Members of religious cult in court after 'corpse of leader found decorated with Christmas lights'

·2 min read
Christopher Royer, Obdulia Franco, Jason Castillo, Ryan Kramer, Sarah Rudolph and Karin Raymond (John Robertson not pictured)
Christopher Royer, Obdulia Franco, Jason Castillo, Ryan Kramer, Sarah Rudolph and Karin Raymond (John Robertson not pictured)

Seven members of a religious cult who authorities have said 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 – Ryan Kramer, Christopher Royer, Sarah Rudolph, Karin Raymond, Jason Castillo, John Robertson and Obdulia Franco – ranging in age from 30 to 52 years old, are each charged with one count of abusing of a corpse and two counts of misdemeanour 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 recognisance bonds. The other five defendants remained in custody on $2,000 (£1438) 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.