Summary List Placement
At nearly midnight on April 28, Cpl. Steven Hansen executed a search warrant on a house in Moffat, Colorado. Someone had reported the presence of a dead body.
When Hansen arrived, he found the mummified remains of a woman. The police report said she was wrapped in a string of Christmas lights, and that glitter was smeared around her eye sockets. Her eyes seemed to be missing. A shrine was set up around the corpse.
The body was identified as Amy Carlson, 45, the leader of a group called Love Has Won. Carlson was the self-styled “Mother God,” and the group she led has been widely described as a cult by local authorities and former members.
The police report said the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office received many complaints from families who said the group had been “brainwashing people and stealing their money.”
“Love Has Won was one of the most destructive cults that I have observed,” said Rick Alan Ross, a cult expert and the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Cult Education Institute. “It was a very controlled group with a very volatile and, in my opinion, dangerous leader.”
After Carlson’s body was found, seven members of the group were arrested on charges of abuse of a corpse and child abuse, as two children were in the presence of the body. Carlson’s cause of death has not been made public.
Videos and images from the final months of her life show Carlson becoming increasingly unwell. She was unable to walk, was underweight, and had a gray complexion, which observers of the group believed was caused by her regular ingestion of colloidal silver supplements.
The Food and Drug Administration said consuming colloidal silver is not safe or effective for any medical purposes. But the group continues to sell it as a supplement, saying it has all-purpose healing benefits.
Questions have been raised about whether Carlson’s followers were guilty of neglect, having not taken her to a hospital despite her ailing health.
Andrew Profaci, Carlson’s former partner and a former member of the group, said, “It’s really a shame what happened to these people because they all started with good intentions.”
Former group members have said they experienced abuse, ranging from sleep deprivation to verbal and physical abuse to financial and sexual exploitation.
After Carlson’s death, the community fractured, but feuding splinter groups say they’re carrying on the mission of the Mother God.
“This hasn’t just — poof — gone away now because Amy died,” said Sheena from Rising Above Love Has Won, an organization that supports former members and the families of current members. Sheena requested that Insider use an alias as she still has family involved with the group.
“They’re still out there. They’re still trying to recruit people,” she said. “They’re still making these products and saying that they cure any and all viruses, diseases, brain tumors, cancer. And it’s dangerous for people who might not be in the best place in their life to stumble across it.”
The cult of Mother God
In 2006 Amy Carlson, a former McDonald’s employee, left her husband and children in Texas to live with people she met online, saying she was destined to usher humanity into a grand awakening.
Carlson had a regular upbringing. She was the child of divorced, middle-class parents; got good grades; and participated in her school choir.
Her family, who once appeared with the cult leader on the “Dr. Phil” show, said Carlson made bad decisions about men and had been married three times by the time she was in her early twenties.
She had three children with different fathers, and her mother, Linda Haythorne, told Dr. Phil that Carlson was never maternal.
After the birth of her third child, Carlson met a man who called himself “Father God,” and he convinced her that she was “Mother God.”
Although Carlson soon parted ways with the man, she maintained her belief in her divinity and appointed different men to the role of Father God over the years.
Carlson began posting videos online, slowly amassing followers who came to live together in Crestone, Colorado.
Love Has Won had around 20 full-time members living together, but it also reached a large audience online that would watch the daily livestreams, purchase its products, and donate money. Videos posted online often amassed thousands of views.
The group blended New Age mysticism with beliefs about galactic beings and planetary ascension, plus a hint of QAnon-style conspiracy theories. But at its epicenter was the worship of Carlson.
She said she was God incarnate and had lived 534 lifetimes, including as Jesus Christ, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Joan of Arc.
She also said she was President Donald Trump’s daughter in a past life, and that the deceased comedian Robin Williams was part of her spiritual team and often communicated messages to her from the beyond.
Love Has Won believed that ordinary people were in a state of 3D consciousness, while members of the group had transcended to the higher level of 5D consciousness.
Historically, cults have rarely been led by women, but Carlson had a unique ability to charm and manipulate those around her.
Jason Castillo, the group’s final Father God and Carlson’s partner at the time of her death, said when he met Carlson, he felt awakened to the fact that God was a woman.
“You think, of course, who gave birth in your family? The woman does,” he said.
Cult members called Carlson “Mom” or “Mother God,” and she called them her children.
While older videos show a composed, soft-spoken Carlson, more recent videos show the cult leader visibly drunk, verbally abusing members, and shouting, “I’m fucking God, you fucking whores!”
