A 75-year-old former cult leader who ran a religious boarding school in Florida decades ago has been arrested for the torture and murder of a toddler nearly 30 years ago. Officials who have been involved in the yearlong investigation say that this is only the beginning, and they expect many more instances of torture and death to come to light.
Anna Elizabeth Young ran the House of Prayer for All People boarding house near Micanopy, FL beginning in 1985, but authorities have stated that they have evidence of her being active in cult-like activity all the way back to the 1960s.
Art Forgey, the Public Information Officer for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters, “We think there are more victims. Detectives were able to put together a timeline and information on her as they developed this case and they have developed stuff back to 1968.”
Young has been arrested for the death of a toddler, Emon “Moses” Harper, who was starved of food, tortured, and eventually killed sometime in 1988 or 1989 when he was only 2 or 3 years old. Forgey stated that authorities are still investigating the exact dates. The cold case was reopened when authorities received an email that documented several things that authorities slowly realized were all true as they investigated further.
Forgey revealed that the murder of Harper was not an isolated incident. Many of the children who had been in the care of Young are now adults in their 40's or 50’s, and they have come forward to cooperate with police, and the stories they have to share are extremely disturbing. They told authorities of instances of children being locked in cages, starved for extended periods, and other instances of torture and sadistic violence.
“Witnesses came forward from the House of Prayer alleging brutality and even some children being murdered,” Forgey said.
“Mother Anna” as some called her was actually charged with felony child abuse in 1992 for bathing a 12-year-old girl in a steel tub full of caustic chemicals, giving the child severe chemical burns. Young fled and was not captured until eight years later when she was found hiding in the attic of a family member in Illinois. She was sentenced to six months and 12 days in jail.
Over the past year that investigators have been collecting evidence they have taken to calling the House of Prayer the “House of Horrors”. Forgey stated, “We think there are many, many more (cases of abuse/murder). We can document other states and other missing children that we believe are tied into this. They ran a religious institution — exorcising demons and other things like that. We have documentation involving her clear back to the ’60s. We did extensive forensic examination on the property this summer. We are still analyzing the evidence that we gathered.”
Young has been living in Marietta, GA and was arrested there last week. She will be extradited to Alachua County, FL to face charges.
This is an extreme example of the kind of horrible damage religion can do. Children were tortured and murdered under the aegis of religion by this woman for up to 30 years. This woman was locking children in cages, starving them, and murdering them. The fact that she got away with it for so long because of the protection that religious belief enjoys is despicable.
The protection of children from harm needs to be prioritized over religious freedom, otherwise we will continue to see more examples of this kind of vile behavior.