Robert Hale, aka Papa Pilgrim, beat and raped his children in the Alaskan wilderness: Evil Lives Here investigates

Police tape

Evil Lives Here on ID is taking another look at the horrific crimes of Robert “Bobby” Hale, aka Pilgrim Papa, a fundamentalist preacher who abused his 15 children and his wife for decades as they lived in a remote area of Alaska.

In 1998, Hale moved the family of 17 from New Mexico to Alaska, where they began living in the wilderness in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Hale described himself as a pious Christian who supposedly followed the Bible using his own interpretation.

He kept his family in total isolation. They didn’t attend any churches or schools and didn’t know how to read.

The Hale family achieved a level of fame when they got into a high-profile access dispute with the National Park Service for access to their home. They eventually lost the battle in the courts, but many of the public felt sympathy for the seemingly simple pious life led by the family.

However, behind the scenes, Hale was a violent, controlling thug who tortured his family with a mix of physical beatings and sexual abuse. He would regularly fly into a rage, particularly when he was drinking.

Hale would tie his children to the “whipping barrel” and mercilessly slash them with a riding crop. He was also sexually abusing his own daughters. When the baby’s crying irritated him, he would hold the child’s nose and mouth until the baby turned blue.

Robert Hale condoned his abuse by claiming it was God’s will

The monster told his family that he was punishing them for their sins and that it was God’s will. He insisted his wife call him “Lord.”

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Sometime in 2004, Hale locked one of his daughters in a shed and refused to let her out for a long time. He then raped and beat her until she was black and blue. Hale justified this abuse by referring to a verse from the Bible, which he claimed permitted him to keep his daughter as his sexual plaything.

Around this time, the children started trying to stand up to their father. They had become friendly with another family living in the area and began to realize their existence was not normal. Some of the older children ran away.

Robert Hale was finally imprisoned for his crimes of abuse

Eventually, in 2005, some family members approached state troopers and revealed the mistreatment by Robert Hale. He was arrested in October 2005.

In 2007, Hale took a plea deal and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He died in jail in 2008, aged 64.

His eldest daughter, Elishaba Doerksen, has written a book about the horrific experiences of her and her siblings called Out of the Wilderness.

This episode of Evil Lives Here re-airs Thursday at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.

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