Is This a Cult?: Ashley, Leisa, Chelsea, David

Reaching Out

One of the ways the group allegedly earns money is by cleaning houses. In an attempt to reach out to Elon and Ashley, a house was rented, and their cleaning company was hired to clean it.

Elon and Ashley's families meet with private investigator Harold Copus and interventionist David Clark to go over the plan. David is a thought reform consultant who has been a facilitating contact between families and their loved ones for more than 20 years. He says he spent two years in a cult himself.

David explains, "We know they have a business of cleaning. We've rented a house and arranged for them to come in and clean it. Hopefully, they'll bring in their equipment and give us some more time, start the cleaning and then [I'll] ask Ashley and Elon to have a conversation, so that we can hopefully have the family come in and share with us. Tomorrow can be a very emotional day, especially for family members. How we interact with them is going to make a difference. So, personal space is going to be important, because it's not our intention to threaten."

[AD]Harold explains that the families will be in another room, and David will speak with Elon and Ashley about meeting with their loved ones.

"Basically, I need a green light from them at least to have a discussion," David tells the families. 

See what happens when the cleaning crew arrives.


Tensions rise when one mom gets a chance to speak with her child.

Back onstage, Leisa wipes away her tears. Dr. Phil notes how difficult it must have been for them to see Ashley and not be able to embrace her. "Our consultant advised you " quite rightly " to give her some space and not give her a reason to say she's being attacked or confronted." He tells them he's proud of how they maintained their composure through what must have been an emotional meeting.

Dr. Phil notes the controlled way Ashley spoke.

"That's the way she speaks," Chelsea says. "It's very controlled. It's very different from how she would naturally speak. Her natural tone came out a little bit, but when she was around us, it was very, very controlled."

"What did you want to say to her?" Dr. Phil asks Chelsea about her twin.

"A part of me just wanted to shake her and say, ‘Wake up!' You don't talk that way to people who you've lived with for over 18 years of your life. You don't talk to somebody that way who you have a history with. Attachment or no attachment, you don't talk to somebody like that as a person. And I was so angry, but at the same time, I just wanted to go, ‘Come back. Where are you? You're not in this body right now. This is not you,'" she says.

Leisa admits she wanted to chase her daughter down when she left.

Dr. Phil asks the mom, "What would you have said if you could've said anything you wanted to say without fear of the impact?"

"I would've said, ‘I want you to come home, just for a while. Just for a visit. Just come home for a little while. And I love you, only on my level. Not at the level where you are right now, with your thoughts of what love is, but on my level, as a mom and a daughter,'" she says.

[AD]Dr. Phil explains that he thinks they got their message out well and that Ashley heard them. "Believe me, there is a voice in her head, and maybe she'll hear it at 3:00 in the morning, maybe she'll hear it at a dark time, but she will hear that the people who have been there all of her life have said, ‘We love you. We want you to be in our lives,'" he says.

"That's what keeps us going," Leisa says.

"That was not wasted," he says. "In that dark moment, that meeting alone may be what turns her."

Dr. Phil asks David, "Are we dealing with a cult here?"

"I believe so," he says. "Based on the story we just heard. I have heard this many times, from many families who describe the same characteristics."

"We have a twin here, so we have a pretty close version of Ashley, in terms of life experiences and all, and it is almost beyond comprehension to think of a young woman like this " like Chelsea, who is so bright, so articulate, so tuned in, so aware " could be pulled into something like that."

"I believe vulnerability is the issue," David says.

Dr. Phil agrees. "We all want to belong somewhere. We all want to be a part of something, and that's what you're talking about. If you catch someone at a point where they feel kind of disconnected with the world, and then here is someone coming, making big promises and saying, â€˜We love you,' and ‘We accept you for who you are,' etc., that can be very seductive."

Since Elon didn't show up at the house cleaning, Iris and her son, Song, go with Harold Copus to Golden Elk's property, in an attempt to see Elon. From behind the closed door, a woman asks them to leave. She won't answer their questions or acknowledge that Golden Elk exists. A frustrated Iris tells her, "I'm leaving now, but I'm not done!"

[AD]As Iris speaks to a neighbor, the woman from the house comes outside and asks them to leave.

See what happens when Iris makes contact with her son.

Iris was ecstatic when Elon called her back and arranged to meet her the following Saturday, so they could talk face to face.

Will Elon meet with his mother in person?

"Do you think he was being scripted or being coached?" Dr. Phil asks Iris.

"Yes, absolutely," Iris says.

Kelly gives more insight into her ex-husband: "Clemente liked to be looked up to. He would often bring vulnerable young people " particularly women. He never got along with men. He always liked the women " He would bring women home who were seeking, and then we'd go into lodges, and he would just start telling these stories and giving advice that I knew was absolutely false, or that he was making up, pretending that this was the wisdom of the ancestors, and I just knew it was crap. And I couldn't support it, and I couldn't stand by it, and I knew these people were very vulnerable and likely to make big decisions based on this manipulative man," she says. Kelly explains that through the years, Clemente would have falling outs with all kinds of people. "He always demanded respect that he didn't earn. He just didn't get along with men. He always has to be the top dog."

David offers advice for the two families. He recommends that Iris internalize the past week's contact and interactions. "There are things that were connecting. You felt that and saw that, you saw the same thing with Ashley and her mom. It has to be measured. It has to be in digestible bites, or else it'll be too overwhelming," he says. He also says she needs to let the dust settle now and learn to manage her reactions. Then she can develop a more measured approach. And finally, he recommends she consider letting her other son, Song, call Elon and set up the next meeting and let him build a bridge to communicate.

[AD]For Leisa and Chelsea, David recommends they let some time pass and develop a plan for measured contact. "It could be through another relationship, where it's not threatening. Not only that, there aren't the emotional walls that have been built up, and you don't have that history. There could be a reconnection there, and it could get more normal in certain, again, measured ways," he says.