Love Has Won followers face more severe charges in connection with cult leader’s death – The Denver Post
Seven followers of the Love Has Won cult will face a more severe charge that carries a longer prison sentence in connection with the death of their spiritual leader, a Colorado prosecutor said Wednesday.
During an afternoon hearing, 12th Judicial District Deputy District Attorney Alex Raines said he plans to amend charges later in the week to tampering with a deceased human body, which would carry a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.
Seven people were taken into custody on April 28 on suspicion of abuse of a corpse, which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. They also face two misdemeanor counts of child abuse.
Six of the seven people arrested in connection with the death of Amy Carlson, the spiritual leader of Love Has Won who was known as “Mother God,” appeared in Saguache County District Court on Wednesday to hear the charges against them.
Two of the six were granted $1,000 personal recognizance bonds, which means they will be eligible to leave the Rio Grande County Jail.
Wednesday’s hearing also revealed a few details about the Love Has Won followers who were arrested.
Two women are mothers, who are separated from their children. One of those women is the mother of a 13-year-old girl, who was found in the house with the body and placed under the supervision of the Saguache County Department of Social Services. A defense attorney said she had other children who lived in Pennsylvania.
One man is a former Marine. Four of the six had prior criminal records, mostly for traffic violations and misdemeanors.
The six are scheduled to next appear in court on May 12.
Saguache County sheriff’s deputies found Carlson’s mummified body in a house near Crestone where Love Has Won followers resided, according to an arrest affidavit. The body was in a sleeping bag and wrapped in Christmas tree lights, and glitter makeup was painted around the eyes.
Authorities believe Love Has Won followers drove Carlson’s body to Colorado from California in a Nissan Rogue, the affidavit said. The body was reported to the Salida Police Department by a follower, who has not been taken into custody.
On Wednesday, a defense attorney told Saguache County Judge Anna Ulrich that the person who reported the body had taken the group’s money and left the county.
Saguache County Coroner Tom Perrin said he had not positively identified the body as Carlson’s. He could not obtain fingerprints because of the body’s condition and is awaiting dental records. He estimated she had been dead for four weeks or longer.
However, the sheriff’s office arrest affidavit identified the deceased as the cult’s leader, and her followers have posted video messages on social media to say that Mother God had ascended rather than died.
Love Has Won established itself in Crestone about four years ago, and since then the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office said it has received calls from around the country from family members who are concerned about their loved one’s participation in the group.
Carlson’s followers believe she was leading them toward a great awakening and that she could communicate with angels, including Robin Williams, the actor who died by suicide in 2014. The group posts daily videos on YouTube and other social media outlets where they talk for hours about their “divine decrees” and express their devotion to Mother God.
Since her death, the Love Has Won website and Facebook page have been removed from the Internet.
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