Picture Of 'The Family' Comes Into Focus

KABC ABC News-7, Los Angeles/July 11, 2002

This is not the first time one of Winnifred Wright's mass-produced children has died. A 2-and-a-half-month-old daughter passed away in 1990, under what her grandmother called "mysterious circumstances." The ABC7 I-Team has disturbing new information about life in what's now being called "The Family," and what happened when one woman tried to leave. Another Infant Death, 12 Years Ago | Today's Court Appearance | More Background | Photos: Who Are The Suspects? | Baby's Cause of Death When Wright's child died in 1990, the mother left the group and on orders of the SFPD was debriefed by a world-renowned cult expert. With the help of that expert and just released court documents, we are getting a clear picture of "The Family."

Winnfred Wright was living in a San Francisco neighborhood in 1990, when his 2-and-a-half-month-old daughter died.

The coroner's report blamed "sudden death in infancy," and quoted the mother. She said she left the child "in the crib for three days" after she died, "since it takes that length of time for the soul to leave the body."

Doctor Margaret Singer spoke with the woman about her child's death.

"What I found strange about it, it was not a great big deal to her."

Singer is a cult expert, who interviewed the mother at the request of police investigators, and she got insight into "The Family." Singer says Wright was able to attract women using what she calls "white guilt."

Dr. Margaret Singer, Cult Expert: "They [were told by Wright that they] had karma they had to work off because white men had been so cruel down through the ages to black men, that white women should come, live with him, take care of him, minister to him."

Singer says, that also meant buying drugs.

The mother of the dead baby told singer that Wright could burn through $1,200 worth of crack cocaine in just two days.

"He got very angry on crack and the lady told me that one day, he broke his arm while beating a lady."

And it appears from court documents that Wright tried desperately to track the mother down, after she left "The Family."

A year after the child's death, her grandmother took out a temporary restraining order against Wright, Carol Bremner, Deidre Wilson, and Mary Campbell saying her "daughter voluntarily left this cult 'Family'," that she had been "physically abused and feared for the safety of herself and her children."

The grandmother says Wright and the women, "have parked outside my house, have phoned repeatedly at all hours, and have left threatening notes in my mailbox." She concluded, "there is potential for tragic, violent acts unless they are restrained from contact."

Dr. Singer compares Winnfred Wright to Charles Manson, leading a "cult based on conceit."

"These guys know how to approach homely, horse-faced women and convince them they're gorgeous, by lying to them."

Today, the attorney for one of the women discounted the accusation that Wright was leading a cult.

Jack Rauch, Bremner's attorney: "I don't know what a cult is, I'm not an expert on cults, but from what I know, it doesn't sound to me like a cult."

When Wright was arrested last week, he was living with the four women who are also charged in the child's death. But Dr. Singer says a decade ago, Wright was living with seven women and four had just left "The Family."

We contacted the grandmother who filed the restraining order against Wright - she says she has reason enough not to talk about what happened.

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