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The Family: Go inside the sinister cult led by Anne Hamilton-Byrne

Anne Hamilton-Byrne and child
Anne Hamilton-Byrne, founder of The Family, and one of the children raised at Lake Eildon

In the 1960s, Anne Hamilton-Byrne was a glamorous and charismatic former yoga teacher when she founded “The Family” — which turned out to be a sinister cult.

She believed she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and was the mastermind of the sect, founding it with renowned physicist Dr Raynor Johnson.

Over the years they managed to acquire various children either thorough adoption scams or from other members of the cult, then brainwashed them while Anne raised them as her own.

The 28 children — some brought into the sect at a very young age — would be dressed identically, and had their hair bleached so they would all look the same.

They were raised at The Family’s property caleld Kai Lama, situated at Lake Eildon, around 150 miles north-east of the Australian city of Melbourne.

In its heyday there were around 500 followers of The Family who, including the children, would be given various drugs including LSD. Many of the children have since told how they were physically abused.

It came to an end when one of the children, Sarah Hamilton-Byrne, later Sarah Moore, was expelled from The Family for becoming too argumentative.

She was later instrumental in helping bring about a police raid on Kai Lama in August 1987, during which the children were seized, several being placed into care.

Tonight the story behind the sect is investigated in two 48 Hours episodes on Investigation Discovery. The first features some of the children telling harrowing tales of child abuse, while the second follows the efforts of Detective Lex de Man, who after the raid traced Anne Hamilton-Byrne and her husband to New York. The pair spent six years in the US before they were arrested.

Watch the original trailer, from when the 48 Hours episode aired on CBS, below:

The 48 Hours on ID double-episode investigation into The Family starts tonight at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.

Julian is the editor of Monsters & Critics. He has worked as a journalist for more than ten years, previously as an editor at the... read more
Julian Cheatle

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