What began as a wellness check on a member of a religious group in Colorado turned into a bizarre horror story after the corpse of the group’s leader “Mother God” was found wrapped in a sleeping bag, covered in Christmas lights and with the eyeless sockets of her skull decorated with glitter.
The search of the home in Moffat on 28 April this year by Saguache County Sheriff’s deputies resulted in seven arrests and charges that included abuse of a corpse and child abuse - two children being present in the house at the time - which were subsequently dropped by the district attorney.
The family of the group’s late leader say questions remain over whether she was murdered after the case was swept “under the rug” while the sheriff who found the body said justice was not done.
Here's everything we know.
On 28 April, sheriff’s deputies conducted a search of a home in Colorado where members of the religious group Love Has Won were known to be living.
According to a source speaking with The Guru Magazine, a former member tipped police off that the group had been transporting the corpse of their recently-deceased leader.
During the search, deputies found a decaying body that Captain Ken Wilson of the sheriff’s office said appeared to have been deceased for several weeks to a month.
An affidavit claimed the body, wrapped up in a sleeping bag and adorned with the aforementioned fairy lights and glitter, was set up as some sort of shrine.
Saguache County sheriff Dan Warwick told NBC’s Dateline the group was burning sage in the room and covering Ms Carlson in essential oils to “keep the odour down” as they were worshipping her.
“Wow, I mean, it’s just [you] shake and go wow. There’s not much more I can say. I’ve been doing this for 26 years. I used to say I’ve seen it all. I don’t say that anymore,” he said.
Investigators searched an SUV on the property and said the backseat was laid down in a position “consistent with someone transporting the mummified remains”.
Deputies arrested seven members of the alleged cult who had been living in the home with the corpse: Juan Castillo, Ryan Kramer, John Robertson, Karin Raymond, Christopher Royer, Sara Rudolph and Ma Obdulia Franco Gonzalez.
Mr Castillo was known as “Father God” and was one of Ms Carlson’s many male companions to hold that title. He is believed to have helped run the group alongside Ms Carlson and may have taken over control of the group following her death.
Saguache County district attorney Alonzo Payne defended dropping the charges against the group.
“Our office looked at all the documents and everything that was provided, and from our perspective, the allegations could not be met beyond a reasonable doubt,” he told Dateline.
Amy Carlson AKA ‘Mother God’
Ms Carlson is believed by her group to be 19 billion years old and to have birthed all of creation.
Despite her age, the members also believe she is the child of former president Donald Trump.
They believe she exists at a “higher consciousness level” than normal humans and will eventually lead a group of 144,000 people into the “fifth dimension” in some sort of ascendant journey.
That figure is significant in a number of Abrahamic religions and off-shoots. In Christianity, the number represents the total number of representatives from the 12 tribes of Israel who worshipped God during the events depicted in the Book of Revelation.
She also claimed to have been reincarnated 534 times, even remembering living as Jesus Christ and hanging on the cross. She also claims to have lived as Cleopatra, Joan of Arc and Marilyn Monroe, among others.
It is unclear when Ms Carlson died but a photograph of her unconscious in the arms of Mr Castillo was taken on 14 April.
Two days later, her family requested an ambulance, claiming she was having trouble breathing and that her eyes were rolling back into her head. According to a source speaking with The Guru Magazine, the ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital but emergency medical personnel were told she was not there.
Ms Carlson claimed to eschew any kind of pharmaceutical drug or non-natural medical treatment, which may have influenced her members’ refusal to hand her over to the ambulance crew.
A spokesman for the group claimed in one of their daily livestreams that Ms Carlson only medicated through natural means - alcohol and marijuana - which led her to frequently appear on streams drunk and high.
A former “Father God” member of the group, Andrew Profaci, told Vice News in a documentary released in March that Ms Carlson became bitter and abusive after nightly bouts of heavy drinking.
Numerous videos exist showing Ms Carlson drunk, slurring and making bizarre claims, including that she was speaking with deceased comedian Robin Williams.
Despite her use of alcohol and marijuana, the group’s spokeswoman, who goes by the name “Aurora”, said drug use was prohibited for members.
In a photograph taken three weeks before she is believe to have died, Ms Carlson appears emaciated, with thinning hair and a purplish hue to her skin.
Her condition may have been caused by the large amounts of colloidal silver she was ingesting, The Daily Beast reported, citing a county coroner.
Colloidal silver is sometimes used in dietary supplements but there is no evidence the silver has any medicinal benefit, and - if taken by mouth over a long period of time - can cause the skin and organs to turn blue-grey and in very serious circumstances cause seizures and organ failure.
