Details of Disappearance
Emon disappeared from Micanopy, Florida sometime in 1988. At the time of his disappearance, he and his family were members of the House of Prayer for All People in Micanopy, Florida.
It was a cult-type religious group that operated under a system of collectivism and Old Testament style beliefs, including adhering to a kosher diet and wearing full-length robes and head coverings. All members had to change their names upon joining, and Emon's name was changed to Moses Harper. Emon was still his legal name, however.
At its largest, the group comprised 24 members. The leader, Anna Young, was cruel to the other members, particularly after her husband died in 1988. She forced members to turn over all their savings, separated parents from their children, and frequently starved, humiliated, beat and tortured the members, especially children, for their "sins." Each beating took 33 lashes with a whip, the same number Christ had received before the crucifixion.
At one point Anna ordered a cult member to abandon a two-year-old Marcos Cruz at a church in Puerto Rico because he was "full of the devil." The toddler's ultimate fate is unknown. In 1992, she bathed a twelve-year-old child in bleach, causing severe burns, then left her tied to a bed, which exacerbated her injuries. The victim had permanent scarring. After the girl's parents found her and took her to a hospital, Anna was convicted of child abuse. Before she could be sentenced, she went on the run with Joy, her youngest daughter, who was still a child at the time. The cult dissolved in her absence.
In 2000, Anna was located in Alton, Illinois and sent to jail, where she served six months for the child abuse charge. After her release she settled in Cobb County, Georgia and kept a low profile for fifteen years. In 2017, Joy accused her mother of having killed the toddler she knew only as Moses. She went to the police, who were able to identify the boy as Emon. He was about two years old at the time. Joy believes her mother suffers from untreated mental illness and this caused her violent behavior.
Other former cult members supported Joy's story, stating that in 1988 or 1989, Anna had beaten and starved Emon over an extended time period until he was found dead inside her closet. His body has not been found; witnesses report that Anna put it in a large straw hamper and burned the hamper in a fire. She told other cult members that she had given the child away to be raised by monks.
Anna was charged with Emon's murder in December 2017. One man who was in the cult as a child said Anna forced other cult members to beat and torture his two-year-old sister, Katonya Jackson. Katonya had epilepsy and Anna also withheld her medication. Katonya subsequently died. At the time her death was classified as natural, but after charges were filed against Anna in Emon's case, Katonya's death was re-investigated and Anna was ultimately charged with manslaughter.
Anna's stepdaughter, Catherine Davidson, disappeared in 1973 at the age of six and was never found. Joy, who had not yet been born in 1973, told police she heard from her older sister that Anna bound and gagged Catherine and placed her in a closet in the family's home in Chicago. The other children heard scratching coming from the closet all night long, then the noises stopped. When Joy's sister looked in the closet she saw her sister lying in a fetal position, apparently dead.
Joy believes her mother suffered from untreated mental illness and this caused her violent behavior. In February 2021, Anna reached a plea agreement with the prosecution and pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in Emon's case and manslaughter in Katonya's death. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She died a month later at the age of seventy-nine, having served just 33 days of her sentence.
No one has been charged in Catherine or Marcos's disappearances, but they are being investigated. Foul play is suspected in Emon's case due to the circumstances involved.