When a perverted idea becomes a religion, it gives rise to the most abominable and vicious practices. Most cults are headed by deranged charismatic men who entice followers into blindly subscribing to an ideology that is beyond human imagination. The maternal instinct and tenderness associated with women is the reason most of them are never at the heart of inhuman activities performed by cults. However, some women have perpetrated atrocities that even many violent men-led cults would not dare. While some worked with the help of men, some of these evil female cult leaders have single-handedly led the cruelest cults around the world, dehumanizing, molesting and murdering
1 Silvia Moreno
The cult of Santa Muerte (Saint of death) picked up popularity in Mexico in the 1980s. It is associated with drug traffickers, marginalized immigrants and single mothers. The followers offer candy and cigarettes to the skeleton in the belief that the non-judgmental saint would help them or protect them from the police. The Catholic church denounced the cult, but its popularity has amounted to nearly 1 million followers, they even celebrate the day of the dead in their way.
Silvia Moreno and her son, however, created a whole different sect in the cult. She decided that Santa Muerte needed a stronger sacrifice and chose human blood as the beast appeasement. The first time they enticed a 55-year-old friend and axed her to death before sprinkling her blood around the altar. She continued the practice by killing two 10-year-olds including her own grandson. Despite their cover-up efforts, their crimes were uncovered by police who were following up on an entirely different murder, maybe Santa Muerte was also angry at her cruelty.
2 Anne Hamilton Byrne
The Family, as the cult came to be known, is an Australian cult that abducted children through fake adoptions and imprisoned them in a house in the countryside near Lake Eildon. The cult still has some followers today who are believed to have been convinced by Hamilton’s eyes that could “see into your soul.” The followers jointly donated over $90m making Anne Hamilton Byrne the wealthiest cult leader in history. Interestingly, the cult was co-founded by a university professor and a yoga teacher, the last combination you would expect to commit the crimes this organization committed. The tales of the survivors have shocked the world for years now.
The stories of mental torture, starvation, and beatings are what surround old Hamilton Byrne who later suffered dementia and could not face any more injunctions. Her cult bleached children’s hair to look blonde like hers and used LSD and other hallucinogens to coarse victims to submission. Her word was the law, and any diversion led to severe suffering. She claimed to show love to the children, but the sufferings endured in the cult has affected all of them since their rescue in 1987 even causing death. She never paid for her crimes though; she was only convicted of fraud-related charges and released for AUD $5000 fine.
3 Clementine Barnabet
The midnight ax murders were the work of the church of sacrifice. It was carried out by a group of five people known as the Human five. Clementine Barnabet, a 19-year-old African American was the face of the cult that broke into homes and axed entire families. The killings led to fear of owning axes because the murderer used the family ax’s to kill family members. After her deportation to Angola, the murders continued at the hands of her remaining followers, but they ended a few years later. She became the first African American serial killer, such a bad first for a whole community
4 Terri Hoffman
Terri Hoffman‘s cult was not just a religion; it was a business that saw her followers share half of their lives in wealth and breath with her. It started as a counseling community that helped people develop mind, body, and soul. Sounds simple right? The main problem is that her followers did not live to enjoy their new-found peace, they ended up committing suicide or dying by another means. Terri’s two stepchildren in a lawsuit accused her of causing the people’s deaths through hypnosis, mysterious white pills and mind control, an accusation she successfully evaded.
The worst case was of David and Glenda Goodman whom she made believe that they had reincarnated as Adam and Eve. They cut off connections with family and shot each other at point blank after handing over $110,000 among other expensive gifts to Terri Hoffman. The ten deaths surrounding her followers including two of her former husbands became one of the worst cases of cult-related deaths in the US by 1987. She was able to escape all the murder charges and only accused of bankruptcy fraud crimes. Well, at least she got behind bars for something. However, the 16 months she was jailed for was no comparison to the terror she brought the poor troubled people.
5 Elizabeth Báthory
This one is a cult tale from the Hungarian royalty where the Elizabeth Báthory was obsessed with being beautiful and believed bloodbaths would keep her young. Her deranged belief is related to her uncle’s teachings on Satanism and Sadomasochism taught by her aunt. She even convinced her husband to build her torture chamber and help in the ritualistic killings that saw young girls tortured in the most inhumane ways possible. She inserted needles under their nails and smeared them with honey before tying them down to be stung by ants and bees. The peak of her crimes came after her husband’s death when she found a local witch and a servant to help.
The speculation of her being the first vampire on earth has developed after studies showed she might have eaten human flesh. The extreme acts of eating her victims’ flesh and even forcing one of the girls to cook and eat her flesh reached King Mathias. She was however only arrested because she had started abducting the daughters of noblemen. Either way, she was tried and locked in a cell where she later committed suicide. Her accomplices were however sentenced to death, so sad how the mighty got away with murder even in the 17th century.
