By Jackelyn Barnard
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Joni Cutler's daughter, Libby, would have been 26 years old. Libby never made it to her first birthday. At four days old she died of pneumonia.
Cutler says the death is all because of a church based in Lake City called Meade Ministries.
"It exhibits every trait that cults have. It has resulted in the needless suffering and deaths of many of its own members," says Cutler.
Cutler says she was ordered by Charles Meade, the man behind the church, to say her daughter's death was a miscarriage so there would not be an investigation.
The deaths inside Meade Ministries did not stop with Libby and authorities did investigate.
Michael Boehmer was a new born who died from a nose bleed. Doctors said all he needed was a vitamin K shot.
Boehmer's parents were not charged, but the State's Attorney sent a warning to the endtimer community to get their kids to the doctor.
Then, there was Sonia Hernandez. At four years old, she died of pneumonia.
Her parents were found guilty of child abuse. The verdict was later overturned on appeal.
"Most of these deaths of these children were over 90% preventable with routine medical care," says Cutler.
The First Coast News I-team has learned children are not the only ones dying.
Twenty-three year old Kathryn Kennedy hemorrhaged during childbirth at home.
Cutler says home is where births happen. The reason, she says endtimers do not believe in medical care.
"Women who die in childbirth. They are simply replaced with other women."
Cutler says Meade's own wife, Marie, who died of breast cancer, was replaced within weeks of her death with a woman by the name of Marlene. Marlene is Meade's current wife.
"Women aren't supposed to be educated. They are not supposed to work outside of the home. Their job is strictly that of raising children. Outside of that, there is not much of a role for women," says Cutler.
With all the rules and regulations, Joni says your membership to the church is thrown out the door if you don't have money.
Cutler says money is the key to Charles Meade, not religion.
"People were burdened with the level of giving. They are dissuaded from having any formal education and training so they've had to go out and work 2, 3, 4 jobs. Individuals who had a single income, no big job, and large families were giving $50 thousand a year. When they no longer have any money to give they are asked to leave."
Some endtimers are quite successful, like Charles Sparks. He is a well known realtor in Columbia County who is considered Meade's second in command.
First Coast News talked to Sparks over the phone. He told us he had no comment.
"There's a tremendous pressure on income earners to be affluent and to look affluent," says Cutler.
Cutler says one of Meade's favorite things is luxury cars, specifically Cadillacs. He drives them and so do most of his followers.
When we asked Cutler where the group gets its money she says, "That's a good question. I know many of the members including some who have left the group have bankrupted themselves by giving large amounts to Charles Meade. Where that goes from there is any one's guess."
Endtimers all live near each other on Meade's sprawling estate, which is gated and constantly under watch.
The First Coast News I-team called Meade several times for a comment. Those calls were never returned. When we went to Meade's home, He never answered the door for us, but he most likely knew we were there.
Meade has camera's all over his property. Those who live in the area keep a watch for outsiders and then follow them.
While we were taking pictures near Meade's home, we were spotted.
The Cadillac followed us for miles. We slowed down, so did the car. We changed lanes and so did the car.
We pulled over, the Cadillac passed us and then stopped in a parking lot. A man, who we believe is an endtimer, jumped out and started taking pictures of us.
We asked to speak to him he jumped back in the car and started taking more pictures of us from inside. He never rolled down the window or made any comment.
Cutler says the number of endtimers has grown over the years.
Southwood Estates is one of several subdivisions considered homes for endtimers.
Some houses are small. Some houses are worth nearly half a million dollars.
"How people with no education, how they are living in these homes," Cutler says she asks herself that all the time.
According to court records, endtimers own the homes but won't list addresses for them. Everything is listed to a P.O. Box.
Cutler says that is so family members who don't believe in the endtime religion can not contact them.
"That's the practice of isolation and the very rigid and harsh cruel belief system that alienates them from their families," says Cutler.
Those who live in Lake City will tell you the endtimers are well established in the community.
Neighbors know where they live. They know where they work, but no one will talk about them on camera. The reasons vary. Some say it's because they don't know much about the endtimers. Other say they don't want to get involved.
"I left in 1986," says Cutler.
Her mission now is to tell what she experienced during her 13 years as an endtimer.
Charles Meade is now 88 years old. He's never answered questions about what this ministry is all about, but Cutler says she knows from first hand experience.
"It follows a very clear pattern that we know exists in groups that are cults," says Cutler.
Former Endtimer Speaks Out
First Coast News