The Ant Hill Kids Cult: Doomsday, Torture, And Murder

Cult leaderRoch Theriault close up
youtube | Victoria Charlton

News & Politics
Gabby Etzel

In 1989, reporters headed to Roch Thériault’s childhood home in an attempt to get a statement from his parents on their son’s unforgivable actions. His father opened the door for no other reason than to get the journalists to leave him alone.

“I don’t want to talk about him or hear his name,” he snapped, “I raised seven children and only one of them turned out like that!”

An unknowing on-looker might have been wondering what Roch Thériault’s father meant when he spat the words, “like that.” What could Roch have possibly done that his own father would not even want to hear his name?

As it so happens, a parents’ disappointment, at minimum, is completely warranted when their son is one of the most ruthless and violent sex cult leaders of all time.

Roch Thériault stood at the head of the gratuitously gruesome doomsday cult: The Ant Hill Kids.

The Rise Of Roch Thériault

Born in 1947, Roch Thériault grew up in Thetford Mines, an asbestos-mining town in Canada.

His memoirs claim that his father would beat him so brutally as a child that it caused scarring on his internal organs. However, as is the case with most cult leaders, Thériault was a pathological liar, so it can be hard to tell exactly what his childhood was like.

For example, his memoirs detail a time when he came across a bear in the woods. Per his account, the mother bear decided to take him in as one of her own cubs. He spent the entire afternoon living as a bear.

While this is a tall tale from a practiced storyteller, Roch Thériault’s upbringing has some certainties to it that may have planted the seed for his future sadism. His father, an avid member of the alt-right Catholic group the White Berets, was known to make his children kick each other in the shins as hard as possible until one of them asked to stop.

Another unfortunate certainty about the narcissist is something that he used to his advantage for years to come: he had a disturbingly large phallus.

His biological anomaly may have been conducive to his narcissism, but the personality disorder likely runs a lot deeper than that. Regardless, the charisma that the narcissism endowed him with led to leadership positions within the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Gifting Thériault a position in the church is something that the Seventh Day Adventists would come to deeply regret, especially after learning that their church was the breeding ground for his cult.

Not every one that chose to associate with Thériault, though, carried that same feeling of regret with them.

His former disciple, Francine Laflamme, said of her heavily-drinking leader, “People try to make Roch sound like a monster, like a butcher, but he is not that. Most of the time, he was not drinking and performing his operations. He was a marvelous man who was full of passion, intelligence, and originality. He loved to laugh and dance.”

This is high praise that paints a very different picture of the wicked sadist that the world has come to know. In true narcissist fashion, Thériault managed to prey on the lost and insecure, enslaving them to his charisma.

By the time he began the physical torture, they were far too deeply enchanted with him. This was dangerous–Thériault was not just a creepy cult leader that you might see onscreen. Roch Thériault was barbarously inhumane.

Building The Ant Hill

The Ant Hill kids commune room
Getty | Dick Loek

As a figurehead in the Seventh Day Adventists Church, Thériault started up the “Healthy Living Clinic.” Against the will of their parents, he persuaded young adult and teen members of the church to join this organization, which provided holistic healing advice.

Roch had no medical background and had not even completed high school. He was clueless, and the clinic was a thinly veiled attempt for him to gain the power, praise, and vulnerable following that he craved.

While his ill advice to cease medical treatment did result in the death of a church member, this is not what led the church to finally exile Thériault. It was the fact that they never saw any of the money from the clinic that he had claimed they would receive.

Regardless, they assumed that his removal from the Church would cause his followers to jump off his bandwagon, but this was far from the case. Thériault began to claim himself as a prophet, and his small group of disciples left the church with him in total belief.

When Thériault claimed that God had told him that the world would end on February 17 of 1979, he told his followers that they had nothing to fear. He, of course, was the chosen one, and if they abided by his rules, they would be spared.

So, Thériault took his following to the one place that the fires of hell would surely spare when it came time for Armageddon: the wilderness of Ontario, Canada.

