By Jeff Todd
NORWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – There are two aspects of a murder case in Norwood which experts are looking further into: how the doomsday cult operated and what roll it played in the alleged abuse of two young girls.
“Most cults, according to the actual sociological definition of a cult, tends to form around the inspiration or the charismatic influence of a particular leader. In this case, the woman in question,” said Dr. Carl Raschke, a professor at the University of Denver.
Recently unsealed court documents state investigators believe Madani Ceus was the leader of the cult that believed the August solar eclipse would bring the apocalypse.
Hannah Marshall, 8, and Makayla Roberts, 10, were found inside a car in September.
Investigators still haven’t been able to finalize a timeline of when the girls were originally placed in the car and when food and water were withheld.
“I’m not sure, if from what I read, they were killed deliberately. But, they certainly were killed by negligence and neglect on some weird ideas she got,” said Raschke.
Dr. Cathleen Mann, a cult psychology specialist based in Lakewood, says it was rare for a cult to be involved in murder, before this alleged case. She told CBS4 the beliefs of the cult are secondary, but the bigger issues are the power and control of the leader.
Court documents state Ceus told her followers to put the two girls in the car because they were unclean as the apocalypse approached.
Mann and Raschke are hoping to find out more about how Ceus’s power over the group kept the other adults from acting responsibly and saving the children.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.