A former Florida cult leader was sentenced to 30 years in prison in the deaths of two children, including a boy who was deprived of food and water.
Anna Elizabeth Young, the 79-year-old ex-head who ran the “House of Prayer for All People” cult in Micanopy in the 1980s, pleaded no contest in an Alachua County court Wednesday in the murder of Emon Harper via torture and the manslaughter death of Katonya Jackson, who died from being withheld medication, WCJB reported.
Young, aka “Mother Anna,” was arrested in 2017 on a felony child abuse charge for bathing a 12-year-old girl in a steel tub with chemicals, causing severe burns, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia announced. The Florida woman accused of running a “religious boarding school’ was arrested in Marietta and had been jailed since that time.
Emon disappeared from Micanopy, Florida, sometime in 1988, according to the Charley Project, which profiles cold case missing persons. At the time, he and his family were members of Young’s cult, which operated “under a system of collectivism and Old Testament-style beliefs” that included a kosher diet and adherents wearing robes and head coverings.
Members of the group – 24 at its peak – had to change their names and the boy was known as “Moses” Harper. Young allegedly forced members to give up their savings and separated parents from their children, while starving, beating and tortured her followers for their “sins,” according to the missing persons advocacy group.
Harper was between the ages of 2 and 3 when his mother gave him to Young’s cult, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Young’s daughter, Joy Fluker, testified in court Wednesday that she’s still haunted by Moses’ final words and the sound of his voice.
“Moses only lived a few short years, but he taught me life is too big to be swept under a rug, imprisoned in a home, or buried in the ground,” Fluker told a judge.
Katonya’s brother, John Neal, said he’s also lives with the pain from his time in the cult decades ago.
“We still love and miss her to this day,” Neal said Wednesday. “She was a human being. She was good. She was loved. She would have been 30 years old this year.”
The girl’s mother, Lea Vera Jackson, said the girl was 2 when she joined Young’s cult.
“Kay was beat to death,” Jackson said. “John was nearly beat to death and has scars on his back that are still there. We were all beat. I’m here to stand up for my daughter and say justice was done. It hurts, but justice has been done.”
Yoiung was sentenced to 30 years in prison for Emon’s murder and 15 years in the manslaughter death of Katonya. The sentences will run concurrently, WCJB reported.