THE DREAM AND THE REALITY
A STUDY IN CULTS
Articles Collected by Dee Finney
WHAT IS A CULT?
By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult means a system
HOW THIS PAGE CAME ABOUT . . . 'THE DREAM'
|10-27-00 - DREAM -
I was in a huge kitchen. Dinner was over. Two men were in the room ... a dark haired man and a light haired man. Between them, they stained 4 tablecloths.
I was soaking laundry to be washed, so I planned to wash the stained tablecloths along with the soaked laundry.
The washer was like an Easy spinner washer and I took the lid of the spinner part where I was soaking earlier laundry. (For those who don't know what an Easy spinner washer is, it is a two section machine with a large round washer tub and an attached smaller round spinner tub.) The water in the washer part was bluish looking. I reached down and pulled out two beautiful soft Indian blankets. There were also some towels.
When the water drained down, a dark boy and girl found some black fish swimming at the bottom of the tub. It appeared at first that they were swimming in the air just above the bottom of the tub which was now square and deep. They commented that they were 'black-water' fish. The fish were all small, but black. The largest one I saw had a gold stripe on it.
Though the water drained down, there was still a lot of water in what was now a square tub and the water was clear like a fish tank. The dark girl stood under the water which was at least a foot over the top of her head and I watched her to see if she was breathing. It appeared that she was blowing out her own air as her chest was moving in and out like she was breathing, but there were no air bubbles. After some minutes, she came up out of the water and took a deep breath. I asked her how she had stayed under the water so long, and she stated that it was very difficult.
I now had to transplant some plants for spring and there was a man and woman there who were watching over the old plants.
In the dirt, which was placed in the same big water tub which was still square, I was making space to put in the new plants, but was burying them on top of what looked like little WHITE stuffed animals like rabbits and teddy bears. I lay the stuffed animals in the dirt like they were being buried like sacrifices and placed the new plants on top of them. These new plants would take root and bloom again.
At the same time, there was a live baby there and I had to make sure he didn't get buried along with the stuffed toys.
THE SAME DAY I HAD THE DREAM, WE SAW THIS MOVIE
A Horror Mystery - 1986
Cast and Credits - John Schlesinger (Director) - Jimmy Smits (Actor) - Martin Sheen (Actor) - Helen Shaver (Actor)
The movie begins with the wife making coffee for her loving husband (Martin Sheen). While she was doing this, her son spills the milk he was going to drink for breakfast. She sees the coffee maker is having a problem, and unfortunately stands in the milk while messing with the defective coffee maker. She is electrocuted. Her husband and son can only stand there and watch her die because they don't dare touch her.
But movie goes to a deeper, more disturbing place, with Martin Sheen as the recently widowed police psychiatrist who gets drawn into a grisly serial killer case that has occult implications.
Director John Schlesinger keeps things shadowy for a long while, teasing us with a freaked-out murder suspect (Jimmy Smits), who keeps ranting about what "they" are doing to him and how nobody can stop "them."
Soon enough though, the evil becomes quite palpable, in the form of a Santeria sect with surprisingly upscale Manhattanite membership, which Martin Sheen gets drawn to when he investigates a boys home which helps kids trying to get off of drugs. It is being run by some suspicious and evil looking men.
At a party, which was attended by Martin Sheen and his new landlady (a real looker), they see the evil-looking guy up on a balcony watching the crowd below. The landlady sneaks up to the balcony and finds the evil guy's office while pretending to go to the bathroom. She sees a black table cloth over a square object and pulls it up to find that underneath is a deep square fish tank with fish swimming around a large skull sitting on the bottom. (Note the similarity to the dream fish tank)
At the party is a black man from Africa which the evil guy says is his son. The black man is really scary looking because it looks like his eyes roll back into his head when he stares at people. (There are dark scary scenes of African religious ceremonies taking place in the past interspersed into these modern scenes)
The landlady thinks she has gotten away with the knowledge of the fishtank with the skull in it, but one of the nasty kids sees her and puts something even more nasty onto her face powder in the bathroom. She prettily daubs the powder on her face when she gets back to the bathroom. Over the next few days, she gets a huge sore on her face where she had put the powder and ends up in the hospital when a horrible creature crawls out of her face. She survives the ordeal, but somehow you know she isn't having any fun.
