Transcript: 171. The Ant Hill Kids Cult of Roch Thériault | Canada

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When visitors came, there was harmony in the commune of the Ant Hill Kids. Roch Thériault’s wives served up a banquet of natural and organic food, and the large group of children were remarkably well-behaved.

From the outside-in, it appeared like a peaceful set-up: a religious group living an altenative lifestyle. Although it was unusual perhaps, the group was god-fearing and lived off the land. All the members chose to live there out of their own free will.

However, when their guests left, and their leader opened up his first bottle of booze – everything changed. They feared his violent outbursts and did whatever was necessary to appease him. From experience they knew not to try and escape... The ones who had tried to run away, were ordered to break their own legs. One man was forced to chop off his wife’s toes with an axe.

Yet the members remained loyal to the man they called Papy. They worked like slaves and their food was rationed, but somehow, they revered him. In a letter, one of his concubines wrote:

Hello Papy!

I am writing about what you said on the subject of nutrition. It is very true that I nibble, a damnable fault which I will never again repeat. The thought of ingesting such a large quantity of food in so little time discouraged me, even if I work outside the entire day without eating. I ask you to forgive me. If it is stealing, I did not realise. 

It is this fault that causes by plumpness. I do not want to be a fat and plump servant. That is too ugly next to the man that you are.

I don’t know what to think about everything and the meaning of my actions. I only know that I will not repeat them. And I don’t speak lightly.

I wish to be a true servant to you, my Master. Alert, vigorous, with a clear and lively spirit and well-balanced to serve you every moment of my life.

I have a long way to go.

Thank you Papy,

I love you – Hogla

As time went on, Roch Thériault’s controlling behaviour became more violent and sadistic, causing him to commit some of the most heinous crimes ever seen in the whole of Canada.

>>Intro Music

Roch Thériault was born on May 16th, 1947 in the Saguenay Valley of Québec. He was the second of seven children to Hyacinthe and Pierrette Thériault and the eldest son. His family moved to the Thetford Mine community, in the Eastern Township when Roch was six years old. The town had one small local school, which only offered classes up to the seventh grade. Despite being described as full of promise and eager to learn, Roch went no further with his education, nor did any of his other siblings. Roch’s mom, Hyacinthe, was a devout member of the Catholic fascist group, ‘Union des Electeurs’ (or Union of Electors), who were also referred to as the White Berets – after their distinct mission uniform. Roch developed an intense hatred for the Catholic faith after attending Mass regularly as a boy and being forced by his father to spread the gospel by going door to door to local residents. But it wasn’t just Catholicism that he didn’t like, Roch developed a distaste for organised religion as a whole.

The best word to sum up Roch’s childhood is ‘uneventful’. The Thériault family had a simple life in Thetford Mines but as a teenager, Roch found a way to get more attention: by complaining about one’s childhood was a sure-fire way to get sympathy. Roch described his father as being an abusive man, but Hyacinthe adamantly denied the accusation. Roch continued accusing his parents of all sorts of things, and it was clear that the young man craved attention. He chose certain topics of conversation, read up about it and then gave the illusion of great intelligence. After he stopped attending school, Roch taught himself the Old Testament and he began to fixate on the idea that the world was coming to an end. He converted to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and followed their rules stringently. This meant no smoking, no junk food, no alcohol and no drugs.

On November 11th, 1967, Roch married Francine Grenier, a girl from a nearby town. Once married, the couple moved to Montréal and had two sons: Roch Sylvain and François. While living in Montréal Roch developed ulcers which led to him needing surgery. Due to complications however, Roch was left with permanent discomfort. This also meant that he wasn’t the happiest guy to be around. Because of his health issues, Roch became obsessed with health and medicine. This is when he learnt about human anatomy extensively, something that he would use later in life.

