Attleboro cult mom Karen Robidoux's sister broke into tears yesterday as she recalled how her brother-in-law warned her children would be cursed if she didn't go along with a deadly plot to stop feeding the couple's baby.
"Jacques threatened me," Rene Horton said, recalling Jacques Robidoux's response to her questions about the cult's decision to stop feeding 11-month-old Samuel Robidoux. "He said that this (prophecy) was from God. He said that if I wasn't willing to go through this with Jacques, Karen and Samuel, then I would have to go through it with my own children."
Horton, who is Karen Robidoux's older sister, and her husband left The Body religious sect shortly after Samuel died in April 1999, just days before his first birthday. She said the boy went from being a "chubby, active baby," to a motionless skeleton.
"His face was visibly thinner," she said, noting the toddler was constantly being held by Jacques Robidoux. "His chin was pointy. His eyes looked sunken."
She said the only time she saw her sister with the dying boy was when she was nursing him. Samuel began eating solid food in February 1999 but was quickly reverted back to a breast milk-only diet to comply with a bizarre "vision from God" delivered by Jacques Robidoux's sister, Michelle Mingo.
Mingo, who faces accessory charges, prophesied God would take Karen Robidoux's unborn child because she was too vain, unless she resumed breastfeeding Samuel and drank a gallon of almond milk a day. Jacques Robidoux, who is serving a life sentence for the boy's killing, "enforced" the prophecy, Horton said.
"I told Jacques I just didn't understand it," she said, sobbing. "He said, `This is what God said.' "
Horton said her pregnant sister grew weak from nursing two babies while on the odd diet. Karen Robidoux, 28, constantly questioned the deadly prophecy and once collapsed into Horton's arms after bathing her deteriorating son.
"At one point, she said, 'I just can't take this anymore,'" Horton recalled.
Under cross-examination from defense lawyer Joseph Krowski, Horton admitted she never called police or social workers. She also admitted she stonewalled investigators until she was granted immunity after Samuel's remains were unearthed in Maine in 2000.
"I did nothing," she said.
She told the Taunton Superior Court jury that she and her sister shopped and prepared meals nightly for the group while the child lay downstairs dying. Karen Robidoux is charged with second-degree murder.
Horton also recalled how cult leader Roland Robidoux "cursed" three group members who defected in 1998.
"Roland asked us to pray that God would deliver them over to the hand of Satan for the destruction of their flesh," she said.
She also said she once heard Jacques Robidoux smack his 15-month-old daughter 15 times with a paddle. Since the case unfolded, the Department of Social Services has taken the group's children.