Roch Theriault & The Ant Hill Kids
We take a look at Roch Theriault, the brutal leader of the Canadian cult, The Ant Hill Kids. More than mere eccentric, Theriault brutally abused his followers in the name of God, going to depths of depravity that is rarely seen even for this podcast.
Wikipedia – Wiki on Roch Theriualt & The Ant Hill Kids.
Amazon – Savage Messiah (Paul Kaihlah, Ross Laver) – Good book detailing the ins and outs of The Ant Hill Kids. Doesn’t really delve into the psychology of it all, but it does give a good in-depth account of the cult.
Amazon – The Cult Files (Chris Mikul) – More of a compendium on a bunch of cults that gives a brief overview of each, though the Ant Hill Kids section is detailed enough and has a bunch of other interesting cults to read about too.
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THE ANT HILL KIDS
Roch Theriault was a fairly normal child, growing up in a fairly conservative, religious family, he was acutely aware of the compelling attraction of religion, despite growing up to hate it himself. That was until he discovered his own, unique religious path and decided to form a cult. Difficult to imagine he ever held good intentions, he went from eccentric leader to outright savage despot, marrying a handful of wives, fathering over twenty children and murdering at least one of his followers before police caught up with him. This is Dark histories, where the facts are worse than fiction.
Roch Theriault was born on May 16th, 1947 to Hyacinth and Pierrette Theriault. They lived in the French-Canadian area of Saguenay, Quebec, Canada. The second of seven children, his family was working class, but not struggling and as he grew up, he never complained about his home life, which was it seems relatively comfortable. At aged six, the family relocated, moving to a small city in southern Quebec. His parents were devoutly religious people and members of the Pilgrims of Saint Michael, a religious organisation that often takes the name Berets Blancs, or White Berets, a reference to the white beret hat worn as part of the orders uniform. The white berets were a strange mix of religion and politics, born from teh great depression, they pushed an ideology of democratised consumerism, essentially a giant version of a profit sharing co-operative. Despite being largely dismissed by economists and criticised for their anti-semitic agenda, they drew in followers by promoting their message via “The journal”, a pamphlet delivered door-to-door by members of the church. His parents would often drag him around the city of Thetford Mines as they undertook their religious duty, dressed in their militaristic berets spreading the word. Naturally Roch caught flak for this and he grew to despise the white berets and organised religion in general.
Outside of their religious fervor, however, his parents were seen by the local communities and well meaning and the family unexceptional. Roch attended the local school until 7th grade and was praised by his teachers for his intellect. Unfortunately, 7th grade was as far the local school stretched and rather than travel, Roch, along with his brothers and sisters, all finished their education upon graduation, instead choosing to work or study at home. Roch took to reading the Old Testament and teaching himself bible studies and English.
Later, he complained about his childhood, insisting that his parents were drunks, beat him and at one point pushed him down the stairs. He wrote in a letter during his later life that:
“I am from a family in which I was mistreated and beaten worse than a dog from the age of 2 until 14, when my father having beaten me, threw me out of the house and told me never to set foot in it again.”
Draw your own conclusions, however, friends of the family don’t remember any such behaviour, his father simply stating on the issue:
I never beat the boy, but I punished him when he needed it.”
He also mentioned how he was born from an incestuous relationship, though once again, there was no evidence for this either.
Either way, it seems unlikely given all the evidence and as much as Roch would later fantasise about his victimisation, his early life seemed to have passed by uneventfully.
On November 11th, 1967, aged 20 years old, Roch married 17 year old Francine Grenier, a quiet unassuming girl from the neighbouring town. They moved to Montreal and spent the early days of their marriage in happy enough circumstances. Francine gave birth to two sons, Roch Sylvaine in 1969 and Francois in 1971.Roch worked as a chimney inspector and things seemed, once again, unspectacular but comfortable for the Therialts new family. In retrospect however, this was to be probably the last unspectacular point in the life of Roch Theriault and after developing stomach ulcers in 1971, things quickly spiralled into a pit of depravity that at this point, seems worlds apart.
