In 1987, police officer from the Australian state of Victoria launched a raid on a compound located just outside of the city of Melbourne.They had gone into it expecting the worst since the operation was based on a horrifying claims made by teenagers who allegedly escaped from it. But as their investigation uncovered more and more evidence, nothing could have prepared them for the truth of what really went on inside that compound. Hi Fred, my name is Josh Schell host of the Let's Start A Cult podcast and that was my first attempt at trying out and intense.
True crime intro. If you liked it let me know what you think. If you didn't then I will sentence you to download and review every episode of my podcast. Five stars, of course. In today's episode we will be covering the story of the family, a new age group based in Australia, whose sweet photos of identical looking kids master horrifying truth.
Unfortunately, the lifelong trauma that these children suffered wasn't enough to put their adopted mother behind bars. Any episode involving kids are pretty heavy and when I have to deal with heavy things, I always ask my girlfriend for help. I moved last week and she was one handing couches into the moving truck. Oh yeah, absolutely. It was quite a sight to see, so please give a warm welcome to see Anna see Anna.
How are you doing today? I'm doing great. Thank you. We're making barbecue pizza today so we have to crush the episode in time for this. Yeah, what are we putting on the
pizza? I don't know. Sauce has to be a saucy pizza. Although we're making, I already did, though I did that by
myself, oh. My bad, yeah, that's OK. I'll make the
pizza you can barbecue, yeah?
So as you heard before, we are talking with the family, not the Manson family, but a new age Australian group. Have
you heard of them? I have not heard of them
before. OK, that's exciting. OK, so you, you excited to hear about my child adopting person? Sure and I
the podcast I've been listening to recently. It's Australian too, so oh deep into the I'd ask you to shout it out,
but we don't show that other part. All right, well, we're just gonna jump into it then so that you can quickly learn and we can get to our pizza. Awesome. Born on December 30th, 1921 in a rural town in Australia, state of Victoria and Hamilton, Byron had less than a stellar home life.
Chris and Evelyn Grace, Victoria Edwards. That's quite the British sounding name, very royal. Entire childhood was spent in poverty, which is ironic, poverty stricken conditions and she was often forced to look after her seven younger siblings. Her father, Ralph, worked as an engineer cleaner on the railways, although he often left his family for long periods of time in order to avoid debt collectors.
Meanwhile, her mother, Florence, claimed to be a psychic medium who could communicate with the dead. Later, she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and hospitalized in several mental
institutions. Doesn't sound like a great childhood, but
I mean most cult leaders I find don't really have great childhoods. This is just par for the course, but it is hilarious that her dad just takes off to avoid debt. Yeah,
I thought you're gonna say 'cause he works on the railway and sometimes they're gone for periods of time, but
not absolutely not yeah. Much sadder, yeah, in 1941, Hamilton Byron left her small town behind and changed her name to Ann Hamilton shortly after she married a 24 year old officer with the Royal Australian Air Force named Don Harris and had a daughter with him, whom they named
Judith Judith No. No.
Their marriage was short lived, however, with Harris dying in a car crash in 1955. The irony is he was like flying planes all the time. Never crashed those, but I mean I feel
like it's easier to crash a car. Well just higher chance. Yeah, that's true. I guess that's awful. That's really sad. Less people
in the air, yeah, but yeah, very sad at the time the couple had been in the process of adopting a baby boy from a children's charity. But Harris death meant that their application was ultimately denied grief. Stricken at her loss for her long, grief stricken. At her loss her longed would you like?
That would be nice grief stricken at her law, at her losing at losing. Thank you Jesus. Grief stricken at losing her longed for second child, Hamilton Byron relocated to Melbourne and became a yoga teacher, training under a Swiss woman named Margaret Segmen, who claimed to have spent several years in living in an Indian ashram that
sounds pretty cool actually. Yeah, yeah, Margaret,
very Zen, very Zen, although I think it's where she starts getting her new age ideas. Maybe not the best three months after they met though. Segment accused Hamilton Byron of putting a spell on another student and asked her to leave. The group that's interesting. Is Hogwarts yeah yeah a year after arriving in Melbourne, Hamilton, Byron encountered Raynor Carrie Johnson and English man two decades.
