As you may recall, last month, an unusual pattern began to emerge, as authorities began publicly discussing some disconcerting attacks. Local Amish-men have allegedly been waging a so-called war of sorts against one another.
These attacks, though, haven't been your average, run-of-the-mill criminal actions. Rather than physically harming or stealing from their Amish compatriots, some individuals have stormed into homes and viciously cut off the hair and beards of their victims.
This week, authorities reported on yet another attack on an Amish man whose hair and beard were chopped off. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla says that the man was attacked on Wednesday, while visiting his son in the same community where five suspects have already been charged with beard-cutting. "There is no question this was pre-planned," the sheriff said.
The man, who Abdalla said was in his 70s, went to his son's home and the two talked. The man said his son then attacked him, with the help of the son's children, and wrestled him to the ground. The sheriff also said the elderly man's wife tried to help her husband but was held back by her daughter-in-law.
The previous actions were purportedly over religious differences and a split that has occurred among the Amish. Abdalla said the beard-cutting incidents are related to Sam Mullet, leader of the breakaway Amish group in the Bergholz area. The group has had differences with other bishops over the handling of church matters. Mullet told The Associated Press last month that the hair-cutting was a response to criticism of his leadership from other Amish bishops.
"They changed the rulings of our church here, and they're trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we're not going to do that," Mullet said. This latest attack is only the most recent in a string of bizarre behaviors in the community.
The Blaze reported the following last month:
Men and sometimes women from a group of Jefferson County families disavowed by mainstream Amish have terrorized a half-dozen or more fellow Amish, cutting the beards off men and the hair off men and women, the sheriff said. The attacks occurred over the past three weeks in Carroll, Holmes, Jefferson and Trumbull counties, which form the heart of Ohio’s Amish population, one of the nation’s largest.
The Daily Mail expounds upon this information, writing that there were “reports of groups of Amish men yanking victims out of their homes by their beards or bursting into their homes and attacking them with scissors.”
In a more specific report, 27 men purportedly stormed into a home in Holmes County, where they cut the hair off of men and women, alike. This “gang” of men also cut the beards off of the men.
The latest victim has said that he will not press charges, though the sheriff claims that he "begged" him to do so.
While these actions may seem odd to some, it is considered an insult to cut off the beard or hair among the Amish. These religious men typically grow beards as adults and stop trimming them when they marry, and the beards are held in high esteem.
Authorities in other nearby communities and counties are investigating similar incidents, as last month's issues don't appear to be isolated in nature.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.