Three years after moving away, Roch moved his family back to Thetford mines and began honing his woodworking skills. Roch used the fact that he needed to travel to sell his woodwork as an excuse to travel to Québec City and get involved with women he met there. One of these women, Gisèle Lafrance, would become one of his first cult members. Woodwork sales didn’t bring in enough cash to support his life back in Thetford Mines and the local credit union took possession of Roch’s house. After this, Francine parted ways and Roch continued his relationship with Gisèle. At this point he was no longer a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church after he was kicked out for attempting to take over leadership of the church. His magnetic personality and outspoken manner made others in the church uncomfortable, and he was asked to leave.

By the mid 1970s, Roch’s conviction of being a ‘god-sent’ saviour grew and he began recruiting people to join his religious movement. He was a charismatic speaker and a charming man, so this came naturally for him. And with that, in 1977, the Ant Hill Kids was born. The initial members ranged in age from 18 to 24, and Roch himself was 30 at the time. His followers were: Solange Boilard, Chantal Labrie, Francine Laflamme, Josée Pelletier, Jacques Fiset, Claude Ouellette and Jacques Giguère and his partner Maryse Grenier together with their six-month-old baby girl. 

Roch Theriault’s initial goal was harmless enough; he wanted to start a free-thinking commune where people would live freely and listen to his teachings. But it quickly morphed into a whole different beast. Roch banned his followers from having any contact with the outside world, including their families. The following months saw a steady decline in Roch’s grip on reality and he became convinced that the end of the world was near: February of 1979 to be exact. He preached to his followers that God had spoken to him and told him to prepare himself and his followers for the end of the world. This prompted Roch to move the group from Sainte-Marie, Quebec, to a mountainside, dubbed by Roch as ‘Eternal Mountain’, near Gaspé village of St. Jogues. When he moved to ‘Eternal Mountain’, Roch had 17 members in his cult: four men, nine women, and four children. 

And where did the name the Ant Hill Kids come from? Well, while Roch relaxed and barely lifted a finger, the members of his cult set to work building an entire little town from scratch. Like worker ants. A large communal cabin was the first to be built, with members working 17-hour days to clear the land and fetch supplies from the nearby town. Claude Ouellette and Jacques Fiset were tasked with digging a hole where the centre of the cabin would fall, in order to have a well. They chipped away at the ground for an entire summer before finally reaching the water table. Roch declared it a miracle. 

Food was scarce for the members – they only ate fruit and vegetables from their garden, and other food was heavily rationed. They were malnourished and weak, but they didn’t dare complain. If they did, Roch would cut their rations even further. One mealtime, the pregnant Maryse Grenier ate two more pancakes than what had been allocated to her. Roch responded to this by punching her so severely in the side, he broke two of her ribs.

Some members quickly grew tired of this treatment, like Yolande Guinnebert, headed back to France claiming her passport had expired. Another man, Léo Marc Faucher, who had joined with his wife and child, packed up and left as well, despite having given Roch all of their money. Roch didn’t try to stop them from leaving. Keep in mind, it was early days in the cult. This kind of behaviour became a taboo as time went on.

In keeping with their new lives, Roch gave all the members new names from the Old Testament. He became ‘Moïse’ or Moses and commanded his followers to call him Papy and Gisèle was Mamy. Many members still received welfare cheques, which they shared with the group, providing a monthly income of 1400 Canadian Dollars. 

By September 1977, construction on ‘Eternal Mountain’ was complete. The Ant Hill Kids’ cabin was a simple single room with a well in the middle. The roof consisted of moss-covered logs, and the ‘rooms’ were metre high partitions with bedsheets acting as curtains. They didn’t need much more than that though. The end of the world was approaching, and they were going to ride it out on ‘Eternal Mountain’. 

In November 1978, the world was shocked to learn about the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. Roch showed particular interesting the unfolding events and claimed he had a vision of this happening the year prior. Of course, he had never mentioned such a vision to anyone. The Jonestown Massacre actually had an effect of the Ant Hill Kids as families of group members began trying to disrupt things for Roch. Authorities became aware of the commune but they lacked any evidence that Roch was inflicting harm on anyone so they weren’t able to arrest him. Roch however, volunteered to talk to police. He underwent a physiological evaluation and told them he wasn’t the leader of the group. They were a democracy living peacefully “without promiscuity”. However, behind closed doors that was not the case. Still, police had no evidence of Roch being dangerous. Sure he was an odd ball, but that was hardly grounds for arrest and he was released without charge. 

Maryse Grenier became increasingly anxious and urged her husband to leave with her. Jacques informed their leader of his wife’s wishes and Roch instructed him to chop off one of Maryse’s toes with an axe. When Jacques was reluctant, Roch taunted him:

“What are you, a faggot? Don't you have any balls? If you want to be a man, you have to learn how to teach your woman a lesson.” 

Roch then picked up the axe and raised it over Maryse’s foot, threatening to cut of every single one of her toes. Jacques gave in and chopped off Maryse’s pinkie toe. After this, with Jacques being broken and moulded into Roch’s puppet, he became Roch’s right-hand man.

With the end of the world approaching, Roch became focused on increasing the size of his cult so he declared all marriages – except his and Gisèle’s – null and void. He took it upon himself to marry all of the women in the commune, conducting the wedding ceremonies himself. As soon as they were married, he consummated the marriages, and continued bedding his wives until they fell pregnant. In total, Roch fathered 26 children with the nine female members of his cult. 

In February 1979, the he predicted the apocalypse to have been, came and went. This didn’t discourage Roch or his followers though. Roch explained it away by saying there was a difference between the Roman Catholic calendar and the Israelite calendar, and that the end of the world was still coming. This was a good enough reason for his followers, much to the shock of their families. Parents of Chantel Labrie obtained a court order to get psychiatric testing done of their daughter, but when police officers showed up at the commune, but Roch denied them access. 

A month after the non-apocalpse, Québec City’s ‘Le Soleil’ published an article on the group titled “They Are Happy and Free To Leave If They Wish”. This piqued the interest of local law enforcement and ten police officers descended on the mountain in a helicopter a few days later. Roch was arrested for obstruction of justice and ordered by the court to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Gisèle played the role of dutiful wife during Roch’s absence and kept up the morale of the group. Families of the cult members, who knew Roch had been removed, tried to visit during this time, but they were made to feel very unwelcome. Meanwhile, Roch was turning on his persuasive charm with the doctors. He told them that he had ‘rescued’ many of his members from a life of drug and alcohol addiction and was helping them back on track. He offered them a place to live, within a wholesome community. The hospital director even began calling Roch ‘Moses’ and expressed his scorn for the public’s unfair assumptions about the man who simply chose to live a different lifestyle.

Roch was released from the hospital earlier than expected and was deemed fit to stand trial for his obstruction of justice charge for which he received a one year suspended sentence. This saw a shift in the media’s portrayal of Roch, with them suddenly painting him as a gentle mountain man who wanted to get away from the harsh side of modern society. To his followers, this only strengthened their belief that he was a good leader. Soon after this, Roch gave up his strict Adventist diet. He started eating meat, milk, cheese and junk food again. He also began drinking again, after having been sober for two years. When he consumed alcohol, he forced everyone to gather around him, and delivered drunken sermons for hours on end. If any of the members fell asleep, Roch would hit them over the head with a club. 

At the beginning of November 1980, a new member joined the group. He was the first new member since 1977, a man named Guy Veer. Guy had been at the same hospital Roch attended, being treated for depression. He first heard about Roch on television and was drawn in by his story and message, so he headed for ‘Eternal Mountain’. He had to pass an examination of sorts, before being invited to live with The Ant Hill Kids. 

But Guy wasn’t permitted to live in the main cabin – his accommodation was a tool shed where he was provided a wood stove, bottles of home brewed beer, some chickens and one meal a day. Guy was assigned the job of looking after the three children that were not Roch’s, in addition to the usual chores like chopping wood and continuing the construction of Roch’s wooden palace. The children Guy was to babysit were two-year-old Samuel Giguère, four-year-old Miriam Giguère, and two-year-old Simon Ouellette, who came from Solange and Claude’s short-lived marriage. 

