'How I got sucked into a cult’ Nick Skinner, husband of Savannah Miller, talks for the first time about life inside a Costa Rican cult.
5 Feb 2012
Sitting in the Cotswolds farmhouse that he shares with his wife, the fashion designer Savannah Miller (sister of Sienna), Nick Skinner is explaining how an intelligent, middle-class man could get sucked into the grips of a religious cult in Costa Rica and find himself brainwashed, suicidal and fighting for the custody of his child. “People don’t tend to go looking to join a cult,” he says. “Instead, curious and often idealistic people are led into recruitment and their lives are then ruined. That is certainly what happened to me.”
Nick, 38, has decided to speak out for the first time about his experience because he believes there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and ignorance about how cults recruit people. “There are so many cults out there recruiting everyone from students to the elderly, and the number is rising.”
Nick was the former, an idealistic student. The son of a dentist, he grew up in Devon and went to boarding school at Downside in Somerset. In his twenties, after a short stint at university, he and his then girlfriend, Allie, decided to travel, working their way around the world. Not even a baby could stop their wanderlust. Just a few months after their son, Oscar, was born, the couple headed to Costa Rica. Talking to fellow travellers, they heard about a “biological reserve” in a remote part of the country with a community who lived on-site.
“I’ve always been a keen environmentalist,” says Nick, who is now a bushcraft teacher, “and the community sounded amazing. It was self-sufficient, set in forest scenery. They kept goats and helped the indigenous population. We had to see it.” The couple hitched a lift to the reserve. “It was breathtakingly beautiful and instantly inspiring, full of vibrant, happy people living in simple buildings made from wind-felled trees. There was no electricity, radio or television. Allie and I were broke, so when they offered to let us stay as volunteers, it was like a dream.
“There was a dress code,” he continues. “Very short hair and beards for men – the founder didn’t want us looking like hippies to outsiders – and long hair for women, while 'modesty’ dictated a ban on bare legs. The image was scientific and professional.” The reserve seemed well organised, with families, single men and single women all living in separate buildings. As well as Costa Ricans, there were Americans and a Dutch woman.
On their first evening, Nick and Allie joined a group discussion that ended with a short meditation. “It was a bit like a yoga class. We got the impression we were among some very good people who were welcoming two hard-working Europeans into their community.”
Everyone had a timetable, and the couple were given guidelines on community life, meal times and working patterns. “As we got into the swing of the timetable, the meditations became more intense. We only spoke basic Spanish at first, so our understanding was limited. The conditions were loose early on, but gradually we lost more and more freedom.”
Soon the pair were assigned their own individual tutors, who helped them “integrate”. “It was help with factual things at first, practical stuff, but soon we were being tutored in the beliefs and values of the group. Looking back, the religion was a hotchpotch of everything from Buddhism to Christianity. We were never told things – it felt as if our own inquisitiveness led us to find things out. After a month we asked if we could stay there permanently.”
Nick and Allie discovered that the community had been set up in the 1980s. The founder had persuaded an initial group of people to follow his teachings: give up their lives, sell everything, and pool their resources into buying a piece of land.
To gain acceptance into the group, Nick and Allie were asked to make a one-off payment of £500 each to cover their living costs and kit out their cabin – there was a comprehensive list of items they required, such as two spades and a two-ring cooker. Rather like the dress code, every cabin had to be identical.
Nick had no money, so he returned to England to work in a cousin’s factory. When he arrived back at the reserve two months later, Allie had changed. “She had become much more like the others – I think even at the beginning, I had held something back – and was very sure of her new beliefs. She began calling the leader – a charismatic 30-year-old – 'The Master’, and she was distant with me, less tactile, and mechanical in our lovemaking. Her emotions were tightly controlled.”
The couple soon found they were being given very little to eat – and requests for more of the vegetarian food were met with accusations of greed. Meanwhile, the new timetable dictated that they wake up at 3.30am for meditation, sermons and parables.
“We were told, why sleep when you can be doing something useful?” says Nick. “I realise now we were being weakened by sleep deprivation and a meagre diet so we’d become too weak to resist the force of the group. They’d talk about how consumerism was destroying the world, agricultural reforestation, how to create a harmonious lifestyle – all topics we found fascinating.
“That was the external face of it. The internal face was the development of self, spiritual evolution, how to become the perfect human being, with the leader a sort of living manual to achieve this. If you questioned him that wasn’t tolerated, and people were ostracised and shunned as punishment.”
Nick was being fed barely enough to live on and was physically exhausted from the manual work, the martial arts and long runs that were part of the regime. He lost three stone in weight. The questioning part of his mind remained active, but he silenced it because he wanted to keep his family intact.
Allie, on the other hand, had turned into an unquestioning devotee. Their relationship became strained and she moved out of their shared cabin into the single women’s accommodation. Nick could still visit his son, but this eventually became difficult and Allie accused him of “snooping”. Soon he was forbidden from visiting Oscar at all.
'I tried to gain more acceptance from the cult leader, but it was hard as he used psychological tricks, with rewards for compliance and punishments for crimes such as questioning the teachings. When I managed to get myself into 'acceptance’ mode, everything made perfect sense – and when you see how together everyone is, how close, and that you’re not part of that, you want to be. You would strive for acceptance. But no matter how hard I tried to give myself up to the group, a part of my brain always resisted.”
