Home > Bizarre! Meet Woman Who Held Kids Captive for Decades and Convinced People She Was Jesus Christ (Photos)

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Bizarre! Meet Woman Who Held Kids Captive for Decades and Convinced People She Was Jesus Christ (Photos)

Bizarre! Meet Woman Who Held Kids Captive for Decades and Convinced People She Was Jesus Christ (Photos)
Anne Hamilton-Byrne was the glamorous, charismatic and delusional leader of the notorious Australian sect dubbed The Family.

One of the very few female cult leaders, she convinced herself and up to 500 followers she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Under the influence of LSD, Hamilton-Byrne believed an apocalyptic war was imminent and that she had a duty to collect children from birth in preparation for a new world.

'We've received the call - and great things will be done,' she can be heard saying in a documentary titled The Family, set for release on February 23.

She gathered young boys and girls and raised them as her own on a property in Lake Eildon in central Victoria in the 1970s and 1980s.

Some children were obtained through questionable adoptions, others were born to cult members and some were even handed over by compliant sect parents.


The identically dressed children, with bleached blonde hair shaped into the same bob, were allegedly bashed, starved and injected with LSD by Hamilton-Byrne and other cult leaders in terrifying sect initiation rituals.

In a chilling interview featured in the documentary, she describes her twisted affection for 'her children.'

'I wanted them to look like brothers and sisters - I must admit this,' she said. 'I loved them in their little smocks and jeans and the long hair and ribbons. It was beautiful - it was lovely to see.'

Asked why she imprisoned 28 children over two decades, she responded: 'I love children.'

Born as Evelyn Edwards in Sale in rural Victoria in 1921, Hamilton-Byrne barely knew her father and her mother was mentally ill.

She was a yoga teacher when she met highly-respected English physicist Dr Raynor Johnson in 1963.



Together they founded the sect and began to 'adopt' and acquire children to create a 'master race' while teaching a mixture of Christianity and Hinduism.

In total, 28 children spent time at the Eildon property, 14 of which Hamilton-Byrne and her husband Bill were thought to be biological parents.

Former Lake Eildon children give harrowing descriptions of their traumatic ordeal in the upcoming film.

They open up about being forced to take drugs and recall violent physical and sexual assaults.

Holding back tears, Ben Shenton relived the moment he witnessed Hamilton-Byrne's 'favourite daughter' being beaten to a pulp.

'Sarah was thrashed,' he says, holding back tears.

'I was watching her being belted with a buckle and she's being beaten to the point where she's wriggling out of her clothes.

'Hearing her body smash across the balustrades - it was horrendous to know they had the power to do that and would it.'

It wasn't until Victorian Detective Lex de Man learned that children as young as 13 had been injected with LSD that a task force to investigate the sect was established.



In 1987, authorities dramatically rescued six traumatised children from the sect property after two managed to escape and alert police.

Because of legal complexities, Hamilton-Byrne and her husband were only ever convicted of fraud offences to do with forged birth certificates.

They avoided jail and were fined $5,000 each.

Hamilton-Byrne is now 96 living in a Melbourne nursing home with dementia.

'My only regret is she was never held totally to account for the misery she caused to the former cult children,' detective de Man recently told The Age.

'I have no sympathy for the woman I consider the most evil person I ever met in my police career.'




Director of the upcoming documentary, Rosie Jones, said she hopes the film will start a fresh public discussion about the sect.

'There's an urgency for this story to be told. Surviving sect members are in their 70s and 80s, and at 96, Anne lives in a suburban nursing home behind a veil of dementia,' she said.

'As we've seen with the emotional response to the Government's apology to relinquishing mothers and the Stolen Generations, it is an empowering experience to have your story told and acknowledged in public.

'I hope the film is a similarly positive experience for those who have had the courage to speak out and reveal their stories.'

The documentary will screen in Melbourne from February 23 and in Sydney from March, with other states to follow.

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Via Daily Mail UK

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