CRESTONE, Colo. — Members of a southern Colorado cult are under investigation after a dead body wrapped in Christmas lights was found on one of the organization’s compounds.
“Love has Won” has earned criticism from families of former members for emotionally abusing, brainwashing and financially manipulating their loved ones and as of late last week, was under investigation with seven members accused of abuse of a corpse and child abuse.
A member of the cult as well as the deceased’s family said Amy Carlson is the person who is dead.
“[She is] a beautiful, young talented girl. Very intelligent, very talented and would sing in choir. She was a sweet, loving daughter,” said Linda Haythorne, Amy’s mother.
Amy has been described as the “cult leader” following the death however, Linda said that’s inaccurate.
What’s know through the cult’s YouTube page is Amy was known as “Mother God” in the cult. While she appears to be at the forefront, the family of other former cult members tells FOX21 she was more of the idol of the group.
Amy or “Mother God” had to be a certain weight to “ascend” to heaven meaning she could not eat, mostly drinking alcohol and the cult members would carry her, contributing to her atrophying body. Pictures show the slight frame Carlson had in the months leading to what her family believes is her death. Haythorne isn’t sure if her daughter was starved or chose not to eat.
“Ascending” the family members tell us, was likely Amy’s death.
“She was very innocent and she was beautiful and she was one of those kinds that were more a follower than a leader and were sucked up into something that she didn’t know how to get out of and it went on and on and on,” Haythorne said.
Haythorne said her daughter started getting involved in the cult in 2011. She had read some strange books and started becoming involved with a man she met online. While Haythorn and Carlson’s sisters could occasionally talk to her via text or Skype, they never felt as though she was in control of herself.
An interview the family did with Dr Phil was one of the last attempts the family made to convince Amy to leave.
The live videos that the cult posted showed emotional abuse that has been described as commonplace in the cult. Amy would yell at other members as well.
“I was shocked. I was completely shocked that Amy would do things like that,” Haythorne said. “She wasn’t raised like that. I don’t know if it was a brainwash or the people she was around.”
Though Amy and Amy “ascending” was key to the cult’s belief, Haythorne and other families of separate former cult members say she was not the leader, the organizer, or the one in charge of the cult. That person is still out there, Haythorne fears, ready to suck more people into their lies.
“We don’t know the whole truth. I hear stories from different people,” Haythorne said. “People have been reaching out to me. Ex-cult members are telling me it’s not just the ones that are in jail. There are more involved and there is a mastermind to all of this and he’s still out there and I don’t want him out there anymore because he might do this to someone else.”