Twins described as rebellious

Chattanooga Times
Bill Casteel
December 29, 1979
The Oakland, Calif., twins who spent four years in the Vine Christian Community here before being “rescued” and “deprogrammed” last week have a history of running away from home, Joyce Henrikson, a neighbor of the twins and the sister of church leader Gene Springs, told the Times Friday.
Mrs. Henrikson said that Kirsten and Johanna Nielsen, 20, had been very rebellious and frequently ran away from home.  She said they were often placed in juvenile homes in Oakland.
“They rebelled, and their mother may have clamped down on them hard,” she said.  “I always liked the girls, but kids got a little wilder out here, where we are right next to Berkeley, than they did in Chattanooga.”
In a telephone interview, Mrs. Henrikson said the twins’ younger brothers, Eric and Peter, also had some problems and often stayed in the Henrikson home.  She said both of the boys appear to have solved their problems.
Mrs. Henrikson said she and the twins were friends and that when when Kirsten told her of plans to run away again four years ago.  “I told her if she was near Chattanooga to look up my brother, ‘that he has a place were she could get a free meal and a place to stay.”
Kirsten did get near Chattanooga, and she looked up Spriggs.  She said she was impressed with what she saw and heard at the Yellow Deli and in the church homes.  Soon, she telephoned her sister and encouraged her to come to Chattanooga.
“Johanna was living on Sunset Strip when Kirsten got in touch with her,” Mrs. Henrikson said.
During a visit here last year, Mrs. Henrikson saw the twins.  “They didn’t look any different than before, except they talked about the Lord all the time.  They seemed to be very happy.”
She said the twins’ parents had seemed to accept their daughters’ new way of life.  She said they seemed relieved that they had some place to live and be cared for.
When the Nielsen’s left Oakland several days ago, Mrs. Henrikson said she thought they were just coming to Chattanooga for the scheduled weddings of the twins.
“I had visited them earlier, and they seemed pretty happy about the girls,” she said.
But, she added, “I guess when they realized they were marrying fellows in the church they figured they would never get them back home again.”
The weddings, one scheduled for Dec. 20, the other for Christmas day, never took place.  When the Nielsen’s arrived in Chattanooga Ted Patrick accompanied them.  Patrick is a former Chattanoogan whose profession is “deprogramming.”
The twins were picked up on Kirsten’s wedding day under the guise of going shopping.  Instead, they were taken to a house in East Ridge where the door knobs were removed and the windows nailed shut.
For three days Patrick and members of the Neilsen family worked with the twins.
Last Wednesday they held a press conference to denounce Spriggs and his church.

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