Jonathan died a fully preventable death on February 1, 2011, after doing an extended water fast at Tanglewood in Panama. He was just 33 years old.
Jonathan was an incredibly hard worker who always had goals in life that he was attaining. He bought his first condo when he was 18, with a down payment of money he’d saved while working during high school. He got a couple of roommates to pay rent, and worked full time while putting himself through college. He knew where he wanted to be in life. What he didn’t know was that working so hard while living on junk food would take a toll on his health.
When he began having health problems, he turned his skills to researching what was going on. He educated himself on how to live and eat in a very healthy way, so as to be able to continue living the life he wanted. He found that eating fats particularly affected him, and so eliminated pretty much all fats. He was 27 when I met him, eating a vegan, gluten free, very low-fat diet. He had just bought his second condo, and was renting out the first one. He was enjoying life, working full time, and climbing 14,000 foot mountains in the summertime. Occasionally his digestive issues would flare up slightly, but it wasn’t really a big deal.
We married in 2006, and bought our dream house up in the mountains, at 8,400′ elevation. We traveled extensively in the USA, and we were starting to make some international trips as well. Visiting someplace in each of the 50 states, as well as all National Parks, were some of our goals, and we were well on our way. Jonathan continued to do lots of strenuous hiking, more than I could do. He bought his first DSLR camera in 2009, and was enjoying his nature photography so much that we speculated as to whether he could eventually quit his job and make a living at it. We were active in our community, and were starting to attend adoption education classes so as to start a family.
There have been allegations made that what happened to him was somehow his fault, that he had been depressed for years or had some sort of mental issues. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’d both had difficult upbringings, and we could not believe our good fortune that our hard work had led to living the life of our dreams together.
In July of 2010, for no apparent reason that either of us could discern, his digestive issues flared up again, worse than they’d been since I’d known him. He’d been learning about the amazing benefits of doing extended water fasting, and wondered if perhaps doing one might give his digestive system time to rest and heal, and he would finally be done with this issue forever. If so, there would be nothing we couldn’t accomplish together!
I told him that I would, of course, support him if this was what he wanted to do. But I wanted him to go somewhere where he would be supervised by people with experience in extended water fasts, who would know how to handle things and would know what to do if anything went wrong. He decided on Tanglewood in Panama. It sounded safe, we saw nothing online that would raise any concerns, and he would get to enjoy some beautiful tropical scenery during the midst of our Colorado winter.
By the time December rolled around, he was doing just fine, health wise, again. He told me that if he were making the decision now, he probably wouldn’t go. Life was busy, we were under contract for purchasing another rental property, and he wasn’t feeling as if he needed it like he had 4 or 5 months earlier. But all the arrangements were made and paid for, and he did think it would still be really good for him in the long run, so he decided to go through with it.
On December 18, he arrived in Panama and began a 32 day water fast at Tanglewood, under Loren Lockman’s supervision. He did well during the fast, resting a lot but also doing a bit of his favorite things, exploring and taking photos. He began “refeeding” on January 19th. He felt amazingly wonderful. He described things that sounded like a “high” to me, and I cautioned him that it was probably temporary. On the evening of January 25th, he crashed. He had vivid hallucinations that night, believing that he was physically ascending, being physically taken to heaven (which our religion does not teach at all), before being rejected by God and descending again. It was intense, it was beautiful, it was awful, it was terrifying. The ascending and descending cycles happened several times. He tried to make sense of it. He called his roommate over to hold him down on his bed, to keep him from ascending and descending. The roommate later said that he did come over to hold his hand, but it just looked like he was in a trance. Jonathan then said that when he woke up, he was outside in the grass. Somehow, though, he made it through the rest of that night.
Reconstructing Jonathan’s last day
It is unbelievable to me that, with all of the obvious symptoms, Jonathan was simply abandoned at the end of the day. It is also unbelievable to me that none of these things triggered the slightest alarm so as to at least warrant an email or a phone call to me, much less some serious medical care or hospitalization.
At breakfast, according to Loren, Jonathan stood up and began taking off all of his clothes and walking out. Jonathan was such a modest individual that he would never so much as dance in public – one of his requests for our wedding was that there would be no dancing. (We had an outdoor picnic style reception instead.) He would never have taken off his clothes in public, had he been in his right mind.
