Frustrated Bristol County investigators are vowing to bring to justice members of an Attleboro cult who allegedly buried two little boys, despite last weekend's unsuccessful search of a Maine forest.
"These people are not nice people. They're not the Amish. These are people with very strong feelings of anger and hatred," a source close to the investigation said of members of the Christian fundamentalist sect.
A team of nearly 100 Maine and Massachusetts searchers used cadaver-sniffing dogs and a helicopter last weekend as they unsuccessfully combed for clues along a 15-mile stretch of Baxter State Park. Last fall, investigators came up empty in a search of the same area, while digs at the cult's Attleboro home and their former Seekonk headquarters also proved fruitless.
Still, Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh's office is pledging to press forward with the daunting inquiry into the apparent deaths of 10-month-old Samuel Robidoux and his infant cousin, Jeremiah Courneau.
Officials believe Samuel died of malnutrition and that Jeremiah was stillborn.
An ongoing grand jury probing the case has heard 14 days of testimony from witnesses and could hand down indictments against cult members for charges ranging from improper disposal of a body to murder.
"DA Walsh will do everything possible to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of the little boy, no matter how many people stonewall us and regardless of whether we find the remains," Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Gerald FitzGerald said. "This is not something we can just walk away from."
Six sect members have been locked up for refusing to talk to authorities about the case, including Samuel's father and reputed leader, Jacques Robidoux, 27. All are being held in separate jails in an apparent attempt to try to shatter the group's code of silence.
"Eventually, we think, someone will crack," a source said. "There's some signs of it."
The source said investigators hope one of the cult members in jail will break down or that a member who felt pressured not to talk may come forward now that other members are behind bars. The group home-schools its children, shuns traditional society and claims it does not have to answer to the government.
Robidoux was locked up by an Attleboro Juvenile Court judge after the state Department of Social Services raised questions about Samuel's well-being. Robidoux, whose three other children are in temporary DSS custody, can be held behind bars until he tells the judge what happened to his son. Samuel's mother, Karen Robidoux, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The other five jailed cult members can be detained until the grand jury probe is finished.
"Anybody who had anything to do with this little boy's death should not be sleeping easy because, eventually, the bell is going to ring," the source warned. "A child is dead and someone's got to stand up and tell us what happened."