Her senior and a renowned scholar in the field of Spectroscope E. What's that it is the branch of science concerned with the investigation and measurement of Spectra produced when matter interacts with or emanates electromagnetic radiation,
so still have no idea, not a science person, but that's interesting, OK? Yeah, sounds
good. Yeah lecture yeah so that's radiation. I guess he deals with radiation. However, he began dabbling in paranormal phenomenon after his retirement in 1964. Even going so far as to become friends with a self proclaimed Mystic. Hamilton Byron introduced herself to Johnson by knocking on his door in December 1962 and issuing grave warnings about his upcoming travels to India.
She claimed that his wife Mary would fall severely ill and true enough she
did. That sounds suspicious. Poisoned it, yeah? I wouldn't put it past, given that Hamilton
Brian's prophecy seemed to have been fulfilled. The Johnsons returned to Melbourne and dedicated their entire lives star. Wait, what do you mean? So after they went to India they returned? Oh and then
they focused on? OK, yeah they were like.
OK, well you were right about this so you must be right about it. So you're which we will succumb to whatever you want us to do. Nice in 1963. Reiner and his wife Mary, and their daughter Maureen along with. Or other people participated in a ritual that involved hallucinogenic mushrooms and their recognition that Hamilton Byron was actually Jesus Christ in female form always
has to be a Lord and savior figure. Some sort of Jesus finger
or whatever. This eventually lead them to forming a group called the Great White Brotherhood of Initiates and Masters. That
sounds like a boys club like a scholarly boys club or something. You
would assume that's led by a woman. No, no. It also sounds a little racist. Yes, the great white brotherhood. Yeah, yeah questionable. I don't know Australians history on
race. It's not like Canada doesn't have a great one, but Australia definitely doesn't have any. Yeah, with the indigenous
population there. Yeah good good to know, good to know. So yeah, potentially an underlying racism to that but unconfirmed in 1965. Hamilton Byron met Doctor Howard Whitaker, a psychiatrist known for his attempt to get the government to allow the use of LSD.
When treating patients, it wasn't long before he had also joined her organization, whose name had already been changed to the family by then, so makes more sense. They're like so people are questioning our. Well, call it something nicer. Doctor Whitaker often conducted research studies at a private clinic in New Haven, a town located on Phillip Island, Australia. It was here that the family would recruit most of their members, including Bill Byron, a wealthy building contractor in Hamilton Byron's future husband, whose son had been committed for drug abuse.
The families ranked significantly increased through the 1960s, with each member required to go through a lengthy initiation process wherein they had to declare their devotion to Hamilton Byron and her dogma. Which blended together Christianity, Eastern mysticism and apocalyptic prophecies like every other God. Its main premise was that the world was in its final karmic cycle and thus no further reincarnation would take
place. Sounds like an existential crisis. Do I have? Every night, yeah so, but this
one is an interesting one. 'cause it's all they assume there is reincarnation, but that our karma is run out and this is the final. Like there's no more reincarnation after this which is
interesting. Yeah, so that everybody would just would we just die out? No, because people are still having children. Isn't the idea of Oh yeah, but it's a new solar needed for what? There's just soulless children being born yeah,
I don't know that's disturbing. Hamilton Byron promised her devotees salvation from this inevitable doomsday. She told him that she was Jesus Christ and would be able to shoulder their sins in order to pay their karmic debt and save them from being obsolete. In return for this, however, they had to promise total obedience, calling her the master and blindly following whatever she said.
Fair trade yeah, she's got kind of like girl boss and yeah she's like I fuck with it. Yeah yeah yeah she's turning it on its head she's becoming the leader and I'm in for this feminist
mature doesn't sound too bad so far. I
mean other than threatening them with their souls basically and one of her sermon she preached to the members that quote I'm looking right at each one of you. You are the initiate. You are the cosmic being. You are staring into the awakening. This is the moment of rebirth on a new planet. We've received the call and great things will be done.
End Quote. That stresses me out. Are you ready to give your soul to her? No chicken burgers? I don't
wanna be a cosmic being.
You're like I'd rather just die. Like other cults, the families ranks consisted of educated professionals such as architects, lawyers, doctors and nurses. This was mainly due to how at the time upper middle class, Australians were exhibiting an increased interest in alternative spiritual and mysticism. So it just goes to show you it doesn't matter how smart you are, you can always be duped.
That's true, I think that's a lovely sense. Scary, but also that brings us all together. Well
book, Smart street, smart.