After visiting a doctor about his stomach ulcers in 1971, Roch was advised to undergo surgery to have them removed, a procedure that was fairly common at the time. This surgery however, was not a shining success and whilst it removed the ulcers, it left Roch suffering from dumping syndrome, a side effect of the surgery that left him with constant abdominal pains. He was prescribed medication however, he quickly tossed these out and instead took to self medicating with alcohol. He became obsessed with medicine and anatomy and complained that he was dying, which unfortunately, was not true. He lost work and the family moved back to Thetford Mines where Roch took up woodworking and started a small business selling various sculptures and small household items such as mugs and plates. He also showed new signs of overt sexuality, a violent about turn from his previous personality and joined a local arm of freemasonry named “Le Club Aramis”, getting involved in local politics. All the while, he drank heavily and by 1976, was frequently visiting Quebec City at the weekends, using his woodworking sales as an excuse to carry out affairs and pick up women, whilst his wife stayed home to care for their children.
This quickly proved too much for Francine, who left him as his woodworking business ran into the ground. Bankrupt and unemployed, he bounced between sleeping in his car and living with a woman from Quebec City he had been having an affair with named Gisele. The honeymoon period was not to last for long however, as Gisele quickly discovered the depth of Rochs drinking problem. Fortunately a saviour was on the way, in the form of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, a religious sect that Roch had become interested in and quickly converted to from his Catholic upbringing he so hated.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church is a denomination of Protestant Christianity, the followers, called Adventists, like most religions lie on a spectrum, however in general, could be categorised as fundamentalists, believing in the Holy trinity, observing the Sabbath on Saturday, the seventh day in the Christian and Jewish Calendar, and the imminent second coming of Christ. Followers believe that a book of judgement is studied in heaven to see who will be admitted to heaven and in Christian Mortalism, or the concept that the soul itself is not inherently mortal. Advocates of a conservative and holistic lifestyle, anti-gay and anti-abortion themes are nailed on. Vegetarianism is also advocated and Kosher foods are prohibited. All in all, a pretty fundamentalist bunch. Their holistic and healthy lifestyle pursuits especially appealed to Roch however, and he dove into this new religion head first, quickly quitting drinking and smoking and met with a small group of local adventists, lead by a guadeloupean pastor named Pierre Zita, every saturday in a motel to hear him preach on the second coming of Christ and the importance of conservative living. As he was still currently unemployed, he rather ironically given the similar upbringing he so despised, began selling Adventist literature, door-to-door and with his enthusiasm for the doctrine and obvious charisma, he excelled.
In early 1977, Pierre Zita, taking note of Roch’s obvious talent and social skill, put him in charge of a program to help potential followers of the church quit smoking. Roch embraced this role as a workshop leader and by late summer of 1977, he had attracted a small local following of devout stragglers, mostly young people disillusioned or suffering grief in one way or another. 21 year old Solange Boilard, 19 year old Chantal Labrie, 18 year old Francine Laflamme, 20 year old Nicole Ruel, 18 year old Maryse, 24 year old Claude Ouellette, 24 year old, Josee Pelletier and husband and wife Jacques Giguere and Maryse Grenier, 24 and 23 years old respectively. Maryse was not overly keen on the Adventists, nor Roch, but humoured her husband and went along as support. One can see the obvious trend that the group was made up mostly of young women who found Roch to be charming and Roch himself enjoyed the attention his position garnered. The group met up at weekends, staying in Gisele’s apartment whilst Roch gave lengthy sermons about the imminent second coming of Christ, an idea that he had by now gone all in on. Roch convinced Gisele to convert to the Adventists and the members of the group studying at college to promptly drop out, after all, what use is an education when the end of the world is so near? Whether or not convincing the group members to drop out from college was premeditated, early steps towards isolation, or driven by bitter jealousy is unknown, but Roch was taking early steps to isolate the members of the group from outsiders, even at this early point.
During the summer of 1977, the group took off together for an Adventist retreat on the banks of Lake Rosseau, Muskoka, Ontario and met Gabrielle Lavallee, a nurse from ontario and Yolande Guinnebert, a young french woman. The pair quickly fell in with the group and Roch was happy to bring them aboard.
