DENVER—Several members of a bizarre spiritual group called “Love Has Won” have been taken into custody after the badly decaying body of the group’s leader was found in its headquarters.
Amy Carlson, 45, whose followers call her “Mother God,” was found dead in a mobile home in Casada Park, west of Crestone. Saguache County Sheriff’s deputies and Colorado Bureau of Investigation detectives found the self-proclaimed “divine being” of the group after a tip-off from a member who told them her body had been transported to Colorado from across the country.
The death and its connection to Love Has Won—which law enforcement and ex-members have previously called a “cult”—were first reported by Be Scofield.
While being interviewed by law enforcement, the group would not use the word “deceased,” when referring to Carlson’s death, according to a source familiar with the case. They claimed Carlson was not dead, but was merely “out of communication.”
But Carlson’s sister, Chelsea Ann Reninger, confirmed the death, posting on her Facebook: “For those of you that knew my sister Amy, I wanted to let you know we found out yesterday of her passing! Please pray for us and the people involved in this awful situation. We are choosing to remember who she was when she was in our lives on a regular basis and not who she became from this manipulating cult!”
Saguache County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Royce Brubacher told The Daily Beast on Friday that deputies found a body on Thursday inside the mobile home, which serves as the group’s HQ. A law-enforcement source familiar with the case added that Carlson has been dead for weeks, and may have been transported from Oregon. That source said the body was in such a state that investigators couldn’t formally identify her through fingerprints, but witnesses had confirmed that the body is indeed Carlson’s.
Love Has Won does a daily livestream on their Facebook page called “Daily Energy Event Update,” but did not mention Carlson’s death on Friday. When The Daily Beast messaged the group on Facebook on Friday, someone replied asking “what are your intentions love” before declining to comment on the group’s leader.
In a livestream uploaded a week ago, group members mysteriously claimed Carlson was “in stasis” and was refusing medical care.
In a VICE documentary released in March, Carlson claimed she had been trying to save humanity for 19 billion years and said she believed that everything society teaches is a lie.
“She thinks she is the Earth in a human body. She thinks she’s the Mother of all Creation,” Andrew Profaci, a former member who left the group five years ago, told The Daily Beast on Friday.
Profaci said he was in a car accident in 2002 that killed his best friend and was in need of a spiritual reset when he joined the group in 2015. He became the “Father God” to Carlson, he says, “as the other half of the Mother God. The two beings who created the universe.” Essentially, Profaci was her caretaker.
“I doted on her and tended to her every need. She drank ten shots of vodka a night. When she would drink at night she would lose her cognitive abilities. She would fall and walk into walls,” Profaci said.
Saguache County Coroner Tom Perrin told The Daily Beast there was nothing to indicate her death was caused by foul play, describing the body as extremely thin. “It’s possible that this woman was taking colloidal silver,” he said. (The group has previously hawked colloidials for treating compulsive behaviors.)
He added that it will likely be weeks before an autopsy, including the toxicology report, can be completed.
The senior law-enforcement source who spoke to The Daily Beast said that, when they arrived at the home, there were two children, aged 13 and 2, inside. The 13-year-old has since been taken into family services for care.
Seven members of the group were brought into the Rio Grande County jail at 1:30 a.m. Thursday in connection with the death and are being held in separate cells, Rio Grande Sheriff Sgt Jared Quintanos said.
Ryan Kramer, John Robertson, Jason Castillo and Obdulia Franco Gonzalez were being held on a $50,000 bond each with two counts of child abuse, and one count of tampering with deceased human remains.
Christopher Royer and Sarah Rudolph were being held for two counts of child abuse and abuse of a corpse on a $2,000 bond. Karin Raymond was being held on two counts child abuse, abuse of a corpse, and false imprisonment on a bond of $5,000.
Initial appearances for all seven will be held in Saguache County court on May 6.
Profaci told The Daily Beast he kept up with the group from afar and had seen Carlson’s health deteriorate.
“I saw her death coming based on what was happening over the last months,” he said. “I’ve seen pictures of her. Her health has deteriorated greatly. Her legs were like toothpicks. When I was there she was fine.”
He said he believed Carlson never “purposely” took advantage of people but was in “complete delusion.” While he estimates the group had thousands of followers worldwide while he was a member, the compound in Colorado was “just a house full of freeloaders who were smoking a lot of pot.”
“Since I left, it’s gotten much darker,” he said. “From what I heard from another member is that they moved her body to Colorado for a worship or something.”
Carlson’s family members said in the VICE documentary that Carlson worked at McDonalds until she adopted New Age beliefs in her 30s.
On the group’s website, she claimed to be in her “534th reincarnation in my quest to recover my beloved Planet, the Center of the Universe, and the first Planet I created.”
Supporters believe Carlson is a divine being who can cure illnesses and will one day lead them into a new mystical fifth dimension—if they offer financial support to the group.
But former members described the group to VICE as a “cult,” and said Carlson was a heavy drinker who behaved erratically.
“It's a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of mental manipulation, a lot of brainwash,” a former member, Taylor, told VICE. “She only lets us sleep four hours. We have to wake up every day at 5:00 a.m. Everything… revolved around Amy.”
Profaci said the group believed it was spreading awareness of spiritual awakening, and helping people “to awaken and deal with their inner BS.”
The group was forced out of Hawaii last year when they tried to relocate to a home in Kauai. Neighbors objected to their stay and protests outside the home grew so heated that police had to facilitate the group’s safe exit, according to the Maui Police Department.
“During their stay on Kauai, several protests, vandalism and small fires had been reported,” Maui police said in a news release. “On Friday, Sept. 4, the protests escalated and the group ultimately decided to leave Kauai for their safety.” Carlson and 13 others flew back to Colorado, police said at the time.