Wells, TX is a small town shrouded in a big mystery. Today and Monday, Dr. Phil will investigate the Church of Wells, a group that people claim indoctrinates, drugs and holds members against their wills. Dr. Phil spoke with CBS Local about what he learned about this group, and two people’s experiences in the church.
The Church of Wells story is pretty remarkable. A big reason for that is that there’s so much mystery around the group. What information do we know about the group itself?
The information that we get in the show today is from a young man named Jordan who was an outreach minister himself in Austin, TX. He was approached by two elders of the church, they called themselves elders. They’re actually young men that appeared to be in their 20’s or 30’s. They approached him and wanted to talk to him about his religion and his beliefs. He says the next thing he knows, they give him a bottle of water, which he believes to have been laced with drugs. He then is driven for hours to Wells, TX, a very small town in east Texas where the Church of Wells is located. He thinks he’s there for five days before his family ultimately gets him out. He says he is habitually drugged while he’s there. The reason he says this is because they did lab work on him as soon as he got out, and there were drugs in his blood that he didn’t take before he went in. He says he didn’t take drugs like that before he went in, his family says he didn’t take drugs like that before he went in. But they were in his blood when he came out. Now of course, the church would say, he might have been taking those drugs and not telling his parents. It’s hard to prove where these things came from that got into his blood. His brother Ian finally finds him by tracking his cell phone. When they get there, it takes hours before these people will let him even see his family members. They won’t let them talk to him alone, there’s big shouting matches. And he says they’re telling him, your family doesn’t love you, they’re evil, you don’t want to be with them, we’re the only people that care about you, you need to stay here with us. So it just seems an awful lot like he’s being indoctrinated although the church totally denies this.
You also spoke to the parents of a current member, Catherine, who claim that she is being held against her will. Have they managed to make any contact with her? What do we know about her current status?
They have had some contact with her. She has been there, reportedly, since 2013, and they say she has made four attempts to escape. One of those attempts, she actually got all the way back home. They said once she was there, she became very agitated. I don’t know whether she was in drug withdrawal or what was going on, but she was very agitated, and just felt pulled back to the Church of Wells. She just had to go back there. They had videos from her speaking inside the church. I’ve seen those videos, and I have to tell you, they look forced to me. They look like these prisoner of war videos where somebody’s on their knees and being forced to say things about America, for example. They didn’t seem natural, they didn’t seem voluntary, they didn’t seem organic. They seemed to me to be very forced. They believe this is a cult for certain. We have dash cam video of when a sheriff encountered her. She seemed disoriented, didn’t know where she was going, where she wanted to go. When you go on the internet, you find all this research about the Church of Wells, which says cult, caution, stay away. But again, the church denies everything. It’s a very intriguing situation.
Even though Wells is a small town, there is a community of people there not affiliated with the church. What is the attitude of residents in Wells towards the church?
We did speak to one neighbor, who is a pastor in a mainline church there. He is very concerned about what’s going on over there. He says there are buildings that they go in that he thinks are kind of sweat lodges, where people are seriously indoctrinated without food, water or sleep. He says he sees and hears very unusual things going on over there. He has had confrontations with the church leadership. He is very upset about it. We talked to other people in the town who said, we’ve heard things about them but we haven’t had any trouble with them, they don’t make trouble, they come into town, they do what they need to do, they go back to the church, they stay to themselves. They do exist in this small town but they’re very isolated.
“The Dr. Phil Show” investigates the Church of Wells today and Monday, Apr. 30. For more info, please check your local listings.