Twenty years after long time local Russell Johnson escaped a notorious martial arts cult, the death threats are still coming.
Members of Chung Moo Qua, a line of martial arts schools, threatened him, asked him nicely to return to the fold, and harassed him when he refused.
Johnson spent six years investigating them and worked with federal and state law enforcement agencies. The facts he found were used as part of the evidence that sent the founders to prison for conspiracy to commit tax fraud.
"It was a lot like Al Capone," Johnson said. "They knew much more was going on, but that's what they could prove."
Johnson signed a deal with English novelist, Matilda Wren, to write his memoirs, "Deceived."
Chung Moo Quan, also known as Oom Yung Doe, became known in the 1970s, '80s and '90s as a cult of greed and violence, Johnson said.
Johnson, age 50 now, is a successful private investigator. He said he was bullied throughout childhood, and found security and protection in the martial arts fraternity. He calls the following eight years a "journey into a darkness." Brainwashing, deception, and fraud were only the beginning, he said.
Mysterious deaths, cover-ups and physical abuse left him fearing for his life, he said.
He left Chung Moo Quan in 1988 and spent the next 20 years working to expose it as a cult. Cult leader John C. Kim is out of prison and is back in business running cults, Johnson said.
"The single element that makes this a great story is the fact that Russell is still alive to tell it," said filmmaker Barry Caldwell.
Co-author Matilda Wren lives in the UK and is the author of crime thriller "When Ravens Fall." Her new book, "Lowlands," will be released later this year.
"Deceit" is scheduled to be published in 2014 and is expected to be adapted to film based on the life of Russell Johnson.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.