One faster who was there reported that he was “acting really weird”, and “pacing around the property with his laptop in his hand opened” for up to 40 minutes. Jonathan was clinging to lucidity, doing his best to make sense of what was happening to him. It is possible that during this pacing session, he was composing the email that he sent to me that day. He described in detail his intense experiences (hallucinations) of the previous night, and he told me that he was going to die and that he loved me. He sent the email at about 10am that day. I did not see it for a few hours, but wrote back around 2pm, assuring him of my love and saying, among other things, that he should talk to Loren about the trance and convulsions in the context of a physical reaction to the re-feeding.
In the meantime, Jonathan had left the grounds, hiking around. He missed the midday meals, and came back scratched and bloodied. He said he’d fallen. (When his belongings were returned to me, the laptop was missing. It’s possible it was lost during this midday accident.) There was a 911 call placed from Jonathan’s cell phone at 1:20pm, but it doesn’t appear to have connected.
Jonathan did, in fact, tell Loren about his visions, and how God was going to kill him. Somehow, even this didn’t alarm Loren, and Loren wrote to me later that he “tried to convince him that God would never hurt or kill his own child” and that Jonathan did not seem “entirely in touch with reality”. He also said that he “strongly encouraged him to get himself home to you and seek some professional counseling”. Loren appears to have become convinced, at this point, that Jonathan must have had some sort of history of mental issues, and that this information had been withheld from Loren. He was completely blaming Jonathan, and still trying to reason with him, rather than recognizing that this was a psychosis state brought on within the past 24 hours by the fast and refeeding.
Jonathan was likely terrified, but determined to leave Tanglewood, as he didn’t want his death to happen there. He was still, as he always was, thinking of others before himself, and didn’t want to cause trouble for Tanglewood. He left again, with his backpack, and Loren intercepted him and convinced him to come back and eat dinner, spend the night there, and told him that he could “leave in the morning if he insisted on going (hoping that he would wake up and feel differently about leaving in the am)”. Loren still thought this was just some whim that could be slept off, rather than a serious medical crisis! Jonathan agreed to come back, but refused to eat anything.
At this point, Loren still had not notified me of any unusual behavior. I had just had the one bizarre email from Jonathan, which I had replied to, but had not heard anything back. My uneasiness about not yet receiving a reply was growing, and around 9pm I finally sent a text to Jonathan’s cell phone (something we’d agreed not to do, due to the cost of using the phone internationally), saying simply, “I’m worried about you.” No reply.
After his (uneaten) dinner, Jonathan apparently tried to leave at least two more times. Loren says he finally grabbed a blanket and laid down outside of his room. At about 10:30pm, Jonathan tried to leave again, insisting he needed to leave the center and would sleep at the bus stop. Loren told him that would not be safe, and so Jonathan asked about a hotel nearby. So after a full 24 hours of bizarre, psychosis-type behavior, including telling Loren of his hallucinations, Loren felt it was completely appropriate to treat Jonathan as a normal, rational human being, and he agreed to drive Jonathan to the hotel and drop him off there by himself.
I began receiving text messages from Jonathan at about 11pm. Finally a reply! But some of them were garbled, and in the others he was telling me how he was the worst person in the world and had committed many sins against the holy spirit. I texted back how he most certainly was not the worst person in the world, and that I loved him, but he again went silent. Had I known he was alone, I would undoubtedly have called him and tried (probably unsuccessfully) to talk him down or get some help for him. But as far as I knew, he was still safely at Tanglewood, still safely being supervised, and I did not wish to disturb his roommate at 1am. I then wrote an email to the Tanglewood office, letting them know what was happening (thinking that they must not be aware, or they would have contacted me), and telling them that Jonathan was crashing and begging them to help him!
Loren responded to my email at 7:18am the following morning, and told me much of the events of the previous day, including that he had taken Jonathan to a hotel. I was alarmed that Jonathan had been left alone in such a psychosis state, but Loren assured me that he would take some food to the hotel in a while and “see how he’s doing”, and that he would “encourage him to come back and relax until Saturday morning” (when Jonathan was scheduled to fly home).
At 8:10am, Loren called me on the phone, telling me that Jonathan was missing. His hotel room door was open, all of his belongings were on the bed, and the bed had not been slept in. I immediately texted Jonathan, “Where are you?” There was no reply.