Whilst out hiking alone during the retreat, Roch reached a rocky outcrop and looking out over the landscape, had a divine vision, the sky lit up in a bright white light and the voice of God spoke to him, pointing out that the outcrop was a holy place, God was apparently not so busy that day and keen to give Roch a little bit of tourist information in his downtime. This was enough to convince Roch that the best idea for his small group was to move out of the City and after the retreat was over, in October of 1977, he encouraged them all to follow him down to Sainte-marie in the Beauce region of Canada, 65km south of Quebec. They rented a two story house together and opened “The Healthy living Clinic”, an alternative medicine venue that used their connections with the Adventists to sell Organic food, holistic literature. Roch also commissioned uniforms for the followers, Green, ankle length tunics for the women and beige tunics for the men whilst he himself, as the leader wore a tunic of Dark brown, just to ensure that he was to set apart from the rest. The clinic actually started doing relatively well however, and it was making money and attracting more followers. One, Leo Marc Faucher joined up and quickly sold all his possessions to fund the clinic, along with Jacque Gigier and his wife Maryse Grenier who did the same.
Gisele was becoming itchy watching Roch surrounded by young women every day and so proposed to him and the pair married on January 8th, 1978 at an Adventist Church in Montreal.
In March of 1978, a man by the name of Auclair fell in with the group. His wife, Geraldine, was suffering from Leukemia and undergoing treatment in a hospital in Quebec. Roch wasn’t keen on this treatment and decided to visit Geraldine and promptly fought with the doctors concerning her course of treatment, in particular, he took issue with the amount of drugs the treatment issued her and using this line, convinced her husband to forcibly check her out of the hospital and have her moved to the clinic to undergo treatment from Roch instead. Roch prohibited geraldines father from visiting the Clinic and prescribed a treatment of grape juice and Organic Foods. Geraldine died in the clinic soon thereafter and Roch told his followers the had brought her momentarily back to life by kissing her, however:
“You know, when God wants people, he takes them. It was geraldines time.”
Through his anti-smoking workshop, he had met the parents of 19 year old MS sufferer Gabrielle Nadeau, who now checked their daughter into the clinic to undergo Rochs “treatment”.
The Adventists back in Quebec weren’t overly keen on the news they were hearing coming from the Clinic and relations between Roch and the Pierre Zita soured. By the Spring of 1978, Zita was meeting with parents of Rochs followers to persuade them to bring their children home and he even tried to convince Gisele to leave Roch. In April, it all proved too much and Roch was officially removed from the Adventist Church on Zita’s initiative. How much this bothered Roch by this point is up for debate, but it certainly didn’t stop him from preaching to his followers concerning the second coming of Christ. He doubled down, marrying his followers together, pairing Claude Ouellette with Solange Boilard and Jacques Fiset with Nicole Ruel, despite neither couples showing much interest in each other previously. The one problem Roch had now he had no more connections with the Adventists was the drying up of literature and stock lines for the Clinic and the business suffered financially. The end of the Clinic was nearing, and so Roch abandoned the venture and in July of 1978, moved the group to the small village of Fleure St Laurent, where they stayed for a month. On July 6th, he dropped a bombshell on his ragged band, the world was going to end on February 17th 1979, a storm of boulder sized hail would fall from the sky, there would be earthquakes and huge lightning storms and they were to become God’s chosen. A few days later, they headed out on foot into the gaspe Peninsula to found their new, presumably rather temporary, home.
On July 9th 1978, the group headed out and found a small hill and lake. They erected a ramshackle tent town and began construction on a large, communal wood cabin. Roch Christened the patch of wilderness that would serve as their home until the end of the world as “Eternal Mountain”. Roch gave the followers new uniforms of Dark blue wraps, all the easier to work in, something which they had to do an awful lot of. Roch drove them like slaves, ordering them to work 17 hour days to build the cabin and dig a well. Along with the lack of sleep, Roch also rationed their food, the group quickly learnt not to complain about tiredness or hunger, as any disgruntled opinions were met with further restrictions on the meagre rations they were being issued daily.
