Bayou Killings/ Unmasking of a Cult

Bayou Killings/ Unmasking of a Cult

Date

HostGeorge Knapp

GuestsEthan Brown, Meagen Gibson, Alex Howard

Between 2005 and 2009, the bodies of eight women were discovered around the murky canals of a bayou town in Louisiana, leading local law enforcement officials to pursue a serial killer theory. In the first half, author and investigator Ethan Brown joined George Knapp to discuss how these unsolved homicides were not necessarily the work of a serial killer, but related to the violent fallout of a brutal sex and drug trade and a backwoods underworld hidden in plain sight. The murders took place in Jennings, Louisiana, a town with just a population of 10,000 in Jefferson Davis parish, where the I-10 (a major drug trafficking corridor) runs through, he pointed out.

Occasional sex workers, as well as police informants, most of the eight victims had been connected in some way, and had either witnessed law enforcement misconduct and/or murders including those of the other women, he reported. In fact, Brown suspected that one of the murdered women had actually participated in the killing of one of the eight victims before she was killed. Law enforcement suggested that the women's "high-risk lifestyle" contributed to their deaths, and their unsolved murders were marginalized until around 2008, when a 17-year old girl went missing and became victim #7, and a task force began to investigate, he cited. A local strip club owner named Frankie Richard claimed that a deceased deputy was behind all the murders, but that may have been his way to deflect any suspicions from himself, Brown remarked.

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In the latter half, Alex Howard, the founder of Conscious 2, and director Meagen Gibson spoke about their new 6-part television series which investigates the cult-like organization EnlightenNext, run by a charismatic leader named Andrew Cohen for nearly 30 years, before it collapsed in 2013 amidst claims of abuse. Cohen believed that he was enlightened and his ideas were absolute truth, and after building a community of followers in the UK and Northern California, he and his group settled into a large center in Massachusetts, Howard detailed. People came from all over Europe and followed him to the US, Gibson noted.

To uproot their lives and follow this teacher, "what they must have experienced with him must have been incredibly real," Gibson commented, adding that the group was not focused on sex or drugs, and that Cohen encouraged celibacy and veganism. However, Cohen had a "vicious temper" and unleashed cruel verbal attacks on followers who were defiant or expressed their own ego, and this kind of mindset spread through the group, Howard revealed. Further, once someone left or was kicked out of the group, the members were not allowed to have contact with them. Building up to an evolutionary consciousness event, Cohen labeled a years-long period of time the "Holocaust," in which he sought to break down members' personalities and whittle away their egos, Gibson explained.

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