By Victor Ochieng
An abusive Florida woman who ran a religious school has been charged in the 1980s death of a toddler. Police allege that the woman starved the child to death at the school, and there are fears she may have done the same to more children.
The Gainvesville Sun reported that the woman, Anna Elizabeth Young, 75, was arrested by officers on Friday and eventually charged.
Young has been accused of being responsible for the death of Emon Harper, who was at the time two or three years old. From around 1985 to 1995, Young, known famously then as “Mother Anna,” ran House of Prayer for All People in Micanopy.
Digging back into Young’s background, police suspect the woman may have had some other victims whose cases haven’t been exposed just yet. In 2001, Young was found guilty of child abuse in a case in which she had been accused of washing a 12-year-old girl in a tub filled with chemicals.
Some individuals who formerly attended the House of Prayer for All People opened up after many years, alleging that the place of worship was a cult atmosphere, where they were tortured in different ways, including exorcism and bathed in chemicals and exorcism.
‘Witnesses came forward from the House of Prayer alleging brutality and even some children being murdered,’ Art Forgey, a spokesperson with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement to WCJB. “It’s not just one isolated incident of beatings. There were numerous children that were beaten, locked in solitary confinement, food-withheld.”
Over the past year, a number of those who stayed with Young at the House of Prayer, now aged over 40 years have reported to authorities that they were tortured, punished, caged and starved. It’s those allegations that led to the charging of Young in Harper’s death.
“We think there are many, many more. We can document other states and other missing children that we believe are tied into this,” Forgey told The Sun. “They ran a religious institution – exorcising demons and other things like that. We have documentation involving her clear back the ’60s.”
Things started taking a terrible turn for Young back in the 1990s, when in 1992, she was accused and charged with child abuse, according to court records. Aware that the case against her was solid, she exited the state and would only be arrested eight years later at a relative’s home in Illinois.
After her arrest, Cobb Co. Sheriff’s Twitter handle posted a little tap on their back, saying, “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!”
In 2001, Young was slapped with a jail term of six months and 12 days. There were no clear reports on when Anna and Robert Young started accepting children into the property which they purchased in 1983.
Investigations are still ongoing into the matter, with hopes that more details will be unearthed to ensure justice is done.