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Scientology Crime Syndicate

October 25, 2000

Sect member leads searchers to children's bodies
by Glenn Adams
The Associated Press

BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine - A man who stonewalled investigators for months about two children missing from his Massachusetts religious sect led a search team yesterday to two tiny bodies buried deep in the Maine wilderness.

The remains, believed to be those of Jeremiah Corneau, who died at birth, and 10-month-old Samuel Robidoux, were found in makeshift pine coffins in a remote part of Baxter State Park.

David Corneau, father of the stillborn child and a member of the sect, used a hand-drawn map to pinpoint the site after he and searchers were flown to the area by float plane. The nearest road is five miles away.

"It was basically `X marks the spot,"' said Mark Latti, spokesman for the Maine Warden Service.

Positive identification and the causes of death were pending.

The search in the 200,000-acre park in northern Maine began one day after Corneau agreed to lead authorities to the bodies in exchange for immunity from prosecution for himself and his wife, Rebecca.

Paul Walsh, the Bristol County, Mass., district attorney, said charges against other members of the sect were likely, but declined to elaborate.

Authorities have been looking into the deaths of the Corneaus' son and Samuel Robidoux, who allegedly starved to death after he stopped nursing. They were concerned that the sect members' rejection of conventional medicine and other beliefs may have contributed to the children's deaths.

Sect members, based in the southeastern Massachusetts city of Attleboro, do not recognize the legal system and remained silent for months before a grand jury investigating the boys' disappearance.

David Corneau, 33, was one of eight members of the group jailed for refusing to respond to the grand jury's questions. He was freed last month after invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

His pregnant wife, 32, was held in state custody recently after a judge expressed concern for the well-being of the unborn child. She gave birth last week to a girl, who remains in state custody until her fate is decided by the courts.

Acting on tips from former sect members, police searched Baxter State Park several times last year but found nothing.

Walsh said the remains were being taken to the state medical examiner's office in Augusta for autopsies, but Corneau's lawyer, Robert George, said his client's agreement with the prosecutor specified that there would be no autopsy on Jeremiah's remains.

"David admits to no wrongdoing," he said.

Gerry FitzGerald, a spokesman for the Massachusetts prosecutor, said authorities are more interested in punishing sect members involved in the death of Samuel Robidoux.

"(David Corneau's) degree of culpability in any crime that could be proven is considerably less than that of other persons," FitzGerald said.

Copyright 2000 The Seattle Times Company

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