Roch Thériault and The Ant Hill Kids

Roch “Moïse” Thériault was the leader of a small religious group/cult based near Burnt River, Ontario, Canada, who between 1977 and 1989 had as many as 12 adults and 22 children as followers. He had 26 children when he died, fathering the other 4 during visits in prison from some of his “wives”. He used all of the nine women as concubines, and may have fathered most of the children in the group.

He was arrested for assault in 1989, and convicted of murder in 1993. At the time of his death in 2011 he was continuing to serve out a life sentence, having been denied parole in 2002. Along with Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo, Thériault was considered one of Canada’s most notorious criminals.


Roch “Moïse” Thériault was a self-proclaimed prophet, born in Saguenay Valley in 1947. As a boy, although very intelligent, he dropped out of school in the 7th grade and began to teach himself the Old Testament. He believed that the end of the world was near and would be brought on by the war between good and evil. Thériault converted from Catholicism to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Thériault indulged in the religion’s regular holistic clinics, which encouraged a healthy lifestyle free of tobacco, and unhealthy foods. It was through this religion that Thériault realised his power of persuasion over others, and he managed to convince a group of people to leave their jobs and homes and move in with him. He formed the Ant Hill Kids in 1977. The goal was to form a community where people could freely listen to his motivational speeches and live in unity and equality, and be free of sin.

Thériault prohibited the group from remaining in contact with their families and with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as this was against his sect’s values. He moved away from being a motivational leader and, as his drinking problem increased, so did his controlling style of direction. The norms of the group became more and more controlled. Members were not allowed to speak to each other without Thériault present nor were they allowed to have sex with each other without his permission.

He feared for the end of the world and used the commune to prepare for it. Thériault claimed that God had warned him that the end of the world would come in February 1979. In 1978, in preparation, Thériault moved his commune. They hiked to a mountainside, which Thériault called ‘Eternal Mountain’ in Saint-Jogues, Quebec, where he claimed they could all be saved. There, he made the commune build their town while he relaxed. As he watched the group work, he compared them to ants working in an ant hill, naming the group the Ant Hill Kids. Following February 1979, when people started questioning his wisdom, he defended himself saying that time on earth and in God’s world were not parallel therefore it was a miscalculation. To expand the community as well as keep the members devoted, Thériault married and impregnated all of the women. He fathered over 20 children with 9 female members of the group. During the 1980s, nearly 40 people followed Roch Thériault. The group wore identical tunics to represent their devotion to the commune. In 1984 the group was relocated to Burnt River, Ontario.

Abuse of power

Thériault was a charismatic leader and none of the other members questioned his judgement or blamed him for any physical, mental or emotional damage. The Ant Hill Kids raised money for living by selling baked goods and members who didn’t bring in enough money were severely punished. Thériault spied on his members, making sure everybody was completely devoted and punishing those who strayed, claiming that God told him what they did.

His punishments were extreme. If a person wanted to leave the commune, Thériault would punish them with either belts, hits from a hammer, suspending them from the ceiling, plucking each of their body hairs individually, or even by defecating on them.

Despite his devastating punishments, the members of the Ant Hill Kids never questioned his authority. His punishments included making members break their own legs with sledgehammers, sitting on lit stoves, shooting each other in the shoulders, and eating dead mice and faeces. A follower would sometimes be asked to cut off another follower’s toes with wire cutters to prove loyalty. The children were not spared, and not only were they sexually abused, but they were also at times held over fires or would be nailed to trees while other children threw stones at them. Thériault was also responsible for the death of his own infant, as he left the child outside during a blizzard.

Going back to the original mission of the commune, Thériault strongly believed in purifying his subordinates. He would rid them of their sins through purification sessions where the members would be completely nude as he whipped and beat them. Claiming to be a holy being, Thériault demonstrated his healing powers through surgeries performed on sick members. He would sometimes inject 94% ethanol solution into followers’ stomachs, or perform circumcisions on the children and adults of the group.

When follower Solange Boilard complained of an upset stomach, Thériault laid her naked on a table, punched her in the stomach, jammed a plastic tube up her rectum to perform a crude enema with molasses and olive oil, then cut open her abdomen, and ripped off part of her intestines with his bare hands. Thériault made another member, Gabrielle Lavallée, stitch her up using needle and thread, and had the other women shove a tube down her throat and blow. Boilard died the next day. Claiming to have the power of resurrection, Thériault bore a hole into Boilard’s skull with a drill, and then made other male members—along with himself—ejaculate into the cavity.

Gabrielle Lavallée underwent harsh treatment herself during the years leading up to 1989. She had suffered through welding torches on her genitals, a hypodermic needle breaking off in her back and even eight of her teeth being forcibly removed. Upon her return, after having escaped from the commune, Thériault removed one of her fingers with wire cutters, pinned her hand to a wooden table with a hunting knife and then amputated her entire arm. The abuse that caused Gabrielle Lavallée to leave, however, is when Thériault cut off parts of her breast and smashed her head in with the blunt side of an axe. She fled and contacted authorities. The cult shut down in 1989, when Thériault was arrested and given a life sentence.


Thériault was found dead near his cell, February 26, 2011, at Dorchester Penitentiary, in New Brunswick. He was 63 years old. His death is believed to be the result of an altercation with his cell mate, Matthew Gerrard MacDonald, 60, of Port au Port, N.L, who killed Thériault and has been charged with the killing. MacDonald pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison (having already been serving a life sentence for a previous murder charge). MacDonald stabbed Thériault in the neck with a homemade knife. Afterwards, he walked to the guards’ station, handed them the knife and proclaimed, “That piece of shit is down on the range. Here’s the knife, I’ve sliced him up.”

