Roch "Moïse" Thériault
(born May 16, 1947) is the charismatic former leader of a small
religious group based near Burnt River, Ontario, Canada. Between 1977
and 1989 he held sway over as many as 12 adults and 26 children. He used
all of the nine women as concubines, and probably fathered most of the
children in the group.
He was arrested for assault in 1989, and convicted of
murder in 1993. He is serving a life sentence and was denied parole in
2002. Along with Clifford Olsen and Paul Bernardo, Thériault is
considered one of Canada's most notorious criminals.
During his reign, Thériault mutilated several members.
He once used a meat cleaver to chop off the hand and part of the arm of
Gabrielle Lavallée, one of his concubines. He also removed 8 of her
teeth. Thériault was accused of castrating a 2-year-old boy, as well as
one adult man. His major crime was to kill Solange Boilard, his legal
wife, by disembowelment while trying to perform surgery on her.
The group was based primarily on religious themes,
such as women's obedience to men, polygamy, harsh punishments, the
righteousness of the leader and the sinfulness of the followers, and
Thériault was called "father (papy)" and re-christened
all members with biblical names. He also claimed to be a reincarnation
of the prophet Moses, and demanded the respect appropriate for such a
figure. Based on the testimony of former cult members, Thériault was
probably delusional and may have actually believed he could do miracles.
In particular, he once tried to resurrect a woman he had killed by
sawing the top off her corpse's skull and masturbating into the cavity.
Thériault was charming to young women and was a good
speaker. He was able to persuade his followers to sell their belongings,
sever ties with their families, and move to a commune near Burnt River,
about 100 km northeast of Toronto. Thériault convinced the women that
all of them were his wives, and that they should bear him children. Even
while he was in prison, three of his wives continued conjugal visits and
two of the three bore him more children.
In 2002, the film "Savage Messiah" depicted
Thériault's crimes against his followers and the ensuing legal recourse.
The film starred Luc Picard as Thériault and Polly Walker as Paula
Jackson, the social worker whose investigation revealed the crimes.
One of his former followers, Gabrielle Lavallée,
wrote an autobiographic book about the sect titled L'alliance de la
brebis ("Alliance of the Sheep"), ISBN 2920176854.
Killer cult leader is denied parole
CP/July 12, 2002
Dorchester, N.B. -- Cult leader Roch Theriault, who
once used a meat cleaver to amputate the arm of a concubine, was denied
parole yesterday on the grounds he represents an ongoing danger to
The three-member National Parole Board panel also
ordered Theriault, who called himself Moses, to undergo a series of
Gabrielle Lavallee, who had her right arm hacked off
by Theriault in 1989, said yesterday he deserves to stay in jail forever.
"The population, myself included, will be able to
have a long night's sleep tonight," Lavallee, 52, said after the parole
"Sitting behind him (at the hearing) brought back all
the memories of the time, when I weighed 80 pounds and had to help the
authorities capture him.
"I felt a lot of emotion."
Theriault had earlier told the board he wanted to
remain behind bars at the Dorchester Penitentiary near Moncton because
he feared for his safety outside prison.
Theriault, 57, was sentenced in 1993
to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the
death of Solange Boislard, a long-time member of the survivalist cult.
Her body was found in 1989 at the cult's camp near
Lindsay, Ont., 70 km northeast of Toronto. She had been partially
disembowelled with a kitchen knife during a cult ritual.
Before his capture, Theriault proved brilliant at
manipulating both the legal system and vulnerable individuals. But he
also had a maniacal streak that triggered brutal punishment and even
The charismatic Quebecer established a commune near
Burnt River, Ont., in 1987, where he ruled over his concubines, 26
children and other followers.
His religious cult became increasingly bizarre and
cruel, and soon social workers and police were investigating reports of
abuse of the women and children and eventually the deaths of Boislard
and an infant.
Lavallee testified against Theriault during his trial,
describing years of brutal abuse that included having one of her teeth
ripped out of her mouth with a pair of pliers.
She later waged a campaign to keep the cult leader
behind bars and also wrote a book about her ordeal.
The story of Theriault and Lavallee is told in Savage
Messiah, a new TV movie airing on The Movie Network and Movie Central.
Theriault continues to cast a spell over some of his
followers, and conjugal visits with three remaining wives have allowed
him to father a number of children while in prison.
Please note: This is pretty
gruesome. If you're sensitive to graphic accounts of gross domestic
violence, don't read this.
~ canada has cults too
Roch Thériault (pronounced "Rosh Terry-o") was
born in the Saguenay Valley of Québec on May 16, 1947, to Hyacinthe
and Pierrette Thériault, the second of seven children and the eldest
boy. At the age of six, the family of this boy who would later say
he played with wild bears moved the family to the community of
Thetford Mines, in the Eastern Townships. The town's local school
went up to the seventh grade, and none of the Thériault kids went
any further – not even young Roch, who was bright, outgoing, and
seemed to enjoy learning. Although Roch would later describe his
parents, particularly his father, as abusive, Hyacinthe denies ever
having beaten the boy, and even in his youth Roch himself almost
never complained about his home situation.
Hyacinthe, a labourer, was devoutly religious and a
member of the «Union des Electeurs» (Union of Electors, also known as «Berets
blancs» or "White Berets" on account of their signature mission uniform),
a Catholic fascist offshoot of the Depression-era «Créditiste» movement.
Between Mass and his father's forced door-to-door White Beret literature
distribution campaigns, Roch developed an abiding hatred for Catholicism
in particular and organized religion in general.
Roch was given little to complain about as a child,
passing a relatively uneventful adolescence in Thetford Mines; but as he
grew older, he discovered that complaining about his childhood was a
great way to get sympathy. Between this, and his interest in a number of
topics that gave the illusion of a penetrating intelligence for which he
was often praised (even by psychiatric evaluators after his ultimate
arrest), he came to crave attention. This desire was readily satisfied
by his physical presence and by his penchant for showmanship. He also
found that spirituality was very attractive.
On November 11, 1967, he married Francine Grenier, a
girl from the next town over. They moved to Montréal, and over the next
three years, she gave him two sons: Roch Sylvain (Roch jr) and François.
During this time, Roch sr developed some severe ulcers, which had to be
excised surgically, and later developed complications from the surgery.
The persistent discomfort of his digestive system fostered a certain
irritability on Thériault's part; he also became obsessed with medicine,
and taught himself a great deal about anatomy. He also moved his family
back to Thetford Mines and began developing his skills with woodworking.
He became involved in municipal politics, and joined «le Club Aramis,»
the French analogue to the Shriners, which he suborned for use as his
personal platform for a parody of Catholicism, despite the Catholic
roots of all the other members. He also acquired a new interest in sex
and sexuality – one which was not entirely appreciated by his wife or
He also took to drinking.
