Sect Leader Denies Drop in Commune Residents

Tony Alamo, leader of an unorthodox Christian sect, has begun distributing tracts in Los Angeles that deny reports that his commune in a remote Saugus canyon has been reduced to a skeleton crew.

“We’re still up there,” said Alamo, who called the story of the group’s departure, which was circulated across the country, “just another L.A. lie.”

Some neighbors said few of Alamo’s followers remain at the commune. That is in marked contrast to the summer of 1987 when dozens of newcomers began moving into Alamo’s buildings, which are scattered up and down the Sierra Highway.

It is impossible to determine exactly how many adherents live in the commune because the group is secretive. And Alamo traditionally has refused to divulge the numbers.


However, the group is still holding nightly services at its church on the Sierra Highway. A bus picks up runaways, the unemployed and others in Hollywood each night to bring them to services and give them a hot supper.

Alamo also has retained an engineering firm to obtain a permit from Los Angeles County to establish a mobile-home court in Saugus, according to a spokesman for the firm.

Meanwhile, officials say they have not noticed an influx of newcomers at Alamo’s other major compound in Alma, Ark. But Bill Grill, sheriff-elect of Arkansas’ Crawford County, noted that it is difficult to get a count on the Alamo followers because they frequently travel between Arkansas, Tennessee and California.