(LEXINGTON, Mo.) — A case of alleged incest, sex abuse and murder involving six members of the Mohler family of Missouri fell apart before trial when all charges against the men were dropped Thursday.
The six adult male family members were arrested in 2009 on charges of sexually abusing young relatives on a family farm compound in the 1980s and 1990s, allegations that sparked a much-publicized search of the farm for the bodies of alleged murder victims and buried glass jars that allegedly contained written accounts of the abuse. No bodies or written accounts were ever found, and no murder charges were ever brought.
Lafayette County prosecutor Kellie Wingate Campbell said Wednesday that all charges against the family members would be dropped. Campbell told ABC News that she did not think she could successfully prosecute the case, noting the “complexity of sex abuse cases, multiple victims, multiple defendants, (and the) long amount of time between the alleged abuse and disclosure.”
The accusers came forward to investigators beginning in August 2009, claiming that they had been abused, raped and forced to perform sex acts on the farm between 1988 and 1995 at the hands of the six Mohler men: brothers Darrell and Burrell Mohler Sr., and Burrell’s sons, David, Roland, Jared, and Burrell Jr.
David Mohler, the only defendant who was able to be reached by ABC News, said his family was working to gather their thoughts after the news but wanted to talk about the case soon. He declined further comment.
“People are outraged,” Campbell admitted, noting that she wanted to assure the public that she fought to prosecute the case to the fullest. “The most I can tell them is I’ve been prosecuting sex crimes on and off for 20 years and all my experience went into this case. So it wasn’t something done because of a lack of experience.”
Burrell Mohler Sr., 77, the grandfather of the five girls and one boy who brought forth the allegations — all Burrell Jr.’s children — faced the worst of the charges, including forcible rape of a child younger than 12, two counts of felony rape, and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance.
Burrell Mohler Jr., 53, was charged with forcible rape of a child younger than 14 and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance.
Also charged with sexual abuse were the children’s three uncles — David Mohler, 52, Jared Mohler, 48, and Roland Mohler, 47.
One of the accusers, now an adult, also told investigators that she had been forced to have an abortion before her 12th birthday.
According to court documents from the case, the accusers alleged that the young girls were forced into fake marriages with their uncles that were consummated in a trailer parked on the farm or in the chicken coop.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
John Newsome, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN