The Attleboro Aftermath

Eric Francke

   The story of the "Body", a small Christian sect in Attleboro Massachusetts, at least in it's beginning, is not one that would draw much attention from the general populace. It started as a fellowship of sincere, and devoted believers; friends and family whose only real passion was to serve God in purity with all their hearts. This formula is not so different from the genesis of many healthy and positive religious movements over the centuries.

   However, as time went on, something happened. "They were ideas at first," says Dennis Mingo, who left the group in 1998."If you want to call them rules later, that's what they became."

The new rules or revelations may have been received initially as being indicative that they were set apart from the other "churches". That they uniquely striving for complete obedience, amongst the thousands of nominal organizations that called themselves "Christian". Eyeglasses were discarded, as well as medicines and trips to the doctor. They would rely on God for their health and healing.   

Contact with the outside would was being constricted. Old family photographs were to be destroyed, typifying the break with previous familial

ties. No television. No Newspapers. No books. Even a cookbook was suspect. Had they been aware of it then, they might have recognized the process of milleau or information control, which is so stereotypical of dangerous sects. Tight control over information is critical for a sect leader to establish a new "normal" with respect to behavior and obedience. As the noose tightens on ouside sources of information, social pressure is applied to discourage any thinking outside the construct of the worldview provided by the leader. Having a "positive attitude" and "not murmuring" become cryptic euphemisms to denote who is fully toeing the party line, and who is not.

"They felt that I had a wrong attitude, a negative attitude. I was made to feel the group was following God and there was something wrong with me," Mingo testified during his court appearance.. "I was unwelcome on the premises — my home."

   Dennis Mingo had to leave his family, his home, and all he knew to free himself from the group. Later, Mingo himself would be the one who realized that two children in the group were unaccounted for, and he would be a key witness in the murder trial of Samuel Robidoux.

   Perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the de-evolution of the group is Rev. Robert Pardon's "The Body of Christ: Descent from Benign Bible Study to Destructive Cult"which details, using the diaries of one of the members, the dark turn the group took.

The entire ordeal is a tradegy with few parallels. It was a journey embarked upon with the most noble of ideals, yet the ultimate suffering was endured by the youngest and most innocent of the lot. In retrospect, many of those involved are traumatized by the realization of the role they had in the starvation death of a baby.

Where They Are Today

In July, 2002 Jacques Robidoux was convicted of First Degree Murder. He is now serving a life sentence without any possibility of parole.

Karen Robidoux was charged with Second Degree Murder. She was convicted in January, 2004 of Assault and Battery and sentenced to time served. After several months as a resident in the Meadowhaven program, she graduated, and has moved out of state.

Michelle Mingo was charged with Accessory Before the Fact. She pled guilty in February, 2004 and was sentenced to time served. She was divorced from Dennis Mingo during the trial.

Dennis Mingo is living in the Fall River area and had custody of their five children.

Michelle and Dennis Mingo Leaving Court. (Roland Robidoux is behind
Michelle
 

Roland Robidoux, the leader of the group, was never charged with any crime, and still lives, and meets with his followers, in Attleboro.
The groups is smaller, perhaps less then ten meeting, but they are still loyal nevertheless.

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