David Corneau led authorities to buried bodies as part of plea agreement

News Summary: "Sect Member leads way to graves" by Mac Daniel and A. Jay Higgins, Boston Globe October 25, 2000

April 17, 2006
By Rick Ross

In a wilderness park is where David Corneau brought authorities to find the bodies of two children buried secretly by an Attleboro religious sect.

''At that point,'' said Bristol District Attorney Paul Walsh, ''there was an audible sense of relief.''

The bodies found were of Corneau's infant son, Jeremiah, and the boy's cousin, 18-month-old Samuel Robidoux.

A medical examiner in Maine did DNA tissue tests to verify the identity of the boys.

The discovery of the bodies was part of an immunity agreement between authorities and Corneau.

Sect members were jailed for their silence, as police searched for the boys.

Walsh had previously explained the immunity deal. ''I think we were ready to go to some extreme measures to find the children for an awful lot of reasons,'' he said. ''There's the legal significance it will have to the criminal case. Second, it's just wrong that these kids should be buried out here in the forest.''

Corneau, 33, according to that agreement was required to show where Samuel Robidoux was buried, but both boys were in the same grave. Corneau and his wife, Rebecca, were granted complete immunity from any charges.

Three other members of the group were released from jail and also granted immunity, Walsh said. Other sect members were not included in the agreement.

Corneau's statements did not preclude charges against sect members, which were later filed.

Maine and Massachusetts police had already, but at that time did not have Corneau's cooperation, which was crucial.

''We were close, but without Mr. Corneau's cooperation today, I don't think we would have found it. Even if we had been within 25 feet of it, we wouldn't have been able to see it,'' Walsh said.

The investigation began of the sect after former members came to authorities with information about the deaths of 18-month-old Samuel Robidoux and newborn Jeremiah Corneau.

The sect does not believe in modern medicine.

Samuel starved to death, because he was denied food after he stopped breast-feeding.

Doctors could have prevented Jeremiah’s death.

The bodies were found one day after the press reported about the immunity agreement.

Corneau was also required according to the agreement to testify before a Bristol County grand jury.

Corneau’s wife, sect members Timothy, Roger, and Mark Daneau were also granted immunity under the agreement.

But Jacques Robidoux and his wife, Karen, the parents of Samuel, and Michelle Robidoux Mingo - were not granted immunity.

The Robidouxs and Mingo remained in jail after the plea agreement set others free.

The Corneaus had been in jail for three months.

Walsh also insisted upon a medical examination of the bodies to verify the cause of the deaths.

After David Corneau testified, the grand jury was disbanded without hearing further testimony from other members of the sect.

Bristol County authorities arranged for the state to take custody of 14 sect children over concerns about their welfare.

A judge had ordered pregnant Rebecca Corneau to be locked away as insurance that her fetus had proper care. The mother later gave birth to a girl, which was also taken into state custody.

Corneau's lawyer, Robert A. George said that his client "watched his entire family be destroyed and his child taken away. He did a lot of thinking and he came to the conclusion that he could do much more good for his family out here than he could in jail.''

''David admits to no wrongdoing. But he has received immunity for his acts. Not everyone can afford a burial in a fancy cemetery, or a fancy coffin, or a fancy funeral home. But this is a very beautiful place and I don't think it's the worst punishment in the world to be buried in a park like this," George said.


Copyright &copy 2006 Rick Ross.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.