Throughout the late 1970s and '80s, Ant Hill Kids leader Roch Thériault subjected his followers to an escalating series of horrors, including sexual assault, mutilation, and murder.
Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions and/or images of violent, disturbing, or otherwise potentially distressing events.
After Canadian “prophet” Roch Thériault formed the Ant Hill Kids in 1977, they became a doomsday-obsessed group who lived on a remote commune in Quebec and prepared for the impending apocalypse. Their beliefs may have been bizarre, but there was little illegal activity or violence to speak of.
However, as Roch Thériault grew more controlling and his drinking problem got worse, life inside the Ant Hill Kids took a much darker turn.
Not only did Thériault marry and impregnate all of his female followers, but he soon began subjecting everyone, including the children, to an increasingly horrific array of torture. He beat them with everything from belts to hammers to axes, while also forcing them to brutalize each other with shotgun blasts.
Meanwhile, he would defecate on his followers and force them to eat feces as well as dead mice. And things only got worse before Thériault was finally captured in 1989.
This is the gruesome story of Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids.
The Troubled Early Years Of Roch Thériault
Born into a family of seven children on May 16, 1947 in Quebec, Roch Thériault endured a tumultuous life from the very start. He claims to have been abused by his father, but evidence of abuse has never been found. The family was devoutly Catholic and young Thériault developed a strong hatred for the religion.
During his childhood, Thériault abandoned formal education and began studying the Old Testament. He firmly believed that a cosmic conflict between forces of good and evil would occur in 1979 and that an apocalypse would destroy the world.
In his teenage years, he displayed signs of aggression, including violent outbursts at friends and family members. It was also around this time when he developed a bad drinking habit which only got worse over the course of his life.
Using the alias Moïse, Roch Thériault eventually declared himself a prophet, and in 1977, he founded the Ant Hill Kids, a doomsday cult rooted in the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The group inhabited a remote plot of land nestled deep within the wilderness in the Somerville Township of Quebec.
Life Inside The Ant Hill Kids Cult
Roch Thériault persuaded his followers in the Ant Hill Kids to abandon their lives and join his religious movement. He convinced them to sell all of their possessions, sever family ties, and relocate to his commune.
Through Thériault’s strong leadership, the followers began preparing for the impending apocalypse, which they believed would occur in February 1979. Their leader didn’t allow much contact with the outside world, but they did sell handmade crafts and baked goods in order to fund their new way of life.
Thériault then told all the women that they were his wives and should bear his children. Ultimately, he had eight wives and eventually fathered a total of 23 children within the commune.
But polygamy was just the beginning.
Over time, the Ant Hill Kids began engaging in extreme religious practices, including self-mutilation and corporal punishment. Roch Thériault’s followers suffered both severe physical and sexual abuse, including being burned with a welding torch and having their fingers cut off with wire cutters.
Roch Thériault Begins Escalating The Abuse And Horror
Roch Thériault’s reign of terror worsened as he claimed divine authority and performed brutal acts of violence, including amputations, branding, and even murder, all in the name of religious purification.
As Thériault’s paranoia and drinking problem worsened, he became increasingly authoritarian, imposing severe restrictions on his followers’ lives. Ant Hill Kids members were forbidden from interacting with each other without his presence, and even sexual activity required his approval.
To ensure his followers were completely devoted to him, he enforced uniform tunics to symbolize equality within the commune. Far worse, he committed horrific acts of mutilation, including amputating the arm of one of his concubines and removing eight of her teeth. He was also accused of castrating a two-year-old boy and an adult man.
Thériault’s punishments for perceived disobedience were extremely cruel. He used physical and psychological torture, such as painstakingly plucking out body hairs, suspending individuals from the ceiling, and even defecating on them.
The abuse soon extended to children, who suffered sexual assault, burning, and having rocks thrown at them while they were nailed to a tree. And whenever someone attempted to leave the Ant Hill Kids, Thériault would beat them with belts or hammers.
Cult member Gabrielle Lavallée suffered immensely at the hands of Roch Thériault when he snapped off one of her fingers, sawed through her arms with a hunting knife, removed one of her breasts, and fractured her skull with an axe.
She would soon expose the horrors of the Ant Hill Kids, but not before a final series of atrocities perhaps worse than anything that had come before.
The Dramatic Collapse Of The Ant Hill Kids
In 1989, Roch Thériault’s Ant Hill Kids cult finally unraveled when one of his own wives, Solange Boilard, died during a gruesome attempt at surgery performed by him. She had been complaining of abdominal pain, so Thériault told her to take off her clothes and he began punching her in the stomach.
Next, he told her he was going to perform an enema by shoving a tube up her rectum and filling her up with olive oil. He then laid her down, cut open her stomach, and forced another cult member to pull out some of her intestines before stitching her closed again.
The horrifying ordeal unsurprisingly caused Boilard’s death. However, Thériault wasn’t done torturing her. He told his members that he could resurrect her.
After drilling a hole into her skull, he forced the other male followers to ejaculate into the cavity. Then he took his turn. When that didn’t bring her back to life, Thériault removed one of her ribs and wore the bone around his neck as a souvenir before the group buried her on the compound.
Following Boilard’s death, Lavallée managed to escape and reported the Ant Hill Kids to the authorities, leading to a full police investigation. Canadian law enforcement launched a manhunt for what was now one of the country’s most infamous criminals.
After going into hiding, Roch Thériault was eventually caught and arrested on multiple counts of assault and manslaughter, and the Ant Hill Kids cult soon dissolved. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for Boilard’s death and was sentenced to life in prison.
Roch Thériault’s Life Behind Bars — And His Gruesome End
But even after being captured, Roch Thériault fathered four more children with remaining female followers from the Ant Hill Kids during conjugal visits. He also made headlines in 2009 when he attempted to sell his artwork through a true crime auction house.
On Feb. 26, 2011, at the age of 63, Thériault met a violent end in Dorchester Penitentiary when his cellmate, Matthew Gerrard MacDonald, a convicted murderer, stabbed him to death. MacDonald then told a guard, “That piece of s— is down on the range. Here’s the knife, I’ve sliced him up.”
The tyrannical cult leader’s reign of terror was over.
As reported by the CBC, MacDonald was already serving life in prison for murder, and the Crown only hands out life sentences for murderers, so he was not given any additional time for killing Thériault.
After learning about Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids, read the story of Charles Manson, America’s most infamous cult leader. Then, learn about nine famous cults from the perspective of survivors who got out.