Not able to be corrupt, that's true. Yeah, to add to that. Hamilton Byron's first and most devoted follower, Raynor Johnson, would often get his friends to join the family, telling them that she was the Messiah who would save them from total destruction.
According to Fran Parker. Another one of Hamilton Byron's early followers quote we didn't think ourselves as a cult. Everyone there seemed to be on a similar wavelength. They were just lovely people who are sincerely looking for the spiritual dimension in their lives. End Quote and like it
doesn't seem so bad. Yeah, like it's just a different type of religion I guess. Yeah, a little more intense, but that's fair. OK, yeah, yeah, yeah little more intense right now what?
They're not living altogether, right? They're probably just attending services
and an yeah, I think it's just a gathering thing. I think we talked about that in upcoming here. OK, members of the family adhered to the motto unseen, unheard unknown, reduce, reuse, recycle. Which implies that they belong to an exclusionary spiritual elite.
All of them were made to regularly consume LSD or magic mushroom sounds. Fun, yeah, exactly. Which they secret, which they believed was a secret manner, and which Hamilton Byron was able to easily procure thanks to her followers who worked in the medical field. Besides LSD, the family also consistently dosed themselves with a concoction of vitamins, herbal supplements, pro or psychoactive drugs, and tranquilizers. This the 60s, uh? Yeah, I feel like that tracks, uh, wait, 60s sixties, 70s.
OK, probably yeah yeah yeah. Soundtrack for that which served to make them even more compliant to Byron Hamilton Byron's whims. Yeah, I mean a lot of like I talked about the Manson family. He definitely use drugs to make his followers more easily manipulated. Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, whether that's their goal or just they want to get high.
And then yeah, I'm not sure exactly
how your judgement changes for sure.
Yeah, exactly. At its height, the family had around 500 adult members, all of whom would cram themselves inside this so santaquin Tan Santa Kinnerton Lodge, a property located a few kilometres outside the city of Melbourne. It was owned by the Johnson family, who allowed Hamilton Byron to use it every Thursday night as a place where she preached to her devotees.
So yeah, just a gathering thing, yeah, during these gatherings members would be asked to give a majority of their income to Hamilton, Byron, allowing her to build her and her husband. Wealth. Because of this they were able to acquire several properties in Australia, England and either United States Wow when the families activities were made public in 1987.
Hamilton Byron's net worth was estimated to be more than 50 million. My God,
how many followers they have 'cause like the Catholic Church like you know, I mean you you do a donation every Sunday and it goes towards keeping it up. But this is a new well. This is decades of like people giving
her the majority of their earnings. So
it's not like $10. These are like people making like their doctors.
They're making a lot of money, so so yeah, yeah, like 500 salaries over a couple decades? Yeah, that's up. Plus in investing and whatever she did, I don't know. I'm not
an investor, don't know theme, help me tell
me more Bitcoin. I believe that no no don't. Many contemporary researchers have noted that well, the family consisted of wealthy and well educated professionals rather than freethinking, use it still bore the characteristics of cults that flourished throughout the 1960s. For one thing, drug use was rampant with consumption of LSD and psilocybin, encouraged by Hamilton, Byron. For another message of sex, power and liberation from. Conservative societal norms resonated with the influential movements that characterized this particular period.
Say that they didn't have,
like like I feel like some culture like don't have relations or marriage. Don't do this, don't do drugs. Alcohol, yeah, and this one is like do whatever you want. Just give me money.
We just want your money, yeah, and we can do drugs together. I mean fair enough. I mean, yeah, fair enough. In fact, the family was so alienated from the usual conventions that its members allowed Hamilton Byron to meddle in their marital and family familiar relationships, which he often rearranged to fit her vision.
It was this focus on familial ties that would lead Hamilton, Byron and the family to carry out the activities that they would eventually be known for. So what like
she would tell people, you're breaking up or like you're going to be with this person,
or probably in ways, but that's not necessarily what they're known for. It's more of the children
yeah not great. But you know who won't interfere with your marital and familial relationship status. The wonderful people that are paying for our pizza tonight. So thanks for pizza tonight. Hopefully these
enjoy some ads. Today's episode of Let's Start a cult is brought to you by DB. DB is a Scandinavian brand that makes backpacks and bags to help people on the move stay ready for anything. From the streets to the peaks, DBS gear is travel tested by some of the world's best athletes, adventurers and creators. For the past decade, DB has designed and developed, released and redefined the best bags in the market.