As the movie progresses, we find out that the evil man lost his son in Africa, and thereafter adopted the black man who was a child at the time. Martin Sheen feels sorry for him until he finds out how the man's own child died. He was sacrificed into Santeria.
Martin Sheen's son gets stolen by the witch-like lady and her husband living downstairs that he has befriended. He thinks they just took the boy fishing, not knowing that they are connected to the evil man from the party. The evil man and the Santerian black man steal the son and Martin Sheen has to chase after them. Martin Sheen's best friend gets killed in the process.
Martin Sheen finds out about the Santerian group when the evil man wants Martin Sheen to sacrifice his first born son in order to join the group that the evil man sacrificed his own first born son to.
Martin Sheen is able to stop the sacrifice of his son, while the priest is holding a sacrificed white chicken over the child dribbling its fresh blood all over his chest.
Martin Sheen, the evil man, the Santerian black man priest, and the son all run around wildly in the metal warehouse that has see-thru floors and walls of metal bars. Between guns, blow guns with poison darts, punching, kicking, and tricks, the bad guys die and the good guys win. Wow!
When I saw that square fish tank under the black table cloth, I put 2 and 2 together and came out with this page.
|"Santeria" and "Macumba" (from Nigeria):
In Nigeria, the Ju-Ju tribe of the Yoruba culture has a religion with 600 gods who are demons, because the "false gods" are "demons" (Psa. 96:5).
They came to Cuba and Brazil with the slaves.
From Cuba, with the name "Santeria", they came to Miami, New York... only in Miami there are 20,000 santero-priests (babalaos).
In Brazil its name is "Macumba" (sanctuary), and only in Rio de Janeiro there are 65,000 temples, with 40 million Brazilians combining Christian beliefs with Spirit worship.
Both in Cuba and Brazil 25 gods-demons were given the names of "Catholic Saints", therefore, the new name "Santeria" in Spanish, or "Macumba" (sanctuary), in Portuguese.
The supreme deity, and the father of all the gods, is "Olurun", represented by Jesus Christ on the cross. But the 3 most popular are "Obatalá" (O.L. of Mercy"); "Changó" (St. Barbara); and "Ochún" (Virgin of Charity)... but these gods are no God, they practice adultery, homosexuality, incest, they hate and fight each other... for example, "Yemayá" (Virgin of Regla), had 14 children in incest-impossible relations with her son "Orungán" (Baby Jesus)... there are "gods-demons"!... demons!... (Psalm 96:5)
To become a "santero" it may cost $10,000, with the right to use the "snail shells" for divination or magic, charging about $500 for each work of magic; those who do not have the $10,000, can became "smaller santeros", but they only can use "coconuts" for their divination or magic.
To become a "santero-priest", a "babalao", is more expensive, but he has the right to offer "sacrifices of animals" for magic.
Santeria is based on an ancient African religion that metamorphosed into Santeria in the New World. When hundreds of thousands of members of the Yoruba people were brought as slaves from Eastern Africa (mostly modern Nigeria) to Cuba, they were prohibited from practicing their religion openly. In the process of syncretion, Yoruba people mixed their faith with the Catholicism of their captors and owners, and began to practice "Santeria," -- "the way of the saints." Yoruba spirits, "orishas," are given devotion through the iconography of Catholicism. Many Santeria gods have a dual identity with a Catholic saint. Some of the religious rites of Santeria involve the sacrifice of animals.
Sacrifices are performed to mark significant events such as birth, marriage and death, or when new members or priests are initiated. Chickens, goats, doves, pigeons and turtles are among the animals sacrificed. The animals are killed in a ritual manner by cutting the carotid artery. The sacrificed animal may be cooked and eaten, except when used in healing and death rituals.
Human sacrifice: Apparently Constanzo believed that the spirits of the dead would work more assiduously in his favour if he killed them personally, and he seemed to believe -- rightly or wrongly -- that human sacrifice had historical precedents in Palo.