On March 23rd, 1980, Roch planned a party. Twelve-year-old Roch junior and ten-year-old François, from Roch’s marriage to Francine, were invited to attend, and were going to move into the commune permanently. Guy wasn’t allowed to attend, however. He was to look after the ‘outsider’ children. That night something happened to little Samuel, the court record said the following: Samuel was crying and keeping Guy from sleeping, which made him mad. Guy lost his temper with the little boy and started to scream in his face, telling the boy to be quiet. When Samuel wouldn’t stop crying, Guy picked him up by the throat and punched the young boy in the face multiple times. 

The following day, Roch supposedly found out what had happened. He called on Gabrielle, who was considered to be the nurse of the group, to take care of Samuel. The report claimed Samuel’s head was floppy and his penis was swollen. Roch took a pair of scissors and ‘lanced’ the boy’s penis to let his urine flow out. Little Samuel was found deceased the following morning.

According to a book written by Paul Kaihla and Ross Laver, Gisèle had a different version of events. She said Samuel’s face was bruised on the morning of March 24th, but his head certainly wasn’t flopping around. He wasn’t in any serious trouble health wise until Roch got involved. Roch irrationally decided that Samuel needed to be circumcised. In performing the circumcision, he used a razor that had been sterilised with alcohol. He also gave the boy the same solution to drink to act as an anaesthetic. Samuel died the following day; his cause of death could have been complications from the circumcision or from alcohol poisoning. Maryse Grenier was informed about her son’s death but at this stage, she was so far under Roch’s spell that she just went about her daily work That night, Roch suggested they burn the young boy’s remains, which his parents both agreed to. Claude Ouellette was the one in charge of burying him and once it was complete, things went back to normal. 

Well, as normal as things could be in a mountainside commune under the rule of a sadistic leader. By September 1980, Roch’s drinking was out of control. One night, he had a drunken argument with Guy and decided he needed to be punished for little Samuel’s death. To make the punishment fair, Roch declared that Guy would stand trial for his actions. But not through the Canadian court system. No, The Ant Hill Kids would have their own trial on ‘Eternal Mountain’. Samuel’s father was the judge, Gisèle was the prosecutor, Claude Ouellette was Guy’s lawyer, Gabrielle was the coroner, and Roch’s remaining six wives would be the jury. The proceedings lasted an hour before a verdict was reached: not guilty by reason of insanity. The result did not satisfy Roch. After considering his options, he approached Jacques a few hours later and said they should castrate Guy. Jacques was reluctant but Roch issued another vote. This time a jury of ten was called upon, which included Roch’s young son, Roch JR. Three of the ten voted against the castration – the other seven agreed that castration was a suitable punishment. 

Guy didn’t plead his case during the whole ordeal, instead he opted to remain silent. Naturally, when the verdict was read, he was upset, and protested. But shockingly, Roch was able to convince Guy to go along with it. Roch said Guy’s headaches and his respiratory issues would be cured. Roch went on to explain the group structure. Guy was a slave and if he was castrated, he would be promoted up a level. Guy then was asked to lie on the kitchen table, doubled up as a slab for surgery, while Gabrielle fetched some medical equipment: an elastic band, a razor blade, a pair of tweezers, a magnifying glass, and ethanol. The operation was said to have been painless and Guy recovered. He never did complain of another headache.

Despite Roch’s promises, Guy did not move up in the ranks of the cult. In fact, it was like he had been demoted – if that was even possible. Roch used Guy as his punching bag, bullying him and making the other followers do things to him, like trying to stab him in the chest with knives. On November 5th 1980 Guy managed to escape The Ant Hill Kids and travelled to the nearby village of Saint-Jogues. He began to tell the villagers of a child that had died after being kicked by a horse. After hearing this, police invaded the commune and arrested Roch and both of Samuel’s parents. Police uncovered Samuel’s remains and members were quick to blame Guy for the boy’s death. Authorities removed seven children from the compound and placed them into foster care. Their parents were given the opportunity to regain custody of the children, only if they left the commune. All of the parents decided to give up their children and stay behind with Roch.

