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The Student News Site of Horizon High School

The Profile

The Student News Site of Horizon High School

The Profile

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Ant Hill Kids: Theriault and the End Of His World (Stage 4)

Ant Hill Kids: Theriault and the End Of His World (Stage 4)

Religious fanaticism is all too common in our world. Humans have, for millenniums, believed in a higher power- something better than them. Many psychologists have theorized that humans created religion to encourage cooperation between various groups of our early relatives- and that religion gave people a common goal, or rather, belief, for people to relate to. However, this theory has never, and will never be tested. The true bottom line of religion is simply that people believe in what they believe in. Be it God or Heaven or Hell, be it Irregulation, or simply nothing at all- people are allowed to, believe in what they believe. Who is to say that one religion is correct and the other one isn’t? I certainly am not here to change beliefs. 

What I am here to discuss, however, is when fanaticism with higher powers goes too far and becomes harmful to all those involved. In this series, I will be documenting various cults that have ended in, will end in, or are continuing to cause tragedies. This week we will continue our discussion on the cult known as The Ant Hill Kids, and the avoidable tragedy that Roch Thériault caused. As stated in the previous article, The Ant Hill Kids were one of the most violent cults in the North Americas, and viewer discretion is advised.

. . .

Thériault did well in prison. He kept to himself and began planning his next courses of action. He had lost a great majority of his following when he was sent to prison, with only a few devoted members still keeping themselves in contact with him. His original commune had been burnt to the ground by the government, and he was under strict orders to not start another cult once his sentence ended. 

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But Thériault didn’t care about what he was ordered to do. While in prison, he managed to sober up, and make up a cohesive plan. After he got out, he and his group of followers would move to another part of Canada- someplace where nobody would recognize them as a baby-murdering cult. He would no longer maim and mutilate his members- he would no longer be violent towards them either. He would be the perfect prophet- a man of God. 

He was released in February of 1984- almost five years after he prophesied the end of the world. He enacted his plan, moving his remaining followers to a plot on Somerville Township, Burnt River- near the town of Lindsay- where almost nobody in the town recognized them as a cult. There, the residents of the town believed them to be “out there”, but not a cult. To the town, they were an institution- and an honest, hardworking institution at that. And for the most part, the town was right. 

The Ant Hill Kids were incredibly hardworking, and with nine women (four of whom were pregnant), two men, and the remaining 10 children, they worked themselves to the bone for Thériault’s new vision. Thériault had, in prison, made plans for a new, more spectacular commune- one that could support his cult’s baking business and Thériault’s supposed “private time” with God. Details are sparse and research has shown conflicting results on the new commune, but the general consensus is that the new commune had a two-story cabin, a bakery, a cellar, and an altar. The group was moving right along- and so far, things were going well.

Until it began to unravel, as it normally did with the cult. The Ant Hill kids were retaught a lesson that they learned early on in their ventures- in order to sustain a group or commune, you need money. The main issue here was that the baking business they had used before hadn’t proved to be sustainable yet, so Thériault, with limited options, told the cult members to steal from the grocery stores in the town of Lindsay. 

This would prove to be a detrimental move later on, as this would destroy the reputation of The Ant Hill Kids within the other communities. The members of the Ant Hill Kids did as Thériault instructed, and ended up getting caught just before February of 1985, with over $450 worth of groceries on themselves when apprehended. It is estimated that the group, in total, stole thousands of dollars worth of goods from Lindsay. They were never charged with theft, but they were completely banned from shopping in Lindsay. 

But they were lucky- The Ant Hill Kids baking pursuits and gardening would prove to be a viable source of income in this area, just as it was back in Quebec. Their financial situation would stabilize- and Thériault would turn to alcoholism again. To say that Thériault was a violent drunk would be an understatement- he was a sadistic, murderous, and downright cruel drunk. He became paranoid again- and this time he wouldn’t allow anybody who crossed him to live. He learned from the Veer situation, it seemed.

