In 1905, in a small town in Missouri, a man named Lucas Derosier confessed in church that, the night before, an angel came to him in his bedroom. He claimed that it watched over him as he slept - a tall, thin bald man, dressed in clothes of a fine material and cut - and that its blank face "horrified and comforted" him with its unchanging serenity.
He was considered a lunatic at the time, but three weeks later, a girl in a nearby town, a girl whose family was of Jewish extraction, was found murdered, her corpse in a disturbing state. Witnesses described a man in the vicinity of her house, fitting the description of the "angel" Lucas Derosier described. He began to preach for himself, describing the angel as God's judgement upon humanity, impartial and unchanged by mortal motivations.
Within two years every other christian denomination in the town was essentially amalgamated into Derosier's new church. They never really tried to expand out from their town, but rather cut it off, discoraging outsiders with their emphasis on moral purity - or rather the moral purity of a group of particularly zealous baptists.
Then, Lucas Derosier stopped appearing in public. His son, Jason, took over congregations using notes which appeared to have been scribbled freshly by Lucas himself, but his own absence from the public eye drew suspicion. Eventually some teenagers broke into the house on a dare and uncovered Lucas - entirely withdrawn from the outside world, his hair and beard long and unkempt, his clothes soiled and worn, scrawling wildly in one of a number of diaries scattered around the room. By the next morning, the word was out that the mighty Mr. Derosier was insane.
The mood in the town was hard to ascertain, but letters from the time describe many people leaving altogether - mostly older citizens who hadn't spent most of their lives being told that the outside was sinners' land. Then, one of the boys who discovered Lucas Derosier died. He was found bludgeoned to death against a house, mutilated in a similar state to that of the Jewish girl and other, more recent deaths of a similar nature. Police notes from the time notice a series of descepancies between this death and the others, but the investigation was eventually dropped - as many of these investigations would be over the decades to follow.
The fear this death inspired ultimately renewed faith in the Derosier's "Church of the Faceless Angels", with the townsfolk insisting upon Lucas' status as a prophet, justifying his madness. All evidence suggests that, in the meantime, his insane scribblings were genuinely preached by Jason; the Derosier's believed what they said.
That's as far as I've gotten. Stonehall was very thorough in his research, as he'd probably have to be; the idea of an entire town sucumbing to the mad dictums of a lunatic is alarming to say the least.
In the meantime, we're on our way to Avondale, Missouri to see this town for ourselves.
I'll have more at a later date.