Warning: This story contains graphic details
Toronto Sun - Canada February 27, 2011
Inmate arrested after cult leader slain
By QMI AGENCY
MONTREAL – A 59-year-old cell inmate was arrested after Quebec cult leader Roch "Moses" Theriault was killed in his New Brunswick prison cell, RCMP say.
Correctional Service Canada confirmed to QMI Agency that the death of Theriault, 63, on Saturday is being investigated as a homicide.
He was found lifeless in his cell at Dorchester Penitentiary about 9 p.m., local time, said Etienne Chiasson of the CSC.
“Medical workers were called and tried to resuscitate him, but failed,” Chiasson said. “He was pronounced dead a few minutes later at 9:30 p.m.” Chiasson gave no other details regarding Theriault’s death due to the ongoing investigation.
Theriault, known as Moses, led a religious sect in Quebec and Ontario during the 1980s. He manipulated and physically abused his followers, including hacking a woman's right arm off.
In 1988, he used a butcher knife to disembowel his wife Solange Boilard during a cult ritual. He was sentenced to life in prison for her murder in 1993.
In recent months, Theriault told reporters he was plagued by guilt and overwhelmed with shame for the atrocities he committed.
Theriault was said to be weak and sick.
He made headlines in the past few years after he decided to write poems and sell his paintings on the Internet. The CSC forced him to stop and a federal court rejected Theriault’s appeal to reverse the decision.
In 1993, one of Theriault’s followers, Gabrielle Lavallee, wrote a book called “Alliance of the Sheep,” which describes her 12-year relationship with Theriault. The book was republished in 2009.
A movie was also made in 2002 about Theriault’s life called “Savage Messiah,” by director Mario Azzopardi.
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Inmate suspected in cult leader's death: RCMP
The New Brunswick RCMP say an inmate at a medium-security prison is under investigation after a former cult leader was found dead in his cell on Saturday morning.
Dorchester Penitentiary, which is southeast of Moncton and holds roughly 440 inmates, was locked down on Sunday and a 59-year-old inmate was being investigated in the death of Roch Thériault, 63.
The RCMP say the inmate who is believed to be involved in Thériault's death has not been charged.
Thériault, who was also known as Moses, was serving a life sentence for murder and other violent crimes in the 1980s.
Sgt. Greg Lupson said early indications are that Thériault's death came as a result of an assault.
"It's an ongoing investigation, so like all other homicide investigations there's very little information that can be communicated to the public," Lupson said.
"At a later time, if a charge is laid, there will be a court process and at some point during that court process the details of exactly what happened to Mr. Thériault would become public."
Thériault was a notorious Canadian figure as the leader of a fringe religious cult in Quebec and Ontario. He fathered more than 20 children with several women.
The cult was called the Ant Hill Kids, named for their hard work and self-sufficiency.
One of his victims was partially disembowelled with a kitchen knife and another had her right arm cut off with a cleaver.
Gabrielle Lavallee, who was a commune wife and had her arm severed, spoke to CBC News in 2002 after Thériault was denied parole.
"I went through hell for 12 years. We worked just like slaves," she said.
Étienne Chiasson, a spokesman for Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), said the penitentiary is co-operating with the RCMP and coroner's investigation.
"The safety of the inmates, of our staff and the public are paramount for CSC," Chiasson said.
"That's why in such events under any circumstances and no matter who the inmate is or the victim, we take that seriously and it's important to us to investigate and find out what happened."
This is the second homicide at the prison in recent months.
Daniel Pépin, 44, of Quebec, died after an altercation with another inmate in September. Joshua Robert Terry, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in provincial court in Moncton in December. The RCMP said in February that Matthew Ryan Robinson, 25, of Heathland, N.B., was also charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault with a weapon.
Tries to sell prison art
Theriault made headlines again in 2009 when he tried to sell his artwork on a U.S.-based website MurderAuction.com, which called itself a "true crime auction house." The website was willing to sell some of Theriault's drawings and poetry.
CSC had to step in to stop Theriault's work from leaving the Dorchester Penitentiary. Stockwell Day, the federal public safety minister at the time, wrote to the CSC to express concern that the killer was benefiting from work in prison.