At 8:58am, on January 28, Loren texted me that Jonathan had been found. He had hurt himself, but Loren had called an ambulance and thought he would be okay. Jonathan was at the bottom of an outdoor concrete staircase, with severe head trauma. When his belongings were returned to me, my last two text messages to him (12:40am and 8:10am) had never been read. For over eight hours, Jonathan was alone and unaccounted for. He had likely been lying at the bottom of the staircase for much of that time.
Jonathan was completely failed by Tanglewood and by Loren Lockman, who ignored, normalized, and rationalized his psychosis symptoms for over 24 hours before leaving him, alone and unsupervised, at a nearby hotel.
I quickly arranged to leave, and caught a flight to Panama that evening. Jonathan was taken by ambulance to Panama City, to the best trauma center in the country. They had to stop along the way to stabilize him (apparently his heart stopped for some minutes), and the normally 2 hour drive from Bejuco took around 4 hours. I arrived the next morning, and spent as much time as I could at the hospital with him, but he never woke from his coma. He died at 8:40am on February 1, 2011. As per his wishes, his ashes were scattered on the top of Longs Peak, his favorite 14,000 ft mountain, that summer.
22 thoughts on “Jonathan’s Story”
I came across your post about your deceased husband on 30 BaD just now. I’m not a member of 30 Bananas a Day, nor do I post there, however I have been an on-again, off-again lurker for the last 6-7 years. Your husband’s premature and untimely death at Loren Lockman’s fasting retreat is very disconcerting, to say the least. I have read about other people dying under strange circumstances during these fasting retreats. Anyone who reads your website should definitely reconsider travelling abroad and participating in prolonged fasts!
This Loren Lockman is definitely a sketchy character and in my opinion, he is partially culpable in your husband’s death. I am surprised he didn’t face any civil or criminal repercussions for what he did. Mind boggling, really! If he didn’t apologize to you after what he did, he ought to be ashamed. What a sorry excuse for a human being.
It’s late here now, almost 4 AM, so I’ll just finish this by saying God rest your husband’s soul and God bless you!
Shit happen people. Loren Could NOT keep him against his wishes. I have a question for you. How many people are dying under the “Hospital supervision” or medical malpractice? I do not work for Loren or Tanglewood, or getting payed by him. If his wife or partner or whatever was so concern about his well being she should have been there with him. Not fasting but be there. I feel sorry for the guy but his last day points to one of two things, mental problems, or under the influence. Sorry. It is a North American trend to accuse others for our mistakes, and if we can sue someone is even better. Take responsibility for your behavior. How much damage is been done by vaccine. I wish you good luck suing Big Pharma. And for his wife Lynae, I bet you knew he had issues, and if you didn’t you notice something is wrong , right? He talks about dying and going to God, etc. You should have put you sorry but in a plane ASAP, and go there. If you would have done that he might be still alive. Blame yourself lady. American laziness
Congrats, you just missed the entire point of why I’ve gone public with Jonathan’s story!
It is almost pathetically funny to me that you think the most logical explanation for why, after 8 years, after rebuilding my life, moving house, getting remarried, I would immerse myself in reliving all of this past trauma so as to tell Jonathan’s story, is because of “American laziness” or some weird need to assign blame somewhere. The much simpler explanation is that, last year, I was contacted, out of the blue, by journalists who made me aware that more people were being harmed by Mr. Lockman (although none, to my knowledge, have died since Jonathan), and they requested my help in raising the alarm by telling the story.
It is also pathetically funny that you assign this emotional need to Americans and yet seem to be completely unaware that Americans are routinely not permitted any more than two weeks of vacation time each year. The fact that Jonathan was able to bank up and arrange 6 weeks leave speaks to his diligence, work ethic, and how highly valued he was by his employer. But there was simply no way that I could afford to quit my job and accompany him to Panama, relaxing and enjoying the lovely tropical weather. Do you really think that I simply thought it would be more fun to stay home, clear the snow from the driveway, walk his dogs a mile or two every day, haul wood inside to heat the house, all by myself, and while holding down a full time job? It was not possible for me to go with him, and besides, THAT WAS WHY HE WAS THERE – SO THAT HE WOULD BE SUPERVISED AND SAFE. That’s what we were paying for. How would it make sense for me to be required to be there to ALSO supervise him when I knew very little about fasting?