His punishments to members became more cruel, if that was possible. After stringing up members who crossed him, he would go on to pluck out their hairs individually. Instead of simply having the option to beat his members with belts and hammers, he abandoned the belt and broke bones, skulls, and teeth for minor offenses. He even introduced “Gladiator Tournaments”, where he would force his members to strip down, and fight for their lives in a dirt circle for his amusement, particularly enjoying when women did this. 

Children were not immune to this either, and this would cause the death of another baby. This childs death was eerily similar to Samuels- at least in reasoning. The infant, would not stop crying. Thériault had commanded the baby to stop, but the baby- being a baby- would keep crying anyways. Thériault ordered the mother to leave the baby outside during the Canadian winter for the night- and she complied. The baby would be dead by morning, having been froze to death. This would, yet again, catch the attention of the Children’s Aid Foundation (basically Canadian CPS), who raided the compound, seized fourteen children, and placed said children into foster care. The Children’s Aid Foundation would not bring any charges against the cult. They were primarily interested in saving the remaining children; not getting justice for the dead ones.

This threw Thériault into one of his many rages, and would become even more violent. He began to reenact his “surgeries” at an even worse level. He chose a new person to torment- a man by the name of Claude Oulette. Oulette was named as Veer’s lawyer during Veer’s trial, and since then Thériault harbored resentment towards him (which was ironic, considering that Thériault was the one to name Oulette as Veer’s lawyer). As a punishment for “nothing”, Oulette was forced to suffer genital mutilation- and afterwards, would be forced to participate in a surgery that involved the removal of said extremities. Thériault would even force Oulette to be on trial later on (again, for no reason), in which he called on the group to decide on whether or not to stone Oulette to death. The group decided against it, and Thériault was, yet again, enraged. He threatened Oulette with further mutilation, and Oulette would flee into the woods until Thériault was done being angry. 

I would like to point out the similarities to this and the Veer incident. As I stated before, Thériault was a drunk who was in a sadistic rage, and I speculate that during this instance, he believed that Oulette was on the same level as Veer. After all, Oulette was Veer’s appointed lawyer, and Veer managed to get off of his first charges within the group with Oulette by his side. In both cases, Thériault called for the death of the accused, and would be enraged at the verdict, and would attempt to carry out his own justice. This is the same song and dance that is a constant for Thériault- he was scared of losing power, and would do anything to keep it, even if it meant eliminating one of his members.

Thériault would later stab Gisèle in the thigh with a knife and ignore her wounds when she pleaded for help. After she healed, she would escape the cult for a brief period of time and stay with her father. However, she was loyal to the cult, and would soon return. She had been isolated within the cult for so long that she didn’t know anything else about the outside world. 

A member by the name of Solang would prove to be instrumental in Thériault’s downfall. She was a die-hard member of the cult and one of Thériault’s wives. In 1988, she would become sick- and Thériault would operate on her. He forced her to have a homemade enema that used a plastic hose, molasses, oil, and water. He would then beat Solang’s stomach, force a tube down her throat (the same one used for the enema), and blow into it. This was to “prepare” her for her surgery.

He would then cut her open, place a (likely unwashed) hand inside of her incision, and pull out a piece of tissue after his hands had squeezed at her intestines. He would then stitch her up, tell her she was fine so long as she took a bath, and go on with his day. Solang died, as stomach acid seeped into her organs. 

This threw Thériault into a spiral- although patients had died as a result of his surgeries, he was so sure that this was one of his best yet. He attempted suicide several times, once with Tylenol, until he came up with the following revelations: 1) He was pregnant with Solang, and 2) He would resurrect Solang without “giving birth” to her. He never expanded on his first revelation, but the idea likely could have been a metaphor for resurrecting Solang.

He would have his two other male members drill a hole in Solang’s head, and proceed to desecrate the corpse- particularly the head. He then got his other two male members to do the same thing. He had apparently believed that this would bring her back. It didn’t- obviously. When this didn’t work, he then proceeded to take one of her rib pieces and wear it around his neck. This was likely a reference to the creation of Eve in Genesis of the Bible, where God created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. He may have believed that he would be able to resurrect Solang in the same manner God had created Eve.

