A Near-Death Experience Leads Woman to Form Murderous Cult
Rhoda Sly was only 13 years old in 1800 when she married Ira Wakeman.
A man ten years her senior, Ira would beat Rhoda throughout the entirety of their nearly 30 year long marriage.
In a drunken rage one night, Ira tied Rhoda to a chair and set fire beneath her. He proceeded to stab her with a piece of burning wood.
After this experience, Rhoda claimed to have died and to have risen up to heaven, only to be granted life again and returned to earth as a prophet of God.
And thus, the Wakemanite movement was born.
Rhoda gained a large following of Wakemanites after preaching to the inhabitants of Connecticut and convincing them that her husband had made a pact with the devil. This lead to the Wakemanites' brutal assault of Ira. His consequential death was dismissed as simply a result of being in league with Satan himself.
Anyone who dared to challenge the word of Rhoda Wakeman would be called out as a Satanic heretic.
After taking a bribe from one of her followers, Rhoda decided that accepting a payout from a "man of sin" put herself and the rest of the Wakemanites in a bad place with God, and insisted that the group offer up a living sacrifice. Follower Justus Matthews was chosen to be this sacrifice.
Rhoda convinced her band of followers that Justus had been possessed by the Devil. The exorcism began with praying and shouting, but ultimately ended with his murder.
The court found the Wakemanites, including Rhoda, as not-guilty by reason of insanity. They were sent to live out their days at the Insane Retreat in Hartford.