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Roch Thériault, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

The High Priestess of Blood

In May 1963, fourteen-year-old schoolboy Sebastian Guerrero was wandering around the mountains in the northeastern state of Nuevo León in Mexico, when he heard a significant amount of unusual noises coming from one of the caves.

What he saw caused him to immediately run to the nearest police station, approximately 17 miles away in the town of Villa Gran to inform them. Despite initially being sceptical, the police sent investigator Luis Martinez with Sebastian to find out what was going on. This was the last time either of them were seen alive.

The Hernandez brothers

Santos and Cayetano Hernandez were two brothers who spent the early 1960s travelling around Mexico scamming and conning people in small towns out of money before they upped and left, moving onto the next and repeating. Towards the end of 1962, they reached Yerba Buena, near Monterrey in Nuevo León.

Yerba Buena in 1962 was a tiny farming community of around 50 individuals who all lived in poverty. They were mostly cut off from the outside world and the inhabitants were nearly all illiterate. Cars were rarely seen in the area and there was little, if any, electricity at all. Candles were still used as the main light source at night.

Location of Yerba Buena in Mexico

Location of Yerba Buena in Mexico

These petty criminals preyed on the naivety of the locals by claiming to be prophets sent by powerful Incan gods. In exchange for prosperity, they asked the townspeople to worship them and provide them with tribute. They promised that, in the mountains there were hidden treasures, and they would be given to the villagers as long as they stayed devoted to the brothers.

The Incas were not historically from Mexico, rather thousands of miles to the south in modern-day Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Despite this, the locals believed the claims of the Hernandez brothers and began to help them set up temples and clearing out caves in the nearby mountains for their rituals. Their rituals included consuming copious amounts of peyote, a type of hallucinogenic cactus, and taking many locals as sexual slaves.

For months, Santos and Cayetano were revered until there began to be unrest, and the people of Yerba Buena became impatient with the lack of noticeable improvement of life. The brothers had two options; run away to another town, or double-down and try to carry on the scam. They headed to nearby Monterrey, the state capital, in order to find help.

Magdalena from Monterrey

In Monterrey, the brothers found Magdalena Solís, described at the time as a “pretty teen-aged” woman working as a prostitute and Eleazar, her brother, who was working as her pimp. They all planned to head back to the caves of Yerba Buena to perform a ritual in which Magdalena would take on the role of a goddess which they would summon. This, they hoped, would convince the locals that they were being truthful, in order to keep extorting money, belongings and sexual favours from them.

Magdalena Solís

Magdalena Solís

Using flash powder to conjure a literal smokescreen, Magdalena appeared before the shocked onlookers and convinced them that she was the reincarnation of the Aztec goddess Coatlicue. A shift in hierarchy began to take place as Magdalena was now seen as the new leader, and the three men who were in on the illusion were now her “high priests”.

Death in the mountains

When two members of the local community requested that they be allowed to leave the village as they had enough of the sexual abuse, Magdalena ordered that they were to be killed in order to stop them. The devoted believers followed through with Magdalena’s wishes and the two “dissenters” were lynched. The power that she had over these people began to get to Magdalena and it appeared that she began to believe her own lies. In a short amount of time, the rituals that she led were no longer just sexual in nature, she required that any “dissenter” was sacrificed. The victim was to be beaten, burned and cut open in front of everyone present. These organised murders were to get rid of the non-believers as well as to scare everyone else into conforming. The rituals began to evolve as Magdalena started to remove the hearts of her victims when they were still alive, and consume the blood of the sacrificed. She claimed this was necessary in order for her to become immortal.

Aztec ritual human sacrifice portrayed in the Codex Magliabechiano.

The last sacrifices

One of the last times that this ritual took place was in late May 1963. The victim was hacked to death with a machete and their blood was mixed with the blood of a chicken and consumed by Magdalena and her high priests. Unbeknownst to anyone, this was all being watched by shocked schoolboy, Sebastian Guerrero, who had stumbled across the cave by chance.

Sebastian ran to find police, who did not believe the terrified young man, almost incoherent in his panic. His ramblings of “vampires” in the mountains left officers believing that he himself had taken hallucinogens. Investigator Luis Martinez was given the task of taking Sebastian home and seeing what was in the mountains for himself.


When Luis Martinez didn’t return, the police sent people to Yerba Buena. Here they found armed townspeople holed up in the caves. A gunfight ensued in which the police had to recruit the Mexican army to help. After a bloody battle which left various members of the village, including Santos Hernandez dead, the police began to investigate what had been going on in Yerba Buena.

The mutilated bodies of Sebastian Guerrero and Luis Martinez were found near to a farm where Magdalena and Eleazar Solís were caught and taken into custody. The body of police investigator Martinez was found to have had it’s heart removed in a similar vein to the other sacrifices performed.

The other Hernandez brother, Cayetano, was found to have been murdered in the panic created when the police advanced on Yerba Buena. A local by the name of Jesus Rubio had killed him in order to take a body part of a “high priest” in the belief that it would save him.


Magdalena told police that she was the reincarnation of El Niño Fidencio, a famed Mexican curandero, a type of faith healer, who had died 25 years before.

Eleazar, at first, claimed to not be related to Magdalena but eventually confessed to being her brother. He claimed that he told people he was the reincarnation of St Francis of Assisi.

Magdalena and Eleazar Solís were both convicted of the murders of Sebastian Guerrero and Luis Martinez and sentenced to fifty years in prison. Despite the finding of six other dead bodies, mutilated in similar ways, they could not be found guilty as none of the villagers were willing to testify.

Twelve other people from the village who had been taken alive by police were each sentenced to thirty years in prison on six counts of “group or gang murder, or lynching.”