Cobb woman who led religious cult dies in prison

Anna Elizabeth Young, known as Mother Anna, died March 31, 2021. (Florida Department of Corrections)
Anna Elizabeth Young, known as Mother Anna, died March 31, 2021. (Florida Department of Corrections)

‘Mother Anna’ died weeks after murder sentence

Anna Elizabeth Young, known to police and worshippers alike as Mother Anna, died this week in prison.

Young died while assigned to the Florida Women’s Reception Center. When asked how the 79-year-old died, a Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson didn’t say, only stating that her death will be investigated by a medical examiner and “by law enforcement and the Department’s Office of Inspector General to ensure independent oversight and absolute accountability at all levels.”

Her daughter, Joy Fluker, said her mother was on 100% oxygen before she died. Young died 42 days after being sentenced to three decades behind bars on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. Fluker testified against her.

Young pleaded no contest to the charges. The murder charge related to the death of Emon Harper, who was between ages 2 and 3 when his mother gave him to the cult. He died locked in a closet, deprived of food and water. The manslaughter charge was the result of a deadly seizure suffered by 2-year-old Katonya Jackson. Mother Anna withheld medication during the emergency.

Both deaths occurred decades ago.

ExploreCobb woman who led religious cult gets 30 years for child deaths

Shortly after Young was arrested at her Marietta home in late 2017, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed family members and survivors about the abuse endured inside the House of Prayer for All People.

An AJC reporter in 2018 visited the former Florida cult site on a four-acre property in a rural stretch of North Florida near Micanopy, which calls itself “The Town that Time Forgot.” The AJC also reviewed hundreds of police and court documents related to the cult — a paper trail that dates back to 1973, when she was accused of killing her step-daughter.

She left countless people scarred, scared and dead.

The cult fell apart after, according to court records, Young was convicted in 1992 of child abuse after bathing a young cult member in bleach. Young took her daughter, Joy Fluker, and was on the run for nine years until the National Enquirer finally landed her behind bars.

A Nov. 14, 2000, edition featured Young under the headline “HELP PUT THESE DANGEROUS WOMEN BEHIND BARS.” That same month, FBI agents tracked her to an attic in Alton, Illinois, and took her to prison. She served six months on the child-abuse charge.

A decade and a half later, a mother-daughter shouting match unraveled the past.

ExploreFrom 2017 | Cops: Ex-‘cult leader’ living in Cobb arrested on Florida child murder

During their argument, Fluker said she blurted out: “How can you tell me how to raise my children when you killed two children?”

Her mother’s look told Fluker she knew it was true, and so she went to the police.

Fluker said she is still haunted by the sight of Moses’ tiny body burned in a thin straw hamper. At times, Fluker said, the terrible smell returns to her and she has to place perfume under her nose. Though crews have dug up the old cult property, Moses’ body has not been found.

Fluker told the court about her mother: “I know a different side of her that is loving and kind. I’m hoping that side of her would be proud of me.”

It was more than just Young’s family at the cult.

Katonya’s brother John Neal, a 6-foot-5-inch Air Force combat veteran, still has literal and emotional scars from a brutal beating he says Young ordered over a piece of candy when he was seven years old. Neal said Young sentenced him to 33 lashes — a reference to Jesus being 33 years old when he died on the cross.

Fluker said she has lost contact with her family, some of whom deny Young’s responsibility in the deaths. Fluker started a group named Prevent The Pain to help others who struggle with speaking up.

She said they blame her for her mother’s death behind bars.

“If my family has spoken up sooner, this would have never happened,” she said.

OUR REPORTING

The House of Prayer for All People religious cult began to crumble in 1992 after police investigated Anna Elizabeth Young for bathing a 12-yearold girl in bleach. Young served six months on a child-abuse charge before retiring in Marietta for 15 years. Young was arrested in November 2017 after her daughter alleged the cult leader was responsible for the deaths of multiple children in the 1980s. An AJC investigation uncovered multiple survivors who reported beatings and other abuse. For more about Mother Anna, go to specials.myajc.com/mother-anna/

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