The Nigerian Orisha religion, upon which Santeria is based, practiced human sacrifice until the 1860's when it was judicially prohibited by the British Colonial Administration. Some human sacrifices were conducted after that date, although their number radically decreased after the prohibition, as now those who participated in these sacrifices could be put to death for murder.
There are still rather strict rules concerning human sacrifice, as well as Animal Sacrifice. The former are taught occasionally to those who study the Orisha religion.
Interestingly enough, the rules for human sacrifice are quite similar to those taught to Initiates of Kali Worship in India, where human sacrifice was also abolished by the British Colonial Authority in the 1860's.
In Yorubaland, human sacrifice was a regular part Orisha worship. The orishas gladly took the blood of human sacrificial victims, usually these victims were from opposing tribes that were captured in battle and even members of the same tribe itself were offered to the Orisha in times of draught, disease and disaster. An excellent book is entitled, "Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites" by Omosade Awolalu, the head of the religious study department for the University of Ibadan for the past 18 years.
The Orishas do indeed take human blood as part of the sacrificial offering, with the practice dating back to early Yoruba civilization until the early 1900's and in some parts, still practiced secretly today.
|"Abacua" and "Candomble" (from Nigeria):
Also from Nigeria came the "Abacua" to Cuba, and the "Candomble" to Brazil, mainly to the Bahia area. They are worse than the Santeria, using mainly "black magic", to take vengeance, to injury or even to kill an enemy. They may offer to the gods "humans", instead of animal sacrifices.
"Palo Mayombe", "Umbanda" (from Congo):
Both came from the bantus tribes of Congo; "Palo Mayombe" to Cuba, and "Umbanda" to Brazil... They are the worse!... they use black magic to destroy or kill an enemy... instead of the snail shells used by the santeros, the "paleros" use the "kettle", the "nganga", a boiler, where they put parts of a human cadaver recently killed, plus the cadaver of a black dog, and scorpions, worms, plants... and they introduce in it 28 "palos" (sticks), the basis of their black magic.
"Voodoo" and "Hoodoo" (from Begin):
From the kingdom of Dahomy, in the present country of Begin, the "Voodoo" or "Vadium" came to Haiti, and from Haiti to New Orleans and Mississippi, with the name of "Hoodoo".
It is the religion of the "serpent", the supreme god-devil, "Dambalah"... and the "Great Zombie".
The priest, Queen or King, Mama or Papa, is mostly a woman, the "mambo"... and their feasts end up in a naked orgy, adoring the serpent, with the use of stimulant and aphrodisiac incenses, plus the drinking of drugs, mainly "tafia"...
In New Orleans is very private, with many government regulations... but in Haiti they have a "tour" to bring you to a real Woodoo session... and you are going to get it, the "power", the "gris-gris", with the odor and smoke of the incense, even if you don't drink any tafia... you may "become like a zombie" for 3 weeks, with a terrible headache for over a year.
In Santeria, the 'Right of the Knife,' a religious ritual that gives the Initiated Santero (Priest or Priestess) the right to sacrifice four legged animals, (as differentiated from chickens which everyone is assumed to have the right to sacrifice) is a very complex ceremony. In Yorubaland, people who had applied for this 'Right of the Knife' have occasionaly been denied this right in the middle of the ceremony, despite the fact that a divination by Ifa approving the performance of the ceremony is required before the ceremony may be performed at all.
The person who performs a human sacrifice must have the 'Right of the Knife,' and also be approved by divination through Ifa for that particular sacrifice. The rest of the rules are too complex to include here, and it would reveal some of the 'Secrets of the Santeros'.
It is worth noting that the first five categories of 'choice,' or 'very acceptable' human sacrifices include those who volunteer to be sacrificed, from (1) priests who volunteer to be sacrificed to the Orisha of their head to (5) slaves purchased from miscellaneous contributions who volunteer to be sacrificed.
John M Hansen
The loss of life by the Heaven's Gate membership was a suicide. The members were convinced that they would be transported, at death, to a space ship where they would evolve to a higher level of existence.
