FROM THE BIG HOUSE TO GOD'S HOUSE

HE HELPED MASTERMIND A MAJOR GOLD FRAUD IN FLORIDA. SO WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING AT A CHURCH IN GLENDALE

On the morning of July 15, 1984, police called to the house found a naked Doyle standing in the front yard with a knife and Bill Alderdice dead from a dozen stab wounds. Bill was 40 years old. Jim had been cut in several places before he was able to force Doyle out of the house.

Jim Alderdice claimed that Bill and Doyle had quarreled because Doyle had taken the car and brought a woman to the house without first asking permission. The fracas makes no sense by any account, and certainly not in good-Christian circles. Doyle claimed he had broken up a fight between the brothers, then gone into Bill's room to get his bathing suit when Bill went berserk.

"There was one theory that the murder was really orchestrated by the mob to pay [Bill] off for having lost their money or something," Pasano says. Jim, to this day, thinks that his life may be in danger, that "people" may still be looking for him, but whether he means the people who killed Bill or other people the brothers swindled is unclear.

Pasano characterizes Jim Alderdice as "the quiet one," the faithful follower. "Jim may well have believed his brother, Bill, and therefore, I can have a lot more charity in my heart for him." If he had gone to trial, he could have gotten 166 years in prison for the New York counts alone. Instead, he copped a plea to a handful of charges in each jurisdiction, and was sentenced to two five-year sentences to be served concurrently. On June 3, 1985, he surrendered to the Federal Correctional Institute in Tallahassee, Florida, where he arduously studied the Bible.

If Bill had thought himself a man of God, in death, Jim elevated him to sainthood.

"Bill Alderdice was one of the greatest men to walk the face of this planet," Jim said in his eulogy for his brother, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. "Jesus Christ walked this planet some 2,000 years ago for 33 years. He spoke the truth and they murdered him.

"Bill Alderdice walked this planet for the last 40 years. He spoke the truth and they murdered him."
He finished the eulogy by saying, "In the name of God, our father. In the name of Jesus Christ. In the name of Bill Alderdice."

When Jim got out of prison in 1989, the Lord called him to Glendale, Arizona, to follow yet another man who has been called "Christlike."

@rule:
@body:The Reverend Philip V. Sturgeon, pastor of the former First Assembly of God of Glendale, takes the pulpit of a rented chapel. He's a tall and slender man, immaculately dressed, with dark hair arranged neatly over a receding hairline.

Jim Alderdice sits in the front pew with his wife and infant son.
The day's Gospel is from the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 10. ". . . We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all," Sturgeon reads.

After a rustle of Bible pages, a couple of rereadings, Sturgeon smiles down on his congregation. "Isn't that a powerful piece of Scripture?" he asks. "It talks about a man. . . ." He pauses a beat. "And not just a man, but Jesus."

"Hallelujah!" cries a voice from the front row: Jim Alderdice.
Sturgeon is a masterful speaker with a smooth, well-modulated voice that he plays like a musical instrument. He builds his sermon to a slow crescendo: ". . . No matter what your background has been, no matter what your past history--his kingdom, this Jesus, this man, offered himself through his blood, once for all of us, and then sat down on the right hand of God the father."

"Hallelujah," Alderdice calls out.
"Praise the Lord," Sturgeon booms. "Praise the Lord!"
It's a message for the troubled, and Lord, there have been troubled folks here: a woman who shot and killed her abusive husband in self-defense; a family with a son in prison. Sturgeon ministers warmly to them all. Congregation members past and present exclaim, "Brother Sturgeon saved my life," their voices cracking with emotion, their eyes brimming with tears--even if they won't divulge their past transgressions.

The message in the Scripture, after all, is that Jesus died for their sins, and if they have Jesus in their hearts, then all is forgiven.

"When they portrayed Father Flanagan with Spencer Tracy, that was Hollywood stuff," says Sturgeon's karate instructor, Barry Bernstein. "But I would say in real life, if there was a Father Flanagan-type person, it would be Phil."
Bernstein was so taken with Sturgeon that he asked the evangelist preacher to officiate at his wedding, even though Bernstein is Jewish. "He is such a genuinely Christlike person," Bernstein gushes. "I can't think of another parallel."

Of course, Bernstein never met Bill Alderdice.
How fitting that the prodigal son, Jim Alderdice, should have landed in this heart of Christian forgiveness. Sometime between his arrest and his release from prison, Jim reconnected with an old friend from high school, Sharri Romero, who owns a gift shop in Glendale. When Jim got out of jail, he married her--Phil Sturgeon officiated, of course, because he was the pastor of her church here--and Alderdice settled into his new life, eventually being named youth minister of the First Assembly of God of Glendale. Jim's mother, who also lives in Glendale, says he is taking correspondence courses to get his ministerial credentials.

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