Who Is Robert Hale's Papa Pilgrim from Evil Lives Here? (2024 Updates)

By Nathan Johnson Posted:
Robert Hale aka Papa Pilgrim

After years of enduring horrific abuse, Elishaba Doerksen shed some light on the unspeakable acts that her father, Robert Hale (better known as Papa Pilgrim) committed in a new 2024 episode of Investigation Discovery's (ID) Evil Lives Here.

Evil Lives Here, which also streams on Max in addition to being released on ID, is a docu-series that was first released in 2016. It tells the real-life stories of terrible crimes committed through the perpetrator's family members.

Season 15, which recently premiered on February 18, includes an episode centered around Elishaba Doerksen as she gives a firsthand account of all the torture and abuse Papa Pilgrim put her through. She eventually escaped his terror and reported him to authorities.

Who Is Papa Pilgrim?

Robert Hale aka Papa Pilgrim
Robert Hale

Robert Hale, who demanded to be called Papa Pilgrim by his wife and children, was the father of 15 children. According to his eldest daughter, Elishaba Doerksen, in Season 15, Episode 2 of Evil Lives Here (titled "Terror in the Wilderness"), Papa Pilgrim "was a Satan worshiper" who then claimed to be a devout Christian and preacher.

Where the story takes a dark turn, however, is when Doerksen reveals that "he started using religion as a weapon" and as an excuse to abuse his family.

Specifically, Doerksen recalls in the episode that Papa Pilgrim once threatened that she would "be condemned to hell forever:"

"For us, we saw him as a god, and he told me, 'If you go against anything I say, you'll be condemned to hell forever.' I was completely trapped. There was no way out of it. Even if I thought about escaping, there was no escape, ebcause I knew I couldn't escape God."

Prior to the documentary episode, some details regarding Papa Pilgrim and the atrocities he committed against his family were detailed in a memoir that Doerksen wrote titled Out of the Wilderness.

Before Doerksen released this memoir, the only specifics as to what Papa Pilgrim did to the family were only ever heard in a courtroom or a police station. Doerksen did participate in multiple interviews as well, but the memoir provided a grueling in-depth visualization of what she had to go through.

However, Evil Lives Here took things a step further by actually showing viewers the atrocities that came from Robert Hale.

The episode offered the audience a reenactment of certain scenarios such as when Doerksen was beaten to the point she was unrecognizable, when Papa Pilgrim made her watch as they skinned the family dog, and when he forced her to lay in a bathtub with him and proceeded to rape her.

Where Is Papa Pilgrim Now?

Papa Pilgrim committed other unspeakable acts that are talked about in great detail in Evil Lives Here, but Doerksen also goes on to recall when she escaped and when her father was finally arrested.

News reports from Anchorage Daily News from that time highlight how there was an enormous manhunt for Papa Pilgrim and how he was finally arrested and put on trial, but Doerksen is able to give specifics in Evil Lives Here about everything that went on.

In 2007, Robert Hale was finally convicted of 30 counts of rape, coercion, and incest. Shockingly and extremely unfortunately, however, he was only sentenced to 14 years in prison for his unspeakable crimes.

Doerksen revealed in the episode "the last time that [she] saw [her] father," which was after his conviction, and how he still made her feel as though she was being "unfaithful:"

"The last time I saw my father was when they wheeled him out in that wheelchair in handcuffs, and he just gave me that last look of, 'You're the most unfaithful person.'"

However, now in 2024, Robert Hale is nothing but a memory (and unfortunately for Doerksen, her mother, and her siblings a painful one at that).

Doerksen also revealed in the docuseries that her father "[died] of liver failure" in prison on May 26, 2008.

Despite how genuinely sickening Papa Pilgrim was, Doerksen also revealed that one of her brothers tried to visit their father before his death and "[tried] to encourage him to repent," but that he never felt any remorse for his actions and went to the grave trying to convince his family that they were wrong and he was right:

"One of my brothers told me later that he had really spent time with our father trying to encourage him to repent, and he would not. He just said that he was a Godly man, he was righteous, and he had done everything before God right."

Doerksen also revealed that she bravely went and visited Papa Pilgrim's grave on Father's Day in 2015, and at that moment, finally realized that "he had no more grip on [her]" or her life:

"And it was a Father's Day, 2015, when I realized that people celebrate their fathers. I decided that I was going to drive out there to his grave. I just knelt there on that grave and found out how free I really was. He had no more grip on me. "

She even added that it made her feel as though she "was literally a new person:"

I was literally a new person, free from all my own shame that I had carried, all the evil, all his lies. I just wept, and the sky was dark, the clouds were dark, and it just started pouring rain, and I just felt like God was crying with me."

Where Is Elishaba Doerksen Now?

Elishaba Doerksen has obviously had an extremely difficult and heartbreaking life, but she did reveal in Evil Lives Here that she got married "after [her] father was arrested:"

"In the years after my father was arrested, I got married. It was like the best day of my life - I was accepted, I was free, and I was beautiful. I'll never forget looking in the mirror and seeing myself in my wedding dress, and I was like, 'Oh my-- I am really pretty.' To receive that was huge for me. I was beautiful and I was worthy of this."

Doerksen is now able to look back on all that she had to endure, and even though it is likely extremely painful, she is able to see all of the good that came from being "brave enough to continue:"

"Looking back, I'm really glad that I was brave enough to continue and not give up that fight. I saved my family and myself, and I stopped abuse in our family by being brave, and I would encourage anyone, don't give up in the middle of it, because in the moment it was hard, but it was worth it."

Evil Lives Here is available to stream on Max, and new episodes are released every Monday on Investigation Discovery.

- About The Author: Nathan Johnson
Nathan is a writer at The Direct where he covers Star Wars, the MCU, and DC news. He joined The Direct in April 2021 and currently writes news and feature articles about all three brands mentioned above, but his main specialty is his knowledge about anything and everything Star Wars.