Roch Thériault: The Horrifying Savagery (& Home Surgery) Of Canada's Most Violent Cult Leader
ONTARIO, CANADA — On September 28, 1988, Roch “Moïse” Thériault, leader of a bizarre religious sect called the Ant Hill Kids, subjected one of his followers to insane and sadistic impromptu surgery that killed her.
The procedure in question occurred after an Ant Hill Kid named Solange Boilard complained of a stomachache.
Thériault tied Boilard naked to a makeshift surgery table, punched her repeatedly in the midsection, and forcefully administered an enema up her bowels consisting of molasses and olive oil.
Anesthesia never even factored in as a possibility.
Using a kitchen knife, Thériault sliced open Boilard’s abdomen and tore out a hunk of her intestines with his bare hands. He then ordered another follower, Gabrielle Lavallée, to stitch up the wound with a needle and thread. Other women on hand inserted a plastic tube down Boilard’s throat and blew into it.
When Boilard finally died the next day, Thériault drilled a hole into her skull. Exalting his powers of resurrection, Thériault ejaculated into it. At his command, a number of male Ant Hill Kids followed suit.
Afterward, the cult buried Boilard on the grounds of their compound.
The body remained undiscovered for a year, until Lavallée broke her silence — after Thériault had snapped off one of her fingers with wire cutters, sawed through the rest of her arm with a hunting knife, extracted her breast, and fractured her skull with the blunt end of an axe.
All that, bear in mind, occurred only following years of previous tortures in which Thériault yanked out eight of Lavallée’s teeth with pliers, broke off a hypodermic needle in her back, and used a blowtorch to scorch her genitals.
Such was life — and death (and worse) — under the all-powerful reign of Roch Thériault.
Born in 1947, Roch Thériault became inflamed with religion before reaching his teens. He dropped out of school in the seventh grade to solely focus on Bible studies and interpretation — with a vengeance.
Early on, Thériault ditched his family’s Catholicism for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Still, he found even that faith’s endtimes philosophy and healthy-living dictates insufficient for his assurance that the apocalypse was at hand.
Decreeing himself a prophet, Thériault struck forth on his own. And he was not alone.
At 30, the apparently superhumanly charismatic Thériault convinced a number of Seventh-Day Adventists to break off and follow him. He instructed the group to establish a commune wherein they would purify themselves for the imminence of Armageddon.
While watching his denizens construct what would become the cult’s compound, he thought they resembled insects organically cooperating with one another. Thus, he dubbed their new creed the “Ant Hill Kids.”
Thériault, who forbade his parishioners to eat meat or consume tobacco, also drank himself into drunken stupors on a daily basis. Such maniacal inebriation would increasingly figure into his ever downwardly evolving “religious” practices.
Once up and running, the Ant Hill Kids supported the commune by peddling their own baked goods. Thériault’s insane taste for cruelty initially emerged when he took to punishing disciples who felt short on the muffin-money front.
He started by beating some of them with belts and even a hammer before escalating to louche agonies such as suspending members from the ceiling and, one-by-one, plucking out each of their body hairs.
The first crack in Thériault’s absolute control over the Ant Hill Kids occurred in 1979, after a date he identified as bringing the end of the world with it came and went.
Thériault hushed any potential doubters by saying he mistakenly used human time to measure God’s time. Then he married each female member of the cult and impregnated as many as he could as rapidly as possible. In time, Thériault is believed to have sired at least 26 offspring.
As with the adults under Thériault’s sway, the actual kids among the Ant Hill Kids suffered unthinkable sexual and physical abuse. One typical punishment involved nailing a disobedient youngster to a tree and having the other children pelt him with rocks.
At least one infant died from exposure after Thériault ordered the baby to be kept outside. Another child died when Thériault performed surgery on him. Following that death, Thériault punished the man who had originally injured the child by castrating him.
Unbelievably, all this madness — and more — carried on for longer than a decade.
When Gabrielle Lavallée, at last, alerted the authorities in 1989 to the horrors being perpetrated by Thériault, action against the Ant Hill Kids came down fast.
Numerous adults got rounded up and arrested. The children instantly became wards of the state. Solange Boilard’s body was exhumed and properly laid to rest. The organization was dismantled and survivors sought to undertake healing as best they could.
Police actively gathered stomach-turning piles of evidence that help put Thériault away for life behind bars in 1993.
Thériault’s sentence lasted until exactly February 11, 2011. It came to a blunt halt that day when Matthew Gerrard MacDonald, Thériault’s cellmate, jumped on the former cult leader and jammed a handmade shiv into his neck. Thériault bled to death on the spot.
Immediately afterward, MacDonald strolled up to a pair of guards, handed them the bloody weapon, and announced of Thériault, “That piece of s—t is down on the range. Here’s the knife. I’ve sliced him up.”
While it’s immoral and improper to thank and/or congratulate any murderer, some feelings on that order must have proven inevitable in this particular instance.
Read more: History, Murderpedia, Mental Floss, RLIH, Toronto Sun, CBC