Mother Anna: The Cult Leader Suspected of Torture and Murder
Once FBI's most wanted, Anna Elizabeth Young is accused of killing at a religious boarding school.
If her daughter and many others are telling the truth—and police believe they are—Anna Elizabeth Young is a monster.
Joy Fluker is Young’s daughter and one of the people who reported her to police for a series of often violent crimes stretching back across decades. Fluker, an Atlanta-area resident, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the woman also known as Mother Anna initially led a cult-like following of adults “trying to get over drugs, alcohol.”
“And sometimes,” she reportedly said, “they would bring their children.”
Emon Harper was one of those children. He was 2, possibly 3 years old when police believe Young, now 76, murdered him at The House of Prayer for All People, the religious center and boarding school she opened in 1983 in Micanopy, Florida.
Police arrested Young in Cobb County, Georgia on the last day of November 2017. She was using Anderson, her husband’s last name, and local TV reported she’d already decorated her lawn for Christmas.
Described as a “former cult leader” in a news release from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, Young’s time running House of Prayer ended in 1992. That was when she was charged with felony child abuse—and went on the run.
She managed to stay under the police radar for 8 years.When she was finally arrested in Illinois, she was using the name Elizabeth “Mother Anna” McDuffie and employed as a home health care worker. Her cover—reportedly backed up by authentic-looking documents—was blown when a co-worker saw her face in a National Enquirer article about the FBI’s most wanted women fugitives.
Young was convicted in 2001 of abusing a 12-year-old girl. She’d forced the girl to bathe in a tub filled with caustic chemicals. In an April 1993 “Most Wanted” mention of Young in the AJC, the paper reported that the girl had “sustained permanent skin damage.” Young was sentenced to and served six months in jail.
Over the course of 2017 the sheriff’s office in Alachua County, Florida—acting on a tip—began digging through Young’s past. They “were able to substantiate that Young had not only tortured children, but had committed Premeditated First degree homicide-murder of a child,” they said in their release.
That child was Emon Harper.
A single allegation of murder was the tip of the iceberg.
Joy Fluker was just one of several victims who came forward to report her mother. Others told of exorcisms, of the chemical baths, of beatings. As police traced Young’s path across the US since the 1960s, they reportedly discovered evidence of a long trail of vanishing kids.
In an interview with the Gainesville Sun, Alachua County Sheriff spokesman Art Forgey said investigators believe “there are many, many more” crimes in Young’s past. “We can document other states and other missing children that we believe are tied to this,” he said.
In the AJC’s article featuring Young’s daughter Fluker, reporters also interviewed John Neal, who found himself and his sister Katonya in Young’s care when he was 6 years old.
Neal had lived through a nightmare. He told of Young forcing his sister to run in place and repeat “Jesus” over and over. He said Young “beat [Katonya] on her feet. Or she would make her stand up for hours and hours and not sleep.”
Young withheld food, according to Neal, and his sister had seizures. Young didn’t follow a doctor’s directions for treatment and never gave the girl medication. The seizures eventually killed her, and nothing was done. “It was a complete travesty what happened to my little sister,” Neal told the AJC.
Regarding Emon Harper, the cover story Young gave to others at House of Prayer reportedly was that he was sent away, perhaps to live with monks.
The Atlanta paper reported that the alleged truth was horrific. An indictment against Young said she caged Harper then starved and tortured him to death.
If Anna Young is indeed such a cruel and vicious killer, police are also considering the possibility that she didn’t stop with children—in 1988, reported the Sun, Young’s husband Jonah died under suspicious conditions. He was working on a truck when it slipped off the jack, crushing him.
Joy Fluker said she believes her mother “does love God” but is afflicted with “a sick mind.”
John Neal’s words were unequivocal: “She tortured kids,” he said, “Anna Young was completely responsible for everything.”
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