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Presented by climate Power Education fund. Does big oil care about our streets flooding or our homes burning? Not according to
an Exxon Mobil top lobbyist. Did we aggressively fight against, uh, uh, some of the science? Yes, you know, we were looking out for our shareholders. They care
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someone told you a cult leader told you that you had to break up with me, would you absolutely not
nice? No, I would. I would leave.
That would be the last straw plus
I I would be the leader in any cult I think so. So that's that's why that's one less worry. Yeah, anyway, back to yeah, terrible things happening to children by the late 1960s, Hamilton Byron had become such an influential person that she was able to convince the Victorian Education Department to register the family as a school.
Yeah, in 1969, children began arriving, and three years later they were moved to a property called Kilama. Is it this easy to
just start a school? It's not. I would know. Nowadays, yeah.
Go to Australia, maybe it's yeah. See they are moving. Maybe they changed. Yeah, so they were moved to a property called Kilama or up top which was located on Lake Eldon. In total about 28 children would come to live there. Of these 14 where the biological or adopted children of Hamilton Byron's devotees, who had willingly given them up for her to raise my God.
Yeah, others had been attained through scam adoptions which were facilitated by the members of the family who worked as Doc. Oh
my God. This is like I feel like. Fellow Marvel Black Widow taking kids.
Sure we just watched. Strong connection, maybe this is where the story comes from. So there were doctors. Yeah, so to do this scam they would drug their patients as they went into labor and convince them to hand over their newborn infants.
What I what about after? When they're like I, I'm not on drugs anymore and I want my child.
I guess if they can convince them to hand them over and
sign, that's true. I feel like even on drugs like new mothers wouldn't give up their child. I don't know what kind of drugs are
they on. Like maybe there were also selective who? Yeah like
maybe they preyed on like vulnerable people who maybe aren't ready for kid or like. Are unsure, unsure. Yeah, that's still well. I said I literally can't imagine
that. Yeah, very fucked up at up top. The children were cared for by three women, Patricia McFarland, Elizabeth Whit Whitaker and Margaret Margaret Margaret Margaret
Margaret yeah. So yeah McClain McClellan. Yeah Jesus
I had the hardest time with her name all of whom they referred to as Ant use their daily routine involved yoga, meditation and the study of spiritual texts. Doesn't sound
like a bad school. I mean spirit, like yeah, you're
not learning math or anything, so that's true. They were also made to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet that was supplemented by regular doses of LSD. Oh my God, yeah, so they're dragging kids crazy. This also
reminds me of the hands mean. Just making all the connections, sorry. I've never actually watched that, but I read the book the book. Oh yeah, there is a book, yeah, and there's a second one.
see where my brain is that yeah. So yeah, film adaptations. The aunties were very strict and disciplining the children. For instance, their beds had to be made by 6:00 AM everyday which is followed by an hour long session of hatha yoga and about 15 minutes of listening to records of Hamilton Byron sermons as well as a mantra chanting meditation and a short break to organize their schoolroom so very. Early mornings I would not do well if
that's cool bed made by sexy I'd be OK, you'd
be OK. Yeah I was gonna say you're up pretty early today. Most days. Actually. Yeah, according to the researcher, Carol Cusack quote 2 hours after rising they to fruit breakfast. 3 hours of school work were punctuated by short breaks, then the children had one hour of meditation or spaceball a game hand devised followed by lunch.
Tell me what you want to know. The game is
baseball OK. Testing new games that I could potentially play with kids. So unless it's really bad.
Base ball game the family. Yeah, I guess there's probably a
bunch of baseball games that like not showing up. Oh my God oh that's
OK, alright? Yeah, I don't know. It's baseball is interesting. So this was followed by a lunch of steamed vegetables and fruit. The next three 3 1/2 hours involved lessons, a short break and packing up the schoolroom. From 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM the children meditated Ada bland vegetarian meal, read spiritual texts and did homework before bedtime.
didn't really have any fun. I mean it doesn't sound like obviously it sounds bad. It's like they're away from their parents and they're going through this very strict routine. But like I mean, group for breakfast, yoga there only eating. Yeah, no let's yeah.