A coroner examined Samuel’s remains and concluded that his death was not accidental. Roch Thériault, Jacques Giguère, Maryse Grenier, Gabrielle Lavallee and Guy Veer were the charged with being criminally negligent and causing bodily harm to the young boy. Claude Ouellette was charged with obstruction of justice for burning Samuel’s remains. There was a string of other charges for other members such as neglect of their own children. No one pleaded guilty to the charges. Jacques, Maryse, Claude, Solange, and Guy were released on condition they do not return to the cabin at ‘Eternal Mountain’. Roch was denied bail, as he was considered a danger to society. 

A nine-month trial ensued and all charged members of The Ant Hill Kids were found guilty. Maryse and Solange were handed a three-year probation, Jacques and Claude got six months in prison and three years’ probation; Guy was initially sentenced but later acquitted due to his mental issues and placed in Robert Giffard Hospital. Gabrielle was sentenced to nine months in prison and three years’ probation. Roch was given two years in prison, and three years’ probation. He was moved to Orsainville Detention Centre in Québec City. 

The members wanted to stay near Roch and managed to find four apartments in Québec City. And what about ‘Eternal Mountain’? Well, police made sure to burn the cabin down and bulldoze what was left. At this point, it looked like the cult had imploded and everything had come to an end. But that was not the case.

Roch Thériault was released in February 1984. His members, who had stayed loyal throughout his prison sentence, thought that they could all rent a house in the city together. But Roch had other plans, something he had planned while he was in prison. They would start over, build their commune up from the ground, somewhere else. The group travelled back to the wild and found a plot in Somerville Township, Burnt River. Somerville was close to the town of Lindsay, in Victoria County, Ontario. 

Roch became sober while prison and promised his followers that there would be no more violence. By May that year, the group settled at Burnt River and began building their new home. Roch had a vision for their new commune: an two-story A-frame cabin, with a kitchen, a bakery, a maple sugar shack, a smokehouse, a root cellar, and a stone altar where he could communicate with God. All of this was to be built by the remaining two men and nine women (four of which were heavily pregnant). They also had to mind the remaining 10 children, but Roch was unforgiving in his quest to have their new home built.

People of Somerville occasionally visited the compound, but Roch made sure the cult’s dark-side was never revealed to their guests. Locals were unaware of the group’s history in Québec and they thought Roch and his friends were simply odd neighbours. Despite being a bit ‘out there’ they seemed were hard-working and harmless. In Victoria, The Ant Hill Kids were considered an institution, not a family. This meant the group now longer received their welfare checks. To make up for this, Roch told his wives to start stealing from the local grocery store in Lindsay. They took meat, milk, vegetables, toilet paper, and just about everything else they wanted or needed. Their clothing was even altered, creating huge inner pockets to carry and hide shoplifted goods.

Jacques Giguère was caught shoplifting on January 31st, 1985, by a local police officer. Nearby Gabrielle, Claude, Nicole Ruel, and Roch junior were found waiting. Between the group of five, a total of over $450 dollars’ worth of items had been stolen. They were never formally charged, but they were banned from shopping in Lindsay ever again. Roch made his followers contact their parents for money. If they refused, it only served to further push the idea that they were unloving, unhelpful, hateful people. Desperate for money, the group sold baked goods and fruit, which soon provided a decent income. Roch saw the potential and created a company called the ‘Ant Hill Kids’.

