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Tipsters think missing man from Electric Forest may have joined cult


It’s been three months after he vanished from the Electric Forest music festival in Rothbury. Still, no one has heard from 28-year-old Kevin Graves of Highland Township.
Anyone who has seen or heard from Kevin Graves, or has tips as to his whereabouts, may contact Oakland County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Bach, 248-858-4950. Reference case No. 18-124834. There is also a Facebook page, Help us find Kevin Graves, created by relatives to gather and share information about his disappearance. There is a $10,000 reward for information on his whereabouts.
It’s been three months since he vanished from the Electric Forest music festival in Rothbury.
No one has heard from or reported seeing 28-year-old Kevin Graves of Highland Township in Oakland County.
Several people close to the case, including police and at least one friend who attended the festival with Graves, believe he is still alive; he just doesn’t want to be found.
“It’s hard for us to believe, because he’s not the type of person to just up and disappear that way,” said Graves’ sister Kellie Farley, 37, of Lexington, Kentucky.
$10,000 reward for information on missing man from Electric Forest
Farley continues to diligently search for her brother, mostly by way of the internet and phone calls.
Over the last couple weeks, she’s received an influx of messages, nearly 100, she said, from people speculating Graves may have joined an insulated religious group known as the Twelve Tribes.
Police, who have received similar tips, say there’s no evidence to support that theory.
The fundamentalist Christian faction, deemed by some to be a cult, was formed by leader Elbert Eugene Spriggs in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the 1970s. It now has an estimated 3,000 members living on communes in multiple continents with heavy concentrations in New England and Canada.
The various locations run commercial businesses, such as Yellow Deli cafes or various bakeries and farms operated by Twelve Tribes’ volunteers who aren’t paid, but are provided room and board in exchange.
In Michigan, near Battle Creek, Twelve Tribes operates Bear Creek Farm, a small commune and organic commercial farm in Marshall that sells energy bars, granola and soaps.
Numerous first-hand online accounts, as well as media reports, including this 2013 story that appeared in the New Yorker, discuss the group’s recruiting tactics, which include enticing young adults to join them on one of their two distinct double-decker buses named the Peacemaker and the Peacemaker II.
The buses have been spotted parked at counter-culture musical concerts for decades, including Grateful Dead, Phish, Bob Dylan and Dead and Company tours.
A Reddit user, SinastaColussi, claims to have defected from Twelve Tribes after being a member for eight years, recently writing in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread:
Twelve Tribes go to all sorts of events to evangelize – music festivals, concerts, fairs, etc. They have a history of following particular musicians around, based on their impression of the fans that follow those musicians. Examples of this are: The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Pink Floyd, just to name a few. The Twelve Tribes views fans of these groups as being “seekers”, ready to hear the gospel…
On the rear of the original Peacemaker bus are the words, “We know the way, we’ll bring you home.” Many speculate this is a play on lyrics found in the Grateful Dead song, “Ripple,” in which Jerry Garcia sang, “If I knew the way, I would take you home.”
An inviting sign hung on the entrance to the bus reads “Welcome, please come in,” and there are reports of members inviting passersby to come aboard to talk over a cup of cocoa or tea and cookies.
Those who are receptive may then be asked to visit one of the group’s communal living locations.
“We have a home that you can come to and visit — or stay forever,” the Twelve Tribes website says . “And quite a few of our disciples now living in our communities first met us on the Peacemaker bus.”
Man vanishes from Electric Forest
“People had messaged me that were at the festival and said, ‘Oh, yeah, I saw one of those (buses) up there,'” Farley said. “… My gut was like, this is it.”
Farley has since done some investigation on her own and called the phone number provided on the Twelve Tribes website.
An “extremely nice gentleman,” who said he was located in Denver, Colorado, told Farley he’d called around to the other communities and no one recognized Graves’ name.
MLive reached a woman named Rose — she wouldn’t provide a last name — by calling the toll free number listed on the Twelve Tribes website. She said they “inquired with the people in the area” and no one had responded stating they’d seen Graves.
“Just so you know, when people come in, they don’t disappear off the face of the Earth,” Rose said. “They can communicate with their relatives.”
Farley is now less convinced in the Twelve Tribes theory, but says she plans to make more calls to Twelve Tribes locations this week.
Search for missing man called a ‘recovery effort’
Farley says her brother, a trained mechanic who most recently worked as a machine operator, was on good terms with his family at the time he disappeared and it doesn’t make sense that he would suddenly cut off all communication.
Her last contact with her brother came at 1:55 p.m. on July 1 in a text message that said, “Everything is good. I love you the most.”
About three weeks after the festival, Graves and nearly 20 volunteers scoured the 2,000-acre grounds of Double JJ Resort, where the music festival was held from June 28 to July 1. There was no sign of Graves.
Oakland County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Bach, who is heading the investigation jointly with state police, said troopers also searched the ranch and nearby lakes with no results.
Like Farley, he’s received random tips from people claiming Graves may have joined up with Twelve Tribes, but said there’s no evidence to support the theory.
Bach followed leads from an exotic dancer in Oregon who claims she spotted Graves, and he’s received calls from multiple psychics proclaiming to know the exact coordinates of Graves’ body. Apparent scammers have offered to provide Bach information about Graves’ whereabouts in exchange for first providing them iTunes gift cards.
“I have no evidence to support in any way that anything nefarious happened to him… ” Bach said. “My feeling is he walked away from there; his goal was to be a part of the lore of that festival, of people who disappeared.
“He had discussed that while he was still in Highland Township (prior to leaving the festival).

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