I can't imagine that be. I mean, there are vegetarians, obviously. Yeah, they also supplement their diet with vitamins and protein and stuff like that in different ways, so I can't imagine they have a
healthy. No, they're growing. They would need like, yeah, so I mean. Plus there's LSD in their food right now. OK, yeah, it's OK. Never mind, it's everything
that's probably the worst. Uh, so to appear as if the children were adhering to the state's mandated educational system. The family registered a school called the Equivalent College in 1984. Whenever the authorities arrived to inspect its activities, the children were coached on what to do and what to say.
The vegetarian diet that the children were forced to abide by was far from is sufficient for their growing bodies as we just talked about, most of them were malnourished and resorted to stealing food. Although the aunties and Auntie Anne Hamilton Byron resolved this by body shaming them, especially the girl, you
can't even in like the middle of nowhere. From like social norms and media, girls can escape body shaming. Yeah, even in cults led by one. Yeah,
that's brutal. Which is fucked up. Yeah, in her memoir Sarah Moore, who grew up in the family, recalled that quote weighing was a very serious business, particularly for us because it was considered that we were putting on too much weight.
We would have our food rations cut down and that was a dreadful proposition. Food being the most important things in our lives, we girls viewed the scale with hatred. They made our miserable lives even worse. Some of the girls would even try to induce vomiting on weighing mornings in attempt to seem lighter.
End Quote. That's awful. So they're resorting to like bullying. Yeah yeah. No that's fucked up, yeah? Many contemporary researchers have theorized that Hamilton Byron, who was chubby as a child, projected her body image issues on others on the children.
As an adult, she would regularly undergo liposuction and other cosmetic procedures, which made her even more charismatic and appealing to the outside world. Some even took to saying that she used her mind to court women, but relied on her body and her good looks to entice men. She may have been vain, but Hamilton Byron is also notoriously prude, which led her to shame girls in her care for experiencing normal bodily processes
like menstruation. That's crazy even now, like people don't talk enough about that stuff. And those girls are like his normal thing that happens. Your
body, Nah, you'll be shamed. Yeah, it's fucked up so much for the feminist girl boss. I hate it, yeah. But that's not all. The children were also frequently beat by the aunties who carried out the abuse. According to Hamilton Byron's wishes later, Lee Anne Kress Crease, who spent most of her childhood in the up top compound, recalled that they were sometimes made to go through a process similar to waterboarding.
Oh my God, with their heads being submerged in buckets of water whenever their answers were to the adults likings. There were also times when Hamilton Byron would ask them to be whipped with belts while she listened to their screams on the
phone. My God. Yeah, that's all like actual torture awful yeah. Well all of its torture. He's gonna say he's yeah
28 kids going through all this, yes, are there other adults
there except for the answer like their like their parents are not there even the ones that were given up right by like willing people like because they're they're kind
of secluded, right? You're kind of on their own compound led by the aunties, like three women are taking care of. Also the other, so
save participants who like gave up their kids to go to this like they're not on their own compound like they're living their lives. But their jobs and stuff and just going to mass or gatherings? Yeah, I
would imagine that's probably mostly how most of them anyway. Some might be living with Hamilton Byron. I'm not 100% sure, but yeah, most of them are just living their lives and then it's like they just sent their kid
to Bible camp. Yeah, basically I went to Bible camp. It's OK, you know.
Yeah, so pretty fucked up yeah but gets worse yeah oh great in some ways. The children's cries were often heard by neighbors across Lake Eldon. However, all 28 of them would be forced to hide in it's inside a tiny hole which would then be covered up with a painting whenever the local police arrived to
investigate are the police officers like not trained well enough that they get to a spot where they know there's children and they don't see any children? And they're
not questioning that. I mean, I guess not.
OK, I don't know. I don't know. This might seem suspicious like
I guess, so just thinking like what could possibly like. Maybe the police constantly get calls like oh there's kids screaming across the lake. that
Lady? Yeah, yeah, keep it down or
whatever. I'm not sure exactly the circumstances, but not that I'm covering up for the police. No, no, they fucking suck sometimes. But there was one instance when they weren't able to hide themselves quickly enough when questioned by the authorities, though, they all claimed that they were being fed and treated properly.
