Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Family of Winnfred Wright

The Family

Thus began the downfall of a secretive mom-and-pop cult known as "The Family" and the beginning of one of the most disturbing child abuse cases the San Francisco Bay Area has ever seen.

In the following months, investigators revealed that the four women who'd brought the dead baby to the hospital - Carol Bremner, 45; Deidre Wilson, 37; Ndigo's mother, Mary Campbell, 37, and Kali Polk-Matthews, 20 - were all common-law wives of a self-styled black guru named Winnfred Wright and that the horde of children were the group's offspring.

Marin County District Attorney's office logo
Marin County District Attorney's office logo
Wright, a 45-year-old unemployed crack smoker whose graying dreadlocks hung down to his waist, preached a blend of New Age mysticism and black radicalism. He had convinced the women that they had to pay for the racist sins of their white ancestors by serving him financially, physically and sexually. They obliged, and together with another woman who managed to escape the cult, they bore Wright a total of 19 children.

As the Marin County District Attorney's office built a case against "The Family," sordid details about the group's inner workings surfaced in the press. The "wives" - none of whom had legally married Wright - stuck by their man to the bitter end, holding down jobs to support his daily drug habit, quietly suffering through physical and mental abuse, and even luring other women back to their household for his sexual pleasure.

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