Heaven's Gate is a destructive, doomsday cult centered in California. 21 women and 18 men voluntarily committed suicide in three groups on three successive days starting on 1997-MAR-23. Most were in their 40's; the rest covered an age range of 20 to 72.
"Heaven's Gate" was the latest of three organizations founded by Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie "Ti" Lu Truesdale Nettles, a.k.a. "The Two." The first was Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM) which they organized in 1975. They traveled to the Colorado desert to wait for the arrival of a UFO. None came. Bonnie Nettles died of cancer in 1985. Applewhite organized a new group called Total Overcomers Anonymous or "TOA" in 1993. They placed an ad in USA Today, announcing that the Earth's present civilization was about to be "recycled." Applewhite originally went by the nickname "Bo", and more recently was called "Do" (pronounced "Doe"). Marshall moved to San Diego County CA with the group, now renamed "Heaven's Gate", and lived on to become one of the 39 suicides.
They followed a syncretistic religion, combining elements of Christianity with unusual beliefs about the nature of UFOs. They interpreted passages from the four gospels and the book Revelation as referring to UFO visitation. In particular, they emphasized a story in Revelation which described two witnesses who are killed, remained dead for 3 1/2 days, were revived and taken up into the clouds. They look upon earth as being in the control of evil forces, and perceived themselves as being among the elite who would attain heaven. They held a profoundly dualistic belief of the soul as being a superior entity which is only housed temporarily in a body. Applewhite said that bodies were only "the temporary containers of the soul...The final act of metamorphosis or separation from the human kingdom is the 'disconnect' or separation from the human physical container or body in order to be released from the human environment."
They believe that about 2000 years ago, a group of extra-terrestrials came to earth from the Kingdom of Heaven (the "Next Level"). One of these was "Do". He was given instructions by "Ti", his female companion, whom he referred to as his "Heavenly Father." He left his body behind, transported to Earth in a space-ship, and incarnated (moved into) a human body, that of Jesus Christ. A second group of extra-terrestrials returned to earth, starting in the 1920's. Do was the Captain of this expedition; Ti was the Admiral. They each moved into a human body, but somehow became scattered. Do and Ti held public meetings to disseminate their beliefs. They were pleasantly surprised to find that most of their converts were the long-lost crew members.
Members called themselves brother and sister; they looked upon themselves as monks and nuns; they lived communally in a large, rented San Diego County (CA) home which they called their monastery. Most members had little contact with their families of origin or with their neighbors. Many followed successful professional careers before entering the group. Some abandoned their children before joining. They were free to leave at any time. They dressed in unisex garments: shapeless black shirts with Mandarin collars, and black pants. They were required commit themselves to a celibate life. Eight of the male members, including Do, submitted to voluntary castration. This seems to have been a form of preparation for their next level of existence: in a life that would be free of gender, sexual identity and sexual activity.
The group supported themselves through a commercial effort called Higher Source which designed WWW pages for a profit. They also used the Internet as a recruitment tool; they have a site called Heaven's Gate. On their site, Applewhite (calling himself the "Present Representative") drew parallels between himself and the spirit from Heaven that occupied the body of Jesus Christ. Their main page says: "As was promised - the keys to Heaven's Gate are here again in Ti and Do (The UFO Two) as they were in Jesus and His Father, 2000 years ago". They discussed their task is "to work individually on our personal overcoming and change, in preparation for entering the Kingdom of Heaven." Their web site was taken over by the FBI, but some individuals were able to download the site files and create mirrors at various locations.
Marshall Herff Applewhite was gay. There are rumors that he had one or more affairs with male students when he was a music teacher. He is believed to have checked himself in to a hospital over two decades ago in order to overcome his homosexual feelings. This occurred when many therapists believed that a person's sexual orientation could be changed. Needless to say, the therapy was unsuccessful. One theory being proposed is that he was unable to accept his sexual orientation because of the homophobia that he had absorbed during his youth. This motivated him to live an celibate life and to create a group which also suppressed their sexual behavior. Another theory is that among UFO groups, there is a widespread belief that extra-terrestrials have no vocal cords, an atrophied digestive system and no sexual organs. This is symbolic of three common religious disciplines: silence, fasting and celibacy. Perhaps Applewhite was attempting to emulate both the UFO inhabitants and ancient Christian tradition.