This all proved too much for some and Yolande Guinnebert fled to France, claiming that her passport was out of date and Leo Marc Faucher, now bereft of house or possession after his donations to the clinic too decided to turn tail out of there with nothing. By September the cabin was completed, which Roch quickly claimed to the group as a miracle and renamed each of them with Biblical names. He didn’t skip over himself naturally and took the name Moses, though most of the group affectionately called him Papy and his wife Gisele mamy. He then dissolved all marriages within the group except his own, and married all of the women, so that he now had just the nine wives. He stopped short of marrying Maryse grenier, the wife of Jacques Gigier who had still not warmed to him and whom he despised all the more for it. Later that evening, Nicole Ruel confessed to Gisele that she had slept with Roch whilst they were building the cabin and this proved enough to drive her away. She fled into the surrounding woods, however Roch chased her down, choked her and demanded she return, which she eventually did.
In the outside world, news of Jonestown had begun to spread and due to this new threat, police began watching Rochs group in November of 1978. Roch pre-empted trouble from this and so submitted himself to the police for a psychological evaluation, during which he utilised his skills to inexplicably charm people, telling psychiatrists that the group was a democracy and had no real leader per se, he told them they “Lived in peace and without promiscuity” and since the police had nothing on him, they simply had to admit that whilst he was clearly eccentric, he had done nothing wrong that they were aware of.
Far from being unicorns and rainbows for Roch however, this new life had its own share of stressors and he began to drink again, he abandoned his Adventist diet and began eating and drinking milk, meat and cheese again. The group were struggling financially however, and so he prostituted Gabrielle to a local grocer in order to supply them all with food. He would stand at the head of the large communal cabin giving long, drunken sermons and if any of the group fell asleep or uttered anything close to a complaint he would beat them with a 4” thick club, or punch them in the torso, a punishment he dished out to a pregnant Maryse, breaking two of her ribs when she ate more than her share of pancake rations one breakfast time. If anyone gave him any reason to feel aggrieved, he made them stand naked outside, come sun, rain or snow. In a letter from Francine, the groups devotion to papy despite their near starvation by Roch is starkly clear:
I am writing about what you said on the subject of nutrition. It is very true that I nibble, a damnable fault which I will never again repeat. The thought of ingesting such a large quantity of food in so little time discourages me, even if I work outside the entire day without eating. I ask that you forgive me. If it is stealing, I did not realize it.
It is this fault which causes my plumpness. I do not want to be a fat and plump servant. That is too ugly next to the man that you are.
I don’t know what to think about everything and the meaning of my actions. I only know that I will not repeat them. And I don’t speak lightly.
I wish to be a true servant to you, my Master. Alert, vigorous, with a clear and lively spirit and well-balanced to serve you every moment of my life.
I have a long way to go.
Thank you Papy,
I love you”
None of these hardships really mattered to the groups followers as the final day was fast approaching, something which perhaps added to Rochs current stress.
The end of days
February 17th 1979 came and as we are well aware, went. The world did, unfortunately for Roch, not end. Christ did not return and their was no salvation for the followers. Roch quickly concocted a story that due to God being.. Well God, time passed somewhat differently for him than it does for mere mortal men and this had caused some confusion as to the exact date. The group could rest assured however, as the end days were coming any time now however.
This yarn proved enough for most, but In April of 1979, Jacques Fiset left, Roch told the group he had been taken by the devil and when Maryse Grenier talked to her husband of wishing to leave, Roch ordered her husband Jacques Giguere to cut off one of her toes with an axe as punishment. He promptly removed one of her small toes.