When her autopsy was eventually carried out in early December, the presence of colloidal silver in her liver was cited as a likely contributer to her death, along with the effects of alcoholism and anorexia.
The group’s Facebook account issued a statement following the discovery of the body.
“We thank everyone for their Full Surrender to the Divine Plan. Mom will give you the next step in Your Heart in every Present MOMent you’re there, MOM ENTers. The team are respectfully honoring the process law enforcement require and we are grateful for their diligence in protecting Humanity. Mom deeply loves Our law enforcement officers as She does each and everyone of Her children,” it read.
Ms Carlson's family said she started the Love Has Won group after leaving her job at McDonald’s and ending her third marriage when she was in her 30s.
Ms Carlson and her current “Father God”, Mr Castillo, have been accused of abusing members of the cult by family members and former acolytes.
Lapsed members claim they were only allowed five hours of sleep each night and were expected to wait on Ms Carlson hand and foot throughout the day.
A group of 12 to 20 core members lived together in homes alongside Ms Carlson.
Members conducted daily livestreams, which were intended to recruit more members and they also sold “health supplements” in order to raise money to keep the group afloat.
Numerous videos have emerged of Ms Carlson being abusive to members, animals and children. In one, Ms Carlson is holding a small child on her lap, who is crying. She calls for the child to be put in time out and a member appears to grab the child and shut them away in their room.
In another video, Ms Carlson holds a cat under its arms and then lifts it high in the air by the scruff of its neck and holds it there, dangling, until it stops making noise. Other videos show her screaming at a member who brought her meatballs instead of chicken parmigiana for a meal.
That member was later screamed at by Mr Castillo, who took on a disciplinary role in the group. He has been recorded calling members “insane” and telling them they cannot serve God if they are insane.
The group’s spokeswoman denied any abusive behaviour, suggesting instead that former members had been “lazy” and were the kind of people who “sit on the couch or lay in bed all day”.
Expulsion from Hawaii
The group eventually left its Colorado base and moved its core membership and Ms Carlson to Hawaii, allegedly to help the leader deal with her ailments, which included cancer and paralysis from the waist down, she claimed.
Ms Carlson reportedly called on members to join her in Hawaii by travelling through a “portal to Lemuria”, referencing a Hollow Earth conspiracy theory alleging that a group of ascendant beings called Lemurians live in a utopian city deep beneath the Earth’s crust.
The group set up its Hawaii headquarters in a house on the island of Kauai but, upon discovery, faced fierce opposition from locals, according to Hawaiian news site The Garden Island.
Protesters engaged in a multi-day standoff with the group, surrounding its house, engaging in prayers and burning driftwood in fires around the building.
At one point, Ms Carlson claimed she was a reincarnation of the Hawaiian deity Pele, further infuriating the protesters.
The group left the island after a few weeks and returned to Colorado.
Once back, the organisation re-established itself and continued its normal operations, though it appears Ms Carlson’s health continued to decline until her eventual death, which is estimated to have occured in early April.
The group is seemingly still operating despite Ms Carlson’s death and the arrest of their de facto leader, Mr Castillo.
Love Has Won members continued to post “Daily Energy Update” livestream videos on YouTube as recently as October, though the duties have largely fallen to the group's international members.
The group’s spokeswoman and core members have not appeared on the livestream since the arrests.
Members controlling its Facebook page have continued to engage in damage control, telling curious adherents that the official police report claiming Ms Carlson died weeks ago is false, instead alleging that she died the night authorities searched the home.
“Don’t believe everything you read,” the group posted in response to someone asking why Ms Carlson’s body was decomposed upon being found. “Were you there? No, so let it go and move along.”
An email shared in the “LoveHasWon Exposed” Facebook group showed a message from Miguel Lamboy, the same former member who alerted police to Ms Carlson’s body, saying that he had shut down the group’s website.
Mr Lamboy also claimed that social media posts from the group would be coming to an end but that it would be a “gradual process”. He does not control the group’s Facebook page, according to reporting in The Guru Magazine.
Most of the group’s assets and media presence is in Mr Lamboy’s name, which has led some to believe that he is the ultimate mastermind behind the group. He has denied those claims and it is common for leaders to keep their names off of any official holdings to limit their liability.
In which case, Mr Lamboy could be left holding the bag for any fraud or tax issues that could arise associated with the group.
Despite shutting down the site and having reported the group to the police, Mr Lamboy has said he is still a believer in Ms Carlson’s divinity.
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