Tonight on NBC’s Dateline NBC, Dennis Murphy looks into the case of cult leader Daniel Perez, also known as Lou Castro, who told his followers at Angel’s Landing that he was a 1,000-year-old angel who could see the future and heal their injuries.
The episode of Dateline, titled “Angels & Demons,” features interviews with Daniel Perez, commune members Sara and Emily as well as with Detective Ron Goodwyn and more.
Earlier this year, commune members Sara and Emily opened up about what it was like to live in the cult and talked about Lou Perez, who was regularly raping Sara for years under the guise of “fixing her.” Commune members also report that he told the members that he needed to have sex with young girls to stay alive.
Perez was found guilty in February 2015 of fraud, child exploitation, rape and first-degree murder.
Perez Told Followers He Could Heal the Sick & He Was a Centuries-Old Angel
Not only did Perez tell followers that he could heal the sick, he also allegedly told them that he could tell them when they were going to die.
Unfortunately for his followers, there was more to his scheme than that. After a death on the property, police found a pattern where he would take out life insurance policies on people in his circle that would later be cashed in by members.
According to Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office’s Detective Ron Goodwyn, around every two and a half years, bank account balances would get low, and then someone would die.
This came to fruition in June 2003 when Patricia Hughes, who lived on the property, died. Perez told commune members that she had slipped and fallen into the pool. He allegedly collected over $1 million in insurance payouts following her death.
In March 2006, Hughes’ husband Brian died in an “accident” at the autobody shop where he worked.
In total, there were six reported accidental deaths over seven years at Angel’s Landing. They led to millions of dollars in life insurance payouts.
Perez Was Sentenced To Life in Prison & Is Not Eligible For Parole Until He Is 120 Years Old
According to Oxygen, police first began to be suspicious of Perez in 2003 when he was living with a small group of people on a 20-acre property called Angel’s Landing.
At the time, there were many vehicles on the property worth more than $40,000 each as well as a swimming pool and multiple houses. When looking into the man who was calling himself Lou Castro, they couldn’t find a paper trail or anything about his background.
On April 21, 2010, authorities arrested Perez at his new home in Tennessee after learning about what had been going on at Angel’s Landing in the past years through interviews with members of the commune. Perez was charged with 28 felonies.
He was sentenced to life in prison. Goodwyn said the conviction was “probably the most amazing feeling in my law enforcement career.”
Judge Joseph Bribiesca ordered that Perez would serve his sentences consecutively, making it so Perez will not be eligible for parole until he is 120 years old.
“The evidence conclusively shows that Mr. Perez used people as mere objects to fulfill his desire for money, sex and a lavish lifestyle,” Bribiesca said. “It is just that he serve the maximum sentence.”
The district attorney, Marc Bennett, agreed, calling Perez a “puppet master.”