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Missing Pastor Resurfaces 27 Years Later as Arkansas Mayor

Don LaRose, now Ken Williams, says kidnappers have pursued him for more than three decades.

Don LaRose's family members found Ken Williams's website interesting.

Williams, the mayor of Centerton, Arkansas, launched the website DonLaRose.com in March. The site told how LaRose, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Maine, New York, had been kidnapped in 1975, apparently by members of a satanic cult. Three months later, LaRose resurfaced in Minneapolis as a homeless alcoholic who called himself Bruce Williams. When confronted with his identity as LaRose, he claimed amnesia, reunited with his family, and moved to Hammond, Indiana. In 1980, he vanished again, claiming that his kidnappers had threatened his family.

The mayor's DonLaRose.com narrative ends with the former pastor traveling around the country working odd jobs, eventually traveling to Israel.

Williams runs another website, KenWilliamsMinistries.org. It begins with a trip to Israel. That's not the only similarity between the two sites.

Both websites are written in the first person.

Ken Williams is Donald LaRose. In Indiana, he left behind two daughters and a wife, who remarried seven years after he disappeared. He is married to another woman in Centerton.

After determining that Williams ran the website, two members of LaRose's family contacted reporters at The Benton County Daily Record in Bentonville, Arkansas. When the reporters confronted him, Williams repeatedly denied that he was LaRose, then finally admitted it. On Wednesday, he resigned as mayor. Since his admission, he has made several updates and changes to DonLaRose.com.

Coverage of LaRose includes:

A Minister is Missing | Donald LaRose: Victim or victimizer? Plus: The Finding of a Minister (Christianity Today, February 13 and March 12, 1976)
Double life | Centerton mayor is pastor who disappeared in 1980 (The Benton County Daily Record, Nov. 21)
Being Don LaRose | The story of Don LaRose reads like a script for an old made-for-television movie—Satanism, brainwashing, kidnapping and assumed identity (The Benton County Daily Record, Nov. 21)
A life in his own words | An excerpt from DonLaRose.com. Williams admitted to writing the story but said some of the account is fictional or slightly inaccurate. (The Benton County Daily Record, Nov. 21)
Missing ex-Hammond pastor found after nearly 30 years (The Times, Nov. 21)
Why not contact family? | What Lee Roy Floyd can't figure out is, why would the pastor of a church leave behind his wife and two kids and never contact them again? (The Times, Nov. 21)
Grandson skeptical of 'missing' pastor's motives | "This has caused a big turmoil in the family with this coming out and everything, and I just cannot give out any information," said LaRose's sister-in-law (The Times, Nov. 22)
The two reappearances of Don LaRose | A timeline (The Benton County Daily Record, Nov. 22)
Centerton mayor resigns | "What happened in 1980 — whether it was right or wrong what I did — I did it under threat for the safety of my family and for our own survival," he says (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nov. 22)
Williams resigns as mayor (The Benton County Daily Record, Nov. 22)
Man on the run | Williams said he will continue to use the name of Ken Williams and plans to stay in Centerton with his wife, Pat, and maybe even serve on city boards, commissions or in a volunteer position (The Benton County Daily Record, Nov. 22)
Possible Williams probe could provide many turns | Any investigation of Ken Williams' use of a dead man's identity would include a check of whether federal and state laws dealing with fraud, taxes and election documents were violated, officials said (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nov. 22)
Williams tells story on KURM | It's very clear the former Centerton mayor now has no reservations about telling the story to local or national media (The Benton County Daily Record, Nov. 24)
Should runaway pastor pay costs? | Hammond police may consider trying to recoup money spent on investigating the 1980 disappearance of a Hammond pastor who resurfaced last week under an assumed identity in Arkansas (The Times, Nov. 24)

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