Later, Lee and Chris and Sarah Moore explained that despite the abuse they had become attached to Hamilton Byron, believing the herd to be their
biological mother, just 28 kids. So just just yeah made us. Yeah, some of us at the
same age and it looks. In an interview, Chrest said that quote we were all very protective of our parents and of what was happening at the time. Nobody would dare to say anything as a child. Of course you love your parents and it doesn't matter what they do to you. You love them. End Quote, which is true. I mean, yeah, I mean
you hear about it all the time, right? If you're growing
up in this situation, you don't really know any better, so that's true. Besides this mental and physical torture, the children were also frequently subjected to Hamilton. Byron swims, for instance, she would film and photograph them dressed in identical old fashioned clothes, all with their hair dyed peroxide blonde.
was the point of that for fun? I
I don't know. I guess it's like just power. Yeah cute family picture. Like when people dress their dogs up it's like Oh yeah, OK, I don't know that's probably what she thinks of these people yeah basically which is fucked some of these images also showed her alongside the children looking glamorous in her expensive clothes, jewelry and signature blonde wig. Another thing that Hamilton Byron did was group the children together according to the an arbitrary system.
For instance, Sarah Moore recalled that she was classified as quote single. Until she was seven years old when she was decided that she would be at her twins with a boy named Steven who was close to her age.
What? So? She's just like your twin
making things up OK there, that's cool. I've always wanted a twin. Someone could
just be like you have a twin now that would be weird. Now almost like you would win now I
would think it's cool. Sure this arrangement lasted until they were 14 when Sarah became triplets with her fellow teenagers, Luke and Timothy. So it just completely
different people. Oh my God. Like is this? I guess they don't know any better like yeah yeah magine someone like her triplets now or my brother and my sister. You're all triplets. Sure, and then
two years your twins with this other person? Yeah, no. So around that time she also became a New Zealander. Despite being previously told that she'd been born in Australia, they all
sounds yeah, I mean.
In 1984, Sarah recalled that her name was changed from its previous Andre to Sarah for her, these drastic changes in her birthplace and ruin the relationships that she had with other children demonstrated the influence that Hamilton Byron had over the family she had become so powerful and so venerated that cheeky alter facts and reality at will. Yeah, it seems she should thank God. It wasn't just the children's relationship that Hamilton Byron manipulated, though. For instance, Fran Parker, one of her first devotees, who was made to divorce her husband so much as you were asking.
Yes, she did. In fact manipulate regular Wow family says, well, yeah, not not just the children. Yeah, when she initially refused she was threatened with a stint at a local psychiatrist hospital, a psychiatric hospital which was run by a fellow members of the family. What would you do? Oh, I go there, just drugged me up.
Great yeah, be fun to visit you. You'd be like over the cuckoo's nest or whatever one flew you have to put a pillow on my head out, no. Have you ever watched a movie? No. It's a book I've never read it, I said sorry, sorry spoiler.
The downfall of the family was instigated by Lee and Chris and Sarah Moore, both of whom had been brought up in the up top compound sick of the mental, emotional and physical torture that they were going through each day. 15 year old Leanne Comfort confronted Hamilton Byron, who then proceeded to attack her.
Wow, I've been proud of these girls. Yeah, I mean, I think also that's awful like there's so many like stories like this where it's like you could make a movie out of this where it's like Oh yeah, like horror, it would be a horror movie probably, but I don't know. I think definitely showing these things. Would be better so that people knew and were more aware of cults.
true, I guess holds happened in a different way now because it's hard to be like secluded and well. They still happen, they just absolutely. But it's more like powerful people with money and I guess they have money too. But like that can keep things under the rug. People are
paid off. Just thought we could make movies
stuff, no way.
Unfortunately, the police were no help when called to question Leanne, who had attempted to run away from the compound. Hamilton Byron told him that she was nothing but as troublesome teenager. It would be two more years before she had the opportunity to escape again. Oh my God, yeah, this time the authorities brought her to her foster family who tried to get her to talk about her past.
However, she clammed up and refused to do so. Yeah, so much trauma. Oh yeah, yeah, and especially if he tried the first time and the police didn't help you. So why would you want to open up? Yeah, exactly. Probably she resulted in more torture and shit.
Yeah, she and she probably would be afraid for the other
girls there if they true. Yeah, by then 17 year old Sarah Moore had also become disillusioned in 1987. She two confronted Hamilton Byron, who was excommunicated from the family when the two girls reunited, they decided to reach out to the local police, who were already suspicious in keeping tabs on the cult.
