Warrant issued for 9th cult suspect

Trish Pierson wanted in connection with alleged Ponchatoula sex ring

The Advocate/May 24, 2005
By Debra Lemoine

Hammond -- Authorities are still looking for a ninth member of the alleged cult accused of having sex with children and animals at the Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula, Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's spokeswoman Laura Covington said Monday afternoon.

Deputies issued a warrant for Trish Pierson on Saturday but would not specify any crime of which she is accused. She is the wife of Allen R. Pierson, 46, an alleged cult member who lived in an apartment at the church compound and was arrested Wednesday on counts of having sex with a girl age 9 or 10.

Trish Pierson is believed to be somewhere in the southeastern United States, Covington said.

An extradition hearing is scheduled today for Nicole Bernard in Columbus, Ohio, Covington said. She was arrested May 18 in Ohio on a warrant of aggravated rape issued by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office. She is the former wife of alleged cult member Austin Aaron Bernard, 36, of Hammond, who was arrested on similar counts May 17.

Covington would not say whether Nicole Bernard is the woman from Ohio who first contacted the Sheriff's Office nearly two months ago to report the abuse of her child by church members. The unidentified woman's initial report and the surrendering of Hosanna Church Pastor Louis Lamonica, 45, of Holden to Livingston Parish sheriff's authorities May 16 triggered last week's eight arrests on counts related to the alleged occult practices by Lamonica's followers from 1999 to 2003.

Seven of the eight people arrested remain in jail without bail because they are accused of capital offenses, Covington said.

Lois Ann Mowbray, 54, 39133 Keaghey Road, Ponchatoula, was released on a $150,000 bond Friday night, Covington said. She was arrested Friday afternoon on counts of obstruction of justice and failure to report a felony. Deputies searched her home Thursday night, Covington said.

The eight arrested and the one woman whose arrest is pending are believed to be the central figures in the alleged cult. Other arrests could come later because detectives are interested in 12-15 people connected to the case, Covington said.

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