Did religious fast, prophecy have link to strange death?

Posted by: Andee / Category:

Did religious fast, prophecy have link to strange death?

Inquest probes Aurora pastor's statement, hospital minister's tip and Missouri church found online

November 15, 2007

A Kane County coroner's inquest did little to clear up the strange death of 28-year-old Gloria Hahn.

The former East Aurora High School teacher died in July at the end of a two-week fast she undertook for reasons that are, at best, unclear.

Since then, friends and co-workers have wondered what killed the popular art teacher.

The mystery only deepened after Wednesday's inquest, when the jury heard stories about fasting, prophecies and the International House of Prayer.

At 2 a.m. on July 21, Hahn was found on her back at the front door of her family's house in the 1700 block of Liberty Street. Paramedics were called, and she was taken to Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, where she never recovered.

An autopsy revealed she had more than four times the maximum therapeutic level of valporic acid in her system -- a substance commonly found in anti-depression medications.

Kane County Deputy Coroner Lisa Gilbert said it's not clear what those levels mean. It could be signs of an overdose, or the medicine could have accumulated in her body, which did not metabolize the acid because of the fasting.

"Her system after two weeks is starting to shut down," Gilbert said. "It's starting to go into organ failure."

Hahn's official cause of death was pneumonia that had invaded the lungs in her malnourished 5-foot-5, 115-pound body.

After a long discussion, the coroner's jury ruled Hahn's death an accident.

But after Hahn died, a minister from Rush-Copley called the coroner's office. According to Gilbert, the hospital minister said the family was telling him information he thought might be relevant to the death investigation.

The hospital minister said about two years ago an Aurora pastor told Hahn that a prophecy declared she would marry his son but that she had to fast for two weeks, Gilbert testified. At the end of that two weeks, the pastor said marriage was not in the prophecy after all, Gilberts testified.

In 2006, Hahn left her alma mater and began worshiping at the International House of Prayer, a Kansas City, Mo., church she found online, according to her mother. The organization is known for a 24-hour prayer room, where hundreds sing, fast and study the Bible.

According to Gilbert, the family lost contact with Hahn during that time. Hahn told friends she often slept during the day so she could pray through the night.

At some point while she was in Kansas City, the Aurora pastor contacted Hahn again, Gilbert said. Again, the pastor -- who was not named at the inquest -- told Hahn a prophecy said she would marry his son, but she had to fast for two weeks.

During that fast, in which Hahn ingested only water, her family somehow became aware Hahn's health was failing, Gilbert said. Hahn's mother went to Kansas City and brought her back to Aurora. Hahn died a few days later.

Hahn's mother, Taeim, is a Korean native who speaks broken English. After the inquest, she said she felt her daughter's death was God's work.

"I said OK to God," she said. "If you take her, that's OK, but it seemed like she had work to do. She had a lot of potential, and I miss it.

"She's so beautiful, so beautiful. Very pretty girl. I say that 10 times daily."

Taeim did not know who had told the hospital about the prophecies.

"Maybe they want to make some gossip," she said. "Before she was dead, she was very happy. I never suspect anything to happen."

Since her daughter's death, Taeim has received hundreds of messages from Hahn's co-workers, friends and college classmates.

"I can't send a thank-you note to every person," Taeim said, crying. "I just bless every person."