She's Charged in Child's Death. Officials Think It Goes Deeper
'Cult leader' Anna Young arrested over 1980s death of toddler
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2017 12:47 PM CST
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Anna Young.   (Cobb County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – An indictment related to the death of a child is always a grim happening, but in the case of Anna Elizabeth Young, it might be the start of something much more awful. The Gainesville Sun reports the 75-year-old was arrested Friday near Atlanta in connection with the late 1980s death of a toddler who was allegedly tortured and denied food while in her care. The story is blurry in parts, but what's known is that Young ran the House of Prayer for All People beginning in roughly 1985 near Micanopy, a Florida town in Alachua County not far from Gainesville. Young and her husband, who died in 1988, took in children under the non-profit; a separate Sun article suggests kids weren't placed there via social services but accompanied adults who ended up there by way of word-of-mouth references. Cobb County authorities say the situation wasn't an innocuous one.

They describe Young in a press release as a one-time "cult leader" who was in 2001 convicted of child abuse charges related to a 1992 incident in which a 12-year-old girl was burned after Young put her in a steel tub containing chemicals; Young reportedly fled and was apprehended eight years later, in a relative's attic in Illinois. Alachua County Sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey says the death of the toddler, named Emon Harper, was investigated after the sheriff's office received information, though State Attorney Bill Cervone notes no body has been recovered. Forgey suggests it's not an isolated incident: "There were numerous children that were beaten, locked in solitary confinement, food withheld," he tells WCJB. "We can document other states and other missing children that we believe are tied into this" dating back to the '60s, he adds, per the Sun.

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