April proved to be a trying month all round for Roch, as Chantel Labries parents too obtained a court order to remove their daughter from the commune to undergo psychological evaluation. When the police showed up to remove her, Roch simply denied them access and saw them on their way. Four days later however, the Quebec Newspaper published an article titled “They are Happy and free to leave if they wish”, which included an interview with Jacques Fiset, the recent deserter. Ten police showed up in a helicopter which landed on the “Eternal Mountain” and arrested Roch for Obstruction of Justice and ordered him to also take a psychological evaluation, which was to be carried out in a Quebec hospital named “L’hopitale Robert Giffard”. Roch not only aced his evaluation, he actually convinced his testers that he had saved his followers from a life of depravity and drugs. The director of the hospital took to calling him Moses and publicly expressed scorn for the poor treatment of Roch by a prejudiced society who were suspicious of his alternative lifestyle. Roch was released early and judged fit to stand trial for Obstruction of Justice for which he was given a one year suspended sentence. During the trial, the media too began printing stories of Roch, portraying him as a victim of pre-judgments. The whole affair only proved to strengthen the ties between Roch and his followers and when long-term MS sufferer Gabrielle Nadeau fell into a coma and died shortly after his return and the authorities denied Roch from burying her at the foot of the mountain, instead removing her body for autopsy, Roch used both events to strengthen the Us vs Them mentality he had been carefully fostering. Gabrielle’s autopsy later returned no evidence of foul play.
In November of 1980, Guy Veer made his way out to “Eternal mountain” and joined the group. Veer had met Roch in “L’hopitale Robert Giffard” and read about Roch in the media. He had been undergoing treatment at the hospital for depression and as an outsider, was permitted to join under certain conditions. Gabrielle, the groups nurse examined him and once he was judged fit, Roch permitted him to stay in the storage shed. He was given a small wood stove, 24 bottles of home brewed beer, two hens, a rooster and one meal per day. He was essentially taken in as a slave and forced to chop wood and undertake cabin construction work as well as babysit for the three children on the commune who were not fathered by Roch, all the while, Roch maintained his outsider status. On March 23rd, 1980, Roch organised a large party for the group, something special was happening, his two sons from his first marriage Roch JR, now 12 years old and Francois, now 10 were coming to Eternal Mountain to live with Roch. Veer was unsurprisingly not invited. That same night, Roch decided that Maryse son, one of the outsider children needed to be circumcised, using a blade and a 94% ethanol solution for sterilization, he took it upon himself to see the job done, at the same time, he administered the ethanol solution orally to the infant as an anaesthetic. The next morning, Samuel was found dead. Roch feigned concern that if Samuels body was buried, it may be dug up by animals and suggested a cremation, the group agreed and Claude Ouellette saw the job done.
After six months of barely tolerating Veers presence in the group, Roch had had enough and on the 14th September, he concocted a story involving Veer beating Samuel to death and demanded that he now stand trial for his misdeed. Roch set up a mock trial, complete with Coroner, prosecution, defence and jury. Samuel’s father Jacques Giguere was appointed judge and after an hours deliberation, his verdict was passed. Veer was found not guilty, by reason of insanity. Roch was wholly unimpressed by this outcome and took Jacques aside and suggested Veer be castrated. The group put it to vote, 7 voted for the motion whilst Jacques Giguere, Maryse Grenier and Gisele voted against. Despite this reluctance by Samuels own parents, democracy had spoken and Roch set about talking Veer into submitting to the verdict voluntarily. He suggested to Veer that as a Eunuch, his headaches that he had been complaining to Roch about previously and his masturbation habits would both be cured. Not only that, but it would see Veer promoted above the station of group slave. He then made Veer write a letter of consent and finally left the decision on whether or not to sign the letter in Veers own hands. He signed. Roch carried out this “surgery” on the kitchen table.
This consent was obviously limited however, as on 5th November, he fled to the nearby town of Saint Jogues and spilled the story of Samuels death, however he changed the facts, claiming he was kicked by a horse. Even after everything he had suffered under Rochs hand, he was unable to turn him in. Nevertheless, Veers testimony was enough for Police to raid the commune. Members of teh group protested, parroting the story that Veer himself had beaten Samuel to death, but police went ahead and arrested Roch, Jacques Giguere and Maryse Grenier.