Another woman who proved to be instrumental in Thériault’s downfall was Gabrielle Lavallee. Lavallee was a follower of Thériault and suffered some of the worst abuse imaginable at his hands. Sometime after Solang’s death, Lavallee would have at least eight of her teeth ripped out by Thériault. Details on why he decided to do this often conflict with each other, with some saying that he did it because Lavallee had not met her daily quota of selling baked goods, and others say that it was because she had complained about a toothache. Regardless, multiple of her teeth were ripped out anyway. Furthermore, Thériault would stab Lavallee for minor offenses, often targeting her hands. He would also break off a hypodermic needle in her spine during a surgery, and take a blowtorch to her extremities. Details are, again, conflicting on what occurred next. Some say that after Thériault began cutting off parts of her breasts and smashing the blunt side of an ax into her skull she attempted to escape, and failed, and had her hand cut off as a result. Others say that she had complained that her hand was feeling stiff after laborious tasks, and Thériault would cut it off then, and others say that Thériault only cut off her hand after she developed gangrene. No matter why it happened, her arm was still cut off with a blunt ax, with no sedatives or care for sanitation.

Lavallee would be in immense pain from this situation, but would still stay in The Ant Hill Kids until August of 1989. She would escape from the commune and seek refuge in a hospital, who, upon noticing the poor state she was in, brought in the police. There, the police interrogated Lavallee about what happened to her- and she told them about the cult. Some sources say that Lavallee had attempted to make excuses for her mutilation, passing it off as an  “accident”. The police would raid The Ant Hill Kids’ commune, and find it completely empty, save for the corpse of Solang. 

Thériault had realized that he made the same mistake again by allowing Lavallee to live instead of simply killing her. Again, the situation is eerily similar to the Veer incident- and it seems that despite Thériault’s efforts, he couldn’t help but repeat history. When he realized that the police would be coming to the compound, he and three other members fled to a hideout in Quebec. The other members fully left the cult and returned to their families or the streets of Canada. The police searched for six weeks before finding Thériault and arrested him. 

He would plead guilty to the mutilation of Lavallee and would earn twelve years in jail. He was also found guilty of the murder of Solang in the second degree. He was the only member charged with the murder and would earn life in prison in 1993. He would be denied parole in 2002, much to the relief of his former members, most of whom realized the horror that they had been subjected to was completely unjustified and that they had been a part of a cult.

This was the end of The Ant Hill Kids, but not Thériault. Thériault’s death came to him in February of 2011- roughly 32 years after the prophesied end of the world.

Thériault would be murdered by a man named Mattew Macdonald, who was sixty and serving a sentence for murder himself. During the decade or so that Thériault had been serving, he managed to anger most of his fellow inmates. He particularly angered Macdonald because Thériault would not stop talking about the crimes he had committed- particularly about the parts involving the women and children. On February 26th, 2011, Thériault would be stabbed to death by Macdonald in his prison cell. Macdonald would then walk up to a guard and tell him in reportedly “crude” terms that he had just killed Thériault. Macdonald was already serving a life sentence, which had no real effect on him.

Thériault had always stated that the world would end in February, and when it didn’t, he claimed that God and Man were in two different time zones. He was a monster- a manipulative fanatic who offered absolutely no redeemable qualities. But he was half-right on the world ending- his world ended in February, which was sweetly ironic.

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About the Contributor
Ayla Wize, Director of Photo and Media and Director of Audio Content and Media
This is Ayla’s third and final year in the Journalism department. Specializing in investigative journalism, Ayla researches cults, unidentified bodies, internet mysteries, and all things unexplained. This year they hope to get a scholarship based upon their writing, and hope to not gain any new Cease and Desist letters. They’re interested in bones, D&D, murder mysteries, and houseplants. They also hope to one day become an investigative journalist or Detective- either way, they will gain notoriety for their work.

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