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Victims Were Following Their Faith


ORANGE — Joshua Turville earned high grades at El Modena High School, played guitar and varsity tennis, and liked to entertain a circle of close friends in the attic room of his family's rose-lined Orange home.

But what the 20-year-old man, slain along with two roommates this week in Colorado, enjoyed most was spreading the Gospel.

Turville, along with 20-year-old Orange County residents Steven David Bates and John Anthony Lara III, was gunned down Tuesday by a troubled parolee whom they had taken in as a fourth roommate. The three hoped to help their new friend turn his life around by introducing him to religion at the fledgling Calvary Chapel of the Four Corners in Bayfield, Colo.

"I think he really went on fire when he was 13 or 14," Turville's sister, 28-year-old Lisa Rundle, said of her brother Thursday. She spent the morning packing sandwiches for family members who will make the trek to Colorado to pick up her brother's body.

Just a few weeks ago, Turville came home from Bayfield to drop off his old Honda with the "Pray Hard" bumper sticker, buy a new truck and gather his belongings for a permanent move.

"He'd never lived on his own," Rundle said. "He collected a couch, some dishes, loaded it up and drove out. He was just so excited. He never wanted anything else but to do God's work. He really felt that this was his beginning. He was where God wanted him to be."

Like any youth, Turville also had his silly side, sneaking out of his attic room to adorn neighboring homes with toilet paper--and ultimately getting caught when someone found the videotape he and his friends made to show off their exploits.

"Josh ended up having to go over to the guy's house and offer to mow his lawn," Rundle said, laughing.

Josh Turville was the youngest of five children. By age 13, he was already earning money as a bag boy at a local market. His devotion to Christ followed shortly after, Rundle said.

His 26-year-old sister, Shannon Santana, had so much confidence in Josh that she and her husband recently named him to be the guardian of their 4-year-old daughter, Alex, if something were ever to happen to them.

"Josh is in heaven," Alex said Thursday as she smiled in her mother's arms. "I don't know why he died."

The bearded and mild-mannered Turville had a sense of humor about his religious fervor. For instance, he recently shaved a fish, a Christian symbol, into his stomach hair. He could be bold as well, often approaching strangers to preach his beliefs.

"A lot of people probably thought he was a big weirdo," Rundle joked affectionately.

Turville's yearbook photos offer a glimpse into his life--shots of him dancing with his mother at homecoming, sitting next to his girlfriend at a Christian Club meeting, and dressed in a flowered apron and sporting a matching oven mitt at a Christmas sale of household goods.

Members of the Christian Club used their lunch hour once or twice a week to pray, sing and read from the Bible. They also volunteered at convalescent homes and homeless shelters. And Turville's sister said he sometimes went to Hollywood with friends to preach to people on the streets.

Many of those who knew Turville best, although grief-stricken at his death, are reassured that he is now in heaven.

"I'm almost jealous of him--because he's in heaven with God," said Mike Siemers, 21, of Tustin. "If you're a Christian, I think that's what you'd have to feel."

Siemers was one in a cluster of Turville's friends who met in an "accountability group," confessing their sins and praying together.

"But it's still hard," Siemers said. "I'm never going to be able to hug him again."

Killed along with Turville were the two other former El Modena students: Bates, who recently packed up his fishing rods and camping gear to join his boyhood friends in Colorado; and Lara, who shared Turville's devout Christian beliefs. Turville had recruited his friends to join him in Bayfield.

El Modena High School counselor Nick Buford worked with Bates until the youth left the school in his junior year. He remembered the teen as an honor student who loved English and the humanities, played a good game of basketball, and hoped to be a coach one day.

"He had quite a bit of talent on the basketball court," Buford said. "He played ball with a certain gusto and relish. You can tell more about a kid from watching him in his element."

Bates hit a period of "bumpiness" in high school, Buford said, and was often absent.

But Buford's and Bates' family said the young man was growing out of a difficult phase and had high aspirations. He and his father--a Rancho Santiago College biology professor--shared "a very close bond," Buford said, and enjoyed the outdoors together.

"I'm immensely sorry to hear about his tragic death, but I'm happy that after his troubles passed, he was on his way up," Buford said.

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