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Body found in submerged car followed a cult leader in 1989

UPDATE 2/2/21: Brenda Berbers death was ruled a suicide by authorities.

A vehicle found in the Muscoot Reservoir off Route 100 is believed to be connected to the disappearance of Brenda K. Berber, who went missing in 1989, reports Berber, 40, from Oregon went missing on October 8, 1989 from Alex Drive in the Rosedale section of White Plains, New York.

Brenda was last seen near the Katonah Fire Station asking for directions on Sept 28, 1989. She was on her way to see her friend, Tony Chester, in Mount Kisco. No verification if she made it there or not. Tony talked with Brenda again on Oct. 1, 1989. No clarification whether it was by phone or in person. She went missing 7 days later.

Brenda Berber

Her parents stated that in 1987 Brenda had become involved with a cult leader, Frederick P. Lenz, III, who went by Zen Master Rama. She left Oregon with Tony and left behind her second husband that she was divorced from and her two children.

Her parents Jim and Dorotha Barratt, followed her trail and found she had gotten a computer job with Orion Films in New York but was fired. In the diary she left behind she talked about Frederick Lenz and how she owed him money. Lenz would charge seminars between $1000 to $1500 dollars each. She also said in her diary that Lenz “was cold” to her. Berber found a job as a waitress to support herself, but likely would not have been enough money for her to continue to pay Lenz.

To read more about Brenda and her disappearance read: “The Disappearance of Brenda Kerber by Jim and Dorotha Barratt”

One of her entries in her diary was, “Rama is my true love. He makes me feel like an ass. This is the end of the fairy tale. Good night.”

When she disappeared she left behind her personal belongings including two diaries. Her father felt that she was likely dead because of that, “No one wants another to read his or her personal diary,” he said. Her Ford station wagon was also missing.

When Jim and Dorotha asked Lenz about Brenda, he said that he didn’t know her.

Patty Hammond

Patty Hammond was also a waitress and she was also having trouble paying Lenz. She went missing leaving her car behind at her apartment in Reston.

Tony Chester

Toney Chester moved with Brenda from California to New York. He told police that when he saw Brenda in October 1989, she seemed to be under a lot of stress.

Frederick Lenz

Frederick Lenz, 48, was found deceased in April 13, 1998 in his home in Consciences Bay on Long Island. His body was found in 20 feet of water. He either fell or jumped off the dock wearing his deceased dog’s collar.

Previously, Lenz and an unnamed female tried to kill themselves on April 11 by taking large amounts of Valium. Lenz went out on dock at his home and fell into the water which resulted in his death. The woman was taken to the hospital and survived.

Lenz had written two books, “Surfing the Himalayas” and “Snowboarding to Nirvana.” He also did computer seminars where he charged attendees $3,500.

“I am a Buddhist,” Frederick P. Lenz III, told The Washington Post. “I have never physically or psychologically abused a person in my life. I am a Buddhist.”

Ex followers of the Rama, stated he was a con man and made them sever ties with their family’s and used them for sex.

Jim and Dorotha, Brenda’s parents have both passed away.

The vehicle which was a 1980’s station wagon that matches the vehicle that Brenda was driving was fished out of the Muscoot Reservoir in Somers on Tuesday after being found during a state environmental study, reported.

Confirmation who the remains positively belong to are pending forensic examination.

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