“As crazy as it might look and hard to believe that people actually believe this stuff, they do. And they are leaving their entire lives, giving all their money, and going to worship this person,” Sheena said.
Profaci traveled to Crestone to join the group in 2014 after discovering it online.
Carlson soon told him that he would be “a vessel for Father God’s consciousness.” The role of Father God was to be Carlson’s partner, romantically and as a leader.
“To tell you the truth, I had no intentions of being in a relationship with her. I mean, no offense, but she’s not my type,” Profaci said.
“Unfortunately, you couldn’t get her away from this idea of needing this title and thinking she’s God. And that really perverted everything that we did,” he added.
Profaci said Carlson became angry and bitter, often getting drunk and ranting late into the night about “nonbelievers.” Although he tried his best to “snap her out of it,” he was unsuccessful and left the group in 2015.
But the followers she converted over the next few years were more devout and sycophantic, fueling her worst impulses.
Former members allege abuse and exploitation
In 2018, Lauryn Suarez, who now goes by the name Aurora, and Ashley Peluso, who is called Hope, joined Carlson.
They quickly became prominent figures, often leading the group’s daily livestreams. (After Carlson’s death, the two continued to front the cult in its rebranded form, 5D Full Disclosure.)
Speaking with Insider, Aurora and Hope said they were on a mission to “awaken” the world.
“What’s going on on the planet is the exact opposite of what they tell us,” Aurora said.
“For us, of course, our message is revolved around Mom and the fact that she was here,” Hope said.
Castillo, now 46, also joined the group in 2018. He began a relationship with Carlson, becoming the new and final Father God.
In a phone conversation with Insider, Castillo said his existence could be traced back 477.5 trillion years, that humans come from Venus, and that he has three hearts.
He described the role of Father God as the “master of darkness.”
“Jason is erratic and mean and abusive,” Sheena said. One video shows Castillo threatening member John Robertson, saying, “You’re going to be a paraplegic.”
Current and former members of the group told Insider that Castillo regularly used methamphetamines, despite the group’s antidrug policy (which excluded marijuana).
After Carlson’s death, Castillo split from Hope and Aurora. He now leads an offshoot in Colorado called Joy Rains.
“When Jason got there, it was just like a sinking ship,” Sheena said. “After that, they just fed off each other and went down,” she added of Castillo and Carlson.
Videos suggest that Carlson became more aggressive over the years, with many showing her verbally abusing cult members.
In one video, Carlson appears to have a crying child locked in a closet.
In another, Carlson berates Robertson for bringing her meatballs instead of chicken Parmesan.
Walter “Riccey” Paschal, a former member of Love Has Won, said he witnessed Carlson controlling members’ sleep patterns, food consumption, and sexual activity.
Former members said they weren’t allowed to sleep for more than four hours a night. Some said they were made to hand over their income and savings to the group.
Hope and Aurora have rebutted the allegations. They said members willingly gave their money to the group, and that those who complained about lack of sleep were not sufficiently dedicated to the mission.
“If anybody knows what it takes to create something extraordinary — it takes a lot of work and dedication,” Aurora said. “Ask Elon Musk how much he slept.”
Although senior members of the cult said their mission was to spread love and build a community, this was not the experience of some former members.
Alex Whitten left his wife and children in 2020 to live with the group in Crestone. Days later, he was found wandering in the mountains naked and dehydrated, and with cactus needles in his feet.
His wife, Ariane Whitten, told The Independent that the group abandoned him after deciding he “didn’t have the right energy.”
Paschal said he knew of other members who were similarly kicked out and “left in the woods.”
Ross, who’s worked closely with families and people directly involved with the cult, said former members and their families told him that Carlson would “sexually exploit” her followers.
“I would not say it if I hadn’t heard it repeatedly,” Ross said. “She would use people sexually. She would say, ‘This person is ordained to be my partner,’ and she would have sex with that member. And then later decide, ‘Well, you were only a temporary ordained person. Now I’m going to move on.'”
Paschal said he also witnessed Castillo using his position of power to engage in sexual activities with members of the group.
Around 2018, Love Has Won also became more business-orientated. It was registered as a 501(c)(3) charity, selling expensive crystals and medically dubious supplements.
They also offered “etheric surgeries,” which Carlson would perform remotely. The group’s former website said Carlson was a spiritual surgeon who would work “multidimensionally” to operate on people’s bodies and cure various physical ailments.
She said she had cured cancer, removed brain tumors, and helped cases of autism.
Love Has Won’s two main offshoots, 5D Full Disclosure and Joy Rains, continue to offer similar products and services.