He was using his amateur wood sculpting sales as an
excuse to go out of Thetford Mines for Québec City on the weekends to
carry on trysts with women he met there. "Gisèle" was one such a woman.
Eventually, Thériault's finances gave way, and the local credit union
repossessed his Thetford Mines residence; Francine washed her hands of
Roch, and Roch took up with Gisèle. Although he was having sexual
congress with her on a regular basis, to keep up appearances he made a
bed in the back of his truck, so that it would appear that his scruples
forbade him from sleeping with a woman to whom he was not married.
It was around this time that Roch Thériault
discovered the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
The Adventists, ministered by a Guadaloupean named
Pierre Zita, met in a local motel room every Saturday. Roch was their
most devoted follower; he began following Adventist nutritional
strictures, and quit drinking. In fact, his "enthusiasm" for God's work
began to unsettle the other Adventists, and his boastfulness irritated
those who knew of his limited education. Roch became fascinated with the
Old Testament, with its strict codes of masculine authority; he was also
fascinated with Apocalypse, with its message of violent retribution for
sin in the end times and the division of the human race into the elect
and the reprobate.
To make money, Thériault began selling Adventist
literature door-to-door. When he proved himself quite capable in this
enterprise, Zita began giving him workshops on quitting smoking for
Thériault to run – a traditional gateway for Adventist evangelism. He
soon proved to excel at this. By 1977 he had amassed to himself a number
- Solange Boilard (21)
- Chantal Labrie (19)
- Francine Laflamme (18)
- Nicole Ruel (20)
- "Marise" (18)
- Josée Pelletier (20)
- Jacques Fiset (mid-twenties)
- Claude Ouellette (24)
- Jacques Giguère (24), his wife Maryse Grenier (23), and their six-month-old
All of these people, plus Roch, began hanging around at Gisèle's
apartment. Though most of the girls still living with their parents,
the whole group would often spend the weekend crashing at Gisèle's –
on the couch, on the floor, wherever there was space. Thériault
encouraged them all to drop out of college; after all, Christ was
coming soon, so there wasn't much point to learning skills to get by
in a world that was already doomed. Sometimes Gisèle would become
jealous of the attention the girls lavished on Roch; but as he had
expressed interest in becoming a priest, and had committed to total
sobriety, she came to regard this as absurd – even if she realized
it wouldn't take much for Thériault to seduce any one of them.
And Roch's Adventist ministers began to fear that this group of
disaffected youth were more attracted to Thériault personally
than they were to the Church.
In 1977, he and his followers attended an Adventist retreat on Lake
Rosseau, in the woods of Muskoka, Ontario. Here, he met Gabrielle
Lavallée (from Québec) and Yolande Guinnebert (from France), who joined
his retinue. The natural scenery of Lake Rosseau apparently made a huge
impression on Roch. In fact, at one point during the retreat, Thériault
went hiking by himself, and climbed up on a rocky outrcopping. He said
he had a vision in which the sky was lit up with a white radiance, and
the voice of God told him that the outcropping on which Roch was about
to kneel was a holy place.
This was the first incident of what would become the ruling element
in the lives of those people who had taken to following Thériault.
~ healthy living
With an entourage of eight live-in followers (Gisèle, Solange,
Chantal, Francine, Nicole, Gabrielle, Jacques Fiset, and Claude), a
growing reputation as a "healer," and sympathetic connections with the
Seventh Day Adventist health food and mission literature suppliers,
Thériault decided it was time to move his motley band from Thetford
Mines. He established them in Sainte-Marie, in the Beauce region, about
65km south of Québec City. Here, they opened the "Healthy Living Clinic,"
an alternative medicine venue where you could get organic foods and
holistic literature to help you cure any ailment – cash up
front, of course. Thériault insisted they all wear a uniform: an ankle-length
pull-over tunic, green for the women and beige for the men, with Roch
wearing a dark brown robe of similar cut.
Not only was he making money in this enterprise,
he was also attracting followers. Several of the Clinic's patrons
volunteered time or financial donations – including one, Léo Marc
Faucher, who sold his worldly possessions to fund the Clinic and
move in with his wife and child. Jacques Giguère and Maryse Grenier
did likewise, and "Marise" and Josée Pelletier rejoined the group. A
strange dynamic took hold of the group, with all the women (except
Maryse Grenier, who hated being with the commune) competing for
Rock's attention. Eventually, Gisèle became very concerned that she
might lose Roch to one of the other girls, and took the initiative
to propose to him herself. A week later he agreed, and they were
married on January 8, 1978, at an Adventist church in Montréal.
There was no honeymoon; the group piled back in the van for the five-hour
trip home, Thériault joking with the other girls all the way home.
Gisèle cried on a matress in the back, increasingly convinced that
it had all been a way to cement his relationship with the Adventists
with a display of sincerity.
The Adventists weren't convinced. Pierre Zita tried
approaching the parents of many of the girls, and tried to convince
Gisèle to leave Roch. But Thériault's place in the hearts of his
followers was much too deep for family or friends to displace. Even when
the police came, at the behest of the families of some of the girls,
they refused to speak. Thériault was their elected face to the outside
world. Even when local businessmen began filing in to the police station
to complain about Thériault's inability to pay outstanding bills, the
police's hands were tied.
In March of 1978, Geraldine Gagné Auclair was
admitted to the Healthy Living Clinic. She had been undergoing treatment
for leukemia in Québec City, and things seemed to be going well. But
Auclair's husband fell in with Thériault. Roch convinced M Auclair to
let him visit Geraldine in the hospital, where Roch got in a loud
argument with the doctors over the matter of Geraldine's treatment –
particularly the amount of drugs they were giving her. Roch convinced M
Auclair to check the 38-year-old cancer patient Geraldine out
of the hospital and into the Healthy Living Clinic, where even
Geraldine's own father was not permitted to visit.
Roch Thériault's treatment for leukemia was grape
juice and organic foods. Geraldine Gagné Auclair died in the Clinic.
Thériault told his followers that he had gone into her room and kissed
her, and she awakened from death – but that, in the end, "You know, when
God wants people, he takes them. It was Geraldine's time."
During the same period of the Clinic's existence, the
parents of 19-year-old multiple sclerosis victim Gabrielle Nadeau placed
her under the care of Thériault, who they had met at an anti-smoking
In April of 1978, Thériault was voted out of the
Seventh Day Adventist Church, on Zita's initiative. This didn't phase
Thériault one bit, and his next move was to marry some of his followers
together, in spite of the fact that, not only did he lack any authority
to perform marriages whatsoever, his followers had actually not
expressed any interest in getting married whatsoever – at least not to
the men Roch decided they were to marry. Claude Ouellette was paired
with Solange Boilard, and Jacques Fiset with Nicole Ruel. Solange
invited her parents to the ceremony, and on advice from their priest
they decided to attend, if only to show Solange that they still loved
her. They reported that Roch's wedding ceremony was not what they
expected, to say the least – Thériault's rambling speech stressed the
woman's role of subservience to the man. Some of the women in Solange's
family wept – and not for joy.