Roch sobriety did not last very long. When he was bored, he would drink. And when he drank, he became an unforgiving sadist. He kept his followers physically and mentally weak making them easy to control. One of Roch’s new rules was that his followers weren’t allowed to speak to fellow members without his permission. They were also not allowed to have sex without consulting him first. To up the ante, he introduced ‘Gladiator Tournaments’, where he would have members get into a dirt ring and fight each other. Sometimes the women were made to wrestle each other while naked to entertain Roch. 

Roch began to decline mentally and became convinced all of his followers wanted to defect. He picked a favourite wife for a while, causing distrust and jealousy among the others. This approach to divide and rule assured Roch he would always be the one in control, his followers would not band together to overthrow him. Over time, his methods became more sadistic. He no longer conducted beatings with belts, he used hammers instead. When Roch suspected someone wanted to leave, he had a particularly crude way of punishing them. He would hang the person from a ceiling and pluck hairs from their body one by one. Then he would defecate on them. 

He even convinced his followers to break their own legs with a sledgehammer, to prove their loyalty to him and the cult. But it didn’t stop there. Roch made his followers sit on lit stoves, shoot each other in the shoulders, cut off each other’s toes and, rub faeces on one another. The children weren’t exempt from this treatment either. They would often be stripped naked and beaten and reportedly, if one of the children misbehaved, Roch would pin them up against a tree, nail their clothing to the trunk and make the other children throw rocks at them. One evening, during a freezing Canadian winter, one mother was forced to leave her crying baby outside. Sadly, the infant succumbed to hypothermia.

The death of that child led law enforcement to investigate the neglect of children of the cult. In 1987, 14 children were put into foster care. Despite the clear abuse, Children’s Aid just wanted to remove the children from the commune, not press any charges. This meant that the cult carried on, with just two men and eight women.

The removal of the children made Roch incredibly angry, which made him more violent. When Roch was intoxicated, he liked to play ‘doctor’ with his followers. On one day, he became enraged at Claude Ouellette, no one knew why. Claude’s punishment was to walk around with an elastic band wrapped around his scrotum. Claude kept the band on overnight which caused tremendous damage of his testicles. So, Roch got to play doctor again. He grabbed a razor blade and opened Claude’s scrotum, removing the infected testicle with his hands. He then cauterised the wound with a burning hot iron. Roch continued to target Claude and tried to have the group vote on whether they should stone Claude to death. Fortunately for Claude, the group voted against it. Roch’s response to this was to threaten to cut Claude’s stomach open. Claude, noticing Roch’s escalating violent behaviour, escaped to the woods where he would wait for Roch to calm down and sober up. This became a common tactic of all the members to avoid Roch’s wrath.

One night, Roch threw a knife at Gisèle which struck her thigh. The wound bled profusely, but Roch offered no help to his ‘wife’ and told her to go to sleep. After two hours a large scab had formed on Gisèle’s swollen leg. Roch ceased the opportunity to operate. Gisèle was made to lie down on the kitchen table where he reopened the wound and poured hot water over it. Later, when the wound became infected, Roch rubbed in salt and olive oil to cure the infection. Miraculously, Gisèle’s leg healed. As soon as she recovered, she tried to escape and went to stay with her father for a couple of days. But she was under Roch’s spell, and before long, she returned to the commune.

In September of 1988, Solange fell ill. Roch told her something was wrong with her liver and that he needed to operate. One day, he got drunker than usual and decided it was time for Solange’s treatment. He led her to the kitchen and made her strip naked and lie down on a table. Roch then attempted to give Solange an enema with a plastic tube, trying to fill her up with molasses, oil and water. After this, he punched Solange in the stomach repeatedly. As a reflex, she put her hands up in defence, but when Roch told her to put them down, she complied. Next up, he placed a tube down her throat and made everyone in the group blow into it. All of this was only preparation for the surgical procedure. 

Everyone looked on as Roch made a large incision on Solange’s side just below her ribs. He placed his hand inside her, rummaged around her intestines and eventually pulled out a piece of tissue. Confident that he had healed her, he said:

“There. You're going to be all right.