‘I’m like, what are you guys doing? You’re killing her.’
The last time Paschal saw Carlson was in mid-February, two months before she died.
“She was like 89 pounds. She couldn’t walk. She was being carried everywhere,” he said. “She said she had stage 5 cancer.”
Carlson often said she had stage 5 cancer, which does not exist. Cancer is typically measured in stages 1 to 4.
“According to her family, she has never received a cancer diagnosis,” Sheena said.
Carlson continued to consume copious amounts of alcohol. Paschal said he voiced concerns about the group enabling Carlson’s alcoholism.
“I’m like, what are you guys doing? You’re killing her,” Paschal said. “It’s 11 a.m. and she’s shit-faced drunk, and you’re getting her another drink?”
Hope and Aurora said Carlson’s heavy drinking was a form of pain relief.
As Carlson never saw a doctor, it’s unclear what caused her health problems or whether her death could have been prevented with medical treatment, members of the group said.
One video from October shows Aurora and Hope discussing Carlson’s request to be taken to a hospital. “There’s been moments that Mom has asked us to take her to a 3D hospital, and we’re like, ‘Nope,'” Aurora said.
When asked about this by Insider, Aurora said Carlson was joking about going to a hospital and claimed that Carlson had signed three documents saying never to take her to a hospital under any circumstances.
Sheena said Rising Above called the police multiple times to perform wellness checks on Carlson in the weeks leading up to her death.
“The group was saying on the livestream that her eyes were rolling back in her head and she was having difficulty breathing. And we tried again for a wellness check,” Sheena said.
“The police officer who went there said he was met by two cult members at the door who said she was not there, so he left. And, of course, when he called us and told us that we were like, ‘You believed them?'”
Facebook posts made by Castillo’s group, Joy Rains, said Carlson died on April 21 in California, exactly one week before her mummified body was found in the group’s communal house in Colorado — after being reported by Miguel Lamboy, a former group member.
The group described her death as an “ascension,” which it said was part of her plan.
Castillo said he transported her body from California as she wanted Crestone to be her final resting place. He and six other members were subsequently arrested and charged with the abuse of a corpse. One had their charges dropped. The others are awaiting trial.
Castillo said he protected the rest of the group by giving them cash and letting them leave before he transported Carlson’s body, and that he felt hurt that they had since distanced themselves from him.
Aurora disputed the idea that Castillo protected the group. “For him to make these claims that he did these things or said these things to protect us, he really didn’t at all,” she said. “He did what he felt guided to do, and he compromised the entire team by that choice.”
The split between Castillo and Hope and Aurora is not the only bad blood between former group members.
Most of the group’s $300,000 assets were registered in Lamboy’s name. He owned the cult’s headquarters in Crestone. No remaining members of the group have had any communication with Lamboy since Carlson’s death.
“I don’t know if I could label it as a crime because I haven’t looked too deeply into what the actual laws were. But was there a form of betrayal? Absolutely.” Aurora said.
Insider was unable to find Lamboy for comment.
The endeavor to deprogram members continues
Despite Carlson’s death, Love Has Won devotees are committed to carrying on Mother God’s mission, albeit under different names.
They remain active online, running various websites and channels on Facebook, YouTube, and Telegram, and selling a range of products.
Recently, 5D Full Disclosure launched a new website about creating a “New Earth Transitory Government.” It used the tagline “Where we go one, we go all” — the famous slogan of the QAnon conspiracy movement.
Meanwhile, on August 12, Joy Rains posted and then deleted a Facebook message referring to Father God’s “suicide mission” and “last moments humanity.”
It’s unclear whether the reference to suicide was meant literally or figuratively, but it sparked concern for Castillo’s mental state among observers of the group.
“These people have a deep sense of commitment — what I would call emotional equity in the group,” Ross said. “There’s the idea of, ‘Well, what are we supposed to do now? Admit that Amy Carlson was a fraud? We spent years of our life in this.'”
Ross added that Carlson encouraged members to cut ties with their families and friends, making it more difficult to leave the group.
Sheena said she has a family member who is still in the group.
“Deprogramming takes time,” Sheena said. “They’re wired to think only about this mission, only about Amy. And that’s all they want to talk about.”
“This story is really about a bunch of people who the system didn’t work for, who were looking for answers. The notion of joining God’s team makes somebody feel like maybe all of that untapped potential in their life will finally get used for something,” Profaci said.
He added, “It will take a monumental effort for these people to pull themselves out of it.”