A year passed, and Nick became more compliant. He recalls this period as the time he was most engaged with the group. The leaders weren’t convinced, however, and suggested Nick return to the UK to work on environmental study for a year, and to come back when he was clearer about what he wanted.
“I had become good at detaching myself emotionally, which is what they encourage, but I was very sad about leaving Oscar. They wouldn’t let me take him. When I arrived home my parents were mortified at my physical appearance – I was very thin and gaunt. I didn’t know it then, but they had sought professional help on how to deal with me and my situation, and had been told that challenging me could be the worst thing they could do. So they decided to sit it out and hope I’d one day see the light.”
Nick returned to the group a year later. The thought of being estranged from his son overwhelmed him, so he knuckled down with his “tutor”, who persuaded the leader to let him stay.
“I didn’t question a thing, and the leader was pleased. I stopped listening to my quiet voice that challenged them, and I continued like that for two more years, believing I was learning to be the perfect person. We were told the end of the world was coming. We were so cut off from the world, with no newspapers or anything, the beliefs of the group were all we had. The longer you are in the grip of a cult, the harder it is to leave – you think you are an evolved being and the outside world is meaningless. There’s also a big part of you that won’t admit it’s all rubbish, that you were wrong to accept it’s not real, to admit defeat.”
Nick eventually became close to Danny, another member who was becoming disillusioned with the community, “and talking to him, my mind started opening up. I started questioning things I had been told. For instance, the leader had said that he’d had an accident as a child and had been pronounced clinically dead, that he was a soul from another planet – rubbish, of course, but by the time we were told this we were so far gone, we believed it. Recruitment is a slow, steady process, you kind of slip into it, and before you know it 'facts’ such as these are plausible. What you don’t know early on is that everyone else is in on it, so you are being recruited by the entire group. I remember an American girl arriving and we all recruited her, me included. I’d become one of them.”
Nick knew he had to leave with Oscar, so he focused on being ultra “good”. It worked. The leader agreed that Nick could take Oscar to England for a holiday.
When Nick arrived home he was a fragile mess, seeing the outside world through the group’s eyes one minute, and as a critic the next. “Everyone at home seemed so self-indulgent. I’d been brainwashed to think my parents were very negative, which they weren’t – it’s all part of being accepted, to be alienated from those who care about you. I’d had no contact with my parents for a year, as their letters had gone unread, left in the town a two-hour walk away.”
Three months passed. It was time to return to Costa Rica, but in his heart Nick knew he wasn’t going back. He contacted Allie's parents to explain, and they invited Nick to visit their home to discuss the situation. They hadn’t told him Allie would also be there, and she grabbed the boy.
An eight-month court battle ensued, during which time Nick made contact with the anti-cult expert Graham Baldwin, who runs Catalyst, a charity that helps cult victims get their lives back. Graham counselled Nick and helped prepare his court case against Allie, putting him in contact with a specialist lawyer. Nick was only allowed to see Oscar with a child psychologist present. Suicidal thoughts crossed his mind.
“This group wasn’t about money but power,” explains Graham Baldwin. “Nick was very confused when I met him, like many people in his position who are trying to make sense of what happened to them. I let him talk a lot, but I asked a lot of questions, such as 'why do you think they did this or that?’. Cult victims must find the answers themselves. Cults target intelligent young people who are often searching for something. Anyone can be recruited. There is no immunity.”
It was actually Allie’s sister who saved the day. Having visited the group in Costa Rica, she came forward and said she believed Oscar was better off with his father. Oscar was made a ward of court.
Nick, meanwhile, slowly started rebuilding his life – and Savannah Miller became a big part of this rehabilitation. When they first met at a friend’s wedding eight years ago, she describes him as a “poor lost puppy”. They married in 2005 and now have three children – as well as Oscar, 16, who continues to live with them.
Nick kept a diary during his stay with the group, something that is helping with Paradiso, the film script he is working on, about his experiences in a cult. He intends to donate some of the profit to Catalyst to help pay for a therapy centre for the victims of cults – unlike many countries, the UK still lacks such a facility.
Catalyst currently deals with around 200 cases a year, and estimates that approximately 1,500 cults operate in the UK alone. As Savannah says: “Without Graham’s help, who knows if Nick would have recovered and turned into the confident man he is today.”
Three killed in ritual sacrifices
March 31, 2012
Eight people have been arrested for allegedly killing two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman in ritual sacrifices by the cult of La Santa Muerte, or St Death, prosecutors in northern Mexico said Friday. Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the victims' blood was poured around an altar to the saint, which is depicted as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes.
The grisly slayings recalled the notorious 'narco-satanicos' killings of the 1980s, when 15 bodies, many of them with signs of ritual sacrifice, were unearthed at a ranch outside the border city of Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.
While St Death has become the focus of a cult among drug traffickers and criminals in Mexico in recent years, there have been no confirmed cases of human sacrifices in Mexico to the scary-looking saint, which is not recognised by the Catholic Church. Worshippers usually offer sweets, cigarettes and incense to the skeleton-statue.