During the trial, the coroner found the group to be criminally responsible and verdicts were passed. Roch, Jacques, Maryse, Gabrielle and Veer were charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm whilst Claude was charged with obstruction of justice. Jacques, maryse, claude and Solange were further charged with neglect towards their children and Roch and Gabrielle were charged with bodily harm with intent to mutilate for their work on Veers castration. All of the accused pleaded not guilty and all were unsuccessful in their defence. The groups children were distributed into foster homes throughout Canada and on September 29th 1982, their sentencing was passed. Jacques, Maryse, Claude, Solange and Veer were all released on the condition they were not to return to Eternal mountain, Roch and Gabrielle however, were denied bail, classed as a danger to society and Roch was sentenced to two years prison with three years probation and transferred to Orsainville Detention centre in Quebec. During his prison sentence, the group moved to Quebec, renting four apartments allowing them to be close to their leader, the police burnt Eternal mountain to the ground.
At this point, one would expect that we have reached the end of the story of Roch Theriault, the sad truth however, was that Rochs reign of terror was just beginning.
The Ant Hill Kids
Roch Theriault was released from prison in February of 1984 and greeted with open arms by his devout followers. They suggested that they should collectively rent a house in Quebec but Roch had other ideas. Since the last Cabin adventure had gone so swimmingly, he instead convinced them to do it all over again and on April 15th, 1984, Roch and his gang set out to Somerville twonship in the English speaking area of Burnt River in Victoria County. Roch of course, being the only English speaker in the group, their isolation would be absolute.
By May of ‘84, construction had started on a new cabin on Lot 4, concession 5, a small patch of land which upon they built a cabin, kitchen, bakery, maple sugar shack, smokehouse, root cellar and a stone sanctuary for worship. Roch designed and built a sawmill from old machine parts and a horse drawn water mill. It all sounds so idyllic, but the reality was from from it. Roch established a hierarchy amongst his wives, and Maryse who had never fully given in to the group, still tagging along for her husband’s sake, was bottom of the pile. Roch forbid Jacques from sleeping with her, cast her out to a seperate hut, encouraged jacques to beat her and convinced the group that a birthmark she had resembled the mark of the Devil.
Despite setting up a somewhat self sufficient little enclave, the group still needed the support of the government to fully sustain itself, however, Victoria County classified their household as a company rather than a family and this left the group meeting a severe shortfall in funding. Instead they took to shoplifting, stitching special pockets inside winter coats to aid in the job. On January 31st, 1985, police caught Jacques Giguere shoplifting in the nearby town of Lindsay and later tracked Gabrielle, Claude and Nicole doing the same, between them the group had over $430 worth of produce in their specially made pockets and they were banned from ever setting foot in lindsay again.
Instead, they began selling fruit and pastries cooked in their bakery in a pop-up shop by the roadside. This actually worked out reasonably well for the group and Roch officially established them as a company, naming them the “Ant Hill Kids” for the way in which the group worked together, like a nest of ants. Despite their limited success as bakers however, Roch once again began drinking heavily and the spiral into violence and destruction started once again, this time in rapid time. His tirade against his followers this time included making the women nude wrestle, forcing the men to stand in the centre of a circle of the women while they punched and kicked them. Roch routinely punched and whipped them, hit them with hammers and urinated on them. If any of them sustained any severe injuries, he forbid them from visiting the hospital. After his bouts of violence, Roch would cry and beg God to stop using him as a tool to implement the Lords Justice, in a letter from Solange, we can see just how effective this was for his followers who were now so down trodden, they actually felt the beatings atoned them for their sins.
“Good day Moses, my Master,
I would have liked to have talked to you yesterday evening but I think it is preferable to write these things down rather than saying them for fear of talking too much. I am going to talk to you about the last fit of anger that your Master exercised through you. I really believe that what you did doesn’t come from you, but from someone much higher. For my part, I really believe that you were possessed by a very powerful spirit. That’s what I saw in what you did: the throwing of the knife, the rifle shot, the harm done to Mamy. My eyes saw things that went beyond them. My body is very afraid of all these things. I understand it very well because of the Law of Death in which it exists, but within myself I am well. I am very well and very happy to belong to a REAL MASTER who himself belongs to the only real Master of Life.
