Allegations of stolen children, drugs, abuse and a leader who claimed to be the second coming of Christ. "48 Hours" follows the trail of a cult that began in Australia and led the FBI to New York
In 1963, yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne founded "The Family" -- an Australian cult that would run unchallenged for decades, drawing members from around the world.
An Entrancing Vibe
Followers have described Anne as a glamorous, charismatic woman who seemed to possess special powers.
At one time, Anne Hamilton-Byrne had 500 followers -- many of them professionals: doctors, nurses and lawyers. One even owned a local psychiatric ward where police say sect members would be given LSD. Anne tried to convince them she was Jesus Christ in the female form..
Choosing a Husband
Anne set her sights on Bill Byrne, a married local contractor. He divorced his wife and married Anne in 1978.
Children of the Cult
Police say the couple began to amass children over the decades and claimed they had 14 in all. Investigators say Anne only had one biological child. Of the others, a few were stolen. Some were taken from unwed mothers who thought their children were going to good homes. Others were the offspring of cult members.
The children say Anne Hamilton-Byrne wanted them to look alike and be a master race. Their hair was bleached and they often wore matching outfits. They say they were starved, beaten and forced to take LSD.
The Hamilton-Byrne children grew up in an isolated compound at Lake Eildon, about three hours from Melbourne. There were also 14 foster children who rotated in and out. Anne and Bill Hamilton-Byrne frequently traveled overseas and left the children to be disciplined by sect women called Aunties, who followed her rules.
A Determined Detective
Finally, in 1987 Victoria federal and local police stormed the compound, preparing to rescue the children. Detective Lex de Man made it his life mission to hold Anne Hamilton-Byrne responsible for her crimes. He eventually tracked her to a farmhouse in upstate New York.
Why was Anne Hamilton-Byrne hiding out in the Catskills Mountains region of New York and where is she today?
To learn more, watch a special two-hour "48 Hours" -- "The Family: A Cult Revealed"