Larrinaga said the first of the three victims was apparently killed in 2009, the second in 2010 and the latest earlier this month. Investigations indicate their veins were sliced open and their blood was poured around an altar to the saint, he said. 'The ritual was held at nighttime, the lit candles,' Larrinaga said. 'They sliced open the victims' veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container.'
Authorities began investigating after the last victim, 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez, was reported missing on March 6. Investigations led authorities to the altar site in the Sonora city of Nacozari. Larrinaga said the arrests were made after tests by forensic experts on Thursday found blood traces spread over 30 square metres around the altar.
Those arrested included Martin Barron Lopez, 48, the alleged 'priest' of the cult, who allegedly was responsible for killing the victims, and his wife, Silvia Meraz Moreno, who allegedly spread the blood around the altar. The other suspects, many of them relatives, included people ranging from a 15-year-old girl to a 44-year-old woman.
Interesting docu. Not sure what the guy's angle is, but there must be something lurking under the surface. Seems too good to be true. Human frailty and greed must ruin the idealistic society from time to time. I know mine would.
Cult leader admits to killing 4-year-old boy he thought was gay
The church leader, Peter Lucas Moses, 28, also admitted to killing a female member of his sect in December 2010. Both of their decomposed bodies were found in shallow graves with bullets to their heads. His plea was a “surprise” as Moses had only been scheduled to appear in court for a brief status update on his case, The Durham Herald Sun reports. He admitted to killing Jadon Higganbothan, 4, and Antoinette McKoy, 28. Antoinette was not Jadon's mother.
“He [Moses] pleaded guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and agreed to testify against his co-defendants if he is called to testify,” said District Attorney Leon Stanback. “He is facing two life sentences,” he added.
Moses’ plea took the death penalty off the table, Stanback said. Moses was not sentenced and was returned to jail where he is being held without bond. Former District Attorney Tracey Cline told a judge during a hearing last July that Moses shot Jadon in October 2011 because he thought the boy was gay. “In the religious belief of that organization, homosexuality was frowned upon,” she said.
The Associated Press identified Moses’ sect as the Black Hebrews whose members believe they have descended directly from the ancient tribes of Israel. Court documents show The Black Hebrews believe that a forthcoming “race war” will leave blacks dominant and supreme. Moses’ members were women and children who called him “Lord,” the Huffington Post reports. He shared a home with at least three of the women who claimed to be his “wives,” and nine children who he fathered except Jadon. They all allegedly lived in a one-bedroom home located at 2109 Pear Tree Lane.
Moses reportedly feared Jadon might be gay because the boy’s father had left his mother Vania Sisk, who was one of Moses’ “wives.” He is also said to have witnessed Jadon hitting the backside of another young boy. Investigators found Jadon’s decomposed remains wrapped in numerous black plastic trash bags, secured by bands of clear tape, in a shallow grave in the backyard of 2622 Ashe Street, the home of Moses’ mother, Sheilda Harris.
Investigators also found the body of McKoy, wrapped in a similar manner, in a separate shallow grave in the same backyard. It is believed that Jadon’s mother, Sisk, shot and killed McKoy in December 2010 after she tried unsuccessfully to leave the Pear Tree Lane house.
Others involved in the killings
Other co-defendants are Jadon’s mother, Vania Sisk, P. Leonard Moses, Lavada Quinzetta Harris, Sheilda Harris, Sheila Moses, and Larhonda Smith. Assistant District Attorney Dale Morrill said the cases of these six co-defendants have not yet been resolved. He declined to characterize Moses as the cult leader because he did not want to talk about evidence in the case.
Moses will likely be sentenced after the cases against his six co-defendants are resolved. Plea deals have not been worked out with the other co-defendants, but Stanback said the other co-defendants might appear in court later this week. They, like Moses, are on the docket for a status update.
Harris, Moses brother, P. Leonard Moses, and his sister, Sheila Moses, are charged as accessories in McKoy’s death. Sisk and two other women who lived with Peter Moses, Larhonda Renee Smith and Lavada Quinzetta Harris, have been charged with murder in McKoy’s death and as accessories in Jadon’s death, according to reports.
Imprisoned polygamist paedophile Warren Jeffs 'ends cult's sex ban for 15 men handpicked to father ALL the future children of his religious sect' All wives at the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints Church to be made available to 'chosen ones'
Jeffs, 56, serving 130-year sentence in Texas prison
20 June 2012
Polygamous leader Warren Jeffs has issued a new command to his sect from his jail cell - the names of 15 men he has chosen to father all future children of his church. The Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints Church leader is serving a 130-year sentence at Powledge Unit near Palestine, Texas, for systematic child sex assault and marrying underage girls. Jeffs, 56, still has around 10,000 believers in the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.
Former FLDS member Isaac Wyler told Deseret News that the rules were explained to the congregation at a Sunday service two weeks ago. He said: 'They said there had been 15 men delegated or designated by God to sire the new, special children.' According to other reports, men who are not among the chosen few will have to remain under a 'no sex ban' that Jeffs demanded last year. He declared that all marriages are void until he can return and 'seal' them.