On the morning of January 26th, 1985, Gabrielle left her five month old infant outside in -10 degree temperatures, lying in a wheelbarrow where he promptly froze to death. Roch had previously stated how much he had hated the child and it had been marked by the devil. Bizarrely, the county coroner Al Lacket judged the baby to have died from SIDS, however the local Children’s Aid Society took note of this and began watching the compound very closely.
In October of 85, Maryse Grenier had finally seen enough. She demanded to leave and as the only woman of the group not married to Roch, this was not seen as any real problem as far as he was concerned. He allowed her to go on the condition that she leave behind her eldest daughter who Roch had lined up as his next wife and she agreed, turning tailing and booking it out of there with her two year old infant, leaving both her daughter and husband behind. She wasn’t done however and as soon as she found her bearings in the outside world, hired a lawyer to regain custody of the daughter she had left behind. She testified to the awful conditions they were living in on the commune and the Children’s Aid Society stepped in, removing all the children, once again sending them off to foster homes throughout Canada. Now in the outside world, the children told of horrific violence and abuse against them carried out by Roch, including depriving them of sleep, food and education. Roch would hold blood sacrifices in front of them, killing a goat and smearing himself in its blood and sexual abuses which do not need repeating, all in the aid of “Sexual instruction”. The courts ordered an independent assessment be made on the Ant Hill kids and when Dr Rheal Huneault and Dr Martine Miljkovitch visited the group, Roch greeted them with his most charming smile. When they handed in their 300 page report, it actually championed Roch as an alternative living pioneer, accused the government of persecution against the French speaking population and suggested the children were to be returned immediately.
Fortunately, the Court saw through all of this and rejected the report and on October 26th 1987, ruled Roch as a manipulative despot, that the independent papers submitted by the psychologists were not objective and showed signs of positive prejudice and removed parentage rights from all members of the group for the children that were now in foster care.
During this time, Roch had met the Latter Day Saints branch president and forensic psychiatrist Jess Groesbeck. Originally attracted to the concept of Mormonism due to their views on polygamy, he spoke regularly and formed a close friendship with Groesbeck, discussing their alternative views on alternative living and theology.
And still the violence grew worse. As hinted at in the earlier letter from Solange to Roch, he took to acts of ceaseless barbarity, he broke Jacques ribs with an axe, burnt Nicole’s stomach and Josee back with a blow torch, he beat a 3 month pregnant Nicole, causing her to miscarry and shot her in the shoulder with a .303 caliber rifle. He broke Gisele’s ribs with a pair of steel toed boots, sliced Claude’s arms open with shards of glass, pulled 11 of his teeth with a pair of pliers and had one of his wives break Claude’s legs with a sledgehammer. He eventually ordered Claude to wrap a rubber band around his testicles and when this caused obvious side effects, he castrated him, cauterising the wound with a piece of hot iron. At one point, he even took a vote for stoning Claude to death, however the vote failed, much to Rochs dismay. He tossed a hunting knife into Giselle’s leg, causing a deep gash in her thigh and when it clotted, he filled the wound with olive oil, salt and spruce gum to keep away infection. Roch was quite the man of medicine and he demonstrated this further, wehen in the fall of 1988, Solange fell ill. Roch diagnosed her with some kind of Kidney ailment and diagnosed immediate surgery. He cleared off the bakery table, made her strip naked, gave her an enema of molasses, oil and water and then cut open her stomach, removing a random slice of flesh in the process. He then ordered Gabrielle to stitch the wound and declared her cured. By morning, Solange had died of Peritonitis, a fatal leaking of her digestive fluids into her abdominal cavity.
Surprisingly, this failure did actually effect Roch and he ordered Jacques to shoot him, as well as attempting to overdose on Tylenol. Unfortunately, he failed at this too and on October 16th, 1988, he met up with Dr Jess Groesbeck, his new mormon contact. He told the doctor that Solange had died, however in this version of events, it was from a spontaneously erupting vein rather than Rochs failed surgical hash and Groesbeck reassured him that it was not his fault. Then things got… a little weird.