He dressed them in matching robes to strip them of their individuality, he renamed them “The Ant Hill Kids” to demonstrate how hard they work for him, and soon, he began some of the most violent instances of torture in history.

Violence, Death, And Resurrection

There were two main reasons that Roch Thériault cited for the ruthless violence that he brought upon the commune.

Firstly, he believed himself to be a skilled surgeon, so much so that he performed everything from castrations to amputations without any anesthetics. More importantly to him, however, was the belief at the core of The Ant Hill Kids that stated that in order for a person to have a pain-free after-life, they must suffer greatly while alive.

In reality, he was a twisted sadist and the cult served no other purpose than to fulfill his darkest fantasies and desires.

More common cruelty came in the form of burning his followers’ skin until it bubbled, breaking limbs, chopping off fingers and toes, pulling teeth out with pliers, slashing skin with glass, and tying rubber bands around the men’s testicles until it left an infected wound. If someone complained of nausea, he would inject 90% ethyl alcohol directly into their stomach.

Roch claimed that these evils came from love. In fact, his sadistic tendencies were never murderous. Any accidental deaths within the cult were painful for the leader, as it meant that there was one less person to love him.

For all of the love that he supposed himself to have, Roch Thériault hated children. This was an issue for the sex cult, which produced nearly thirty children, most of which were his own. Kids were never spared from sexual abuse or torture–In fact, one of the most notable accidental deaths in the cult was that of his own child.

In a nonsense surgery, Thériault cut a child’s penis in half and then had a male member of his cult beat him. Naturally, the child later died of his injuries. Thériault punished the man who beat him per his own orders by castrating him.

Perhaps one of the most revolting deaths at Thériault’s hands was that of Solange Boislard. Solange had nothing more than a stomach ache. Roch’s words, “I’m going to treat you tonight,” were some of the last that she heard.

He gave Solange an enema of molasses and olive oil, cut open her stomach with a kitchen knife, ripped out part of her intestines, and then sewed her back up. She died in agony that night from the digestive fluids leaking into her body.

To make matters even more nauseating, Thériault claimed to have the ability of resurrection the next morning. To bring her back to life, he drilled a hole into her skull and forced male members of the commune to ejaculate into it.

Solange Boislard did not come back to life. Thériault began wearing one of her ribs in a leather case around his neck.

The Truth Comes To Light

A depiction of Roch Theriault's head hanging on a wall
Getty | Dick Loek

Gabrielle Lavallee was a survivor of many of Roch’s amateur surgeries, including treating a uterus prolapse by punching the organ back inside of her vagina and using a wooden cone to plug her up.

Her most notable survival is the one that led to Thériault’s arrest. In 1989, a stiff pinky prompted Thériault to hack her entire arm off. When he believed the wound to have developed gangrene, he cut off the infected portions with a scissor (taking some of her breast with it), wounded her head, and left her in a bush.

When she woke up several days later, she discovered that insects had laid eggs in the gash on her head.

Gabrielle decided that it was finally time to go to a real hospital. Despite attempting to cover for Roch in fear, the truth came out and the police went to raid the commune, which many members had only recently fled when Roch's actions proved to be too much.

It was then that authorities discovered the death of Solange Boislard.

The Fall Of Roch Thériault

Six weeks passed before authorities could get their hands on Thériault. Once in custody, his lawyers agreed for their client to plead guilty, so long as the only charge brought against him was the second-degree murder of Solange Boislard.

Police hauled Roch Thériault off in 1993 to face life in prison for his crime–A sentence cut short in 2011. This was not due to release. Rather, his sentence came to an end as soon as his life did.

Thériault’s cellmate, Matthew Gerrard MacDonald, stabbed Thériault in the neck, and the sadist’s life came to a bloody end. After the deed was done, Macdonald handed two guards the bloodied shiv that he had fashioned himself.

“That piece of s**t is down on the range. Here’s the knife. I sliced him up,” MacDonald said.

A poetically gory end for one of the most detestable, torture-happy monsters that Canada has ever seen.