That spring, Gisèle, pregnant and feeling rejected by
the lack of attention Roch gave her since their marriage, gave her new
husband an ultimatum: either he break the commune and encourage his
followers to find new homes, or she would move back in with her father.
Thériault's answer was to smash her in the mouth and forbid her to leave
the room for two days.
In June, 1978, in spite of its financial success,
the Healthy Living Clinic faced some serious problems. First, there
was the outstanding debts. Second, the constant police surveillance
to which they had been subjected since Auclair's death. Third, the
cutting-off of health food and missionary literature supplies from
their former friends, the Seventh Day Adventists. Prognosis:
negative. Recommended treatment: Move.
Thériault loaded the band into their vehicles and set
out. They wandered from town to town, down the Fleuve Saint-Laurent, for
a month. In July, they found themselves in the wilderness of the Gaspé
Peninsula. It was here that Thériault disclosed to the group his vision
of the future. Thériault told the group that the world would end on
February 17, 1979, amid a storm of boulder-sized hail, earthquakes, and
lightening. They, the commune, would become God's chosen, but only if
they made a righteous life for themselves in the scrub of these
Appalacian foothills. Thériault, of course, would be their guide.
The group set out on foot into the hills from the
village of Saint-Jogues, on July 9, 1978. They hiked for two days until
they found an isolated hill beside a small body of water called Lac Sec
("Dry Lake"). Thériault named the diminutive mound "Eternal Mountain,"
and it was here that the group made their home. They erected a tent-town,
spent a week retrieving tools from the cars, and then began construction
on a large communal cabin. They worked at least seventeen hours a day
clearing the land, and occasionally getting supplies from the village.
Jacques Fiset and Claude hacked at the ground with a shovel and pickaxe
where the center of the cabin would be, working all summer to dig a well;
when they finally reached the water-table, Roch declared it a miracle.
They worked in their tunics, and when tripping over these became
inconvenient and dangerous, Roch commissioned new uniforms: dark blue
wrap-around short shrifts. Thériault rationed the food, and if anyone
complained about anything (like hunger), he would punish them by
restricting their rations.
Of course, Thériault's stomach pains and "cancer"
prevented him from participating in the labour. His role was much
more important for their spiritual salvation: impressing upon his
followers that everyone in the outside world, most especially their
families, were active oppressors of the righteous, who were doomed
to lie dead for all eternity for the unforgivable harm they had
inflicted upon these poor, innocent souls.
For some, this was all too much. Yolande Guinnebert,
who had joined the group with her friend Gabrielle Lavallée at the
resort at Lake Rosseau, headed back to France, claiming that her
passport had expired. Léo Marc Faucher, who had joined the Healthy
Living Clinic with his wife and child and who had given Thériault all of
their money, loaded his meagre possessions and his family into a wagon
and headed back for civilization. Roch did nothing to stop them, but
made it clear that Faucher was evil in the eyes of God.
When it was all done in September, the cabin
consisted of a single open room with a floor made of pounded wooden
rounds and with the well in the center, a ceiling made of mossy, twiggy
bark-covered logs, and rooms consisting only of metre-high partitions
and bedsheets hung as curtains. This was to be their home until God
began his thousand-year reign on Earth. It was also a place of merriment,
where Thériault would organize skits and songs. To commemorate their new
life, Thériault gave them all new names from the Old Testament. He
himself became "Moïse," or Moses, leader of the exodus from the depraved
modern world. He was their Papy; his wife Gisèle was their Mamy, and
with the collective welfare checks of everyone in the group, they had a
monthly budget of $1 400 Canadian.
In October, the six-months-pregnant "Mamy" Gisèle
went to "Moïse." She said that the women who had not been married were
lonely. Thériault relayed this insight to the other girls, thus giving
them the impression that Mamy had been the first to think of it. A few
nights later, Nicole Ruel (whom Roch had married to the uninterested
Jacques Fiset) confided that she and Moïse had had intercourse while
everyone else was working. This hurt Gisèle immeasurably and she fled
from the cabin, but an enraged Thériault pulled her down and squeezed
his hands around her throat. Cowed and afraid for her life, Gisèle
agreed to return to the compound.
Moïse declared all commune marriages, other than the
one between himself and Gisèle, void. He then began marrying the women
to himself – including Gabrielle Nadeau, the twenty-year-old multiple
sclerosis invalid, though apparently didn't try to have intercourse with
her. He did have sex with his other "wives;" the rebellious
Solange was the last to fall to his wiles. The one exception was Maryse
Grenier, the outsider.
When the Jonestown Massacre occurred on November 18,
1978, Thériault followed the story with keen interest – he even claimed
to have had a vision of the event a year before. But they now had a very
pressing problem. Doomsday cults were now a household concern, and the
families of Thériault's followers renewed their attempts to disrupt the
group. The police wanted to take him into custody, but lacked evidence
that he was a danger to himself or others; nevertheless, Thériault went
willingly with them and underwent psychological evaluation. He claimed
that he wasn't the "leader" of the group; that the commune was a
democracy and that they lived "in peace and without any promiscuity." He
conveniently left out the parts about food rationing, abuse, or his
polygamous harem. The authorities realized he was a delusional crank,
but without any proof he was a dangerous delusional crank, they released
him under his own recognizance.
Thériault abandoned the Adventist diet. He began
eating meat and junk food. He prostituted Gabrielle to a local grocer
for some milk, meat, and cheese. He also started drinking again after
two years sober – first communion wine, then beer and cognac. He began
to deliver long, rambling, drunken sermons. If anyone fell asleep, he'd
smack their head with a four inch thick club. When Maryse Grenier,
pregnant, ate two more pancakes than Thériault had allocated to her, he
punched her in the side and broke two of her ribs. A favourite
punishment would be to force someone to strip naked and stand in the
snow for a few hours. No one would fight back; it would be like raising
a hand against God himself.
Jacques Fiset left; Thériault told the others he had been taken by
the Devil. As for the others, all of this served only to make them
more obsequious. They would write letters like this:
I am writing about what you said on the subject
of nutrition. It is very true that I nibble, a damnable fault
which I will never again repeat. The thought of ingesting such a
large quantity of food in so little time discourages me, even if I
work outside the entire day without eating. I ask that you forgive
me. If it is stealing, I did not realize it.
It is this fault which causes my plumpness. I
do not want to be a fat and plump servant. That is too ugly next
to the man that you are.
