Sovereign citizen suicides
Pair allegedly hanged themselves
Initials reports on Saturday 2/5/22 indicated that Goose Creek (SC) Police found Judy Villanyi, a dentist (pictured above), and James Button, a minister, dead by hanging in an apartment after conducting a welfare check. The welfare check was initiated after a neighboring police department in Summerville received a letter about a body being in the apartment. Police indicated that the deaths appeared to be suicide.
Initial reports said the pair were connected to a “potential religious cult” and also were sovereign citizens. A description of sovereign citizens was included in the story but a reasonable reader could draw the inference that the “cult” was the same as being sovereign citizens with no other details on the religious cult. That is obviously not the case.
As you likely know, the sovereign citizen movement consists of:
[A]nti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.
Today’s Post & Courier provides more background on the “cult” angle of the reports:
Goose Creek police’s investigation into the deaths revealed that Button, 63, had served as a religious leader to Villanyi dating back to when they first met in the mid-2000s, according to Roscoe.
Other adherents of Button’s religion may have fallen away, Roscoe said, but Villanyi remained under his sway, regularly providing money to Button through the “Church of Charleston.”
In 2018, Villanyi was sentenced to five months in prison after a 2017 guilty plea due to "obstructing and impeding the due administration of the tax code."
At the time, court records indicated that she had a "misguided and temporary infatuation" with the “sovereign citizen tax protester movement."
However, reports from this weekend indicated that Villanyi has been under investigation for similar charges prior to her death.