I also regret to inform you that I was not wealthy enough to keep a private jet on standby during this time. I DID GO ASAP. The arrangements were completed and the ticket was purchased less than 24 hours after I first became aware that there *might* be a problem! Real life is not a Hollywood movie, you can’t just cut to the next scene where the plane is magically landing shortly after a problem was discovered. Airlines don’t schedule their flights around the plot points of my life. The definition of ASAP meant arriving 2 days after the initial message, which is exactly what I did. So you seem to be trying to criticize me for not doing exactly what I did do.
I will say, however, that going back into this dark, dark place, reliving all of these events again, while it is something I never would have chosen to do, has brought me a much greater sense of perspective, and just a bit more closure than I’d had before.
I’m so sorry for your loss and want to apologize for you having to read through some of these incredibly judgemental and thoughtless comments. I’m fairly sure they are written by Loren and his troll squad (or Loren under different aliases) trying to ineffectively do damage control. Anyone legitimately involved in natural health practice would display a basic level of humanity and empathy towards their fellow human beings. You don’t need to defend yourself or your late husband’s legacy to people like this. The nature of these comments says everything about the people writing them. Know that your late husband is resting with the angels and that the justice of the universe always prevails.
Just because iatrogenic deaths occur, does not negate the fact Tanglewood Centre was negligent in this case. Two wrongs don’t make it okay? What a horrible and inverted comment that you’ve left, please don’t ever give your power away to others like this to the point where there is blind and unsympathetic defence. Even if he did not disclose mental health issues (which fasting is supposed to heal anyways), and even if his wife did not accompany him on this fast, the lack of action taken by Lockman when everything was going awry is unconscionable. Being in communication with his wife, not letting him leave the centre, checking him into a hospital earlier, are a variety of things that could have been done. If you’re paying to be under supervised care, then throwing in the towel when something goes wrong is not a part of the plan. As a sympathetic and decent human I can place myself in that position and know I would contact his loved ones, I would not let a man out of his wit leave the resort, and would get him under whatever care it is I thought would help. I am a raw vegan, I have fasted before, and I have followed Lockman and his ideologies for a long while. He talks so confidently that water fasting is the ultimate way to heal as even raw foods can only get one so far- it is really appealing and his confidence makes you feel safe under his care. To anyone reading know this: trust your body. Healing is a journey that is solely dictated by your body. There are times early in my journey that I attempted juice fasting after watching videos (like lockmans and others) and I have totally crashed and felt miserable. Conversely there have been times further along my healing journey that my body transitioned into a juice fast naturally- as that is the only thing I was craving- and I have found healing or detox through those times. The same goes with water fasting. I will never schedule a water fast, my body naturally goes into those and stops when it wants to. PLEASE- never give your power away not even to people who are at the point you want to be at.
To Lynae, I’m so deeply sorry for your experience. I hope you are granted the peace you deserve. If there is anything I can do let me know.
I personally would consider suing Loren Lockman AND Tanglewood within an inch of their lives.
You, sir, are a nut.
I was planning on going to Lorens retreat and even messaged him before finding this post. Please be consoled that your post might have just saved a life as I do not plan on going any longer . Hope you are healing from your husbands death. Very sad world and story.
Thank you for your kind comment. You may also be interested in the Netflix series (Un)Well, which will start airing on August 12. One of the episodes covers the incredible benefits of extended water fasting, and they also flew to Costa Rica and interviewed Loren about the deaths and problems at his facility.
Hi Lynae, I watched that show and came to know about your husband’s case, pretty much agitated at how Loren’s reply. Apart from this, his facilities does not has any licensed doctors which I am concerned. Hope your article and this show in Netflix brings more awareness. Hereby copying a case in 2007 too.
This is an automated reference to an article that appeared in Chile: https://www.biobiochile.cl/especial/reportajes/salud/2020/08/08/sin-titulo-ejercer-medicina-multado-muertes-cuestas-polemico-guru-roxana-munoz.shtml
I used to work at Tnanglewood back when it was in Bethesda Maryland. I was Lorens intern there for 3 months.
