The Family

There is a 95-year-old woman in a Melbourne nursing home who dotes on a plastic baby doll. You wouldn’t guess it to look at her, but this is a woman who amassed a multi-million dollar fortune, destroyed families, and affected the lives of numerous people giving them ongoing psychological issues, some of which ended in suicide.

Former police detective Lex de Man said of this women to 60 Minutes, “Of all the crimes that I investigated, she is the most evil person that I’ve ever met.”

Special guest: Ben Shenton.

CW: references to physical and emotional abuse, controlling behaviours, death by suicide, forced adoption, and psychological trauma associated with being in a cult. Please consider whether you would like to listen on this basis. Content is not suitable for children.

Full research sources listed on each episode page at

If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, you can find support or donate to Cult Information and Family Support if you’re in Australia (via, and you can find resources outside of Australia with the International Cultic Studies Association (via

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention website at