In common with many other UFO groups, they believe that UFOs are inter-stellar space ships operated by extra-terrestrial beings who are attempting to bring humanity to a higher level of knowledge. However, they have a belief not shared by other UFO groups: that by committing suicide together at the correct time, they will leave their containers (bodies) behind. The soul goes to sleep until it is "replanted" in another container. Eventually, the soul will be grafted onto a representative of the "level above human." The latter will be on-board a UFO space ship such as the one that they believe is currently hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet. A video tape taken shortly before their suicides showed them to be excited about the future. The timing of the suicide was apparently triggered by the arrival of Easter, and by the closest approach to earth of the comet, which they regarded as a celestial "marker". The timing was apparently unrelated to the Spring Equinox of MAR-20. They feared persecution, death, arrest, physical torture or psychological torture while they remained on earth. They felt that this persecution would come from outside their group - either from "some irate individual or from "the powers that control this world." There is one report that the group had a large cache of weapons and ammunition.
A couple of the surviving members of the group who did not "leave" have been maintaining their web site at http://www.heavensgate.com and distributing materials and information that the group left behind. During the 1980's the group made over 500 audio tapes of their secluded classroom teachings. They also made 11 video tapes and wrote a large anthology of their teachings. The survivors have digitized over 200 hours of those audio tapes, and about 20 hours of Video material and stored the entire archive on three CD-ROM's which can be played on a computer using the RealPlayer technology. They feel it is important to offer this world a permanent record of this groups activities. They are making the CD's themselves available at no charge, asking only that the shipping charges be covered by the recipient. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address to receive the material.
A Christian-UFO believing group. Total body count: 39 dead.
The UFO group that proceeded Heaven's Gate is described in: Jacques Vallee, "Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults", Ronin Publishers (1979).
Roy Wallis, Ed, "Bo and Peep: A Case Study of the Origins of Messianic Leadership In Millennialism and Charisma", Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, (1982)
James R. Lewis, Ed., "The Gods have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds", State University of New York Press, Albany, NY (1995).
Robert W. Balch & David Taylor. "Salvation in a UFO.", Psychology Today 10 (1976)
Robert W. Balch, "Seekers and Saucers: The Role of the Cultic Milieu in Joining a UFO Cult.", American Behavioral Scientist 20, no. 6 (1977), P. 839-60.
Author: B.A. Robinson
|JIM JONES - PEOPLE'S TEMPLE
Many, perhaps most, of the People's Temple victims were murdered. Details are sketchy because of the advanced state of decomposition of the bodies when investigators arrived.
This was a Christian destructive, doomsday cult founded and led by James Warren Jones (1931-1978). Jim Jones held degrees from Indiana University and Butler University. He was not a Fundamentalist pastor as many reports in the media and the anti-cult movement claim. He belonged to a mainline Christian denomination, having been ordained in the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ. (At the time of his ordination, the DoC allowed a local congregation to select and ordain a minister on their own. However, ordinations conducted without denominational endorsement were not considered valid within the rest of the church.)
The Peoples Temple was initially structured as an inter-racial mission for the sick, homeless and jobless. He assembled a large following of over 900 members in Indianapolis IN during the 1950's. "He preached a 'social gospel' of human freedom, equality, and love, which required helping the least and the lowliest of society's members. Later on, however, this gospel became explicitly socialistic, or communistic in Jones' own view, and the hypocrisy of white Christianity was ridiculed while 'apostolic socialism' was preached." 1 When an investigation began into his cures for cancer, heart disease and arthritis, he decided to move the group to Ukiah in Northern California. He preached the imminent end of the world in a nuclear war; Ukiah was judged to be as safe as any when war broke out. They later moved to San Francisco and Los Angeles. After an expose during the mid 1970's in the magazine New West raised suspicions of illegal activities within the Temple, he moved some of the Temple membership to Jonestown, Guyana. The Temple had leased almost 4,000 acres of dense jungle from the government. They established an agricultural cooperative there, called the "Peoples Temple Agricultural Project." They raised animals for food, and assorted tropical fruits and vegetables for consumption and sale.
