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Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids

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Andrew Walker

on 6 June 2014

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Transcript of Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids

Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids
What Makes a Cult?
A cult must have 2 of the following 5 characteristics

An authoritarian leader who is not questioned
The group claims that only they will be given some higher understanding or will be saved
The group members are isolated form there family, replacing it with their "new family", the cult
Group members are manipulated or lied to, in order to hide the real purpose of the cult
The group members are taken advantage of financially by the higher members of the cult
Why are Thériault's "Ant Hill Kids" a Cult?
Thériault convinced the founding members of the group to leave their jobs and homes to live with him
Despite treating his followers wretchedly, Thériault, even after his imprisonment, was never questioned by his followers
The Ant Hill Kids took the idea of a "new family" quite literally, with Thériault impregnating all 9 of his "wives", fathering 22 children as a free man, and a further 4 as an inmate
History of the Ant Hill Kids
In 1977, Roch Thériault, an avid Seventh-Day Adventist Church member, formed the Ant Hill Kids
By presenting at numerous religious clinics, Thériault found a group of people, whom he convinced to leave their jobs and homes and move in with him
Thériault, along with his faithful family, believed the end of the world was near
Thériault claimed that God had told him the end would come in February 1979, and the only way to be saved was to move there group into nature
The group moved to a mountain-side near the village of Burnt River, Ontario
While the group built the small living quarters in which they would stay, Thérialut watched, comparing them to ants working on a hill, thus was the inspiration for Thériault's friend, Alex Joseph, founder of the Confederate Nations of Israel, to christen them the Ant Hill Kids
History of the Ant Hill Kids
He claimed that God had told him that the Armageddon would be filled with "boulder like hailstones" falling from the sky, but, obviously, these never came
But when February 1979 passed, with a surprising lack of boulders raining from the sky, some began to question him
The questioning was short lived, though, as he claimed that the world that God lived in a world that had a different interpretation of time, and therefore caused the miscalculation, but said that God had told him that the road to heaven would be full of struggle
He used this as an excuse for his heavy drinking a year later, which subsequently caused abuse to the children and adults alike
On one instance he claimed that he had to beat the devil out of the kids, and said only he could do it because the parents were to spiritually week
History of the Ant Hill Kids
The members of the group suffered from exhaustion and malnutrition, but their hard work was not encouraged with gifts and rewards, but rather with beatings by a drunk Thériault
The next day, a sober Thériault would cry, praying to God to stop making him beat the others, as well as promising the followers that the beatings would stop
Typical punishments included beatings with either belts or hammers, plucking their individual body hairs out, hanging them from the ceiling, making them sit on lit stoves, and defecating on them
The beatings didn't just come from Thériault himself, but on many occasions he instructed others in the group to do retched actions on their peers
Some of these included making other members break their peers legs, shoot their peers in the shoulder, and cutting off their peers toes with wire cutters
While these were typically saved for the adults, the children were not spared
The most occurring punishment for kids was nailing them to trees and having the other children throw stones at them, but sexual assault was common as well
History of the Ant Hill Kids
Attention was brought to the commune when one of the children died of hypothermia after being left out in a blizzard
No action was taken, though, because the autopsy ruled it as a crib death
On December 6th, 1985, CAS ceased all 14 of the children who were apart of the Ant Hill Kids
Thériault's "wives" had 9 more children over the next two years, each of which were ceased soon after birth
Reports in 1987 told that Thériault force many youngsters to do unmentionable sexual acts on him
Now that the children were gone, the cult turned into a "demonic orgy of sexual perversion and violence" (McLean's)
On one instance, Thériault wrapped a rubber band around the testicles of Claude Ouelette, causing his scrotum to swell profoundly
After Ouelette informed Thérialut that it was infected, he cut it open, removed the infected testicle, and cauterized the wound with a piece of hot iron
History of the Ant Hill Kids
On Septemner 28, 1988, Thériault started probably the worst of his actions
That day, Solange Boilard had complained of a stomach ache after Thériault had asked the whole group in they needed any medical attention, something she would soon regret
Minutes later, she lay naked on a table, with a tube shoved up her rectum
He poured molasses and olive oil down it, then proceeded to cut open her abdomen with freshly sharpened knife
If that wasn't bad enough, he then ripped off a piece of her intestine, then ordered Gabrielle Lavallée to stitch her up
Boilard died the next morning in terrible pain
That wasn't the end though, as he ordered members to bury her and dig her up two times, then removed a rip from her rip cage and wore it around his neck
In an attempt to revive her, Thériault sawed of her skull cap so he and his fellow male members could do unspeakable thing into it, this only after removing her uterus
History of the Ant Hill Kids
Then came the beginning of his downfall
Only a month after the murder of Boilard, Thériault treated Lavallée
He ripped eight of her teeth out after she complained of, somewhat ironically, a tooth ache
