ITV America’s crime-focused Good Caper Content production label is partnering with investigative writer and producer Nile Cappello (The Way Down) for a new docuseries examining the alleged cult-like practices of controversial religious group The Twelve Tribes.
Good Caper and Cappello (pictured) are currently developing the series and will soon be taking it to potential buyers.
The Twelve Tribes series will look at the investigation launched in 2017 by journalist Shelton Brown, who believes he discovered evidence of a powerful cult at work while researching a story about a local restaurant in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Through years of research, as well as interviews with former and current Twelve Tribes members, the docuseries will explore the various controversies that have followed the group, ranging from allegations of child abuse and kidnapping to murder.
The Twelve Tribes was founded in Chattanooga in 1972 by a former carnival barker and high school guidance counselor named Gene Spriggs, and claims to seek the restoration of what its members see as the truest form of Christianity. The group has grown to more than 3,000 followers in communal societies across the U.S. and abroad. Spriggs died in 2021, leaving the movement without a formal leader. As of early 2022, a Twelve Tribes property was being investigated in connection with the Marshall Fire, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. As of February of this year, the Boulder sheriff’s office has said the investigation is ongoing.
The organization has been the focal point of various journalistic investigations over the years, ranging from student journalism to reports from major broadcasters and news outlets around the world. The group’s practices and beliefs, including the use of what the group calls on its website “a small, reed-like rod” to discipline children, have also been examined in such series as Netflix’s Explained and A&E’s 2018 series Cults & Extreme Beliefs.
In 2020, a former elder of the sect, based in Australia, was killed in a house fire. A 17-year-old male was charged at the time with murder in connection with the fire, as well as improperly interfering with a corpse and malicious damage by fire. As of August of 2021, the case was still before the courts.
Good Caper’s recent premieres include Oxygen’s New York Homicide, A&E’s BTK: Confession of a Serial Killer and Discovery+’s Fruitcake Fraud. Cappello executive produced HBO Max’s 2021 cult docuseries The Way Down, with part two set to premiere this year.
With files from Barry Walsh.