Jones developed a belief called Translation in which he and his followers would all die together, and would move to another planet for a life of bliss. Mass suicides were practiced in which his followers pretended to drink poison and fell to the ground.
During the late 1970's, Jones had been abusing prescription drugs and appears to have become increasingly paranoid. Rumors of human rights abuses circulated. This motivated Leo Ryan, a Congressman, to visit Jonestown in 1978-NOV for a personal inspection. At first, the visit went well. Later, on NOV-18, about 16 Temple members decided that they wanted to leave Jonestown with the visitors. This came as quite a blow to both Jones and the rest of the project. While Ryan and the others were waiting at the local airstrip, some heavily armed members of the Temple's security guards arrived and started shooting. Congressman Ryan and four others were killed; 11 were wounded. Fearing retribution, the project members discuss their options. They reach a consensus to commit group suicide. 638 of his adult followers and 276 children died. Some committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced kool-aid. Others appear to have been murdered by poison injection or by being shot. A few fled into the jungle and survived. The bodies were in a state of extensive decay when the authorities arrived. There was no time to conduct a thorough investigation.
The Peoples Temple organization did not survive the mass suicide/murder in Guyana. Their former headquarters building in San Francisco was demolished by the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.
The murder/suicide of over 900 people sent shockwaves through the world. It generated enormous public support for the anti-cult and counter-cult movements, which continues today. As with many major political assassinations or mass murders, Jonestown has spawned a number of conspiracy theories which attempt to explain this remarkable occurrence:
Some people believe that the People's Temple was an experimental laboratory operated for or by the CIA in order to perfect mind-control techniques. We have not been able to uncover any hard evidence that would support this belief.
The anti-cult movement also cites mind-control techniques by Jim Jones and his officials as the cause of the disaster. Some surviving members claim that they were exposed to mind-control methods. However, others claim that it was the best experience of their life.
Some in the academic community view the disaster as having been primarily caused by the hounding of Jonestown by anti-cult groups, news reporters and federal investigative agencies. If this theory is true, then the mass death at Jonestown was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The views of the anti-cult movement, sociologists and NRM (New Religious Movements) researchers are hopelessly divergent. Our beliefs, for what it is worth, are that contributing factors to the Jonestown tragedy were:
Jim Jones' mental illness, aggravated by his use of drugs.
The group's intense fear of the imminent end of civilization.
The extreme isolation of the Agricultural Project.
Opposition and pressure from anti-cult groups, the media and U.S. government.
Freedom of Information:
The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives (now called the Committee on International Relations) conducted an investigation into Congressman Ryan's death. Much of the documentation that they collected on Jonestown was classified and has "remained inaccessible for the intervening decades to scholars, individuals who lost family members at Jonestown, and the general public." 9 An academic group of NRM scholars asked the House committee to declassify the documents. They held a press conference on the 20th anniversary of Ryan's death, 1998-NOV-18 in Washington. Dr. Gordon Melton of the Institute for the Study of American Religion said:
"Twenty years later there appears to be no compelling issues of national security or interest to keep these documents secret...it is our belief that the time has come for the release of these documents so that a more thorough assessment of what occurred at Jonestown can be made. Our understanding of the Jonestown deaths is still hindered by the unavailability of numerous key documents that would highlight the situation at Jonestown immediately prior to and during Congressman Ryan's visit, the relationship of the State Department to the Jonestown community, and the state of mind of Peoples Temple leader, Rev. Jim Jones."
Over 6000 pages of information has been obtained from the U.S. Department of State by an unknown person who has posted it on the Internet. 7
Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Dakota, "Alternate Considerations of Jonestown and the People's Temple," at: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~remoore/jonestown Keven Hozak has published "an alternative view to the usual anti-cult hysteria which characterized discussion of Peoples Temple... It will also raise questions about the treatment of Peoples Temple -- both in life and in death -- by various governmental agencies: local, state, and federal."
