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By Jack Douglas Jr. and Jason Allen | CBS 11 NEWS |
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – On the outskirts of Arlington, along a quiet, tree-lined road, there is a way of living that most likely is different from yours.
Unlike the police, who raided the group’s home three years ago, thinking they would find drugs, CBS 11 News was invited inside.
They call their community “The Garden of Eden.”
On the day of the raid, police said they didn’t find any drugs.
The group’s leader, Quinn Eaker, said he and the rest of the group are peaceful, caring only about improving their quality of life – naturally.
“There are literally thousands of people who are inspired by me …who maybe even revere me,” the 33-year-old Eaker told us.
He describes himself, in certain terms, as the “life coach” of this group of 12 to 15 people.
Referring to people outside their community, Eaker added: “And then there are thousands of people who think I’m the anti-Christ …or, you know, some cult leader.”
He denies any involvement in a cult.
“To the cult leader thing, what I would say is your friends, who love the Cowboys, are way more of a cult… The government, way more of a cult; the police force, way more of a cult; religion, way more of a cult,” Eaker said.
Members told CBS 11 they are a close-knit, self-sustaining community where they grow and raise their own food, live without plumbing, and re-utilize what others have discarded as trash.
Eaker said that, after finding his calling, he feels “so out of the box… I’m so free.”
The son of an advertising executive, he grew up in Colleyville, became depressed as a teen-ager, dropped out of high school and, as he put it, went on a “pilgrimage” across the country.
“After living out in the woods with nothing but a knife for months on end, living homeless on the streets, eating out of dumpsters, I finally got to a place within myself where I feel complete,” Eaker said.
He eventually met Shellie Smith.
“He is, I would say, the love of my life, someone I have great admiration for,” Smith told CBS 11, adding: “I’ve never seen anybody, or known anybody, who’s ever been so honorable.”
Despite her being older, Smith and Eaker moved in with one another in a relationship he says is “like paradise. Just total perfection.”
But, afterwards, while on a trip to Arizona, Eaker met someone else at a party.
“There was a certain moment when he and I looked into one another’s eyes …just full presence with one another,” said Inok Alrutz, who has since had two children with Eaker, with another child on the way.
Alrutz said Eaker was upfront about his relationship with Smith, but that it didn’t matter.
“We fell in love very hard and fast,” she told us.
Now, Eaker, Smith and Alrutz all live within the small Garden of Eden community, on the southwest edge of Arlington, near Kennedale.
Asked how that living arrangement is working, Eaker said, “Well, you know, it’s been quite a ride, it’s been quite a roller-coaster of experiences.”
During our interview, he bristled a bit when asked about the multiple times child welfare workers have been out to check on his and Alrutz’s young children, who also live with the group.
Eaker said the investigators have left each time, satisfied that his children are well.
“I don’t have to live the way you want me to live. I don’t have to live the way they want me to live,” he told us, his voice slightly rising.
“This is my life. These are my children. They’re happy. They’re healthy. They’re intelligent,” Eaker said.
Everyone was gracious and smiling, offering coffee and food, when CBS 11 spent the day at The Garden of Eden.
That’s no act, said Eaker, adding:
“All I want is for people to live the most awesome life that they can.”
If you want to reach CBS 11′s Senior Investigative Producer Jack Douglas Jr., you can email him at email@example.com. If you want to reach CBS 11′s Jason Allen, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.