Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Nelson DeCloud

Real Name: Nelson DeCloud
Aliases: Nelson Lewis
Wanted For: Rape
Missing Since: September 1992


Details: Nelson DeCloud was a former police officer and the leader of a religious cult in Liberty, Missouri. His father, Forrest, originally founded the cult in 1968. Before Forrest died in 1988, Nelson ascended to the role of "spiritual leader". Soon, he moved his followers to an isolated farm in Liberty. Nearly all of the "family members" were encourage to change their last name to DeCloud. He thought that he was one of God's sons.
Julie Cooper was just six when her family joined the cult in the mid-1970s. She later learned that DeCloud expected perverse, almost repulsive forms of devotion from his followers. When she was ten, DeCloud allegedly forced her to watch him have sex with a female member of the cult. He asked her to have sex with him, but she refused. At the time, she was still a child. On a cold day, he forced her to stand outside, alone in a field until she agreed to have sex with him. She stood in the field for eight hours before DeCloud brought her back to the compound.

Julie cooper nelson decloud.jpg

Julie says that another member of the family was publicly humiliated by DeCloud when she confronted him about his cruelty. Julie felt that it was her fault that this was happening. After constant psychological abuse, Julie agreed to have sex with him. She became a virtual prisoner in the compound, forced to be one of his many unwilling sex partners.
When Julie was fifteen, she made her first attempt to escape. However, her absence did not go unnoticed; DeCloud had several people go out and search for her. She was soon found by DeCloud and forcibly taken back to the compound in handcuffs. That night, he ordered her to disrobe. He later beat her severely. After that, he kept her with him at all times.
Seven years passed as Julie hoped for another chance to escape. Then, in the fall of 1992, DeCloud had her contact a satellite repairman named Tim Santi. The two talked for several days. One day, he came to the compound to fix the satellite. When he met her, he felt that something was not quite right. When he met DeCloud, he did not see him as anything other than a regular person. This made Julie feel that she could trust him.
A few days later, he asked her out on a date and she said that she could only go out with him if she sneaked out at night. Shortly before midnight on September 17, 1992, Julie called Tim and asked him to pick her up. At 1:15 am, he went to the compound and picked her up. She told him to leave as quickly as possible. At that point, she told him about the sexual abuse and how she was basically being held against her will by DeCloud and his followers.
At dawn, DeCloud went looking for Julie. He and another follower, masquerading as police officers, went to Tim's address. Fortunately, they ended up in the home of Tim's brother, Ted. Tim and Julie were asleep in the house next door. Ted, not believing that they were officers, chased them out of his home. The next day, he told Tim about the strange incident. He and Julie realized that DeCloud was trying to find her. At that point, they went to the police to report everything that DeCloud had done.
For years, detectives had been suspicious of DeCloud and his cult. Julie gave them a detailed and harrowing account of her childhood in the cult. Before an arrest warrant could be issued, DeCloud gathered the women and children together and had them board several buses with him. They left, and a few days later the male members left as well.
Detectives believe that he and the group are still together. Julie believes that she will not be safe until DeCloud is caught. She also fears for the safety of her family, who is still with the cult.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired May 5, 1993.

DeCloud after his 1993 arrest

Results: Captured. Several viewers reported seeing DeCloud's wife in San Angelo, Texas. The cult had apparently settled in a farmhouse in the area. When state and local agents arrived at the home, DeCloud kicked out the screen of the upper bedroom and tried to flee. However, he was quickly arrested after a brief struggle.
He was extradited to Liberty, Missouri, to stand trial on for criminal counts, including forcible rape and sodomy. Since the arrest, several other members of the cult have come forward, corroborating Julie's statements and alleging further abuse. In September of 1994, Nelson DeCloud was convicted on all four criminal counts. The presiding judge at the trial followed the jury's recommendation, and subsequently sentenced DeCloud to 220 years in prison. DeCloud refused to appeal his case. He later died from natural causes on April 4, 2014 in his prison cell.