Micanopy, FL – Police have arrested a 75-year-old woman they said is responsible for torturing numerous children, and killing at least one.
Anna Elizabeth Young, known as “Mother Anna” to the unfortunate children who ended up in her care at a religious Florida boarding school, was arrested Nov. 30, and charged with premeditated first degree homicide-murder of a child.
A grand jury indicted Young for the unlawful death of Emon “Moses” Harper, whom police believe was Young’s relative. Harper was believed to be two or three years old at the time of his murder.
He died after being tortured, starved, and locked in a cage from March 1, 1988 through June 1, 1992, according to WGFL.
Young opened the boarding school, called The House of Prayer for All People, in 1983 and ran it for nearly a decade. Her husband Jonah Young ran the school with her until his death in 1988.
Alachua County authorities said the children under “Mother Anna’s” care were tortured and abused in a religious cult atmosphere that included exorcism and chemical baths, The Washington Post reported.
“Witnesses came forward from the House of Prayer alleging brutality and even some children being murdered,” Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Art Forgey told WCJB. “It’s not just one isolated incident of beatings. There were numerous children that were beaten, locked in solitary confinement, food-withheld.”
“I think the extent of how long this took place … You know, going clear back to the 60s is the most shocking thing here,” Officer Forgey said.
Police said the investigation of Harper’s death began when new information was presented to the sheriff’s office.
Cold case investigator Kevin Allen began exploring the new leads, and uncovered more evidence, that pointed to Young.
Investigators followed up on the new leads from former cult members, and discovered that Young was responsible for the torturous abuse and death of multiple children, The Gainesville Sun reported
“It’s not just one isolated incident of beatings,” Officer Forgey said. “There were numerous children that were beaten, locked in solitary confinement, food-withheld.”
After a year-long investigation, police arrested Young for murder near Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday. She was discovered married and living in Georgia under the last name “Anderson.”
This arrest was not Young’s first brush with the law. In 1992, she was charged with felony child abuse.
She fled Florida, but was captured eight years later.
Young was sentenced to six months and 12 days in jail in 2001 for bathing a 12-year-old girl in a steel tub with chemicals, causing severe chemical burns, WCJB reported.
Police said the investigation has only begun with the death of Harper.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg that we know of,” Officer Forgey said.
“We think there are many, many more. We can document other states and other missing children that we believe are tied into this,” he told The Gainesville Sun.
Authorities said that children who lived with Young have been cooperating with the investigation. Most of her former “students” are now in their 40s and 50s.
“It’s going to be a really complex case and there is a lot of sensitivity with the victims, who are all adults now,” Lloyd said. “Their recall is very good because they’ve been through it.”
Detectives have identified potential victims of abuse from Young all the way back to 1968, when she was in her late 20s, the Miami Herald reported.
Authorities said they don’t have the full picture of how many children she could have abused, injured or killed, and they will continue to investigate.
“They ran a religious institution — exorcising demons and other things like that. We have documentation involving her clear back the ’60s. We did extensive forensic examination on the property this summer. We are still analyzing the evidence that we gathered,” Officer Forgery said.
Young was held without bond at the Cobb County Jail on a fugitive from justice warrant. Her extradition to Florida was pending.