Slain cult leader was ‘victim of his past’
Thériault often assaulted by other inmates: lawyer
By Paul Cherry | Postmedia News
Former cult leader Roch Theriault was found dead in his jail cell in Dorchester, N.B., on Saturday Feb. 27, the victim of what police are calling an assault. Photograph by: Frame grab, Gazette
MONTREAL - Roch Thériault, the former doomsday cult leader who was killed in his cell over the weekend, paid dearly and often for his crimes, his lawyer says.
Renée Millette, a Montreal lawyer who represents inmates for procedures like parole hearings, said Thériault was attacked often by other inmates over the last two decades while he served time for amputating the arm of one of his followers and killing another. Millette said the assaults include others at Dorchester Penitentiary, the medium-security institution near Moncton, N.B., where he died Saturday. He had been incarcerated there since 2000.
“He was often a victim of his past. The assaults had nothing to do with how he acted while incarcerated. It was because of his past,” Millette said, adding Thériault had regrets about his time as the spiritual leader of a group he began in Quebec in 1978 and later moved to Burnt River, Ont., where the cult became known as the Ant Hill Kids.
Millette said she was stunned to hear Thériault was likely assaulted in his cell. She said he did not share his cell and that the section of the federal penitentiary was well-monitored.
Correctional staff found the former cult leader inside his cell shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday. According to a release issued by Correctional Service of Canada, Thériault was “unresponsive” and the victim of an apparent assault. Attempts to revive him failed.
Millette said she first met Thériault in 1995 while he was incarcerated in a penitentiary in Portneuf and was experiencing problems there.
“He was no longer a dangerous man. I don’t hesitate in saying that,” Millette said of Thériault, who was turned down for parole in 2002 because the National Parole Board deemed him too high a risk of reoffending. Millette said Thériault walked out on his 2002 hearing before it ended and never sought parole again.
Millette said Thériault’s health problems, in particular diabetes and a bad heart, made him very weak. She said he recently spent two weeks in a hospital to be treated for two severely blocked arteries.
Thériault started a commune in the Gaspé region, near New Carlisle, in 1978 and attracted followers while proclaiming himself a prophet who could predict the end of the world. The cult moved to Ontario in 1984 and settled in Burnt River. It was there that Thériault committed the crimes that resulted in the life sentence he was serving. In 1989, he was sentenced to 12 years for amputating the arm of Gabrielle Lavallée, one of his followers. Lavallée told police Thériault believed he was a doctor whenever he drank. It was while investigating what he did to Lavallée that police discovered Thériault killed 32-year-old Solange Boislard, another woman who lived with him. He was sentenced to life in 1993 after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Charges were not laid Monday even though the RCMP arrested and questioned a 59-year-old inmate after Thériault was killed. The inmate's name was not made public.
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Canoe News - Canada March 1, 2011
Retired judge recalls encounter with cult leader
By ALAN R. CAPON, Special to QMI Agency
PICTON, Ont. - News of the death of convicted cult leader and murderer Roch "Moses" Theriault at a New Brunswick prison reminded retired local Judge George Inrig of the time the infamous cult leader appeared before him in a Lindsay court.
Theriault, 63, who was recently found dead in his cell at Dorchester Penitentiary, led a notorious religious sect in Quebec and Ontario during the 1980s. Known as Theriault, he physically abused his followers and, in 1988, disembowelled his wife Solange Boilard during a cult ritual. He was sentenced to life in prison for her murder in 1993.
Inrig, now retired and living in Picton, recalled there was a commune consisting of two or three men and several women who had come from the Gaspe region of Quebec to the Kinmount area of Victoria County, south of Haliburton. Some members of the commune had appeared before him for shoplifting. They had sewn winter coats with several pockets on the inside and Theriault would send them out with a shopping list of things to steal.
When one of the women in the commune, Gabrielle Lavalee, injured her arm, Theriault decided to amputate it. Without any anesthetic, she was held down and her arm was removed by a jack-knife and a saw. Police learned of this some months later, Inrig said, and Theriault was charged.
He appeared in court and stated that he wanted to plead guilty to the charge. He refused counsel and said in court, "If she says I did it, then I did it." Inrig explained to him that he should have a lawyer represent him on the matter of sentencing. He was adamant that he was going to plead guilty and wanted to be sentenced that day.