6 Bonnie Nettles
Heaven’s Gate cult is believed to have inherited the most powerful leadership from two charismatic individuals. The cult has a very interesting beginning. A divorced man comes to a hospital with a heart blockage, he has a near-death experience, and the attending nurse tells him he has a purpose in life. They end up forming one of the most murderous cults in US history. The nurse was Bonnie Nettles, and the man, Marshall Herff Applewhite, a decorated Presbyterian minister and music professor in Houston Texas.
Applewhite and Nettles with their charismatic leadership developed the cult to the greatness that ended in the death of 38 of its members. The marriage was great at first, creating a fast-growing movement that gained much following throughout the US. He lost his former self and started behaving strangely, he even bade his sister goodbye and cut ties with the family while preaching more and more about UFOs in his new religion. Nettles was convinced that the two of them were aliens and in communication with an alien race that would bring a spaceship to Colorado, of course, but the aliens never came, only death and agony.
7 Valentina De Andrade
It is the sad story of another UFO cult leader who walked free. Valentina De Andrade was identified alongside two doctors, a police officer, and a businessman as the perpetrators of the grisly murder of 19 boys in Altamira. Valentina believed she was in connection with alien beings that were going to save members of Superior Universal Alignment as her cult was later called. She gained a gathering abducting the boys, castrating them and killing some as payment to the aliens that were going to save them.
She believed all boys born after 1981 deserved to die and continued to kill the boys until Wanderlei Pinheiro; an escapee identified the five to the police. The news shocked Brazil causing protests in the small town, De Andrade, however, fled the county while her accomplices received 35 to 77 years in prison. When she was finally brought to court, a 17-day tense trial only resulted in a 6 to 1 vote acquitting her of the crimes. She was allegedly out of town when the murders happened. She continues to enjoy a sizable following despite the accusations.
8 Allison Mack
Allison Mack was the famous Chloe Sullivan of the show Smallville. She turned from a renown Hollywood actress to a felon. Allison was an actress since 4 and allegedly needed something more. She finally got her dream mentor in Keith Raniere, the founder of NXIVM cult. The organization was then known as a personal marketing company but later confirmed as a pyramid scheme by the FBI. Their relationship got closer, and pioneered a movement that taught the difference between the roles of men and women; they formed a cult called DOS – a cult that subscribed for total submission of women to men).
She held more than 50 women as slaves forcing them to have sex with Raniere. The process of recruiting fellow actresses and friends involved harassment and torture. She even blackmailed some of the women with nude photos forcing them into Raniere’s bed. The list of victims each narrating horrific experiences at the hands of the two cult leaders raised so many eyebrows that finally ended the cult. It was so shocking how a renown Hollywood actress expected to love and respect other women would subject so many of them to such humiliation.
9 Sara Aldrete
Sara Aldrete was the goddess of the drug traffickers’ protection cult that killed 15 people in the Rio Grande Valley and buried them on the US Mexico border. When the US government mounted the largest ever operation on the Mexican border with 1200 agents and 30 planes, they never expected to unravel the worst ever cult instead. Adolfo Constanza was the Godfather and Sara Aldrete, a student from Texas Southmost college Brownsville the Godmother or “witch” as the three other cult members called her. She carried the weight of the crimes as her partner ordered the members to shoot him before he could be arrested.
They had killed at least 15 people as sacrifices to gain protection from the police. The group believed that human body parts and blood made them invincible to bullets and even wore necklaces made from human vertebrae after their arrest. They were the most murderous cult ever recorded in the Rio Grande Valley. They did not show any remorse for their actions, they believed Constanza’s word was final, and he was in charge of decapitating and removing brains and the spinal cord of the victims. Aldrete even kept an altar in her room where she held her share of the kills.
10 Rosemary West
The horrors of the events that took place on 25 Cromwell street or the “house of horrors” as Rosemary West’s house was later called forced the government to force a media shutdown on the case. Rosemary West and her husband Fred jointly committed at least ten ritualistic killings of girls; some as young as 8 and buried them in their garden. They were running a brutal sex cult that tortured and raped young girls including her own children. Rosemary drugged young women and girls then imprisoned them in her basement for days to use them in their evil acts before killing and burying them.
The insane wife “prepared” the girls for the acts before her husband raped them then she would prepare a salt bath for them. Her actions were so cruel that her younger children had to get their names changed before they could be adopted. The other men that were entertained at the house for over 20 years confirmed that the Wests claimed the devil had instructed them to torture the girls. She became a devout Christian after her conviction but remained the UK’s most feared serial killer even as she ‘sought God’s forgiveness.’ Her older children faced the whole shame as they were forced to speak to the media and lose jobs because of their last names, such a monstrous mother!