‘We think there are many, many more’: This former ‘cult leader’ killed a toddler, cops say

Anna Elizabeth Young
Anna Elizabeth Young Courtesy

She was convicted in 2001 of child abuse for bathing a 12-year-old in chemicals and severely burning the girl’s body.

Now a cold case investigation that began in Florida and stretched into Georgia has linked 75-year-old Anna Elizabeth Young to the death of a toddler in the 1980s, according to a news release from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia.

But Young’s arrest Thursday in Georgia is the beginning of a larger investigation into the “religious boarding school” she ran in Florida, just south of Gainesville, more than 25 years ago, police say.

“We think there are many, many more. We can document other states and other missing children that we believe are tied to this,” Art Forgey, Alachua County (Fla.) Sheriff’s spokesman told the Gainesville Sun. “They ran a religious institution — exorcising demons and other things like that. We have documentation involving her clear back [to] the 60s.”

WGFL-TV reported that Emon “Moses” Harper, the toddler, was 2-3 years old at the time when he died, after being tortured, starved and locked in a cage from March 1, 1988 through June 1, 1992.

“The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office developed new information recently during an investigation and were able to substantiate that Young had not only tortured children,” but that she allegedly killed at least one, according to the release.

According to the Marietta Daily Journal, Young went by “Mother Anna” at the boarding school called “House of Prayer for All People.” The Sun reported that Young bought the property in 1983 and transferred it to a nonprofit under the same name two years later.

Young was married in Georgia and was living under the last name “Anderson,” the release said. It was not clear how long she had been living in Georgia. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, citing court records, Young-Anderson was indicted on one count of first-degree murder, which in Florida carries the potential of harsher sentencing due to suspicion of the act being pre-meditated, on Wednesday.

Detectives have identified potential victims of abuse from Young-Anderson all the way back to 1968, when she was in her late 20s, Forgey told McClatchy in an email. But at this point authorities don’t have the full picture of how many children she could have abused, injured or killed.