Roch ordered one of the others to sew her up, after which he made Solange get back up off the table. She was unsteady on her feet, and he told her to have a hot bath, then a cold one, then a hot one again. However, nothing made Solange feel better. She went to lie down, and before long blood was pouring out of her mouth, and she died. Doctors would later say this was due to digestive fluids having leaked into her abdominal cavity. 

After the death of Solange, Roch was in a state. He tried to end his life by drowning, overdosing on Tylenol and he even asked Jacques to shoot him, but Roch survived all the suicide attempts. His mental health also deteriorated and over time he became convinced that he was pregnant with Solange.

A week after her passing, Roch had a revelation: he would resurrect Solange. He ordered Claude to exhume her body. Gabrielle was tasked with opening her up and pouring vinegar inside her body, to preserve her organs. Solange was returned to her grave, only to be dug up a second time when Roch deemed it was time for her resurrection. 

Solange’s body was laid out on the kitchen table. Jacques was ordered to drill a hole her skull. Roch proceeded to ejaculate into the opening. He encouraged the other men to do the same. 

According to this ill-conceived masterplan, Roch believed that the semen would bring Solange back to life. Unsurprisingly, she remained dead. Roch was distraught and his followers decided it would be best to burn her remains. Before they could do so, Roch removed one of her ribs. From that day forward, he wore it in a leather pouch around his neck. In the Genesis, God created Eve by taking her from the rib of Adam. Perhaps this biblical gesture was Roch’s last-ditch effort to one day revive Solange once more.

Two months after Solange’s death, another member had a health concern. Gabrielle Lavalee complained about a sore tooth. Roch’s answer to her problem was ripping out eight of her teeth with pliers. That wasn’t all Roch had in store for Gabrielle though. Later that evening, he chased Gabrielle around with a knife and managed to cut one of the tendons in her hand. Still, Gabrielle remained loyal to her tormentor. 

Over the years she had suffered horrific abuse from the hands of Roch including a blow torch held to her genitals and a hypodermic needle being placed in her spine, which broke off while still inserted. Gabrielle had tried to leave the cult on previous occasions but returned after she was unable to live without them. In July 1989, Gabrielle complained that her hand was stiff. Roch then pinned her hand to the kitchen table with a knife and decided to amputate her arm. Some reports say he used a meat cleaver, other say he used a hunting knife, but regardless of what instrument he used, Roch began hacking away at Gabrielle’s arm until it was amputated. He then left her lying on the kitchen floor, in unimaginable pain, until the following morning when the remaining stump was stitched up. Still, Gabrielle stayed. 

On August 16th, Gabrielle managed to get off the property and made her way to the closest hospital. She tried to make up an excuse for the fact that she had an arm missing, but the hospital called the police, realising something seriously wrong. When the police showed up on Roch’s doorstep three days later, there was no one around. The compound had been deserted. Three members fled with Roch, while others went back to their families, having finally had enough. 

Police searched for Roch for six weeks before discovering him at a hideout in Quebec. Charges were also laid against the other members of his cult for Gabrielle’s amputation, which they all pleaded guilty to. For this act of sadism, Roch was handed twelve years in prison.

Rcoh was also charged with the first-degree murder of Solange Boilard. The judge believed there wasn’t enough evidence that the murder was premeditated so instead, Roch was tried for second degree murder. In the end the former cult leader made a deal to ensure more leniency: he pleaded guilty and no additional charges were brought against him.

On January 18th, 1993, Roch Thériault was sentenced to life in prison. His reign of terror was finally over. Yet, some of his wives remained loyal to him, and he impregnated them during conjugal visits, giving him four more children. 

The fierce cult leader never completed his sentence, however. In 2011, the 63-year-old Roch was fatally stabbed by a fellow inmate. An unceremonious death for someone who believed he was a vessel of God and manipulated people to do the unthinkable. He is no longer alive, but the damage he did will remain, as his disillusioned followers raise his children, and try to nurse the emotional and physical scars left by a monstrous sadist.

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