Angel’s Landing Survivors Open Up About Escaping The Deadly Cult

Angels Landing Survivors Dateline


Tonight on NBC’s Dateline NBC, correspondent Dennis Murphy looks into the case of Angel’s Landing and cult leader Daniel Perez, also known as Lou Castro, who told his followers he was a centuries-year-old angel who could see the future, predict their deaths 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 McGrath and her sister 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.

The Wichita Eagle noted that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s sex offender registry showed Perez raped girls ranging in age from 8 to 16.

Perez was found guilty in February 2015 of fraud, child exploitation, rape and first-degree murder.

Sara and Emily Escaped the Commune

When Sara was in her mid-teens and Emily was around 11, their mother brought them into Perez’s “family.” According to her interview with Oxygen, Sara did not like Perez at all, but her mom was convinced he was an angel and was able to predict death.

Sara told Dateline and Oxygen that Perez regularly raped her and said that she remembered asking him after years of sexual abuse if she was “fixed,” since that was one of his excuses for doing what he did.

In September 2008, Sara’s mother died in a car accident, and Sara found her future husband, Daniel McGrath. When he found out what was going on, he sent an email to the FBI website in 2010.

Sara Spoke About What It Is Like to Survive Traumatic Events

In 2015, Sara told Fox News what it was like to survive a cult, talking specifically about the types of trauma she endured.

“You can survive a traumatic event,” she told Fox News. “You can move on and life can be good after a storm.”

She said that living on the property with her family and the other members of the commune was fine at first.

“In the beginning, it was like a huge support system and everybody was close,” she said. “In the beginning, things were all fine and dandy. But it didn’t take long for things to turn.”

When she went to court to testify against her abuser, Sara was terrified.

“It was extremely scary,” she said. “I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to do it. With the help of the district attorney and his assistant, I was able to do it. If it weren’t for them and my husband, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

He was sentenced to two life sentences in prison. Detective Ron 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.”

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