The leader of a highly-controversial religious group in Topeka has died.
Fred Phelps, Sr., the former head of Westboro Baptist Church, passed in the night, according to our news partners TV-13 in Topeka. Family members confirmed the patriarch's passing Thursday morning. He was 84.
According to TV-13 reports, Phelps was excommunicated from his own church in August 2013 by three of his children. He had been in hospice care with an unknown illness.
Phelps gained notoriety over the past decade by picketing funerals. On a local level, Westboro picketers have been seen in the past at two military funerals and several community events. Such was the mission of Westboro, and the mission of several municipalities and non-profit groups became targeting Westboro's picketing, trying to limit the church's protests. Phelps, being a career lawyer in a family of lawyers, won many lawsuits filed over the years.
According to the Topeka Capitol-Journal, when reporters asked Phelps' daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, about funeral arrangements, she politely said it was "none of your business."