I don't know what to think about everything and
the meaning of my actions. I only know that I will not repeat them.
And I don't speak lightly.
I wish to be a true servant to you, my Master.
Alert, vigorous, with a clear and lively spirit and well-balanced
to serve you every moment of my life.
I have a long way to go.
Thank you Papy,
I love you,
Maryse Grenier began to talk about leaving. Thériault
instructed Jacques Giguère, Maryse's husband in the eyes of the law (though
not in the eyes of "Moïse") to cut off one of her toes with an axe as
punishment. When Giguère balked, Thériault began to taunt him: "What are
you, a faggot? Don't you have any balls? If you want to be a man, you
have to learn how to teach your woman a lesson." When Giguère began to
cry, Thériault grabbed the axe and threatened to cut off all of Maryse's
toes himself. Reluctantly, Giguère took the axe and severed one of
Maryse's small toes. After that, Giguère became "Moïse's" main enforcer.
The prophecied day, February 17, came and went
without any Second Coming. According to Thériault, divining exact dates
from the messages of God was a difficult business for mortals, as time
passes differently for Him than for them. To the shock and horror of the
families of Thériault's followers, this was enough to keep the group
together; after all, the end could come any day now. Chantal
Labrie's parents obtained a court order for a round of psychiatric tests
for their daughter. When two police officers showed up at the compound,
however, Thériault repelled them.
One month later, only four days after Québec City's
Le Soleil published a story on the group entitled "They Are
Happy And Free To Leave If They Wish" (which referred to Thériault as
the group's "spiritual father," and which included quotes from an
interview with fled member Jacques Fiset, in which he stated that the
group was democratically run), ten police officers set a helicopter down
on the Eternal Mountain. They arrested Thériault for obstruction of
justice, and he was ordered by the court to undergo psychological
evaluation at Québec City's l'Hôpitale Robert Giffard.
Gisèle maintained the morale (and isolation) of the
commune during "Papy's" absence. When the family of other cult members
tried to visit them to try to talk some sense into everyone, they were
treated coldly and it was made clear they were unwelcome.
Meanwhile, Thériault was ingratiating himself to the
doctors. He claimed that he had saved these kids from the self-dissolution
of drugs and put them on the right track. The director of the hospital
at which Thériault was confined began referring to the patient as "Moses,"
and expressed his scorn for the public that had reflexively assumed that
just because Thériault had a different lifestyle and had been sent for
evaluation, he was crazy. He was released from the hospital early,
judged fit to stand trial for obstruction of justice, and given a one-year
suspended sentence. The media began to portray him as a gentle mountain
man that had run afoul of a prejudiced industrial society. In the eyes
of his followers, this only proved that he was an emissary of God, just
as he said he was; if psychiatric experts couldn't find anything wrong
with him from their position of objectivity, how could they, his most
~ samuel giguère
Gabrielle Nadeau went into a coma and died shortly
thereafter. Thériault wanted to bury her at the foot of the "Eternal
Mountain," but she was taken by the authorities for an autopsy. They
found no signs of foul play, but Thériault swore that if anyone else
died on the commune, their body would stay there.
In early November, 1980, Guy Veer joined the commune.
He was the first new member of the group since the Healthy Living Clinic.
He had undergone treatment for depression at l'Hôpitale Robert Giffard,
the same hospital that had declared Thériault "mentally sound." After
hearing about Thériault on television, Veer decided to head into the
hills. After passing Gabrielle's examination, Veer was permitted to stay
at the commune – in the storage shed, away from Thériault and his "family."
He would get a small woodstove, a case of twenty-four bottles of home-brewed
beer, two hens, a rooster, and one meal a day. Veer's job, in addition
to his normal responsibilities of chopping wood, storing food rations
for the winter, and continuing construction on "Moïse's" growing wood
cabin palace, would be to babysit the group's three non-Thériault
children: Samuel Giguère, age 2; Miriam Giguère, age 4; and Simon
Ouellette, age 2, son of Solange and Claude during their brief "marriage."
Thériault had three children of his own living at the commune (one by
Gisèle, one by Solange and one by Nicole), but Veer was mentally
unstable, and so was only fit to look after the "animals" – the children
that weren't of Roch's seed.
On March 23, 1980, Thériault organized a party. His
two sons from his marriage with Francine Grenier, Roch jr (12) and
François (10), were coming to live with their father in the commune.
Veer, of course, was not invited; his job was to look after those three
There are two versions regarding what happened that
night. The "official version" is the one that was given in court by
Thériault, Guy Veer, and most of the commune members. According to this
version, Samuel was crying that night and keeping Veer awake. Veer lost
his temper, and started screaming at the child to be quiet. Then,
picking the two-year-old up by the throat, he plunged his fist into the
child's face five or six times. The next day, Thériault discovered what
had happened, and placed Samuel under the care of Gabrielle, nurse for
the group. Allegedly, baby Samuel's head was flopping around on his neck,
and his penis had swelled up. Rock took a pair of scissors, and after
sterilizing them in alcohol, he lanced Samuel's penis to permit urine to
flow out. The next morning, Samuel was found dead. This is the account
accepted by the courts.
According to Savage Messiah by Paul
Kaihla and Ross Laver, Gisèle tells a different story. According to her,
Samuel's face was bruised on the morning of the 24th of March, but there
was nothing else wrong with him. However, Thériault decided that the
child needed to be circumcized. He used the ninety-four percent ethanol
solution to do more than sterilize the razor, though; he also poured
some into a rubber bulb, which he squeezed into Samuel's mouth for use
as an anaesthetic. This may have been enough to cause Samuel's death by
After hearing about her baby's death, Maryse Grenier
just went back to work. At supper, Thériault suggested they burn the
baby's remains, as if they buried them birds or bears might get into
them. Maryse and Jacques Giguère agreed. Claude Ouellette did the
honours. Then life at the commune went back to "normal."
For six months, everything went smoothly for the
commune. But one night in September, a drunken Moïse became angry with
Veer for some infraction, and decided that he should stand trial for his
crime of the previous March. He appointed Jacques Giguère, the baby's
father, to be the judge, "Mamy" Gisèle would be the prosecution, Claude
Ouellette the lawyer for the defence. Gabrielle would act as coroner,
and Roch's other six wives would act as jury. The trial lasted one hour,
and the verdict was unanimous: Not guilty by reason of insanity.
But Thériault was not to be satisfied with this
decision, and a couple of hours later he took Jacques aside and
suggested that they castrate Veer. Giguère didn't like the idea, but
Thériault called another vote anyway. Of a jury of ten, including Roch
jr, only three voted against the new motion – Jacques Giguère, Maryse
Grenier, and Gisèle. Everyone else was now strongly in favour.
Veer, who had stayed quiet through the whole evening,
was obviously not keen to the idea, but Thériault actually talked him
into it. He claimed it would cure Veer's headaches, as well as the
excessive masturbation that was "causing" Veer's respiratory
difficulties. He explained that in the hierarchy of the group, Veer was
a slave, and that if he underwent the castration he would become a
eunuch, which would be a step up. He asked Veer to write a letter of
consent, and said that he wouldn't make Veer sign it if he didn't want
to sign it. Veer signed it. Thériault had Veer lie on the kitchen table
as Gabrielle fetched the medical instruments: an elastic band, a razor
blade, a magnifying glass, a pair of tweezers, and the ethanol. The
operation itself was painless, and the testicles were discarded in a
Kleenex; although Veer's scrotum bled for a week, Gabrielle gave him a
new salt-water compress every twenty minutes, and ensured he got plenty
of iron in his diet.
Paul Veer never complained of another headache.
On the other hand, Thériault felt that now Veer was a
security risk, and enjoyed tormenting him, beating him, and playing
games in which he would instruct his followers to pierce Veer through
the chest with knives and bleed him to death – only to call them off,
like God called off Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, at the very last
minute. But on November 5, Veer escaped to the village of Saint-Jogues,
where he told the villagers that a baby had died after being kicked by a
horse. The police raided the compound, arrested Thériault and Samuel's
parents, and relocated the seven children to foster homes. They found
the child's remains, and the commune members told the story of Veer
beating the child. They also found Veer's letter of "consent" to the
castration operation, and even the ballots that had been used for the
vote. No one questioned by the police was at all upset or even
embarrassed of what had happened, or of having involved a twelve-year-old
boy in the decision process.
After the coroner determined that the group was
criminally responsible for the death of Samuel Giguère, the police made
the following charges. Roch Thériault, Jacques Giguère, Maryse Grenier,
Gabrielle Lavallée and Guy Veer were all charged with criminal
negligence causing bodily harm to Samuel Giguère. Claude Ouellette (who
burned the body) was charged with obstruction of justice. Jacques and
Maryse were charged with neglect towards their oldest daughter, now five,
and Claude and Solange Boilard were similarly charged for their
treatment of Simon Ouellette, now three. Thériault and Lavallée were
also charged with bodily harm with intent to mutilate Guy Veer. All of
the accused pleaded not guilty. Jacques, Maryse, Claude, Solange, and
Guy Veer were released on their own recognizance on the condition they
not return to the cabin; Thériault and Lavallée were denied bail as they
were held to be a danger to society.
At the end of the nine-month trial, during which the
commune members moved to the town of New Carlisle, where the trial was
held, all parties were found guilty of all charges. Maryse and Solange
got three years probation. Jacques Giguère and Claude Ouellette received
six months in prison and three years probation for child abandonment.
Guy Veer was sentenced but later acquitted for mental incompetence and
was returned to l'Hôpital Robert Giffard. Gabrielle Lavallée was
sentenced to nine months in jail and three years probation.
Roch Thériault was sentenced to two years less a day
in prison, and three years probation, on each of two charges, to be
served concurrently. He was transferred to the Orsainville Detention
Centre in Québec City.
The members of the group distributed themselves
between four apartments in Québec City, to be near their leader. The
police razed their cabin on the Gaspé to the ground, and bulldozed the
ashes. Thériault began to assemble notes for a book (L'Affaire
Moïse, published in Québec City in November of 1983). The whole
thing seemed to be over.
It was only getting started.
~ the ant hill kids
Roch Thériault was released in February of 1984. His
followers wanted to stay together in the city, perhaps in a rented house.
Moïse had other ideas.
They would go back into the bush and start all over
again: this time on Lot 4, Concession 5, in Somerville Township, Burnt
River – near the town of Lindsay, in Victoria County, Ontario. He had
stopped drinking, he told them all, and there wouldn't be any more
violence; and after all, as God's emissary they were obliged to follow
him. And in May of 1984, he moved the band to their new home, and began
the construction of a new cabin, as isolated as their old home had been.
Thériault designed and assembled a rough sawmill from a chainsaw, a
snowmobile engine, and some bicycle parts. He also designed a horse-drawn
treadmill to mill water from a spring on a neighbouring concession. Roch
(now calling himself "Rock," the anglicization of his French name)
commissioned an A-frame cabin, a two-storey house with a kitchen, a
bakery, a maple sugar shack, a smokehouse, a root cellar, and a stone "sanctuary"
or altar upon which he would commune with God. This was all built by his
two male and nine female followers – four of whom were pregnant, and all
of whom were also responsible for the commune's ten children, ranging in
age from one to fifteen. They worked through the summer in long pants
and sweaters, to keep the mosquitos away.
Rock established a new hierarchy for the group,
assigning each of his wives different responsibilities. The lowest of
them all was Maryse Grenier; Thériault forbade Jacques and Maryse from
sleeping together, and encouraged Jacques to beat her if she talked back
to him or to Rock – even though she was pregnant. Rock also convinced
Jacques that a birthmark she had looked like "666." He eventually
ordered her to live apart from everyone else in her own hut with her own
two children, until Rock later accepted her eldest daughter into the
Nobody who visited the compound from Somerville had
any idea of the group's strict and brutal organization; nor did they
have any idea of the group's past in Québec. The members of the commune
were regarded as eccentric, but hard-working neighbours.
Victoria County, however, had different ideas about
welfare than they had in Québec. The group was refused funding on the
basis that the group constituted an institution, rather than a family.
This only served as proof that the outside world was hostile to the
group's way of life, and reinforced their alienation and isolation. As
far as Rock was concerned, if the rest of the world wouldn't voluntarily
give them what they needed, they would have to take it.
He began ordering his wives to steal from the local grocers of the town
of Lindsay: dairy products, vegetables, meat, canned goods, suet, pop,
toilet paper, anything and everything they needed but could no longer
afford to buy. They even made special jackets with huge inner pockets to
facilitate their sprees of petty crime.
On January 31, 1985, a police officer caught Jacques
Giguère shoplifting. Nearby, he tracked down Gabrielle, Claude, Nicole
Ruel, and Roch jr (who had fifty feet of rope coiled around his waist).
Between the five of them, they had lifted $453.37 in goods. Their
sentence was to be banned from shopping in Linsday ever again.
So Rock encouraged his followers to hit up their
parents. If the parents refused, it would only reinforce what he had
always said about them; if they agreed, the group would have money to
continue its way of living in isolation. In fact, Rock had so
brainwashed his followers into thinking only negative thoughts about
their parents that some of them begged him not to make them call. The
typical response, of course, was that the girls could have money, but
only if they left Rock. This, of course, was not to happen.
So the group began selling fruit, and later pastry.
This proved to be a success, and Rock organized the group into a company.
