The founder of a bizarre cult that briefly decamped to Kauai in September as its intended new headquarters has apparently died; her decomposed body was found in a house in Colorado while two young children were residing in a different room.
Police and sheriff’s deputies said Monday that the human remains may have belonged to Amy Carlson, in her mid-50s, who was revered as god by members of Love Has Won, a cult whose beliefs revolve around the view that Carlson — known to her followers as Mom or Mother — is a manifestation of Lemuria, a mythical lost continent.
Seven adults found in the house were arrested on charges ranging from tampering with remains of a human body, abuse of a corpse and child abuse, according to Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick. The defendants were due to make an initial court appearance on Wednesday.
One of the adults also was charged with false imprisonment, Warwick said. All remained in custody Monday with bail ranging from $2,000 to $50,000.
Warwick said his department responded to a call on Thursday about a possible dead body and abused children at the run-down complex occupied by the cult.
When they arrived, Warwick said, deputies and other law enforcement personnel discovered a 14-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy shut in one bedroom and the decayed body that may be that of Carlson in another bedroom.
The children were turned over to the custody of a local child welfare agency.
While several media outlets reported that the dead person was Carlson, Warwick said an autopsy conducted late last week was unable to make a positive identification.
Carlson has led the cult from its Crestone, Colorado, headquarters since it was founded several years ago. Warwick and Capt. Ken Wilson said deputies have had regular calls for service at the cult’s headquarters. Often, Wilson said, the calls were originated by friends or relatives of cult members.
Police could not confirm where the woman whose body was found had died, or when. The cult was reportedly in the Mount Shasta area of California recently.
Warwick said deputies conducted a warrant-related search of a vehicle on Monday, which he said had apparently been used to transport the body to Colorado. He said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was assisting in the inquiry.
Bureau spokeswoman Susan Medina declined to comment on the investigation other than to say “I have no idea” when asked if the dead woman was Carlson.
“We’re providing assistance on a body that was discovered in the county,” she said, before referring other questions to Warwick.
It also appeared that Love Has Won’s website and daily livestream telecasts had been shut down on Monday.
The cult attracted attention on Kauai in September when a couple dozen members, including Carlson, briefly occupied an oceanfront vacation rental home in Wainiha and rooms at a motel in Lihue, Kauai’s government center, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local residents moved quickly to protest, accusing cult members of being child abusers. A couple of days later, a large group of local residents attacked the house, breaking windows and inflicting heavy damage on a new SUV that the cult apparently had purchased.
After the attack, Mayor Derek Kawakami assumed a role as mediator and secured agreement from the cult members to leave the island in exchange for a police escort to the airport. The same day the group flew out, police on Maui refused to let the cult members leave the airport since they did not have satisfactory quarantine arrangements.
From there, it was believed the cult members flew to the San Francisco area. Whether they settled elsewhere after that before their reported stay in the Mount Shasta area or had been back in Colorado previously was unknown.
Warwick said it is not known when autopsy results would be released.
The adults arrested included Jason Castillo, who may have been Carlson’s male companion, as well as Ryan Kramer, John Robertson, Christopher Royer, Sarah Rudolph and Ma Obdulia Franco-Gonzalez.
Kramer was interviewed briefly on Kauai by Civil Beat when the Wainiha episode began last year. “We’re a group based on the ascension of the planet,” he said at the time. “We focus on astrology, on weather patterns, mainly medicine.”
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