The response from his congregation has been polarizing. For many, the ban on sex was the last straw. Families have begun fleeing the church - and after the latest command, it has been rumored that many more were planning to escape. Husbands were said to be extremely unhappy that their wives will be made available to the 'chosen 15' with their roles essentially reduced to caretakers and financial providers, Deseret News reported. The new directive seemed to counter another of Jeffs' revelations last month when the prison inmate said that abusing women was wrong.
Family portrait: The picture shows dozens of Warren Jeffs's brides, lined up together as if they are posing for a school photograph
He wrote: 'Let women be free, to be educated, to have full protection from abuse, ye nations. 'Let this truth awaken all to have life, yea, individual lives, in order, a holy Way of living my law of love for all, through pure way living on World.' His sect practices polygamy in arranged marriages that have sometimes involved underage girls. Jeffs was convicted last year of sexually assaulting two of his many underage brides when they were 12 and 15 in the notorious case. He was said to have at least 78 plural wives, according to court documents.
The further mandates by Jeffs came as voters in a tiny Utah town threw out a measure that would have dissolved their town government - amid fears that polygamists could seize an opportunity to widen their municipal borders and 'swallow us up'. Apple Valley residents voting 167 to 115 against disbanding the town government. It had been suggested that neighboring Hildale - a town controlled by Jeffs - could stage a municipal takeover if the town were to abolish itself.
Jeffs led the temple of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Eldorado, Texas
Papua New Guinea 'cannibal cult' members arrested
July 05, 2012
MEMBERS of an alleged cannibal cult, who police say are responsible for the deaths of seven people, have been arrested in Papua New Guinea. The 29, including a 13-year-old boy and a teacher in his 50s, were arrested during a dawn raid at Biam village, Madang province on PNG's northeast coast last night. Two men, one believed to be the group's leader and known only as "Joe", are still on the run.
Armed with home-made guns fashioned from rubber and believing they had supernatural powers to identify sorcerers, the group has killed four men and three women since April, police say. "The last was last Thursday," Senior Constable Daniel Kapen, who led the raid, said. "The group alleges that there were some deaths related to sorcery in the area. They were initiated into a cultural house and believe they could identify sorcerers. It has been an ongoing problem."
Sorcery is legally defined in PNG. The legal definition is between legal good magic, such as healing and fertility, and illegal black magic, held responsible for unexplained deaths. However the government's Law Reform Commission is considering stamping out the law because of sorcery-related murders throughout the country. Most cases of sorcery are also bogged down in the nation's beleaguered court system because most lack any real evidence.
Initial forensic reports and statements made by the accused led police to believe parts of the victims were eaten, however Mr Kapen declined to go into detail. He also denied media reports the group was a cargo cult, a religious practice found in some pre-industrial tribal societies and formed around the belief wealth can be attained through magic. "They were not demanding money off people," Mr Kapen said, adding that getting wealthy did not appear to be the motive for the murders. "But we believe there was an exchange of money for the power to recognise sorcerers."
Villagers near Biam, a small village near Tangu sub station in Bogia district, were unable to vote in the national elections out of fear for their safety. "Police will be following up on this matter as many were deprived of their constitutional rights to cast their votes because of this group," said Madang Superintendent Anthony Wagambie Jnr.
In 2010 cult leader Steven Tari, a self styled "Black Jesus", was found guilty of raping young "flower girls" who belonged to his sect. Tari made international news when captured and arrested in March 2007 after eluding police for more than a year by moving from village to village or hiding in remote mountain camps in the Transgogol area of Madang province. At the time he had thousands of village followers, including a core of armed warriors to protect him.
70 sect members found living underground in Russia Seventy members of an Islamist sect who have been living in an underground bunker without heat or sunlight for nearly a decade have been discovered living on the outskirts of the city of Kazan in Russia.
08 Aug 2012
A reclusive sect that literally went underground to stop contact with the outside world kept 27 children in dark and unheated cells, many of them for more than a decade, prosecutors said Wednesday. The children have been freed and the parents charged with child abuse.
Some of the children, aged between 1 and 17, have never seen daylight, health officials said. The sect's 83-year-old founder Faizrakhman Satarov, who declared himself a Muslim prophet in contradiction with the principles of Islam, has also been charged with negligence, Irina Petrova, deputy prosecutor in the provincial capital of Kazan, told The Associated Press. No members of the sect, who call themselves "muammin" after the Arabic term that means "believers," have been arrested, she said.
The children were discovered last week when police searched the sect grounds as part of a probe into the recent killing of a top Tatarstan Muslim cleric, an attack local officials blame on radical Islamist groups that have mushroomed in the oil-rich, Volga River province.
Satarov, a former top imam in the neighboring province of Bashkortostan, declared his house outside Kazan an independent Islamic state. He ordered some 70 followers to live in cells they dug under the three-story building topped by a small minaret with a tin crescent moon. Only a few sect members were allowed to leave the premises to work as traders at a local market, Russian media reported.
The children have been placed in local hospitals for observation and will temporarily live in an orphanage, pediatrician Tatyana Moroz said in televised remarks. The cramped cells, without ventilation, heating or electricity, form eight levels under a decrepit three-story brick house on a 700-square-meter (7,530 sq. foot) plot of land. The house was built illegally and will be demolished, Tatarstan police told local media.
