After it was revealed last Wednesday that The Voice of the Martyrs' Walter Thomas "Tom" White had been found dead at the Christian ministry's Oklahoma headquarters, it was reported days later that the executive director had possibly committed suicide amid an investigation into allegations that he had molested a young girl.
The Voice of the Martyrs, headed by White as an executive director for more than 20 years, issued a statement last Wednesday, April 18 announcing the married father of two's untimely passing. Two days later, the nonprofit, interdenominational organization acknowledged that White, 64, was being investigated by Oklahoma authorities for allegedly having "inappropriate contact with a young girl."
"Rather than face those allegations, and all of the resulting fallout for his family and this ministry and himself, Tom appears to have chosen to take his own life," the Christian ministry said in an April 20 statement.
It added, "None of those in leadership at VOM, including our Board of Directors, were aware of these allegations at the time of Tom's death. There is no doubt that Tom cared about his wife, his children and his grandchildren. And there's no doubt that he cared about VOM."
A report from The Associated Press revealed this Monday that White had gone missing April 17, the same day the Bartlesville Police Department was alerted to the allegations involving a 10-year-old girl, according to Capt. Jay Hastings.
Thomas R. Holland, Bartlesville's police chief, is listed on the ministry's website as a member of its Board of Directors. Holland confirmed with The Christian Post Tuesday that he is indeed a member of The Voice of the Martyr's board and that he knew White. In an email response to CP's inquiries, Chief Holland deferred other questions regarding the case to Hastings.
The AP also revealed that the police had requested from the Washington County District Court an order to have White's cell phone carrier provide "real time GPS pinging" of his phone in hopes of discovering his whereabouts. Authorities had noted in the document that White "had been reported to have molested a 10-year-old juvenile female" and disappeared as the investigation got underway.
Employees at the ministry gave police a letter discovered in White's vehicle that indicated the executive might have been "suicidal or possibly fleeing to avoid investigation," Hastings said.
"You can take it either way," Hastings added. "It was kind of a goodbye letter. You don't know if he was talking about himself."
The Voice of the Martyrs stated last Friday, "We are deeply saddened by these events. Our hearts are broken."
"However, the work that God has called VOM to do is bigger than any one of us. There are persecuted Christians who need our help. The legal process will go forward, and we will continue serving with our persecuted brothers and sisters.
"We appreciate the many who are praying for our work, and we encourage you to join us in praying for Tom's family during this difficult time, as well as the family of the alleged victim.
Bartlesville investigators were awaiting the results of an autopsy report to determine White's cause of death. It was not immediately known how White may have come in contact with the unidentified girl, nor if she was somehow involved with The Voice of the Martyrs' work.
White worked with the persecution ministry for more than 30 years, and during his time as its executive director, The Voice of the Martyrs "saw incredible growth in its outreach to the worldwide persecuted church," the organization notes.
The ministry, founded in 1967, said on its website that its president, James E. Dau, would issue a statement sometime this week.
A message left with The Voice of the Martyrs Tuesday morning was not returned by time of press. The Christian Post was told that Capt. Jay Hastings, in charge of the Bartlesville Police Department's Investigations Division, would be away from his office Tuesday until later in the afternoon.
- Tom White, Voice of the Martyrs Executive Director, Passes Away