NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Police in coastal Kenya found 15 emaciated parishioners on the property of a church pastor, and four of the people died after the group was rescued and taken to a hospital, authorities said.
Police officials said investigators received a tip that dozens of people were starving to death after their pastor told them it was a way to meet Jesus. Most of the followers could not walk or talk when officers found them.
The pastor of Good News International Church, Paul Makenzi, surrendered Friday to police in the town of Malindi.
Makenzi was arrested and charged last month in the deaths of two children whose parents were members of his church. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bond while proceedings in the case continued.
The people who died Friday have not been identified, and their bodies were taken to a morgue in Malindi.
Residents had complained to local authorities about the pastor, accusing him of fostering growing cultism in the area. Cults are common in Kenya which has a largely religious society.
Police received information about a possible mass grave on the pastor’s property, but initial searches did not locate one.
Investigations are ongoing, according to Malindi sub-county police boss John Kemboi.