"Again, I tried to encourage him to have legal representation," Inrig said, but he refused. Theriault was sentenced to 12 years in the penitentiary and three years concurrent for his attempt to cauterize Lavallee's wound using a steel rod heated with a blowtorch.
"The following day, in the Toronto Star, there was an editorial stating that in Victoria County they knew how to expedite matters," said Inrig.
A week later, a Toronto lawyer wrote to the Star suggesting things had moved too quickly and the matter should have been adjourned until Theriault could hire a lawyer. The lawyer stated that he had represented Theriault on previous matters.
"Obviously, Theriault was not impressed with this fellow as a lawyer or he would have retained him. I gave him lots of opportunity to obtain a remand of the matter until he could retain counsel."
Inrig said he next heard of Theriault last Sunday when the RCMP said his body had been found in his cell. Another inmate has been charged with his murder.
According to news reports from 1988, Theriault called his mob of followers the "Ant Hill Kids" and the Kinmount-area commune included eight "wives," one of whom was Lavalee and another Boilard, whom Theriault killed by partially disembowelling her. He later buried her corpse on the commune property.
Only after his arrest on four assault charges involving Lavallee did another cult member step forward and tell police about Boilard's death -- which had remained secret for more than a year.
As Theriault stood before Inrig -- and perhaps explaining why he was anxious to have the assault matter dealt with quickly to skirt the issue of murder -- no one outside the Ant Hill Kids knew that Theriault had brutally murdered Boilard in a bizarre "healing" ritual in which she was partially gutted.
The cult leader is dead after being brutally beaten at Dorchester last weekend, but his legacy is a long one as he fathered more than two dozen children with members of his female flock. Some of his former "wives" had even set up a bakery near Millhaven several years ago, to be near their cult master.
Theriault even fathered at least one child while incarcerated at Millhaven: one of the bake shop followers gave birth to a baby conceived with Theriault in a conjugal visit trailer on the Millhaven grounds. Theriault was transferred from Millhaven to Dorchester more than a decade ago at his own request, it was said, to get away from "the anglo media."
-with files from the Belleville Intelligencer
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Vancouver Sun - March 3, 2011
Notorious cult leader's throat slit with homemade knife: sources
By Gary Dimmock, Postmedia News
OTTAWA — Moments after notorious cult leader Roch Theriault was slain in his prison cell Saturday morning, his killer walked up to a guard and threw down a bloody knife, then said the dying, self-styled prophet might need some help.
News of the Ontario cult leader's death has made headlines around the world with reports that he was beaten to death. In fact, the Ottawa Citizen has learned that the 63-year-old who liked to be called Moses was slashed in the throat with a homemade knife.
Prison guards had last seen Theriault alive at 8:15 a.m. Saturday.
The RCMP have revealed little about the cult leader's killing, though their investigators quickly established that he had been attacked by another inmate at 9:10 a.m. Saturday.
Theriault, who was serving a life sentence for killing his "wife" in a secret cult ritual, died 30 minutes after the knife attack and before an ambulance had arrived at Dorchester Penitentiary near Moncton, N.B.
The guards tried to revive him but there was nothing they could do.
The leader of Ant Hill Kids, a violent cult based at a camp north of Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s, Theriault killed one of his "wives" while trying to disembowel her with a knife during a ritual.
The cult buried the body of Solange Boislard but the secret grave was found a year later in 1989, not far from the cult's camp.
Theriault, who had at least three "wives" and 25 children, presented himself as a prophet who wrongly declared the world would end in 1979.
But his followers stood by him and, by some of their own accounts, worked like slaves for the cult, named the Ant Hill Kids for its work ethic.
But they were also subjected to torture, and in at least two cases, death.
One woman who complained of a toothache had several teeth extracted by Theriault with a pair of pliers. He later amputated her arm with a meat cleaver. No anaesthetic was administered.
In 1981, Theriault and two of his followers were arrested in the death of a two-year-old boy who was beaten for crying.
Theriault once used a pair of scissors to remove a lump on the boy's penis. The body of the boy, whose parents were cult members, was later burned.
Theriault was later convicted of criminal negligence in the boy's death.
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