Then, to treat a stiffness in a finger, he impaled her hand with a knife, keeping it still on the table
He left her there for a hour, and after seeing how her arm had turned black and blue from blood loss, he amputated it
It took two tries to get it off, originally the blade was too dull so he had to go sharpen it
He then ordered someone to stitch her up, then cauterized the wound with a piece of drive shaft from his truck, heated up by an acetylene torch
Lavallée fled the compound the next day, hitchhiked to Toronto, where she told police how she lost her arm
History of the Ant Hill Kids
In fear of what she might do and who she might alert, Thériault fled the compound with two other members
It took police 6 weeks of searching with helicopters and police dogs, but Thériault was found on October 24th, 1989, in the camp in which he intended to spend the winter
Four days later, he pleaded guilty to his attack on Lavallee, for which he was sentenced 12 years in jail
The sentence was reduced to 10 years after an appeal, this was until Lavallée told police about Boilard's murder a year later, to which he pleaded guilty
For the murder, he was given a life sentence
The cult was technically shut down in 1989 upon his apprehension, but four of his wives moved close to the prison in which he was staying, and started up there own bakery
While in prison, he managed to have a further four kids with these wives
Beliefs of the Ant Hill Kids
Because Roch Thériault and many of the founding members of the Ant Hill Kids were members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, they share many of the same beliefs
One in particular that shaped the group was the belief that the "Last Judgment" will come, and bring the end of days
They believed the only way to escape the Judgment Day and go to Heaven was to move into the nature, because that is where they came from
They believed that Thériault was a prophet and could talk to God
They all were given biblical names, including Thériault, who was called Moïse (Moses)
Who was Attracted?
And how did they Recruit?
Thériault began to start his cult when he was doing detox seminars for the Seventh-Day Adventists Church
The founding members came from those seminars, so they were generally smokers or alcoholics
These people where probably desperate to get over their addiction, and so were more venerable to manipulation
To help them with their detox, he invited them to move in with him, in which many did
This was the beginning of the Ant Hill Kids
During this, and up until 1979, Thériault was receiving money from the church to do this
When they first moved into the wilderness, the members of the group were worked tirelessly
Thériault did virtually nothing, saving him energy to beat people
The members were weak from exhaustion and constant beatings
Who was Attracted?
And how did they Recruit?
Thériault claimed that he was a prophet, and everything he did was because God had told him to do it, including the beatings
This may have caused some gullible members to believe that Thériault was greater than God, because God was beating them and their peers, and Thériault "prayed" to God to make him stop
They lived far into the wilderness, so if anyone did want to escape, it would be hard to do so, and if caught, they would be punished severely
Impact in Others in Society
The Ant Hill Kids did not have a massive impact on society as a whole, because they did not do any massive campaigns of recruitment or spreading their message
Rather, they had a large impact on individuals in society
From the Ant Hill Kids, 22 children were ceased by the CAS, 20 of which found homes
The children would have grown up afraid, two children, Francois and Roch-Sylvian Thériault, say they still live in fear
The four children who were born after his imprisonment will have grown up not realizing how crazy both of their parents are
Many people in Burnt River, Ontario had relationships with the cult, some giving the cult free good in exchange for sex with his "wives"
Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids are known nation wide as Canada's craziest cult, as well as Thériault known as one of Canada's worst crimnals
Facts about Roch Thériault
Roch Thériault was born on May 16th, 1947, in Saguenay, Quebec
Originally Catholic, he eventually converted to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Thériault was very intelligent as a kids, and he dropped out at grade 7 to teach himself the Old Testament
It was when he began the detox seminars that he learned his ability to persuade people
Roch Thériault was murdered in 2011 by his cell mate, who received life in prison for the murder
In 2002, Shaw Media and Muse Entertainment made a movie about Thériault and his followers, called "Savage Messiah"
The movie received 7 nominations at the Genie Awards, now called the Canadian Screen Awards, winning three, including best actor (Luc Picard)
Facts about the Ant Hill Kids
The Ant Hill Kids' main source of income after the church stopped giving them money was their bakery
They would make bread and sell it to a baker in Burnt River
They were denied welfare checks by the government because the were considered an institution
Despite many children being born to Thériault, not all were
Some were born to the few other male members of the cult
The kids who were not Thériault were neglected far more than the others, and were, on some occasions, referred to as slaves
After his imprisonment, the few "wives" that stayed loyal to him opened up a bakery near the prison in which he was staying
Trivia
1. Name three common punishments used by Thériault
1. Beatings with either belts or hammers, plucking their individual body hairs out, hanging them from the ceiling, making them sit on lit stoves, defecating on them, making other members break their peers legs, shoot their peers in the shoulder, cutting off their peers toes with wire cutters, and nailing them to trees and having the other children throw stones at them
2. What church did Thériault belong to?
2. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church
3. Who were the two people Thériault killed?
3. One of his children and Solange Boilard
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