By: Maha Mantra Dasa
SUN: Tirtha was caught primarily due to his phone calls being tapped by police when he was calling asking about where his money was so he could get out of the country (while I was in West Virginia as a witness, I heard from other witnesses what was going on in the courtroom). That recording was played to the jury during at least one trial. I believe Tirtha made one statement regarding that "it was if they wanted him to get caught.”
One thing Tirtha said in the car we were in when observing the high-desert's unique body-hiding scenery was that he felt himself a low-class devotee, and that he felt that by killing Sulochana that he would be doing his guru a valuable service.
The letter about Sulochana asking for those with a kshatriya type spirit to help him kill the "gurus" was seen by Rameshvara and his remark was "does anyone take this guy seriously.” That was kind of how I thought about it when I was first showed it by Krishna Katha. It wasn't until I was told that Sulochana had been seen in the LA Temple restaurant wearing a disguise and carrying a weapon that I paid any attention to what apparently was very alarming in a way to Krishna Katha (he was the "temple guard" in LA.) So, I very vaguely remember the letter, it was two pages I believe, and it gave some argument why any devotee with such a spirit should help kill the gurus.
I also heard stories about Sulochana (these coming from Tirtha through KK to me) that Sulochana had been in contact with the pipe-wielding attacker of Bhaktipada, and had later remarked that that person should have used a high-powered rifle. Whether someone was creating these things to gain support for some motive beyond protecting gurus, I don't know, but Rameshvara obviously thought that the letter was from Sulochana. And maybe it was.
I also heard a story that Sulochana had been kicked out of New Vrindavan because he was taking cocaine, and then after Sulochana's wife was re-married to another devotee, Sulochana became determined to retaliate against Bhaktipada. I don't know what may have been truth or not, back then I was pretty believing in ISKCON devotees. Also, I'm not just now coming forward, I told everything I knew in three trials on the stand (the fourth I didn't testify [at] because the trial was cut short by Kirtanananda's plea-bargaining), and to many devotees over the years. I'm only writing anything here because I know the importance of truth. Without truth things can't be made better.
In the last trial, Tirtha began describing how he had killed a woman who wasn't related to ISKCON. He stated that he no longer wished to cover for Kirtanananda because of Tirtha's hearing about Kirtanananda's child molesting. When Tirtha said that, the judge told the jury to forget they heard that, and it wasn't long after that that Kirtanananda's lawyers stopped the trial and plea-bargained with the judge. I was told by Krishna Katha later that it had become apparent that Tirtha was a mass-murderer.
Tirtha had described his activities as being a "mole" in Vietnam, someone that would crawl down into the tunnels of the Vietcong to kill them. He had told this history on the stand before describing murders he had committed, I think three in all. The New Vrindavan phones were tapped due to a previous murder to Sulochana. Tirtha had been chasing Sulochana for several or maybe six months, and was getting anxious to finish his mission, whereas Janmashtami was certainly more cool and could wait and not do something and get caught.
As for the government being involved, that is possible. There's a book that was written by the president of the National Rifle Association, something like "guns and freedom" wherein there is a chapter on Waco Texas and the Branch Davidians, describing the BATF/FBI massacre. In it, Lapierre states that he had talked with a BATF agent who said that if Waco would have gone "well", then, the Hare Krishna Temple in West Virginia was to be next. Waco was in 1993, and Sulochana’s murder was in 1986, so maybe there is some connection, maybe not.