In the spring of 2015, a Sedgwick County judge decided that Daniel Perez should spend the rest of his life in prison.
Across nearly two decades, the 56-year-old Texas native gathered about him a group of followers who trusted in his self-proclaimed magical powers and in his capacity as a prophet. They followed Perez from Texas to South Dakota to Wichita, before eventually ending up in Tennessee.
Perez proved in every way a criminal manipulator. He encouraged his followers — but particularly their underage children — to submit to his requests for sexual favors. In fact, he said his supernatural gifts — Perez claimed to be an angel, among other things — depended on his having sex with prepubescent girls. During his dominion over the small commune, Perez assaulted members of the group physically and preyed upon them psychologically. He guided their hands in filing false vehicle credit applications and — crucially — false life insurance applications. Perez himself used fake names — he was “Lou Castro” for most of those years — during which time he indulged his tastes for expensive cars and high-end remote-controlled airplanes. He was able to keep the commune financially viable and fund his personal predilections, Sedgwick county prosecutors showed, by cashing in on life insurance proceeds garnered from the suspicious deaths that befell a number of his followers over the years.
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