He called them the "Ant Hill Kids" because they worked together like a
nest of ants. Though the members of Rock's group still had to subsist on
corn and potatoes, at least now they were making some money, and
everything seemed to be going well.
But as Rock became less desperate to survive, he
became increasingly bored. And as he became bored, he began to drink
again. He stopped working, again using his aching guts as an excuse. He
prescribed himself a case of beer for any pains. When he was drunk, he'd
often go on at length about his treasures, which consisted of some
worthless costume jewelry – the rest of the group was too terrified to
do anything but feign interest. He would also play the wives off against
each other, manipulating their self-esteem to his whim. He would also
organize no-holds-barred nude wrestling matches between the women, or he
would put a man in the middle of a circle and tell the women to hit and
kick him. Sometimes he would join in the matches, but then the rules
changed; if you scored a hit on him, it would come out of your food
Sometimes he would beat or whip his followers;
sometimes he would strike them with the broad side of an axe, or with a
hammer. They were forbidden to go to the hospital. Sometimes he would
urinate on them, or force them to perform analingus on one another or
smear themselves with each other's feces. Once he slashed Jacque
Giguére's jugular with a broken wine glass. He also ordered Jacques to
be circumcised, his whole glans removed.
This all had a cathartic effect on his followers – he
had punished them for their sins, and they were now purified as a result.
And Rock would always weep the next day, after all the alcohol had left
his system; he would beg God, his Master, to stop using him as a vehicle
for God's cruel justice.
On January 26, 1985, somewhere shortly after 9:00am,
Gabrielle put her five-month-old baby, Rock's son Eleazar, in a
wheelbarrow. It was snowing, and the temperature was -10°C (14°F). By
10:45am, the baby was dead. Rock had hated the child, and said it bore
the mark of the Devil; he had often beaten it. Gabrielle thought that
this would be an act of mercy for the infant.
The county coroner, Al Lackey, a friend of Thériault,
claimed that it had been sudden infant death syndrome.
The county Children's Aid Society began watching the
commune like hawks.
~ horrors & atrocities of a new
old-school old testament messiah
After a year of having been forbidden to have
relations with her pre-cult husband Jacques, Maryse Grenier, the only
adult woman of the group Thériault hadn't taken as his own wife, was
permitted to leave with two of her three surviving children – a two year
old and an infant. The only condition: that her eldest daughter, the
girl she had borne before her days with the cult and who was now nearing
puberty, remain behind – destined to become the next of Rock's wives.
Maryse hot-footed it out of there, but after months of learning how to
function in the real world after having spent eight years under
Thériault's rule, she decided that she would persue legal action to get
custody of the remaining daughter.
Part of this legal action involved testifying on the
conditions under which the children of the compound lived. This was all
that was needed for the CAS to sweep in and take the kids to foster
homes. In their new environments, however, they exhibited disturbing
behaviour which indicated that they had been abused on the compound. As
the children were asked about conditions in the commune, more and more
horrifying details were revealed.
Rock seperated the children of the compound into two
groups: his own, chosen children, who enjoyed a privileged position in
the commune; and those who were not his own, particularly the children
of Maryse Grenier as well as the young Simon Ouellette, all of whom were
regarded as animals and slaves. Rock saw to the care of his own children;
the mentally deficient Paul Veer had been taken on to look after
Grenier's bastards. Grenier's children crawled like animals and were
severely malnourished; adults and children alike were, for the most part,
forbidden from speaking with them. Grenier said later that she actually
would have preferred Paul Veer to look after her children, over Rock
Although Rock considered his children to be the
children of God and the next generation of his religious following,
their situation was utterly wretched. Only Moïse was permitted to
express any warmth whatsoever towards the children. Sometimes he would
hold two women's children over a fire and threatened to throw one of
them in; he loved watching his wives beg for their own child to be
spared. He would also nail children to trees by their clothes, and tell
the other children to stone them or knife them – only to call them off
at the very last minute, again playing God to the children's Abraham and
Isaac. Some children had mouths full of rotting teeth; some would
randomly scream, rock, chant, or bang on things. The children had chores
around the commune such as hand-washing the adult women's sanitary
napkins. They were deprived of sleep, of food, and of hygeine.
The children were also deprived of education – except
Rock's own brands of religious education and sex education. Thériault
told the children that God lived underground (because flowers grew up
from the ground), and that God sometimes demanded blood sacrifice – as
when, in a secret ritual held just for the kids, a naked Thériault
disemboweled a goat that one of his daughters had hand-raised and bathed
himself in its blood, arising from a pit with much pomp. There were
reports of chanting rituals and upside-down crosses; the children also
were able to go into great detail about group sex rites which were held
in the cabin, and which involved the whole "family." Thériault and his
teenage son, Roch jr, also sexually molested and sometimes raped the
children. Rock sr would sometimes have the children masturbate him, or
watch as members of the group masturbated one another or themselves,
believing this to be the proper method of sexual instruction.
But the court ordered an independent assessment, and
that team, including Dr Rhéal Huneault and Dr Martine Miljkovitch,
recommended that the children be returned to Burnt River
immediately. In their 300-page report, they celebrated Thériault's
pioneering spirit and experimental attitude regarding sexual education.
They accused the government of trying to persecute the group, trying to
force them to disband by witholding welfare, a gross infraction of their
rights as citizens.
The CAS also launched its own report, of which
Thériault seemed to have intimate knowledge right from the start. Rock
was sweet-talking everyone who came to assess his dominion.
But in the end, on October 26, 1987, the court ruled
that the children be made wards of the Crown. There was to be no
parental access, as the Court believed Thériault to be a manipulative
despot who posed a significant risk of molestation and exploitation. The
83-page Court ruling also suggested that the testimonies of Huneault,
Miljkovitch, and the sympathetic CAS agents, francophones all, were more
the result of a cultural prejudice of sympathy for any French-speaking
community in a predominantly English environment, than of objectivity or
concern for the welfare of the children in the group.
But there still wasn't enough evidence to press
further criminal charges against Thériault. Even Maryse Grenier wasn't
willing to testify against Rock.
Thériault began networking. He discovered the Mormon
Fundamentalist movement, and this was how he met up with forensic
psychiatrist and LDS branch president Dr Jess Groesbeck. In addition to
dealing with cases of altered consciousness and dissociative disorders,
he was drawn to shamanism, and with the history of polygamy. He and
Thériault (polygamist and self-proclaimed healer) became good friends.
Rock also hooked up with polygamist Alex Joseph of Big Water, Utah –
though Joseph didn't much like Rock's attitude.
