Daniel Perez claimed to be some sort of angel.
He convinced members of the Angel's Landing commune – based in Kansas, the US – that he had magical powers, was hundreds of years old, could cure diseases and knew when people were about to die. They believed him.
But there was a catch.
To remain living on earth he needed to rape and abuse their children, and he knew when people were going to die, because it was him who was actually killing them.
For years, every time the extended "family" was running low on funds, one of their members would meet a strange demise and a life insurance pay-out would arrive.
His disturbing story is an example of just what some people are willing to believe.
For years Perez and a group of families under his thrall wandered through several states before finally settling on a 20-acre compound in Wichita which contained several houses and a swimming pool.
The first person to die in June 2003 was Patricia Hughes, 27. It was claimed she drowned in the pool trying to save her toddler daughter.
Perez collected £1million in an insurance payout.
However, years later the truth came to light.
A witness, who was aged 12 at the time and being abused by Perez, said Hughes actually knew she was going to die. She kissed her daughter goodbye and said she would soon return from the dead.
Perez then held her underwater until she drowned, went to a car dealership to establish an alibi, came back, jumped into the pool with the toddler and then dialled 911.
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It was not the only death. Five more were to follow. Another man died when he was under a car and the jack mysteriously failed.
Two more people died in a light plane crash, two more in a mysterious car accident. In total Perez and the group received more than £3m in insurance pay outs.
Just as sickening was his lust for young girls.
He would tell his victims and their families he needed to "fix" them and in return, they would help him stay on earth.
One of his victims later said in court: "I was 10 when my childhood was over. While other 10 year olds were riding bikes or playing with dolls, I was laying in a bed with a pillow over my head, just waiting for it to be over.
"While other 13 year olds were getting boyfriends and holding hands, I was holding onto my secret and losing the people I loved one by one.
"When other 16 year olds were experiencing the freedom of learning how to drive and planning parties with their friends, I was planning my own death every day when I drove to school.”
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When the authorities began investigating Perez over the mysterious deaths, they were met with a wall of silence until some of his abuse victims finally came forward.
During his trial, Perez made no mention of being an angel, but claimed a genital injury prevented him from having sex with uncooperative partners and all had been of legal age.
He also said he had severe memory loss after being beating up in Texas in 1997 and didn’t know where the millions of dollars the cult received came from.
He was eventually convicted of 20 counts of sexual abuse of children, with victims ranging in age from 8 years old to 16, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and for the the murder of Patricia Hughes. He was not charged over the other "mysterious" deaths.
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He will not be eligible for parole until he is 120 years old.
Judge Joseph Bribiesca said: "The evidence consecutively shows Perez used people as mere objects to fulfill his desire for money, sex and a lavish lifestyle.
"It is just that he serve the maximum sentence."
As his victims have testified, Perez is no angel, but he was a true monster.
If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.
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