By Brian Birmingham

I recently interviewed a former member of the Roberts group (aka The Brethren, “Garbage Eaters”).

The Roberts group, established and led by Jim Roberts, is known as one of the most controlled, restrictive and enigmatic groups in America. It’s members, nick named the “garbage eaters,” for their habit of scrounging for food in dumpsters.

The group members have wandered about North America, Central America, South America, Europe and Africa, fund raising and at times recruiting college students, who then would disappear for decades.

Known for their total isolation and nomadic lifestyle the families of members frequently searched in vain for their loved ones. Typically, there was little if any communication with family and old friends, which was strictly controlled by Roberts.

Since the death of Jim Roberts in 2015 the group has undergone several substantial changes in its leadership and practices according to the former member I interviewed.

Jim Roberts

First of all, the group is no longer led by one man, but instead is now run by a small council of “older brothers,” who were appointed by Roberts before he died.

These designated leaders are David Kurtz (known as “David” in the group), Jerry Williams (known as “Hatzair”), Jonathan Schmidt (known as “Johannon”) and Channon Lill (known as “Hopeful”).

Bart Wilcox (known as “Zephaniah”) was also originally one of the appointed elders, but it’s been reported that he married, and was replaced by Lill.

The group is apparently now relaxing some of its strict rules involving marriage, communications with family, as well communications with former members.

Today they’ve got no real base or headquarters, but are now reportedly in Flagstaff Arizona, Knoxville, Tennessee, Asheville, North Carolina and Denver, Colorado. These locations are apparently maintained more or less permanently.

The leaders or elders listed above have phone numbers and email addresses, and one of them is known to have a positive relationship with a former member with whom he is in contact.

However, even with all of these relatively major changes the group remains very secretive. And they do not want to be easily found.

There are certain things that are not known about their current practices.

For example: are there still so-called “bozo camps,” where supposedly troublesome members are assigned and sent to for punishment?

Does the group continue to abandon especially problematic members?

In the past problem members often would be sent to bozo camp only to find out that there was no one there, and that everyone there had left the location before the problem member arrived.

Does the Roberts group still do this?

What are their recruitment tactics like today?

There are many unknowns that remain about how the Roberts group is run today by its current elders/leaders.

It does seem that fewer people are joining the group and then disappearing, which greatly distressed families.

It also seems like there are fewer people leaving.

CultNews could not find out how many minor children are now part of the group.

The group is also aging.

Some of the men Jim Roberts hand picked as elders are now entering their seventies.

What will happen to the group as the older members begin to die?

Most personality-driven groups called “cults” wither and disintegrate after the establishing founder/leader is gone.

Perhaps the Roberts group too, will follow that pathway to ultiamate extinction.

Note: Researcher Brian Birmingham was the first to uncover the medical examiner’s report concerning the death of Jim Roberts.


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