Oric Bovar, the cult leader who was arrested Dec. 8th when he was found trying to revive a follower who had been dead two months, jumped to his death yesterday morning shortly before he was to appear in court on a charge of failing to report a death.
The 59-year-old mystic and astrologer jumped from his 10th-floor apartment at 817 West End Avenue , at 100th Street, leaving a note, the police said. Mr. Bovar was arrested in December with five of his followers who had been praying over the dead member’s body. Mr. Davis said he knew of no basis for reports that Mr. Bovar had asserted that he could jump out of a window and come back without falling.
Mr. Bovar and his friends were arrested in the apartment of Alexandros Hatzitheodorou, 29, at 60 Riverside Drive, at 76th Street. Mr. H had been dead since Oct 9th, the police said, and the group maintained a constant prayer vigil in the expectation that he would revive. Mr. Bovar at one time had 200 followers, including well-known entertainment personalities Bernadette Peters and Carol Burnett have acknowledged knowing Mr. Bovar but they said they had broken off contact with him.
A man of compelling presence to many, Mr. Bovar was said to have undergone a personality change – an emotional breakdown, according to some – about two years ago. When he began telling followers he was Jesus Christ and when he began his attempt at resurrecting Mr. H, some followers left.
The bizarre story of Von Mierers, whose death last year from AIDS spared him a likely prison sentence, brings to mid the even weirder story of Bernadette Peters's guru. In the seventies, Oric Bovar, who was renowned in Broadway circles for his uncannily accurate astrological charts and prescribed meditations that brought inner peace to such disciples as Peters, Carol Burnett, the ever-seeking Marsha Mason, and Neil Simon, became convinced that he was Jesus Christ and claimed that he could endure a year without going to the bathroom. One follower became convinced that Bovar was indeed divine when, during their first telephone conversation, he received an electric shock. On Christmas Eve 1975, Bovar instructed his followers to look up at the sky, and they saw him create a star.
As Bovar went bonkers, some of his followers dropped off, but not Peters. In the summer of 1976, he announced that Christmas would now be celebrated on his birthday, August 29. He began arranging marriages for his devotees--"Someone would come into the room and he would say, 'This is your husband--you must marry him,'" one recalls--and spent his free time watching The Exorcist. He put his followers on strict diets and forbade them to have sex.
Bovar's greatest feat was to have been the resurrection of twenty-nine-year-old Stephanos Hatzitheodorou, a disciple who died of cancer in his New York apartment in the fall of '76. After covering the body with a shawl, Bovar and five disciples kept a vigil over the corpse, chanting, "Rise, Stephan, rise, rise, rise." It was only then that Peters, whom the New York Times called one of Bovar's most loyal devotees, jumped ship. For two months, the group changed over the body, until a woman who identified herself as Mary Magdalene called the cops. His arrest for violating the health code by keeping a decaying corpse in the apartment marked the beginning of the end for Bovar, who was now referring to himself as "my son, Oric Bovar." Hours before he was to answer his doubters, he jumped out a window, intending to appear in resurrected glory in court.
Farnsworth Fowle April 15, 1977 New York Times