Cult leader agrees to provide saliva, hair for DNA test

Boston Herald/May 9, 2001
By Dave Wedge

Citing Old Testament passages, an Attleboro cult leader accused of starving his son to death refused to give investigators a blood sample, but agreed to other "less intrusive" DNA tests.

"There is a command from God which would be violated if I was forced to provide a sample of my blood to agents of the government," Jacques Robidoux, leader of the "Body of Christ" sect, wrote in a court affidavit filed in New Bedford yesterday.

Robidoux and his wife, Karen, quoted verse from the Book of Leviticus from the Bible in arguing that they shouldn't be forced to give blood samples. Prosecutors want the DNA samples to compare to the remains of a boy believed to be their son, Samuel Robidoux, who was unearthed from a makeshift grave in Maine's Baxter State Park in October.

In arguing a blood sample violates their freedom of religion, the couple quoted the following Leviticus passage: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life."

The issue became moot, however, when Judge Richard Chin negotiated a deal that would allow prosecutors to take hair and saliva samples instead of blood. Jacques Robidoux agreed to provide the samples, his lawyer, Frank O'Boy, said. Karen Robidoux's lawyer, Sam Sutter, said he hadn't discussed the compromise with his client.

The couple face murder charges for allegedly starving their son to death after the boy's aunt, cult member Michelle Mingo, brought forth a bizarre religious vision, prosecutors say. Mingo is facing accessory charges.

Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Walter Shea said prosecutors wanted the blood samples because they are easier to test, but will accept hair and saliva instead.

"That's all we wanted was the DNA," Shea said. Prosecutors are also seeking handwriting samples from all three to see if any of them wrote any of the cult's rambling journals, many of which graphically detail Samuel's slow demise.

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