I’d be happy to talk with you or exchage some emails with you if you’d like to know more about my experience. I saw some pretty shocking things there back in 2001 and Loren was totally irresponsible in how he treated clients and his lack of supervision and negating peoples genuine concerns. I saw people taken to hospital and leaving with worst health then when they arrived;
I certainly don’t wish to cause you any more pain and I’m sure with unwell being released this must be challenging times for you but when the episode on fasting came on I thought, omg I wonder if Tnaglewood will get mentioned and then I saw the story about your husband and my heart went out to you. I know Jonathans not the first person and he likely won’t be the last.. I believe my email might be send to you via this coomment so if you’d like to talk further I’d be more than happy to share .. I’m so sorry for your loss xx
It amazes me that after receiving your husband’s emails telling you about his intense hallucinations the previous night that he was going to die that nothing he said triggered the slightest alarm in your heart that you needed to stop what you we’re doing and go to help him?!!!!!
After reading your account it certainly strongly suggested that Jonathon’s psychotic symptoms was not only ignored by Tanglewood/Loren. You were aware of his mental health crisis the days beforehand saying January 19th he sounded high. (That was a red flag you ignored)
Then on his last day you received an email from him describing his intense hallucinations and he was going to die and he loved you at 10:00 am you allegedly read 2:00 pm two hours later.
What I find most disturbing is you as a spouse when you realize your husband was acting psychotic instead of calling the facility and the police you tell a deranged mentally unstable man to go tell the doctor!!!!!???? !!!!
You also FAILED 😔 your HUSBAND! You ignored and abandoned him knowing full well after reading that email at 2:00 pm he was in trouble.
WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY CALL to get him help and get your ass on a plane ASAP? Things that make you go hmmmm.
The pot cannot call the skillet black that man’s blood is on you and Loren’s hands. Sadness 😔
It’s so easy to judge someone else’s life and relationship, isn’t it? Especially in hindsight. However –
I’’m stunned that someone as cold and awful as you exists PJ. Do you honestly think that she didn’t play the “what if” questions for months or even years as she grieved the loss of her husband? What if she never let him take that trip? What if she went with him? The fault does NOT rest with her. I received a call from my sister the day after the emails. Lynae had been up all night. I met her in Miami and flew the rest of the way to Panama with no plan once we got there. No hotel, no nothing. She just wanted to get there. You’re such an awful person PJ. Your goal was to make someone who is already suffering, suffer even more? Congrats, mission accomplished asshole.
He lost his passport. Did I ever tell you that? He took his passport to work the day before his trip to photocopy it. When it was almost time to leave, it was nowhere to be found. NOWHERE. He drove all the way back to work and searched his office while I turned the house upside down. No passport. After he got back, I went outside with a flashlight and found it – it had fallen into a crevice by the driver’s seat of his car. Just barely in time for him to make his flight.
What if I’d never found his passport for him?
I’m sorry for you lost, you have no fault in this. I think it was Loren’s responsability to keep Jonathan safe.
Did you discovered what Jonathan had to his digestive system?
Can you explain a little more about his symptoms?
Had he been seen a conventional doctor?
Thanks in advance
Thank you for posting this. More people need to be aware of the dark underbelly of Tanglewood and Loren Lockman before he harms more people with his negligence and completely wreck-less and egomaniac behavior.
I am an advocate of water fasting, and am completely certain it should be a pillar of the health/wellness sector. I will continue to practice fasting for my personal health, and I will continue recommending fasting to others.
