A British citizen who has gone missing with his Australian partner, their six-year-old daughter and a 40-year-old housemate may be more of a “conman than a cult leader”, according to a West Australian cult expert.
Simon Kadwill, 45, his partner Chantelle McDougall, 27, their daughter Leela and housemate Antonio Popic have not been seen for nine months since they took their belongings, sold their car and left their rented rural house in the tiny bush town of Nannup, 280km southwest of Perth.
While police remained tight-lipped on their missing person investigation, religious group expert Adrian van Leen said Mr Kadwill, aka Kadwell or Kaddy, had written the New Age book Servers of the Divine Plan. Police confirmed the man had several aliases.
The book, which prophesises the birth of a new world of higher consciousness following the end of a 75,000-year cycle, has sold 4000 copies since its 1999 release. But yesterday its publisher, Esoteric Publishing, a California-based company, withdrew the title from sale. “This publishing house was founded to help people find their own way to truth, not to support cults and other fanaticism. I am removing the book from publication immediately,” a statement from publisher Brett Mitchell said on the company’s website yesterday.
Mr Mitchell would not confirm who wrote the book, saying he had “promised not to”, but he said Esoteric Publishing had paid royalties to the author. It was not known how recently payments were made.
Mr van Leen said Mr Kadwill had in the past promoted himself as a “higher being”, who needed very little sleep.
He said Mr Kadwill was not involved in a “doomsday cult” that would commit group suicide. “It doesn’t have the hallmarks of a Waco (cult),” Mr van Leen said.
Nannup locals said the group’s members kept to themselves and were hardly seen around the town. Ms McDougall worked at the local fish and chip shop. Both men received Centrelink payments while Leela was home-schooled.
Perth detectives said earlier this week that very little was known about Mr Kadwill, except for the fact he had been in Australia for seven years. They had checked immigration, Medicare and Centrelink records, but had found no trace of the group or whether they had attempted to leave the country.
Ms McDougall’s Victorian parents reported her and Leela missing last October after discovering they had not gone on an overseas holiday as Ms McDougall had told them.
None of the group’s bank accounts have been touched since July 13 last year.