exact picture of that very nickel plated stove that was involved in the break-in (it had detailed etchings on it from Australia so there was no doubt in our minds). We turned our car around and pulled in the driveway, and went up to knock on the door. A young lady answered the door and we asked her about that pretty little stove in her front yard. She said that her ex boyfriend had given that to her as a gift a couple of years back. So with a little bit of coercing we learned who this guy was, and went and arrested him, and of course he turned all of the others in. What we discovered to our surprise, was that because these 4 thieves were so afraid of getting caught, they had split up the entire seven truckloads of items, and each of them had hid those items somewhere in very secret and protected places. So the great thing was about that mansion break-in was the fact that almost every item that was stolen was finally returned to the House of David. Unfortunately the two things that the colony told us were missing, ended up being worth a gigantic amount of money. "The thieves confessed that they took Benjamin's gold necklace (with diamonds and rubies in it, and ornately detailed just for him, with his name and Mary's on the front in white gold, and valued at roughly $100,000) and his gigantic 22 carat diamond ring. They were afraid of trying to sell them locally because of the media and police attention of the break-in, so they traveled to the south side of Chicago, where they sold the ring for $12,000 cash. Our research of that diamond ring through McCoy Brothers Jewelers told us that it should have been worth roughly $2.5 million (the largest diamond in the world at the time was a 28 carat diamond that was in the Smithsonian)!! The House of David had no insurance in place to cover any of the loss". "We then searched out the exact jeweler in Chicago and went and gave him a visit, only to find out that he had sold that diamond to another jeweler in London, who eventually chopped it up into smaller diamonds and sold them off." The thieves did just a small amount of time, because the House of David did not want another big media publicity event since it was already being forgotten locally by this time. From that day forward no one was ever allowed again inside the mansion (unless a colony member) until Lloyd took me thru on that rainy November day back in the fall of 2003. What we were about to do to that spot was nothing short of a fantasy-come-true for all of us guys, but I think to the House of David colony members it was a new hope. The day we took all of the wood off of every window in the mansion we could feel eyes on us from every angle imaginable!!! It was almost surreal, and all of us guys walked over to the edge of the front windows, and looked out at the front lawn, and we could all swear that we heard cheering, clapping, and hundreds of happy voices!! It still gives me the chills to think about the day that the light came back to the Diamond House Mansion...