Fears for mum who joined 'angel worship' sect

Sunday Mail, Australia/June 24, 2007
By Lucy Carne

A mother of two who became entangled in a cult that worships angels is missing and may be dead, her family says.

Geraldine Kilfoyle, 38, has not been heard from since she contacted her mother in March to say she had terminal cancer.

Her family now fears for the safety of one of the Kilfoyle daughters Alex, 13, who is in the care of members of the Soul Freedom cult.

Cult members say they can communicate with angels. They reject modern medicine in favour of "angel healing".

The teen's older sister, Sarah, 14, who left Soul Freedom last year, says children in the cult are underfed and made to sleep in rat-infested, derelict caravans at the cult's Mount Morgan property, 30km southwest of Rockhampton.

Attempts by Ms Kilfoyle's mother Sandra Orvad to gain access to the 13-year-old have been rebuffed by the cult's hierarchy, which Mrs Orvad said had cited a written authority from the girl's mother to exclusively care for her.

Mrs Orvad also accuses the cult of withholding information about the whereabouts of Ms Kilfoyle.

Ms Kilfoyle, 38, a former police officer, became a Soul Freedom follower three years ago after attending several "spiritual workshops" in Townsville, Mrs Orvad, 60, told The Sunday Mail.

Ms Kilfoyle cut herself off from her family and gave $100,000 in savings and property to Soul Freedom, Mrs Orvad said.

She gave herself a new name, Bree Jones, and travelled the country as a Soul Freedom recruiter, Mrs Orvad said.

Her phone call in March was brief. "Her exact words to me were, 'I've got weeks, maybe months, to live - I have terminal cancer,' and then the phone hung up," Mrs Orvad said. "We don't know if she is alive or dead, but someone has to know where she is."

Andrina Aleksander, who described herself as a "former spokesperson" of Soul Freedom because she said the organisation no longer existed, said Ms Kilfoyle had sent her an email last December to say she was in New Zealand and had been receiving treatment at a hospital "for a complication with a pap smear".

"I do not believe Bree is dying," Ms Aleksander said.

She said Alex was in her care "at all times" while Ms Kilfoyle was away.

She denied that Soul Freedom was a cult and insisted it was a volunteer organisation that went to fairs and shows to give people "a profile to connect with angels".

"And some did," she said.

Sarah got out of Soul Freedom in August last year and said she is under the care of a psychologist while staying with her grandparents at Glen Innes in northwest New South Wales.

She said she and Alex were made to work and pray from dawn until midnight when they both lived with Soul Freedom members.

"A normal day would be waking at 4am to do what they called regrouping," Sarah said.

"It was just a load of ritual mumbo-jumbo, holding hands and praying. Then Alex and I would work until late at night digging trenches, picking fruit, sanding barns."

Sarah said she feared for her sister. "I don't know if she is safe or not. I just want my sister back," she said.

Police visited the Soul Freedom property for 40 minutes on Wednesday but declined to allow Mrs Orvad or Sarah to meet Alex.

Rockhampton Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Christine Knapp confirmed a welfare check had been done on Alex, and said the girl would be finding the attention "a little bit distressing".

"But I'm sure the grandparents have her best interest at heart."

A Queensland police statement said: "At this stage there is no evidence to constitute any criminal offence has occurred."

A Child Safety Department spokeswoman said Alex's guardianship would be dealt with by the Family Court if necessary.

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