After receiving numerous questionable reports on August 14th, 1987, the police raided the Uptown compound and I'm remaining children were taken into protective custody. At a facility owned by Community Services Victoria that still sucks
too, you're going. I mean, way better, I'm sure, but you're going into the system. But I mean still,
yeah, better than being tortured, yeah, and malnourished and Shane. Oh my God, who you are absolutely. The subsequent investigation was picked up by the media who had already done a few reports on the family, most notably in early 1980s when a man named Hans home, Hans home Whatoname, attempted to retrieve his 10 year old daughter Kim from her mother, who had joined the
cult. Oh that's yeah. So some of the parents were, well. I guess he wasn't part of the cult like he was
trying to get. Yeah yeah, the judge issued arrest warrant for his estranged wife and in 1983 she and Kim were found in hiding in Auckland, New Zealand. However, this instance was deemed a domestic dispute, which was why no further investigations were launched against the family. That's weird to me. I.
I guess it's fair 'cause like she took off. Yeah it would be hard to be like. I
guess they didn't find them at the yeah. Yeah,
it's weird that they weren't able to make that connection, but yeah. The raid on up top was different though, given the herring conditions there. The state that the children are in and the disturbing accounts given by Leanne and Sarah to figure out what exactly was going on, the authorities decided to establish Operation Forest.
A police inquiry led by Detective Lex demand Lex demand.
You have an OK time. Lex de Man, that's a cool name. It's a cool detective name. Yeah, actually it changed his name. I don't know this
guy would be in our movie this guy.
Would be the hero
I think. Now we want to do a feminist movie. Yeah 2 girls. OK, he's he's the guy that helps him though. Nice I like
it. Lex de man sounds like a frat boy Lex demand. It's
such a good name. Meanwhile, Hamilton Byron and her husband Bill, both of whom disappeared around the time of the raid, were traced to Hawaii, where they've gone into hiding. Shortly afterwards, though, they were extradited by a coalition that consisted of Interpol, the United States, FBI and Australian investigators.
They were charged with conspiracy to defraud and commit perjury by falsely registering the bursts of three unrelated children as their own triplets. In 1993 and Hamilton, Byron and her husband Bill finally appeared in a county court. In Melbourne, nothing came out of it though, and the couple was only made to pay a measly $5000 fine for the mental, physical, and emotional abuse that they had put
devotees through. What did people like are there details of the case like did people come forward and like issue evidence like did they know about the abuse? Like what? I don't know.
All I got this from this was
the justice system or they just putting them through for like fraud. It's a good question cheese. Yeah I I'm not sure exactly still alive
what they're put through. Oh, I'm getting to that. No other punishments were was ever enforced. And on June 13th, 1919 or 2019, nineteen only went back in time on June
13th, 2000, nineteen 98 year old
Ann Hamilton Byron died with dementia in a retirement home in Melbourne and was buried with neither public funeral nor headstone. This peaceful end was undeserved. Given how the children that she had taken care of were never able to recover from their trauma with some even going on to take their own lives.
So did you like after this? Did she just chill and have lived the rest of? Like did she keep all the millions and like did she keep doing the spiritual like masses and gatherings? Probably not, I I don't know
exactly like she was getting older at that point, like who put her in the retirement home herself? Probably maybe her triplets? Yeah, no, I don't know. No, I think she. I think she gave up the grift after they were taken into court.
But I think I'm pretty sure she kept all the money. Oh my God. Is able to just live out her life that's off till almost 100 years old. Yeah, after tormenting hundreds of people hundred. Well, not just the children right? Yeah the people involved. Yeah, like there's quite a few people parents.
Oh yeah, yeah it would be hundreds. Yeah, that's crazy. That is the end of this tragic story. What about like the
people? What about the doctors that were, like, literally, stealing kits? I none of them were ever
charged. Oh my God, yeah, I'm pretty sure they all got off. I mean, they're
under. I guess her influence, but still. That's no excuse, no, yeah, yeah, you do. Your actions, you know? Yeah, yeah, should
be be charged just the same but yeah, that is a very sad ending to yeah. I was hoping for better than that. I needed, you know my gosh lifted me up but it is time for cult critique. Oh, you know what this is?
it, I guess yeah. Listen, listen, I'm just kidding.