During this time, Rock was also charged with
obstruction of justice that occurred in connection with an incident in
which he and his followers were harassing the daughter of one of Rock's
children's foster parents. He also assaulted one of his neighbours, a
canoe-builder named Jean-Marc Martin, with whom Rock had had previous
friendly dealings. He also got into some trouble with the police during
his trip to Utah, which resulted in a $75 US fine and a pair of soiled
His home life wasn't getting any better, either. It
only took a few beers to get him going on about the Master of Life and
Death, the Good and Bad Creator. One day, he became enraged at Claude
Ouellette for some reason no one remembers, and ordered him to walk
around with an elastic band wrapped tightly around his scrotum. Claude
kept it on overnight, which caused irreperable damage to his testicles –
which, of course, prompted Thériault to operate: he used a razor blade
to cut open Claude's scrotum and plucked out an infected testicle with
his fingers, then cauterized the wound with a hot piece of iron. Then,
he held a vote to determine whether Claude should be stoned to death for
offending God; when that motion was defeated, Rock took up an acetylene
torch and threatened to open Claude's stomach.
Claude managed to escape into the woods, where he
stayed until Thériault was sober once again. In fact, retreating into
the woods for a couple of days became a common tactic for Claude,
Gabrielle, Gisèle and the others. Gisèle, in particular, would sometimes
retreat to her father's house for a few days, until Rock would call and
convince her to come back to her "real" family. He would then treat her
nicely for a few days, but invariably she would be punished for running
away and bringing him dishonour. One night in February, 1987, Rock threw
a hunting knife at Gisèle, creating a wound three inches deep in her
thigh which immediately began gushing blood. Thériault's response was to
go and get another beer and go to sleep. When he awoke two hours later,
a clot had formed in Gisèle's leg, which had swollen. Rock decided to
operate, pressing the leg to cause the wound to re-open, probing it with
a red-hot iron file, and pouring cup after cup of boiling water on the
leg. A week later, the wound was infected, Rock decided to fill the
wound with salt, olive oil, and spruce gum. After her leg healed a bit
she tried to escape again, but a few days later she went back to Rock.
She had to stay with her husband, after all; it was her role in God's
He passed the acetylene torch over Josée's back until
the skin bubbled. He also passed it over Nicole's tummy the day she gave
birth for the first time. He hit Jacques in the head with a blunt axe,
and broke his ribs with a wooden club. He punched his first-born son,
Roch jr, in the face when he refused to wrestle his brother François. He
beat Nicole, three months pregnant, causing her to miscarry. On another
occasion, he shot a .303-calibre bullet through her shoulder. He broke
Gisèle's ribs with his steel-toed boots. He methodically sprained
Claude's toes; another time he used a piece of broken glass to slice
Claude's arm open. He pulled eleven of Claude's teeth with a pair of
pliers, when there was nothing wrong with Claude's teeth. He had one of
his wives break Claude's legs with a sledgehammer. He squeezed
Gabrielle's and Gisèle's nipples with vicegrips until they bled. He hog-tied
Claude and suspended him from the ceiling for an hour. He ordered his
wives to pluck Claude's pubic hair bald. He poured boiling water on
Claude; another time he made Claude sit down on a lit stove. He beat one
of his horses to death with a chain, and ordered Claude to burn the body.
He made his followers eat excrement and dead mice. He
punched Solange in the neck, knocking her out. He shot a .22 at Claude.
He had Jacques pound Gabrielle's thigh with a sledgehammer. He squeezed
Gabrielle's hand in a vice. He whipped Gabrielle in the eye with his
belt. He stuck a hypodermic needle in her back with an unknown
concoction in it, and twisted it so the tip broke off under her skin. He
burned Gabrielle's breast and genitals with the torch. He had Jaques cut
off half of Gabrielle's left baby finger with a pair of wire cutters. He
broke Gabrielle's fingers with a board. He made her cut a hole in the
ice of a pond and jump in the freezing water. He threw a knife at
Francine, and at Marise. He broke Solange's cheekbone when she was six
At one point, Gabrielle's uterus prolapsed; after a
hard day of working, the organ actually protruded three inches outside
her vagina. Rock attempted to fix it himself, punching the uterus back
inside Gabrielle's body and fashioning a wooden cone and truss to plug
everything up. Although Gabrielle fled to a women's shelter, she
returned to the compound instead of seeing a doctor. Rock's next
treatment was to tie a piece of string around the exposed portion of
uterus and yank at it like a loose tooth. It was a whole year before
Gabrielle would have the opportunity to get a partial hysterectomy at
the Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, when Rock was on his first trip
They always held Rock Thériault blameless.
Good day Moses, my Master,
I would have liked to have talked to you
yesterday evening but I think it is preferable to write these things
down rather than saying them for fear of talking too much. I am
going to talk to you about the last fit of anger that your Master
exercised through you. I really believe that what you did doesn't
come from you, but from someone much higher. For my part, I really
believe that you were possessed by a very powerful spirit. That's
what I saw in what you did: the throwing of the knife, the rifle
shot, the harm done to Mamy. My eyes saw things that went beyond
them. My body is very afraid of all these things. I understand it
very well because of the Law of Death in which it exists, but within
myself I am well. I am very well and very happy to belong to a REAL
MASTER who himself belongs to the only real Master of Life.
~ master of life and death
In the fall of 1988, Solange had begun to feel ill.
Thériault convinced her that there was something wrong with her liver,
and that there would have to be an operation. One afternoon, he got
exceedingly drunk. He started strangling the women, asking if they knew
that their breath belonged to him. Then he decided to put on his jewelry.
Then he turned to Solange and said, "Rachel, are you ready? I'm going to
treat you tonight." Leading them to the bakery, he cleared off the table,
and Solange undressed herself and lay down. Rock roughly tried to insert
an enema tube into Solange's rectum; the enema fluid was a mixture of
molasses, oil, and water. He spent a half an hour trying to get this
done, and encouraged her not to be embarrassed about losing control of
her bodily functions. He started pressing and punching Solange's stomach;
when she put her hands up to fend him off, Rock simply told her to move
her hands, and she did. Then he inserted a tube down her throat, and
told everyone else to blow and suck on the tube.
Taking a knife, Rock made a five-inch vertical
incision on Solange's right side, below the ribs. Then he pulled out a
strip of tissue, about four inches long and a quarter of an inch thick,
and tore it off, telling her, "There. You're going to be all right."
Then he had someone else sew her wound closed, and Solange got up.
Everyone went back to the cabin, and Rock ordered a warm bath for her,
filled with cherry. This made her feel worse. Then Rock gave her a cold
bath. When she went back to her bed, blood started coming out of her
mouth, and she died. The doctors later said that she had died of acute
perionitis, an inflammation of the peritoneum caused by digestive fluids
leaking into the abdominal cavity. It was fatal.
