LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. - Gail and Darrell Mansfield won a $108 million judgment against the group they believe contributed to death of their daughter, Misty Horner. But six years after her death, Darrell and Gail Mansfield still struggle to make sense of what happened.
“You start questioning yourself. Why didn't I see this? Why couldn't I stop this before it’s too late?” Darrell said.
The Mansfields describe Misty as strong-willed and tenacious, which is why Misty’s conversion to teachings of John Horner still puzzles her parents to this day.
“She knew what she wanted, and she'd go do it. And I don't see how to take a strong person like that and break them down to where they're a total submissive person,” Gail explained.
GALLERY | A life cut short: Misty Horner through the years http://bit.ly/XeFWWC
Misty’s dad said she was a great student with many friends, and that she often volunteered her time to help others. They said she was always interested in law enforcement and eventually became a dispatcher for the Lee’s Summit Police Department.
“She was my best friend. We were very close,” Gail said.
Misty Mansfield meets Caleb Horner
Gail remembers when Misty first introduced her to Caleb Horner, who worked as a Lee’s Summit police officer.
“He seemed like a decent person,” Gail said. But looking back, she told 41 Action News she now sees red flags.
“She said later on in the months that Caleb said he was going to have a problem with me. I didn't pick up on it then, but of course I understand it now,” Gail added.
When Misty and Caleb decided to get married, Darrell said he gave the marriage his blessing.
“She married a man who had his own house. (He) had a job. Had a career and stuff, and that's what you want your daughter to have, you know?” he said.
Darrell said looking back, he should have noticed a red flag at Caleb and Misty’s wedding. Caleb’s brother, John Horner, presided over the ceremony in June 2004.
“I mean (John) kept going on … I mean off the wall stuff that had nothing to do about marriage. He was talking about commitment and submissiveness,” Darrell recalled.
Not long after the wedding, Darrell said he and his wife learned the marriage was not valid in the state of Missouri.
Police records following Misty’s death show Misty also told her sister Kim they were not legally married, and she admitted to her sister that John was not licensed to marry people because his license was revoked.
“When I started questioning my daughter about that, Caleb said we are married in the eyes of God … we don't have to be married in man's law,” Darrell said.
The Teachings of John Horner
Misty and Caleb Horner followed the teachings of John Horner, Caleb’s brother.
John Horner believes the Bible forbids the use of modern medicine, doctors or pharmaceuticals.
He has posted two publications online: "Sarah or Jezebel" and "If God Started a Church."
John now splits his time between Kansas City and his mission work in Mexico. He runs a trucking company called “Always Helpful Ministry Movers.” Federal transportation records show he is not authorized to operate a trucking company.
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On the company’s website, John has posted videos of his mission work, as well as links to his writings.
John corresponded with 41 Action News via email but declined our invitation to do an on camera interview.
Misty announces she's pregnant
Misty’s parents said throughout Caleb and Misty’s marriage, they struggled to see their daughter on their own. At one point, they said Caleb would not allow Misty to enter her parents’ home because the walls were painted white, which he felt meant there were demons inside. When Misty would visit, the family said they would have to sit on the back porch.
Still, the Mansfields said they were excited to learn that they had a grandchild on the way. However, they were concerned when Misty told them she planned to give birth at home as Caleb wished.
“I said Miss -- I don't think that's a good idea,” Gail said, remembering her conversation with Misty. “ I said I almost died with Misty. I hemorrhaged. My daughter had a breeched birth. Plus, my oldest daughter lost a child.”
Misty told her parents that John Horner’s sisters had delivered all of their babies at home, and that they were midwives.
RELATED | Complete Lee's Summit police investigation http://bit.ly/XeoFwM
Police records state that the couple read books about pregnancy and motherhood and attended the Bradley Method childbirth education classes. The Bradley Method advocates child birth education, but does not advocate unattended births.