Believe it or Not: Things you need to know about Angel’s Landing Commune.
Facts about Angel’s Landing Commune:
Angel’s Landing Commune was an innocuous plot of land in a rural area near Wichita, Kansas where a now-convicted rapist and murderer, Daniel Perez, also known as Lou Castro, held power over a cult.
The story of the rural Kansas compound, its survivors and Daniel Perez is being told on a new episode of Dateline, which airs on NBC Friday, August 7, 2020 at 9/8C.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Angel’s Landing Was a Commune Located on a 20-Acre Property in a Rural Area Near Wichita
Angel’s Landing was the location where Daniel Perez’s cult was housed. Perez, also known by the name Lou Castro and many other names, convinced his followers he had magical powers. He told the members he was an angel who was hundreds of years old and needed to have sex with children, or he would die.
The Angel’s Landing commune was a house on a 20-acre plot of land in a rural area north of Wichita, in the 9500 block of North Oliver, near Valley Center and Kechi, The Wichita Eagle reported. There, he would murder at least one of his followers and repeatedly rape children on his commune.
“I was 10 when my childhood was over,” one witness said during his sentencing hearing. “While other 10-year-olds were riding bikes or playing with dolls, I was laying naked 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.”
2. Daniel Perez, AKA Lou Castro, Abused Girls Ages 8 to 16 at the Angel’s Landing Compound
Daniel Perez was convicted of 20 counts of sexual abuse of children, with victims ranging in age from only 8 years old to 16, according to the Kansas Sex Offender Registry. The charges include rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, sexual exploitation of a child, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and murder.
One of the survivors, Sara, told Oxygen Perez raped her repeatedly, saying he was “fixing” her.
“There was nothing I could do,” she said “I remember saying, ‘Am I fixed now?’”
His sex offender registry indicates he began abusing children in 2001, and the abuse spanned more than a decade, ending in 2015.
3. Lou Castro Murdered one of His Followers, Patricia Hughes, at the Angel’s Landing Compound
Daniel Perez’s cult was motivated by greed, investigators learned. Prosecutors said at his trial that he aimed to use life insurance proceeds from the deaths of his followers to live a lavish lifestyle. Among his victims was Patricia Hughes, 26. She was a wife and mother who lived and died at Angels Landing, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Hughes’ death was initially ruled accidental. Years later, the truth of the murder surfaced when one of the girls went back to police, even though Castro had initially convinced her to lie for him. This led to the big break in the case. The girl told investigators that she was 11 years old when Perez told her to lie to police, saying Hughes had fallen and drowned in the pool. The girl said in truth, she heard a splash and a scream. Then, she saw Perez, wet and out of breath.
Investigators would later learn Hughes was collecting millions of dollars in life insurance payouts, and that six deaths ruled as accidents were connected to the cult. He collected more than $1 million in life insurance payouts from Hughes’ death alone.
4. Investigators Learned Daniel Perez’s Cult Moved From State to State
The Angel’s Landing cult was not housed in just one place. The group moved from state to state, making it difficult to track Lou Castro and his crimes. The investigation into Daniel Perez centered around what investigators called his “unexplained wealth,” according to The Wichita Eagle.
Authorities spent nine years investigating Perez. Although he did not have a job, he had money. A detective sifted through his trash and followed him to a local restaurant in hopes that he could find a fingerprint.
Over the course of seven years, he collected millions of dollars in life insurance payouts. He collected more than $1 million in life insurance payouts from Hughes’ death alone.
“[Perez] was now known for two things: Money no one could explain and the death of Patricia Hughes,” Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office’s Detective Ron Goodwyn told Oxygen.
5. Lou Castro & The Angel’s Landing Cult Was Tied to Six Accidental Deaths
Investigators in Sedgwick County, Kansas learned that Lou Perez and the Angel’s Landing commune was tied to six deaths which were ruled accidental. They occurred within a seven-year time span.
“[Perez] is either very unlucky, with close friends dying, or he’s involved in some way in making it happen,” Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office’s Detective Ron Goodwyn told Oxygen.
Among those was Hughes’ husband, Brian. He died in a freak accident at the autobody shop where he worked in March 2006. He had become depressed and was talking to Perez more often, one of the survivors, Sara, told Oxygen.
“[Perez] was telling him, ‘One day you’ll get your chance to go to the other side,’” she said.