After spending 10 weeks at Lorens center, here are my impressions. (I personally completed a 43 day fast there, and everything that follows is from my personal experience while at the center)
Loren is completely wreck-less and doesn’t take proper precautions with his clients. He claims it’s extremely rare that anyone needs any medical intervention, yet while I was there I witnessed multiple clients get taken to the hospital for treatment (And the center was only half occupied during my stay). All events that could’ve been completely avoided at a center that took proper medical precautions. Loren is obsessed with forcing all his clients to fast between 21-42 days in combination with drinking 5-7L of water daily. If any clients start experiencing extreme symptoms that might call for ending the fast early or medical intervention, Lorens response is always “drink more water” and if someone dares to say they think they might need to end their fast early he will scream at the client “don’t you want what’s best for your optimal health”. I witnessed on separate occasions 2 women in their 60’s tell Loren during their fasts they were experiencing extreme issues and they thought it was best not to complete the full 21 day fast and it’d be better to refeed earlier. On both occasions, Loren berated them and convinced them to continue to finish the full 21 days. The first lady passed out in the rock path the next day while trying to walk to the lounge, the gardener found her there passed out. She was quite lucky because her head was quite close to having hit her head on a large rock. The other lady within a week became so weak and unwell that the volunteers (without Lorens knowledge) were so concerned about her well-being that the volunteers organized a taxi to take her to a hospital several hours away. They had to carry her from her room to the taxi because she was too unwell to walk anymore. Unfortunately, I don’t think Jonathan is the only causality of Loren. From a quite creíble source (a volunteer at tanglewood), I was told one of Lorens online clients recently died; an 80 year old man who had just completed a 21 day fast under Lorens guidance. 2 days after completing the fast he fainted, fell down, hit his head and died. According to the volunteer, Loren showed zero signs of sympathy for the deceased man. Instead, Loren was solely concerned about whether or not this death could be possibly connected back to him. He didn’t care at all about leading this guy to his death, just whether he could be held culpable. Talking to some of the local property owners, I heard hearsay of a few more deaths over the past decade. I am quite convinced it has happened more times than Loren admits publicly.
Loren does not actually care about his clients, or anyone besides himself for that matter. Myself along with many others at his retreat were convinced he is a legitimate psychopath. Loren is a self centered, greedy, 2-faced, compulsive liar, egomaniac. He doesn’t have a single good relationship with anyone. Even all the volunteers hate him, the volunteers will plan their days/meals around intentionally avoiding any possible interaction with Loren. After a few weeks at the center, the guests typically end up disliking loren. The volunteers all dislike him. 5 volunteers quit while I was there. The Costa Rican workers talk trash about him behind his back and mock him. The nearby property owners I talked with only had negative things to say about Loren. You get the point. Loren is not a likeable person… if you don’t believe me, go stay there, you’ll see…
Loren preys on the feble minded and young women. His “investment opportunities” are complete scams. He just targets vulnerable people into believing a grand vision he says he’s gonna create. They sign over 100% of their money, and Loren gives them a piece of paper that is essentially worthless. After his latest investor (a naive woman who sold her home and 401k and gave Loren her entire savings), Loren was magically able to afford a brand new car a few weeks later. And he will try to lure young women, 20-30 year old range to be volunteers at his center, then after they arrive he attempts to make sexual advances on them. And when they reject him (because he’s a gross/creepy old guy) he throws a fit, gets all dramatic, then starts becoming hostile towards them. So much for the universal love BS he always preaches. The guy is a complete hypocrite. He told one of the attractive/young female clients while I was there, she could continue refeeding there longer for free. Quoting what Loren said to her “I have extra space in my place where you could stay for free, but I’ll have a hard time keeping my hands off you”
I could go on and on and on… but I’m tired of typing and if you’re not convinced at this point, I just there’s no point in continuing anyways.
I hope Loren gets shutdown or goes bankrupt. He is a sour on the global fasting community. We need more clinics world wide, but supervised in a constructive environment and done in safe manner. Not by the likes of wack jobs like Loren.
Sorry about the grammatical errors. Typed this at night on my phone.
Hey man, I would like to discuss this with you further? can we make this happen?. I recently discovered Tanglewood and was quite keen now I’m discovering all this.
I have just seen “Unwell” and completely shocked by this story. Obviously the director of the center should be sued for negligence (has he?)-also he should have informed you of all the alarming symptoms that your husband was having and your husband should have been brought to a hospital immediately. It is doubtful that anything you could have done could have halted the progression of his decline at that point. I do have to say though that if I read such texts from my husband or I spoke to him and he sounded the way he did when he spoke to you, such as saying that he was going to DIE, I would be extremely alarmed and would be calling the center and speaking to someone about it. If nobody seemed concerned, I wouldtry to reach the police. I don’t understand why you just kept texting, why didn’t you demand that your husband be brought to see a doctor immediately?
I trusted my husband. I trusted and respected his choices about how to handle his health issues. I trusted that he was in a place that was monitoring and taking care of him. I did not want to call and disturb his roommate at 1am. I did not want to disrespect my husband’s wishes to not call (at the time, an international phone call was several dollars per minute, and we were already stretching our budget just for him to be there). Clearly, all of these choices were wrong.