Micanopy cult leader indicted for child's murder

Published: Dec. 1, 2017 at 11:26 PM EST
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It has taken several decades, but the murder of a little boy may now be solved. A former Alachua County resident has been indicted for murder. The woman once ran a religious boarding school near Micanopy that Alachua County deputies say had practices that were similar to a cult.

Officials say witnesses and victims of 75 year old, Anna Elizabeth Young's abuse came forward with horrific memories. Now after a year-long investigation, she's back behind bars for one of what could be many murders.

"I think the extent of how long this took place," said Art Forgey, Alachua County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer. "You know, going clear back to the 60s is the most shocking thing here."

A year's worth of digging revealed Anna Elizabeth Young is responsible for the torturous abuse and death of multiple children.

"Witnesses came forward from the House of Prayer alleging brutality and even some children being murdered," Forgey said.

This week, young was indicted by a grand jury for the unlawful death of little Emon Harper, also known as Moses, who deputies say Young was related to. But deputies say they have reason to believe she's been hiding an even darker past.

"It's not just one isolated incident of beatings," Forgey said. "There were numerous children that were beaten, locked in solitary confinement, food-withheld."

The matriarch of a cult-like religious boarding school in Micanopy, "Mother Anna" was charged with felony child abuse back in 1992. Young fled from Florida, but was captured eight years later. In 2001, she was sentenced to six months and 12 days in jail for bathing a 12 year old girl in a steel tub with chemicals causing severe chemical burns.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg that we know of," Forgey said.

Several people came forward within the last year accusing Young of torturing, punishing, caging, and starving children at the House of Prayer, which authorities are calling, the "house of horrors."

"The arrest is in no means going to close this case, because there is so much more and so many more potential victims and witnesses," Forgey said.

Officials say many of the people involved with the religious school have since died.

Young was arrested in Georgia Thursday night and is facing a charge of premeditated first degree homicide-murder of a child.

Her extradition to Florida is still pending.