Overcomer Ministry death being investigated

The Press and Standard/May 31, 2002
By Libby Roerig

The Colleton County Coroner's Office is waiting for the toxicology report on a Georgia man who died Tuesday evening at the Overcomer Ministry in Canadys.

An autopsy revealed Stanley Crawford Bean, 27, died of cerebral herniation, according to Chief Deputy Coroner Willard Long.

Bean, who had been living at the religious community for about a year and a half, had a history of seizure-like symptoms.

"It's been going on for awhile," Long said. "They said he was having two or three a day for 10 to 15 minutes at a time."

In the weeks proceeding his death, fellow community members say Bean had been complaining of losing his vision, Long said. Tuesday night, witnesses say Bean started vomiting and felt weak.

"They helped him to his bed," Long said.

"They said he felt real hot like he had a fever." Because the community does not believe in medical care, Bean was not taken to a physician.

"They don't believe in doctors and medication," said Long.

Bean did not have an actual seizure before his death, witnesses told Long. At 10:50 p.m., Bean simply stopped breathing while he was sleeping, according to community members. Law enforcement was not notified until the following morning at approximately 9:30.

Bean's family members say he was not being treated for seizures or having any other medical problems before moving to the Overcomer Ministry, Long said.

The leader of this community Ralph Gordon Stair, 69, is currently being held without bond at the Colleton County Detention Center on two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree and two counts of breach of trust.

Stair, who is a self-proclaimed prophet, preaches over AM and short-wave radio and short-wave radio and the audience of followers. Additionally, he has nearly 100-person community known as the Overcomer Ministry in Canadys.

The breach of trust charges are brought by a North Carolina couple who lived on the farm in 2000. They say they gave the preacher nearly $30,000. to be invested, but after they left, the couple said the money disappeared.

Two girls are bringing the criminal sexual conduct charges against their former minister, as they claim Stair had sex with them over 70 times against their will.

Stair's legal representation includes Colleton-native Joenathan Chaplin, and his brother Matthias.

Though a bond hearing has not been scheduled at this time, Stair will have the opportunity to file for another one during the July term of General Sessions court.

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