Sect death ruled murder in Maine

Attleboro Sun Chronicle/July 13, 2001
By David Linton

Attleboro -- A toddler whose parents are members of a local Christian sect was the victim of a homicide and died of severe malnutrition due to starvation, a Maine medical examiner has ruled. The disclosure was made a day after prosecutors said DNA tests confirmed sect leader Jacques Robidoux and his wife Karen were the parents of the baby named Samuel Robidoux.

The remains of the boy were found last October in a grave in a Maine state park where he had been buried alongside his cousin who was reportedly stillborn. Jacques and Karen Robidoux, who belong to an insular sect who reject most conventions of mainstream society and call themselves " The Body," have pleaded innocent to murder.

Prosecutors allege the couple intentionally withheld solid food from the child for about six weeks until he died in April three days before his first birthday to fulfill a bizarre religious prophesy. The boy's aunt, Michelle Mingo, allegedly received a " vision from God" that Karen Robidoux should only breast feed Samuel, prosecutors allege.

Karen Robidoux, who was pregnant at the time, was unable to produce milk. Mingo has pleaded innocent to being an accessory to assault and battery on a child. The Robidouxs and Mingo were supposed to give handwriting samples Thursday to try to determine who authored journals kept by the sect. However, the matter was continued to next month in New Bedford Superior Court because of disagreements about what the defendants were expected to write for handwriting experts.

The defendants were ordered by the court to write the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. But Assistant District Attorney Walter Shea said the state's handwriting expert needed a more complete sample to analyze. Authorities say the journals they seized from the sect homes on Knight Avenue and in Seekonk detail Samuel's demise.

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