Roch told Groesbeck that he was his guide, as conveyed to him by God, he told him that he had seen visions in dreams of Solange inside himself and images of Solange taking shape from his semen. However they managed to come up with the next conclusion is beyond any sane persons comprehension, but the pair decided that this had to mean that Roch was in fact now pregnant with Solange and that he was to give her a spiritual rebirth. Roch immediately arranged for a marriage to be concluded between him and the dead Solange and dressed in his best costume jewelry, ordered the exhumation of Solange’s grave on the communes land. He then drilled a hole into Solange’s skull and masterbated into the hole, reburied her and convinced himself that this whole macabre affair would bring her back to life.
Possibly through fear of further desecration, Gisele told Roch that it was Solange’s wish to be cremated and so Roch once again ordered her to be exhumed, he took one of her ribs, which he wrapped in a sheath of leather and kept upon his person from then on, and the group burnt her remains. Not content with just the one rib, however, Roch filled a small jar with ashes and olive oil and kept that too, masterbating into the jar at times, to ensure the rebirth was on track.
It appears as if things were finally falling apart upstairs to a point of non-function for Roch and in reality, things were falling apart equally as fast. Roch visited Groesbeck once again and entrusted his two year old son to his care, in fear that the Children’s Aid Society might take him away. Groesbeck argued with Roch about his treatment of his wives and the pair parted ways on poor terms, though the child was left in the care of Groesbeck regardless.
During the winter of 88-89, Josee ran away from the compound and by the summer of 1989, everything was appearing to be in tatters for the Ant Hill Kids. He was however, not going to go out without a bang.
On July 25th, 1989, Roch decided that Gabrielles aching finger needed surgery. Not content with actually operating on said finger however, he took her once again to the kitchen table, stabbed a knife through her hand and halfway between elbow and shoulder, cut her arm to the bone. Gabrielle ran away to a womens shelter, but Roch promptly convinced her to return, where he finished the job on her arm, cutting it off with a meat cleaver. He then proceeded to leave it a few days before cutting out the infection and cauterising the stump with a heated metal bar.
Over two weeks later, Gabrielle finally took off and this time she didn’t return. She made her way to the hospital and concocted a story that she had been in a vehicle accident, however police were called and they filed charges of aggravated assault against Roch. On August 19th, they visited the commune only to find the Ant Hill Kids had all fled, either to Quebec, or back to their families.
On October 6th, 1989, police caught up with Roch and on the same day, Gisele told police about Solange’s death. Rochs reign was finally done.
Everyone trialed pleaded guilty and Roch Theriault was sentenced to 12 years prison, though this was reduced to 10 years after the judge ruled he had shown “Genuine remorse and concern for the victim”, apparently despite his mental collapse, he still knew how to turn on the charm when it was needed. During his trial, he merely stated in his defence,
“If she says I did it, then I did it.”
Jacques was sentenced to 5 years, Chantal 2 years and Nicole 18 months prison. Police also pressed charges against Roch for first degree murder, however there proved to be insufficient evidence to show that it was premeditated and his lawyers made a deal to settle for a charge of second degree murder if no further charges were to be brought against Roch. His final sentence, handed down to him on January 18th 1993 was life imprisonment, due for release in 2014.
Roch served his sentence and was denied early parole on several occasions, he wrote poems and made artwork which sold online and throughout his incarceration, still took visits from three of his wives, Francine, Nicole and Chantal.
On February 26th 2011, aged 63, three years before his release, Roch was found stabbed to death in his cell following an altercation with another inmate.
His children, of which there are a minimum of 22 and possibly more were given to foster families throughout Canada and presumably went on to happy lives, including his infant son and heir, who he left in the care of Jess Groesbeck.
John Huke, a member of the Burnt River council when the cult were active in the region said of his death:
“It was too bad a prisoner had to give justice, because Canada doesn’t give justice to people like that”
A sentiment which aside from his three most devout wives, will most likely be shared by many.