"They will come with bulldozers and guns, but they can demolish this house over our dead bodies!" sect member Gumer Ganiyev said on the Vesti television channel. The ailing Satarov appointed Ganiyev as his deputy "prophet," according to local media.
Satarov had followers in several other cities in Tatarstan and other Volga River provinces, local media reported. In a 2008 interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, Satarov said that he fell out with other clerics and authorities in the Communist era, when the KGB sent him to Muslim nations with stories about religious freedom in the officially atheist Soviet Union. Government-approved Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Jewish clerics routinely traveled abroad on Soviet publicity trips.
"That's how I became Satan's servant, a traitor," the white-bearded and turbaned man was quoted as saying. "When I understood that, I repented and started preaching." Muslim leaders in Tatarstan said Satarov's views contradict their dogma. "Islam postulates that there are no other prophets after Mohammad," Kazan-based theologian Rais Suleimanov told the Gazeta.ru online publication Tuesday. "The teachings of Sattarov, who declared himself a prophet, have been rejected by traditional Muslims." The sect members stopped accepting new members and are "only dangerous to themselves and their children," Suleimanov was quoted as saying.
Police entered Satarov's house last Friday as part of an ongoing investigation into the killing of Valiulla Yakupov, Tatarstan's deputy chief mufti, who was gunned down in mid-July as he left his house in Kazan. Minutes later, chief mufti Ildus Faizov was wounded in the legs after an explosive device ripped through his car in central Kazan.
Both clerics were known as critics of radical Islamist groups that advocate a strict and puritan version of Islam known as Salafism. The emergence of Salafist groups in Tatarstan and other Volga River provinces with a sizable Muslim population has been fueled by the influx of jihadists and clerics from Chechnya and other provinces of Russia's Caucasus region, where Islamic insurgency has been raging for years.
Last year, Doku Umarov, the leader of the embattled Chechen separatists, issued a religious decree calling on radical Islamists from the Caucasus to move to the densely-populated Volga River region that includes Tatarstan. Prosecutors have named two suspects in the cleric's killing who remain at large and arrested five others in the case. Islamist youth groups have staged rallies in Kazan demanding the detainees' release.
More than half of Tatarstan's 4 million people are Sunni Muslims. Tatars converted to Islam more than a thousand years ago, and the province became an important center of Muslim learning and culture under Tatar-Mongol rulers who controlled Russia and parts of Eastern Europe.
Islamic radicals from the Caucasus have called for the establishment of a caliphate, an independent Islamic state under Shariah law that includes the Caucasus, Tatarstan and other parts of Russia that were once part of the Golden Horde - a medieval Muslim state ruled by a Tatar-Mongol dynasty.
5 years later we get some actual information! (check first page of this thread for the first report)
Why I took my family to live and die in Waco
The Sunday Telegraph,
March 24th, 2013
LONDON — Livingstone Fagan is waiting for the end of the world as we know it. “The tables will turn,” he says, pacing his bare council flat in a tower block in Nottingham. “We endure what is thrown at us, no matter how extreme, because the day will come, as David says.”
This trim 53-year-old with ashen dreadlocks is talking about David Koresh, the self-declared messiah who was holed up in a compound in Waco, Texas, with an armed group of followers, 20 years ago. Fagan was there, willing to fight in defence of his family and the man he believed was a second Christ. He had done so in the gunfight at the beginning of the siege in late February 1993, when federal agents attempted to storm the compound and were repelled. And when it all finished with another attack, 51 days later, Fagan lost his wife, his mother and many of his friends.
“We understand why God executes vengeance,” says this intense man, who was jailed during the siege and served time for voluntary manslaughter and a firearms offence before being deported to his hometown of Nottingham six years ago. Swigging from a bottle of cider vinegar and water, dressed in dark slacks and a grey sweatshirt, he could still be a prisoner. Fagan lives simply, waiting for the return of Koresh, which he believes to be imminent.
“The anniversary is significant,” he says, as we approach the date when it all ended, April 19. The world’s media watched on that day in 1993 as the FBI attacked the compound with tanks and tear gas and a fire broke out that quickly destroyed the buildings. At least 76 men, women and children died. The former attorney general Ramsay Clark called it “the greatest domestic law-enforcement tragedy in the history of the United States.”
Fagan saw it all from a prison cell, having left the compound in mid-March to act as an envoy to the outside world. “I didn’t want to go, but I was asked to do so by David. In the event that we were all killed, there needed to be some voices outside to tell the story from our point of view.”
He had hoped to help with the negotiations. “That’s not how it turned out. I was placed in the county jail with little or no contact into what was going on there.” He saw the tragedy unfold on television, along with millions of others. “That was quite ... that was quite something.”
His voice falters, for the first time. His son and daughter, aged four and seven, had been among the children who left the compound during negotiations. His wife Yvette and his mother Doris were still inside, however, along with others that he loved. “The thought of tears, as I watched it ... I couldn’t let that happen.”
His eyes glisten. Has he ever allowed himself to weep over this? “Since then? Tears? No. I refuse to do that. I saw it as yielding to them. I had seen the others stand their ground, despite gas and flame being used to stir their emotions. I felt I had to be the good soldier too, relative to what we believed.”
