A “former cult leader” has been arrested for crimes she allegedly committed at her “religious boarding school” in Micanopy, Florida, more than three decades ago.
According to a news release from the Cobb County Sheriff's Office in Georgia, 75-year-old Anna Elizabeth Young has been charged with the premeditated first-degree murder of a student who had been under her care at the House of Prayer for All People.
Great Work by the Cobb County Sheriff's Office Fugitive Unit and United States Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force on the arrest of a former cult leader and fugitive from justice from Florida! #cobbsheriff🇺🇸 #CobbCounty @cobbcountygovt @cobbpolice1 @mdjonline @CobbNewsNow pic.twitter.com/OscRHhsIBD
— Cobb Co. Sheriff (@CobbSheriff) December 1, 2017
Art Forgey, a public information officer for Alachua County Sheriff's Office in Florida, told People his office started investigating Young last year after receiving an email documenting years of alleged abuse at the school:
“This all started with an email with a lot of this documented, that talked about the things that had been going on, and a lot of it was hard to believe. But detectives started digging into the substance of the email, and it snowballed, and they realized a lot of it was factual.”
During the course of a year-long investigation, WCJB reports, several former students from the school came forward and accused Young of torturing, caging, and starving multiple children. Forgey told WGFL that Young conducted the abuse in order to “get the devil out.”
Police officers uncovered information that Young had tortured and withheld food from a 2- or 3-year-old former student named Emon “Moses” Harper.
Harper died while under the care of the school between 1988 and 1989. It is unknown how Harper became enrolled in the school, but officers suspect he was related to Young.
In an interview with Dearly, Forgey said police were previously unaware of Harper's death: “His information is what triggered the start of the investigation.” Investigators are still looking into the details of his death at this time.
Forgey told The Gainesville Sun the murder charge against Young may be the first of many:
“We think there are many, many more. 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 the ’60s.”
Police officers are currently seeking information regarding Young, Harper, and the school. The House of Prayer for All People operated from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.
According to The Washington Post, Young and her husband, Jonah, purchased the property in 1983. The couple originally operated a “ministry” from the home with other family members. It is unknown when they started welcoming students, but in 1985, the title was transferred to the school.
The school shut down after Young was charged with felony child abuse in 1992 for burning a 12-year-old girl with chemicals inside of a steel tub.
Young fled the state and was discovered living in a relative's attic in Illinois eight years later. She was convicted of child abuse in 2001 and was sentenced to six months and 12 days in prison.
For the past few years, she has been living with her new husband in Marietta, Georgia, under her remarried name of Anderson.
She was arrested on Nov. 30 by the Cobb County Sheriff's Office Fugitive Unit and the U.S. Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force. Her extradition to Florida is currently pending.
If you or anyone you know has any information pertaining to this investigation, you are encouraged to call the Cold Case Division at the Alachua County Sheriff's Office at 352-384-3323.
Watch the full report, via WCJB, below.