Yeah, so we we talk about these shitty people and we rate their cult right? I'm
I'm kind of confused about the writing process 'cause I know it's not like you don't rate how bad they are. You rate just in general, right? It it varies
on on my guests so some people rate it like whether it was a good cult. You know what I mean? Like they did well as a cult. They did well as a call. Some people rated on how terrible they were.
OK some people rated on if they just like them or not. So whatever you would like to do. How would you rate the family? UM,
want to give her like a higher rating 'cause she's like she got away with it, right? Like she literally did all this and then she's like, hey, I'm gonna try with my life and also like it was a girl lead and then she literally got to just make up her own families and stuff which is like interesting which is like but that's awful. But it didn't get any justice too so I don't know how to like.
Write it in a sense I'm going to go. Like I was hoping, not hoping for more, but I thought there be more about like how like she was, like the Messiah and reincarnation like that sort of
stuff. My apologies. Yeah I went into the torture.
I'm going to give them a two out of five, I think just because good for them. Not good for them, but like they got away with that. Which is crazy, right? I wonder if they you could go back if they could go back and do like a investigation. Like I know she's dead.
But like if anyone else was alive that was involved or like just even have it on the books like air get like the the yeah I know it wasn't just girls, the girls and boys or whatever people are involved like some sort of help or closure. Yeah, well
as I said like a lot of them are older now, right? Like they would be probably in their 60s fifties 60s, probably now if I'm asked, right? Yeah, never is. But yeah, there be older now. So and like I said, some of them took their own lives.
Yeah, it's very sad. Yeah story. Yeah, I. I definitely hope that the Australian Government or someone tried to help these people. Yeah like yeah, I get home. That's true
so maybe they did. I don't know. But yeah, I I think it two way did I get for two or 2.522? Yeah I think at 2 because like that but also there wasn't enough. There's cult stuff like I didn't focus on the cult stuff. Yeah no no I can only do so many
new age groups and give the same. Apocalyptic, that's
true. Right, yeah, yeah they all
started sounding the same after a while. That's true, so I thought I'd just focus on what made them different than other new age groups. But that's fair. That's a good. That's a good rating. I'd probably give it around 2 as well. Yeah, yeah. Fucking terrible people.
if this is like more popular or more well known in Australia? That's a good question.
Actually. I have Australian listeners if if you're from Australia and you're listening to this episode, let me know what you know about it. Tweet at me. Let's underscore cult or send me emails that. Started Cult podcast at Gmail. Com. And yeah, yeah, I'd be very interested to know how how well known it is around the Melbourne area.
If anyone from there 'cause it was just outside, which is kind of crazy. It wasn't like in the middle of nowhere. Yeah. 'cause there's a lot of spots like that in Australia, so alright. Well that about wraps things up.
Stana do you have any anything you'd like to
plug at the end of today's show? I'd like to plug I'm not on any podcast things or anything. The Handmaid's tale. No books, yeah, let's turn this into a book review podcast. OK, sure, I'm down. Let's go for it.
Chocolate eat more chocolate. You want to
plug my new show?
Show oh it is called. Read it on wiki. Thank you, you're welcome and it's about things that you read on Reddit or Wikipedia and you don't do like super in depth research. You literally just get it from rathor Wikipedia and then you talk about them. Yeah, sometimes sometimes the topics are random.
Actually they are very random. Very yeah, 'cause we do a different one. Yeah, like
it's a different host every yeah it's. It's funny though, it's good. People
should check it out. Absolutely appreciate that. Well, I wasn't sure where you're gonna go with that. Josh is making me say this right now. I'm just kidding, yeah? No, it's good
review, but if you're loving this podcast, be sure to give us a review and tell your friends about it. If you have the means, be sure to go to our buy me a coffee page and become a member. Support the show if you want to keep up to date with the podcast, you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram at let's underscore Cult.
You can follow our firstname.lastname@example.org/let's, start a cult pod or you know, let's start. Call podcast.com and sign up for our newsletter. With all that out of the way, I think we're done. Thank you Fred for listening.
Thank you for scenic for coming on today. Let's go make that pizza because I am very
hungry. I feel like you could probably hear my stomach rumbling. You're mine, yeah? Alright,
we'll see you next time. Thank you.