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Sept. 16, 2022

The Case of Anna Young, Cult Leader

The Case of Anna Young, Cult Leader

Anna Young was known for being a religious leader, of the church, named House of Prayer, and allegedly was led by the voice of God to hand out punishments to make members holy. However, these punishments led to the death of at least two children.

In the 1980’s, House of Prayer was opened up in the small town of Micanopy, Florida located a few miles of Gainesville, Florida. It was formed as a Pentecostal church, with the intentions of being a safe haven for those that had sinned and wanted to redeem themselves and change their lives. The church also had a religious boarding school for children to attend on site. With an initial small following of almost two dozen members who joined “Mother Anna Young” she was praised and adored and many of the members viewed her voice as of God

The church followed and operated under the strict interpretation of the Book of Acts from the Bible. Members were subject to harsh punishments such as thirty lashes with sticks and extension cords, forced fasting, starvation, withholding of water, confinement to small spaces, lengthy prayer sessions, physical labor, wearing of holy clothing that covered much of the women’s body, similar to sack clothes and the church separated men from women unless they were married. Mother Anna spoke in tongues and members would believe that she was speaking the direct word of God and failure to comply with her word meant refusing God’s will.

According to a statement made by Anna’s daughter, Mary Joy Fluker, members were willing to take beatings and whippings were starved, be locked in boxes, and made to eat cow manure because they loved God so much and wanted to be pure and holy.

Upon becoming a member, the individual was given a new church name by Mother Anna, whom was known as (mother). Last names were not used and members used the title of brother and sister. Members were not allowed off the church property unless they worked a regular job and then they were not allowed to keep their money it had to be turned into Anna. Children were not allowed to live with their biological parents as mother and father and instead were physically separated from their parents and kept with Anna to become her children and Anna would make the parental decisions for the children.

So fast forward to 2016, the daughter of Anna Young, Mary Joy Fluker had an argument with her mother, about parenting her own children and Mary Joy got upset and made a statement of some sort saying, “how are you going to tell me how to parent my own children when you killed two children?”

On December 27, 2016, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Mary Joy Fluker, the daughter of Anna Young whom stated that she believed that her mother had killed  her younger adopted brother Moses. The daughter remembered seeing Moses in a closest, either dead or close to death. And Mary indicated that the timeframe was believed to be around the same time her mother had fled the church grounds in Micanopy, Florida to avoid arrest on child abuse charges going back to 1992.

In order to get some historical context, I will go back to 1983, there was the death of Katonya Jackson Young. The case was initially investigated and resulted in a suspicious incident but no charges came from it. The child was taken to the hospital on November 21, 1983 where she would die from a seizure disorder. Once these new allegations from Anna’s daughter were brought to the Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement then decided to reopened Katonya’s  death as a death investigation. Doctors indicated to detectives that the child’s death could have been prevented if she had been provided her seizure medications. The autopsy showed that the child had bruises on her skull, legs, and bottom of her feet. When Anna Young was questioned, she said that didn’t like the medication for the child because it made her stare for long periods of time.

The girls biological mother lived on the property; her name is Lea Vera whom when she spoke to police, she indicated she found out about her daughter’s death while at a church meeting where Anna had made the announcement of the child’s death saying the child had a seizure which had stopped her heart. The mother was not allowed to go to the funeral, or go to the burial site. The mother indicated that whenever a church member died all their possessions would be burned in a barrel for everyone to see and she was able to attend that.

Katonya’s brother,  John Neal was also interviewed as part of this new investigation. He stated that his sister did not have a seizure disorder prior to moving to the church. He witnessed beatings performed on his sister by Anna and other church members and that’s when she started to have seizures. He claims that he heard Anna state that Katonya had a demon in her and that is why she was beaten.  The brother would go on to say that his sister was held by one ankle and the bottoms of her feet and legs were beaten. The sister would also be made to run around in circles chanting “Jesus” repeatedly.  If the child stopped she would be beat with a stick. According to a statement made by Katonya’s brother other members were also ordered to beat the child.

It is reported that the brother John Neal was also subjected to abuse and in 1985, was seen by the same doctor that his sister had seen in 1983. The doctor found the brother with a skin infection which led to a child abuse investigation being opened up because the doctor saw scars all over his body and the child had part of ear missing. When the sheriff’s office went to the home to investigate on behalf of  Katonya’s brother John; the house was found to be clean and organized and no charges were ever filed.

So fast forward to 1992, when victim Nikki Nickleson was 12 years of age at the time. Anna Young was a suspect in this case of child abuse where it was alleged that she would have the child take a chemical bath made of ultra-tide and bleach. The victim ended up with second degree burns to her lower half of her body. During the investigation Anna Young was quoted for saying “maybe it will burn some of the evil out of you.” On September 16, 1992, an arrest warrant was made active for Anna Young for aggravated child abuse. However, the warrant was not served until May 10, 2001 as Anna Young fled the State of Florida.

It was reported that Anna Young ran off to Ohio and Illinois and stayed in similar church communities. Until her arrest in 2001 as she was featured on America’s Most Wanted. On June 1, 2001, Anna was convicted of child abuse and sentenced to six months’ time served for the victim Nikki Nickleson.

Anna Young’s daughter Mary, reported being a child at the time of living at the church and stated she was subject to abuse and beatings and would observe others receive similar punishment done to the children. She reported that she saw people have their mouths taped shut and be restricted to small spaces the size of closets for lengthy times. The daughter indicated that during this time the children would not receive food or water and would only have a garbage bag that would be used so they could go to the bathroom. The discipline would last for days and would include beatings provided by Anna.

Initially, Anna’s daughter reported to the police about a child she witnessed in the closet that may have been deceased at the time. His name was Moses Young. His time of death is estimated occurring around 1988. And he was approximately six years of age.

Shonda Harper is the biological mother of Moses Young. She had him when she was approximately 16 years of age in Chicago. The child’s born name was Emon David Harper. Shonda’s mother at the time did not feel like her daughter was responsible and the child was given to the mother’s friend Carol Thomas for an informal adoption without court involvement.

Moses was approximately one years of age when he was adopted and brought to the church to live. When Mary was approximately 12 years old, she found Moses whom may have been about 5 or 6 years of age at the time in the closest. Moses had been placed in a hamper of some sort. She saw that the boy was not moving and what looked like a white paste over his lips. Mary was scared at the time and closed the door. She admitted that it was the last time she saw Moses.

Court records indicate from various church members that the boy had been beaten and that Moses’s body was placed in a barrel and burned. When Anna was finally arrested she denied punishing anyone and placed blame on the brothers within the church as the ones that carried it out.

Anna Young was only Charged only with the murder of Emon Harper “Moses” and Katoyna Jackson, however there were other allegations of abuse and misconduct of other members and children.

On February 17, 2021, Anna Young was adjudicated guilty, and sentenced to 30 years prison for Second Degree Murder for the death of Emon Moses and 15 years for Manslaughter for the death of Katoyna Jackson.

However, she didn’t get a chance to serve out much of her sentence. She died at the age of 79 in prison after leaving the Alachua County Jail on February 25th. Literally, just a few days later after being sentenced and on March 31, 2021 she passed away. Her stated cause of death according to initial news reports was that it may have been covid.




Alachua County Clerk of Court,

Alachua County Sheriff's Office

Florida Department of Corrections