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Tonight on AC360:  Mysterious Buddhist yoga retreat death
August 1st, 2012
07:25 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Mysterious Buddhist yoga retreat death

Christie McNally and her husband Ian Thorson wanted a Zen life. That's why they joined a silent retreat that was supposed to consist of three years, three months and three days meditating in the Arizona desert. But less than half way through the retreat, both McNally and Thorson were asked to leave. Then weeks later, 38-year-old Thorson was dead.

There are plenty of questions following the mysterious April death, especially after it was revealed the couple made the fatal decision to escape to a mountain, and stay there in the middle of winter. The coroner's report says Thorson died on that mountain of dehydration and starvation.

Thorson's mother doesn't blame her son or his wife for his death. Instead she's angry with the controversial monk, Michael Roach, who she accuses of running a cult.

The story gets even stranger after the revelation Ms. McNally co-founded the retreat center known as Diamond Mountain University with Roach. Plus, she and Roach were "spiritual partners." They had been secretly married in 1998 and divorced about two years later, just before she married Thorson.

So, what led to McNally and Thorson being booted from the retreat? And what are McNally and Roach doing now? CNN's Miguel Marquez has all the strange twists and turns in this story tonight.


Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. yasmin

    O.K. to join a retreat like this, for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days, you need have issues that could have been resolved in a different way...let's say go to therapy! Now, after they were kicked out, they still stayed there wondering in the mountain and decided to starve and die, sorry....the cult did not physically kill this man, he did. He and his wife should have grab their stuff and go home and approach life in a different way.

    August 1, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  2. kate

    horrified, i have a friend there and I am afraid for her being involved in this mishagosh

    August 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  3. Charles : Mesa, Az

    Michael Roach, is a ligitimate Lama, he's a Tibetan Lama, not a Zen buddhist. Some of the people that have been attracted to his monastery, I do have questions about. Now mind you, I visited there about 11 years ago when the monastery was in its early stages of construction, so whether some of the same people that were there then, are there now, I have no way of knowing. I will never go back there again.

    August 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm |