Anna Elizabeth Young, above, who ran the House of Prayer for All People religious boarding school in Micannopy, Florida, has been arrested in Georgia on charges of torturing and killing a toddler in the late 1980s.
The alleged killing, according to this report, came to light after a year-long investigation into the abuse suffered by many children placed in her care.
Harper died after he was denied food by Young who had allegedly tortured and maliciously punished him.
The investigation into Harper’s death began when a relative of Young’s who witnessed violence and deaths take occur at the House of Prayer as a child came forward to police to detail what she witnessed. The witness’s account opened up a “Pandora’s box” for investigators as they looked into Young’s past and continued to find more witnesses and collaborative evidence.
Authorities believe that Young began abusing children across several states as early as 1968, when a minor may have died “as a result of her treatment,” Art Forgey, public information officer for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said.
She is also believed to be connected to a six-year-old who went missing in Michigan 1973. Young is even listed on the original missing person report and is now believed to have buried him before reporting him missing, Forgey said. She was never considered a suspect until the investigation into Harper’s death began, he added.
Investigators believe that Young established roots in Alachua County in 1983 and came to the Micanopy area in 1985, founding the House of Prayer shortly after.
Police are also investigating similar cases of abuse that may have been committed by Young in Puerto Rico in the 1980s as well, after she had moved to Alachua County but before the House of Prayer had been founded, Forgey said.
In 1992, a 13-year-old girl who was placed in Young’s care by her parents was badly burned after Young bathed her in a bathtub full of chemicals. The child’s parents had brought her to the House of Prayer for “schooling” and “teaching”.
After the incident, Young fled the area and was found eight ears later living in an attic of a relative’s home in Illinois, according to the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office. She was then extradited back to Florida and served prison time for that crime after she was convicted in 2001.
Forgey said the the school was:
Run like kind of a religious institution. However, the treatment and care that these children received was anything but biblical or church-related.
Alachua County authorities had investigated the House of Prayer prior to the 1992 incident, but “nothing was ever substantiated at the time”.
It is unclear how many people participated in the cult, Forgey added. Young’s husband was allegedly also involved in the operation.
Really, the hard part here is we know there were probably a lot more people who were associated with her and knew her and may have been at the House of Prayer. There were no records of who were there and what children were there.
Investigators hope that the media attention garnered by Young’s arrest will inspire additional witnessed and victims to come forward, Forgey said.
Young has been charged with first-degree murder for Harper’s death. She will be held without bond once she is transferred back to Florida, according to the indictment.
Hat tip: Pat