He still believes it, passionately, however bizarre those beliefs may appear to others. “There’s a game being played here that in the end leads to the Kingdom of Heaven coming to Earth and the eradication of evil from the universe forever,” says Fagan, who preaches when he speaks, his accent sliding between America, his birthplace, Jamaica, and Nottingham, where he was brought up.
Fagan originally trained as a social worker but became an Adventist in his early twenties and took a master’s degree in pastoral ministry. “I was looking for something more,” he says, and he found it in the teachings of a visiting American speaker called Vernon Howell, who was approaching 30 and about to change his name, legally, to David Koresh, in tribute to two Biblical kings. Fagan insists there was nothing particularly charismatic about the man who changed his life. “None of that physical stuff — what you hear, see and touch — was the influence. The reason why people were there is that he was revealing truth.” Koresh claimed to have been visited by an angel, who revealed to him the nature of the Seven Seals, as described in the Biblical book of Revelation. The opening of the seals would be an escalating series of events leading to the Day of Judgment.
Fagan came to believe — as he still does — that Koresh was descended from Christ and “the spirit and the word of God” were embodied in him. He began to visit the Branch Davidians, as the followers of Koresh were called, at their communal home in Texas. At the end of 1992, Fagan took his whole family to live there. When the siege happened, they had been there for just eight weeks. “What I saw there was primitive godliness,” he says.
Isn’t it true, though, that many of the women lived as the wives of Koresh, while the other adults practised celibacy? “These were not sexual partners. These were actually wives,” says Fagan. “God says he is against adultery and fornication. That was still in place. It was only as God directed him that David was to have these wives. The purpose of this was to bear children.”
The intention was to create 24 children who combined the human with the spirit of God that was in Koresh, he says. They would become the 24 elders mentioned in Revelation as God’s jury. “We only had a little over half that number. In effect, the world attacked the jury. But of course, that’s not what people out there see. What they see is this guy having sex with all these women.” There have been claims of child abuse among the Branch Davidians. Fagan denies it. “I told you there was no child abuse. That’s right. There wasn’t. But there are those who want to believe that.”
They were certainly trading guns to make money. They were also arming themselves against a looming confrontation with the authorities, which Koresh compared to the soldiers coming for Christ. “We were told to put up a defence, for God had a purpose in this. That purpose had to do with buying time,” says Fagan. Koresh needed to finish writing down what he knew about the Seven Seals. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was convinced there were illegal automatic weapons in the compound, and was preparing a raid.
Rather than being scared, many of the adults were excited. “Here we were, literally fulfilling prophecy. That had a profound effect on how we thought about ourselves, and about being there.” They felt like they were at the centre of cosmic events? “Indeed. That’s a good way of putting it.”
His wife and mother were believers, and so at that time, were his children. “Nearing the end, before they attacked, my son said: ‘I know what they gonna do daddy. They gonna come and kill us and then we gonna come back to life.’ All nonchalant.” He sounds proud.
Armed ATF agents made the first attempt to enter the compound on Feb. 28. Both sides still claim the other fired first. “When the initial shots went off, I heard screams. It was quick. I remember going outside and seeing the helicopters. It was a long time ago. I’m not going to go into many details ...”
One direct question, then. Who, if anybody, did he shoot? “Well, according to the FBI agent in the trial, I was the one who came out of the cafeteria and shot him in his finger. I had nothing to do with that. But there were other things that I was engaged in. I felt it was vital. There was the sound of gunfire everywhere, particularly upstairs. My wife and children, all the other women and kids, were up there. We were not going to let that happen,” he says.
“The sense that if we let these people in the building they would kill us indiscriminately? No. I had a responsibility, and I was moved to find whatever means necessary to prevent it. I took that responsibility seriously. I acted on it.”
Four agents and six of Koresh’s followers died before the Branch Davidians called for a ceasefire, which led to the siege. Fagan was one of several members of the group accused of murder, although they were all acquitted. He served 14 years for voluntary manslaughter and a firearms offence, before being deported to Britain. “Here I thought I could speak to people on a rational level, to make them understand what had actually happened, but they were afraid to talk to me.” He visited his former church twice. “I wasn’t welcome. The picture has been painted that we are of the devil.”
How often does he see his children, who were brought up here by his brother? “We met when I first came back. There was a gathering. We met, they spoke. They expressed their feelings and thoughts. Subsequently we have met on other occasions, such as my father’s 80th birthday. I accept that they have a life. I engage with them to the extent that they wish.”
His son is now 21 and his daughter is 23. “I am not going to say that they have rejected what I believe. When they see their mother they will ... no.”
His refusal to weep for her and the others is partly explained by the belief that they will be reunited in eternal life, soon. That’s also why he has not found another partner. “I’ve thought about it. I’ve explored the idea. But it doesn’t really work, does it? We have a hope, beyond this.” Sighing, he says: “Ah well, I won’t be here for very much longer.”
Listening to the quick rattle of Scripture verses, watching the fire in his eyes, I wonder for a moment if this is what it was like to sit with John the disciple, decades after the death of Jesus. The thought passes quickly, not least because I do not believe that David Koresh was a second Christ.
