Cult infant starved to death, buried in state park

Boston Herald/July 13, 2001
By Dave Wedge

An infant found buried in a Maine state park last year was the son of an Attleboro cult leader and his wife and medical tests have proven that the boy starved to death, prosecutors say. "It's what we expected," Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Walter Shea said of the Maine medical examiner's report. "The remains have been positively identified as those of Samuel Robidoux. The remains indicate that the cause of death was starvation and the manner of death is homicide."

A forensic anthropologist determined the child died of starvation because of the "lack of bone marrow" and the size of the tiny skeleton, Shea said. Samuel Robidoux, who was 10 months old, was missing for nearly a year before a member of the Attleboro-based religious sect "The Body" led investigators to a makeshift grave in Maine's Baxter State Park last October.

The boy's parents, Jacques and Karen Robidoux, face charges that they starved the boy to death to fulfill a bizarre religious prophecy set forth by the boy's aunt, Michelle Mingo.

Jacques Robidoux, the 27-year-old reputed leader of the fundamentalist religious group, faces first-degree murder charges while his wife is charged with second-degree murder. Mingo is charged with being an accessory for allegedly concocting a "vision from God" that ordered the tight-knit sect to feed Samuel only breast milk, even though he had already started eating table food.

Prosecutors say the boy slowly starved to death over a six-week period in the summer of 1999 and was later buried alongside his stillborn cousin in Maine.

Yesterday, the Robidouxes and Mingo were supposed to give handwriting samples to determine who wrote several journals that graphically detail Samuel's slow demise. The trio refused to give the samples, however, because prosecutors gave them something different to write than what an Attleboro judge ordered.

Jacques Robidoux's attorney, Frank O'Boy, said his client would follow the court order to write the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, but Shea says the state's handwriting expert needs a more thorough sample to analyze.

"They wanted them to write something different and he refused," O'Boy said. "My client will do what the court ordered him to do, but nothing beyond." Shea said both sides will go back to court to agree on what the three will write.

O'Boy also said he will seek to have the case moved out of Bristol County because of widespread publicity, a move Shea said prosecutors would oppose. Shea said there have been no plea negotiations with any of the three but sources said Karen Robidoux may seek to have her trial separated from her husband's case.

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