At first, Rock was distraught, and tried killing
himself in a number of ways – he tried to get Jacques Giguère to shoot
him, then he tried to overdose on Tylenol Extra Strength tablets, and
finally he tried to drown himself. But then, according to a letter
Thériault wrote to the spirit of the deceased, "a strange force entered
my arms and tore the bindings from me. I came out of the water yelling,
'God doesn't want me to die!'" After sending Jacques to fetch Gisèle
from her parents' house, he made a call to Dr Jess Groesbeck. Travelling
to Utah on October 16, 1988, Thériault told Dr Groesbeck that Solange
had died suddenly in the woods from a spontaneously-erupted vein in her
esophagus. Dr Groesbeck reassured Thériault that there was nothing Rock
could have done to save her, but Thériault informed Groesbeck that God
had named Groesbeck as Thériault's guide. Thériault explained that he
had been having strange dreams in which Solange was inside
Thériault's body; dreams in which Solange takes shape from Rock's spilt
semen. Thériault and Groesbeck convinced themselves that Solange was to
be the first "reverse birth," a spiritual rebirth through the belly of
the male to parallel the carnal rebirth through the womb of the female.
Rock became convinced that he was pregnant with his deceased wife
Thériault convinced Alex Joseph to perform a
post-mortem marriage by proxy for himself and Solange, to make "official"
what he had only recognized for himself: the marriage between "Moïse"
and "Rachel" – and Joseph even threw in an ordination for Thériault,
which named Thériault as king over Lot 4, Concession 5. He then returned
to Ontario, and after a couple of days, ordered Claude to exhume
Solange's body. He had Gabrielle open Solange's body and pour vinegar on
her internal organs, to keep worms away; then they buried her again. But
a few days later, he had them dig her up again – her body was beginning
to decay, but Thériault had big plans. He got Jacques to make a hole in
Solange's skull with a hand drill.
Then he masturbated into the hole, spilling his seed
onto Solange's rotting brain, convinced he would be able to resuscitate
Gisèle told Thériault that Solange's wish had been to
be cremated, and Rock agreed to have the group burn Solange's body.
Before the cremation, he had Gabrielle remove one of Solange's ribs,
which Rock kept in a leather wrapping to carry around with him. After
the cremation, everyone took some of the bones to keep. Rock collected
some fragments and put them in a jar with olive oil as a preservative.
He would regularly masturbate into the jar, in his "sanctuary" and in
his bedroom, in an attempt to bring Solange back to life through reverse
Thériault would make another visit to Utah, this time
to entrust his next baby, by Francine, to Joseph's care, so that it
couldn't be taken by CAS. But during that visit, Joseph and Thériault
had an argument, apparently over the way Thériault treated his wives.
Joseph successfully stood up to Rock, and this made an impression on
Rock's wives; someone had stood up to Moïse and triumphed. Thériault was
not all-powerful. This, however, only motivated Rock to be ever more
despotic in order to keep control of his family. This wasn't entirely
successful; Josée Pelletier left Rock for good in the winter of '88-'89.
However, Rock did succeed in concealing the birth of two more children,
as well as hiding all knowledge of Solange's death from her family and
from the police.
July 26, 1989, Rock became drunk. This was not
unusual, and Gisèle, Claude, Francine, and Marise all managed to sneak
away into the bush to hide.
Gabrielle, however, did not. Thériault remembered
that Gabrielle had a stiff pinky finger (the one that he hadn't already
cut off with the wire cutters), and told her to put her hand on the
kitchen table. Instead of looking at the finger, however, he stabbed her
hand with a hunting knife, pinning her to the table. Blood began to pour
out of the hand, but Rock just went to get another beer. Gabrielle
forced herself to remain conscious, and after forty-five minutes, Rock
came back over to see that Gabrielle's whole arm had turned blue. "It's
not looking so good, is it?" he said, fetching a carpet knife. He began
whittling her arm away halfway between the elbow and the shoulder. He
whittled it all the way to the bone. Too drunk to finish, he called
Chantal over to finish the job. She cleared away a narrow band of
exposed bone that went all the way around Gabrielle's arm. Then, Rock
dislodged the hunting knife which was pinning Gabrielle's arm to the
table, and took her over to a stump that was sticking out of the kitchen
floor. Taking a dull meat cleaver, Thériault swung at the exposed bone.
His first swing missed. His second swing amputated Gabrielle Lavallée's
arm completely off.
Gabrielle hadn't cried out the whole time. The next
day, she went to a women's shelter, but returned to the compound on
prompting from Jacques. A couple of days later, Thériault decided that
Gabrielle's stump was gangrenous, and used a pair of scissors to cut out
the infection. He also cut a chunk from her breast, and then whacked her
on the head with the side of an axe; she fled into the bush, and when
she came to her senses two days later, she found that insects had laid
eggs in her headwound. She returned to the cabin, only to find Thériault
still drunk and itching to operate. Jacques used the acetylene
torch to cut a piece off the drive shaft of one of the old junk cars
they had in the yard; Rock heated this metal until it was red-hot, and
pressed it against Gabrielle's stump. He was so drunk he kept dropping
it on Gabrielle's body before he finally finished.
Gabrielle escaped. On August 16, 1989, she made it to
a hospital, and concocted some story to explain the missing arm. But the
police were called, and the constable filed a charge of aggravated
assault against Rock Thériault. But when the police arrived on August 19
with a warrant for Rock's arrest, the compound was deserted. Rock
Thériault, Jacques Giguère, Chantal Labrie, and Nicole Ruel, together
with the two youngest babies, had fled to Québec. The others had gone
home to their families, Rock's spell finally broken.
It took the police six weeks to find Thériault. And
it was not until October 6, 1989 that Gisèle decided to tell anyone
about Solange's death – unbeknownst to Gisèle, the very day Rock was
apprehended by the police at last. Everyone pleaded guilty to all
charges laid against them relating to Gabrielle's amputation; Rock
netted twelve years (later reduced to ten years because of Rock's "genuine
remorse and concern for the victim" – in the words of the court),
Jacques five years, Chantal two years less one day, and Nicole eighteen
months. The police also pressed charges against Rock for first degree
murder, but when the Court found there was insufficient evidence that
the murder had been premeditated, Thériault was committed to a trial for
second degree murder. Rock's lawyers made a deal that Rock would plead
guilty to this charge if no further charges were brought against him.
On January 18, 1993, Rock Thériault was sentenced to
life in prison. He was eligible for parole in 1999. Francine, Chantal,
and Nicole – Hogla, Ruth, and Debora respectively – remain loyal to
Rock. The others have tried to adapt to a new life without him. His many
children (somewhere over twenty) are distributed among foster homes
across the continent, including the 12-year-old boy who lives in Utah
with Alex Joseph.
I don't know if parole has ever been granted, but the
prison staff always spoke very highly of Thériault.
They find him very charismatic.
Roch "Moïse" Thériault