Colorado cult members accused of keeping mummified remains of leader appear in court

·1 min read

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Seven members of a religious cult who authorities say kept the mummified remains of their leader at a home in a remote Colorado town festooned with Christmas lights and glitter made an initial court appearance on Wednesday.

The four men and three women, ranging in age from 30 to 52 years old, are each charged with one count of abusing of a corpse and two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. The child abuse charges stem from two children who were living in the house where the body was found.

The bizarre tableau was discovered last week when a follower of the "Love Has Won" spiritual group told police that the members were keeping the corpse of the group's leader, Amy Carlson, inside his house in Moffat, Colorado, about 180 miles southwest of Denver.

Deputies found the remains of Carlson, 45, during a search of the home. Carlson, known to members as “Mother God,” was wrapped in a sleeping bag with glitter makeup around her eyes. The corpse was decorated with Christmas lights.

"The mummified remains appeared to be set up in some type of shrine," the affidavit said.

Police have not said when or how Carlson died or whether foul play was suspected. An autopsy was pending.

At Wednesday’s virtual hearing, Saguache County Judge Anna Ulrich released two of the defendants on personal recognizance bonds. The other five defendants remained in custody on $2,000 bail.

A prosecutor told the judge he expected to file an additional count of evidence tampering.

The Saguache County sheriff’s office said it has received complaints from across the United States from people who said the group was brainwashing its members and stealing their money.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Gerry Doyle)