Fagan has kept his head down since returning to Britain, although he did appear on a BBC television discussion about cults last year. Soon afterwards, he lost his job with a social enterprise project. The main donor saw the show and demanded that he leave. “Waco is an issue for a lot of people.”
Now he lives on Jobseeker’s Allowance. He wants to work, but also lives in the expectation that the Mount of Olives will open up and the Day of Judgment come later this year. Fagan warns me to take care when writing this article. “If you don’t, you will see me in judgment. Forget stuff about Peter at the gates [of Heaven]. It will be me, saying, ‘Cole, remember that article you wrote? Where do you think you’re going.’”
He laughs. After a moment’s reflection, Fagan says: “I used to be a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, before Waco.”
"Is there a difference between a religion and a cult?"
Farmer's animals being slaughtered by satanic cult Goat found skinned and beheaded at family's smallholding
23 August 2013
A farming family whose animals have been skinned, slaughtered and beheaded fear they are being targeted by a 'satanic cult'. Maxine Beesley, 54, and son Aziah, 16, have had ducks, goats and horses tortured and mutilated in a series of 'sacrifices'. The animals were attacked at their remote smallholding in Devon's Teign Valley on Dartmoor which has been dogged by rumours of ritualistic slaughter for years.
In the first incident, four ducks were beheaded then laid out in pairs across the ground - and a goat named Minstrel had a horn partially ripped out. A crowbar was also used to rip a horseshoe from the foot of a family horse that was due to be entered in a show jumping competition. But worse savagery was to follow a month later when a pet goat named Chocolate was decapitated and disembowelled. His skin was then sliced away and arranged with the animal's severed head for the Beesley's to find the next day.
Mrs Beesley and Aziah fear the butchery was part of an evil ceremony by devil worshippers. Mrs Beesley said: 'Chocolate had been completely skinned with the meat taken off him. His neck had been broken. It looks as if it could have been done according to the ways of some religious sect. What happened to him was truly awful. I can't imagine what hell he went through at the time.'
The family's remaining animals have all been moved to a secure location while police investigate the incidents which happened between July 12 and 13 and August 15. Police have linked the same attacker to the slaughter of a lamb found dead nearby.
Frightened Maxine said she was struggling to explain why so many of her animals had been picked out for the macabre treatment. She said: 'We still can't understand why this has happened. It's dreadful. All we know is that the person behind these terrible incidents need help. They need to be out away for their own good - and for everyone else's.' Steve Purser, chairman of the parish council in the nearby village of Bridford, said news of the killing had spooked locals. He said: 'I know that rumours are abounding about what it is. They are gruesome discoveries. No one is panicking yet but there is some concern in the village.' Devon and Cornwall Police launched a probe into both attacks, branding them 'absolutely disgusting'. PC Rob Condy-Young said: 'It's hard to say who would do this sort of thing. We just don't know.'
Dartmoor and the surrounding countryside in Devon and Cornwall has been dogged by rumours of satanic rituals for years. In 2012 a two-year-old horse called Eric belonging to Dawn Jewell, 27, was found mutilated on the day of satanic animal sacrifice. He was found dead in his field in Stithians, near Falmouth, Cornwall, after a full moon with his right eye gouged out, his teeth removed and his genitalia hacked off. The horrific attack happened on St Winebald Day, a date in the satanic calendar traditionally celebrated with bloody rituals.
In 2006 around 100 sheep animals were found slaughtered with their tongues, eyes and sexual organs removed on Dartmoor The bodies had been arranged in a Satanic star shape, known as a pentangle, or laid out in a circle with their necks broken. In June of this year police appealed for information after two horses were found with 'gaping' knife wounds in neighbouring fields in the village of Stokeinteignhead, Devon. Locals feared the two thoroughbreds were attacked to mark the summer solstice - a key date in the Satanic calender. A pony was found dead last month on Dartmoor missing its sexual organs, eyes and an ear, though police later determined that it had died from natural causes.
I reckon I thought "Fuck the Daily Mail" about 5 times reading this. The last two paragraphs getting the loudest ones.
The media has lied to you about Charles Manson
This is my first web-cam video, in which i discuss just a few points proving the fact that Charles Manson has been lied about by the media for over 40 years, and that he was railroaded in the press and courtroom. Manson did not recieve a fair trial, and it is obvious to anyone who is able to read the pre-trial transcripts. You really dont have to go any further than the pre-trial transcripts to see that what ACTUALLY happened is far from what the "media", "court", and district attorney claims to have happened.
Video by Star, Feb. 23, 2011
Children of horrifying incest 'cult' with four generations of in-breeding found living deformed, filthy and mute in scenic Australian valley
11 December 2013
The dark, disturbing secrets of a picturesque Australian valley where unwashed children born from generations of incest lived with physical deformities in a 'cult' of 40 adults and youngsters emerged today. Incapable of intelligible speech, some of the children had oddly-formed features as the result of being born to parents who were themselves related.
Brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts had sex with one another over four generations, raising childen in squalid conditions who themselves grew up to become intimate and have more inbred children. The children found living in filth in sheds and broken down caravans had numerous disabilities from their inbred births, including a boy with a walking impairment and severe psoriasis, another with hearing and sight problems and yet another boy whose eyes were misaligned. A nine-year-old girl, who could not hear or write and had fragmented and stunted speech, was unable to bathe or dry herself and did not know how to use a toilet or what toilet paper was.
The shocking discovery of the family's depraved life in the valley, lying south west of Sydney, were reminiscent of the inbred hillbillies featured in the movie Deliverance. Sickening details of generations of child abuse were published today by news.com.au , drawing on a judgement from the New South Wales Children's Court which, in a rare step, agreed to make its findings public.
The name of the hidden valley has been kept secret and the family has been given the pseudonym Colt in order to protect the identity of the minors. But details of the debased lives of adults and children have been released because it is understood the court felt the nation should know about the worst case of incest it had ever heard.
Across four generations of intimate relations, the family moved around the country, from South Australia, to Victoria, Western Australia and then back across the continent to the fertile valley south of Sydney. The debauched lives of the current generation of adults might never have been found if residents of a nearby town had not reported that there were children living in the hills who had not been attending school.
In the nearby town, the name of which has been suppressed, one local resident said people used to make jokes that if anyone came from that valley 'you'd be inbred'. The man told the Sydney paper that on occasions two women with 'about ten children' would emerge from a car that had interstate plates, buy something in the shops and leave. 'They were never clean looking,' said the man. And there was 'nothing' on the blocks of land where the family lived - 'no electricity, no water, just scrub.'
Police and child care workers were stunned when they arrived at the cult camp, some 20 miles from the nearest town and surrounded by trees where 19th century bushrangers once roamed. They found 40 adults and children living in two broken-down caravans, two sheds and tents, where there was no running water or sewage.
The Telegraph reported that dirt caked the surfaces of stoves and cooking facilities, rotten vegetables lay in a refrigerator and a kangaroo was sleeping on one of the children's beds. Chainsaws, bags of rubbish and exposed electrical wires lay about. There were no toilets, showers or baths.
'I'll never get over what I saw there,' a female police officer later reportedly told one of her colleagues.
The case happened near Sydney (pictured) where authorities said it was one of the worst ever seen
But at the time even she did not realise that the 'family cult' was a throwback to a pair of great-great grandparents who were a brother and sister. Down through the generations, the family continued to regenerate itself, the children beginning to have sex with one another as soon as they were old enough. The result, the court documents revealed, was that some of the children seemed developmentally delayed, cognitively impaired or physically handicapped - the shocking result of sex between brothers and sisters, uncles and nieces and fathers and daughters.
According to the documents, the children were sexually involved with each other and only one - a five-year-old girl, the youngest - had parents who weren't related to each other. The Telegraph said that what the police and community care officials witnessed was 'a social time bomb exploding before their eyes.'
The five family groups comprised sisters Rhonda, 47; Martha, 33; and Betty Colt, 46, who slept every night with her brother, Charlie. There were also two of Betty's daughters who each had children who proved to be from unions of related parents. Betty's son Bobby, 15, who had severe psoriasis and needed urgent dental work, could not talk in a way that could be understood, he wet and soiled his bed and his learning ability was at kindergarten level.
Martha's sons Albert, 15, and Jed, 14, also had speech problems, no personal hygiene and teeth that were in need of urgent dental work. Betty's son Billy, 14, was underweight and not growing properly, as well as having hearing and sight problems, spoke unintelligibly, had an intellectual disability and could barely read or count.
Fourteen-year-old Kimberly Colt was underweight and could not clean her teeth, use toilet paper or comb her hair. She had problems with hearing, speech, sight, could not read or write and did not know how to use toilet paper or comb her hair. When approached by one of the officers who had called at the 'camp' Kimberly threatened to cut off the officer's fingers.
Betty's son Brian, 12, had extensively decayed teeth, had borderline normal hearing and did not understand showering. His eyes were misaligned and he could not read, write or recognise numbers.
On July 18, 2012, police and social workers removed 12 children from the valley - and after careful questioning, harrowing tales emerged. Kimberly told of sexual contact with her uncle, Dwayne, who was 9 years old, while her aunt, Carmen, 8, watched. Sisters Ruth, 7, and Nadia, 9, had sexual touching with their brothers Albert, 15; Jed, 14; and Karl, 12. In one sad story, social workers were told how three brothers aged 14 and under tied their sister, 8, and niece, 13, naked to a tree.
The court documents revealed that clinicians and geneticists who took mouth swabs from the children deduced five of them had parents who were themselves 'closely related' to one another while another five had parents who were 'related'. But the complex tale of intimate relations was found to go back to Betty, Martha and Rhonda's maternal grandparents, who had been brother and sister.
Betty had 13 children, some of whom were probably fathered by her father, Tim, and her brother, Charlie. Along the way one of Betty's daughters, Tammy, 27, died from a genetic disease known as Zellweger syndrome.
Since the discovery of the shocking events in the hidden valley, some children have since been placed with foster families, while others are in treatment programmes for sexualised behaviour and psychological trauma. They are said to be making progress with schooling and hygiene, but Betty Colt, said the Telegraph, appears to be in denial and her lawyer has disputed the court's findings.
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