For decades the people living around Fence Lake, New Mexico, suspected something strange was going on behind the barbed-wire fences of the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corp compound.
Whenever they’d catch a glimpse of the reclusive members, they were always dressed in uniform—green berets and khaki military fatigues. They carried rifles while they jogged. And they saluted and addressed one another by rank, calling themselves soldiers in “God’s Army.” “We had calls over the years from people looking for loved ones inside,” says Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace. “We knew something was going on out there.”
But no-one could’ve imagined the true horror authorities say was actually unfolding behind those uninviting concrete walls. Last August police raided the compound and arrested husband and wife co-founders Deborah and James Green on multiple charges including child abuse.
Deborah, 71, is also charged with sexual penetration of a child while James, 73, was charged with kidnapping. Their son Joshua was charged with failing to file birth certificates for children born inside the compound, while their son-in-law Peter was arrested on kidnapping, bribery and child abuse charges, including more than 100 individual counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child. All have pleaded not guilty.
They remain behind bars, awaiting trials, and their lawyers declined to comment. “These kids were off the grid, not getting medical treatment and doing manual labour,” says Mace. “It was horrible what was going on with those kids. It was shocking.”
Police had gone to the compound looking for 12-year-old Enoch Miller, who had been living inside with his mother, Stacey Miller, 48. Enoch’s father, Bill, who had left the cult, reported the boy missing when members refused to let him contact his son. But once inside the compound walls, police learned that Enoch had actually died of the flu in 2014, after the Greens talked Stacey out of taking the boy to a doctor.
“I heard from other members they ‘told her she needed to confess her sins to God’ if she wanted Enoch healthy,” says former Army follower Julie Gudino, who spent two decades with the group before leaving in 2004. “He died a horrible death,” says Sheriff Mace. “The way people described it ... it was brutal.” (Stacey Miller now faces child-abuse charges for failing to seek medical care for her son.)
The Greens launched their Army in Sacramento in 1981 as the Free Love Ministries, but the once-peaceful commune evolved into a militant religious group preparing for a prophesised holy war. The Greens relocated the group to rural New Mexico in 1993 and established outposts in Africa, India and the Philippines. They are charged with smuggling at least one child into the United States in the mid-1990s—an “These kids were off the grid ... It was shocking.” —Sheriff Tony Mace infant they named Miracle— whom they allegedly sexually abused and used as a personal slave.
Miracle, now an adult who escaped the cult in 2006, may testify against the Greens at the upcoming trials. “She went to college and got a great job,” says Mace. “Like a lot of the former members, once they get out of the organisation, they thrive.”
For more, pick up the latest copy of WHO on sale now!