M. McCormick Maaga & Catherine Wessinger, "Hearing the Voices of Jonestown," Syracuse University Press, Syracuse NY (1998) Read reviews and/or order this book from the Amazon.com online bookstore
Catherine Wessinger, "Millennialism, Persecution and Violence," Syracuse University Press, Syracuse NY (Not yet published as of 1999-MAR)
John R. Hall, article in Stuart A. Wright, Ed., "Armageddon in Waco", University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL, (1996). Read / order this book
Tobin Dickerson, "People's Temple - Jonestown," at: http://www.religiousmovements.org This essay has an extensive bibliography and list of hyperlinks to "People's Temple" web sites.
Laurie E Kahalas, "SNAKE DANCE: Unravelling [sic] the Mysteries of Jonestown," at: http://www.jonestown.com She was "contacted by an Angelic Presence four years prior to what the world would come to know as 'The Jonestown Tragedy.' "
Deborah Layton, "Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple," Anchor (1998).
Author: B.A. Robinson
DAVIDIANS - WACO
Rick Ross, who since 1982 has been actively involved in consulting on Bible-based cults.
He has deprogrammed about 300 people over the past 12 years, working mostly at the behest of family members. His job is to reawaken critical thinking that has been all but destroyed by cult control techniques.
"The way to tell when one of these groups becomes dangerous is when the focus becomes not God, or Scripture, but the person of the leader."
The only deprogrammer ever to work with members of the ill-fated Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, Ross said cult leader David Koresh was a textbook example of a leader-focus.
"It came down to you did what David said," he said. "He had an answer for everything."
Ross said he asked former followers of Koresh whether the cult leader tolerated disagreements with his interpretation of the Bible. Those he asked said Koresh would allow argument but would never admit he was wrong or mistaken in his interpretation.
Bible-based cults like Koresh's tend to be extremely authoritarian and legalistic, Ross said. As an example of legalism, he mentioned certain practices of the United Pentecostal Church, which prohibited women from cutting their hair, wearing jewelry or immodest clothing. Men must have conservative haircuts and shun jewelry.
People from all walks of life, socioeconomic classes and levels of intelligence may be targeted by cults. When someone is feeling lonely or isolated, they become vulnerable.
Today, especially among people ages 18 to 26, there is a desire to find someone to provide answers to life's questions, Ross said. "We live in a country with so many choices, and these groups can give a list of what is right, what is wrong, and give people a purpose."
The problem with cults, though, is that with the purpose can come financial, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse, he said.
All of the Branch Davidian victims appear to have been murdered by their leaders -- either by being shot or as a result of the arson-set fire.
Branch Davidians, a.k.a. Students of the Seven Seals
This is a sect that split away from the Seventh-Day Adventist church. Under their now deceased leader, David Koresh, it became a destructive, doomsday cult whose membership experienced a major loss of life in Waco, TX. Fragments of the original group still survive.
In 1999-AUG, an ex-FBI agent released to the press some long-suppressed information about the use of explosive tear-gas grenades at Waco. An investigation has been ordered. More revelations about what really happened at Waco are expected as time passes proceeds.
History of the group
The group that became popularly known as the Branch Davidians are traceable back to a splinter sect that broke away from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDA) in 1942. The SDA church is well known for their belief in the imminent return of Jesus Christ to earth, for their special vegetarian dietary restrictions and for their retention of Saturday as their Sabbath.
The breakaway sect was founded by Victor Houteff, who had joined the SDA church in 1919. His beliefs deviated from main-line church doctrine. This became obvious when he wrote his book The Shepherd's Rod in 1930. In it, he outlined errors that he had found within the denomination. The book caused a minor crisis with the SDA denomination; some of its congregations disfellowshipped members who followed the book. Houteff believed that Christ's return would only occur when at least a small number of Christians had been sufficiently purified. He believed that he was a messenger sent by God to conduct this cleansing. He saw his task as a brief one, consisting of:
revealing the secret information contained in the scroll described in the Biblical book of Revelation, Chapter 5. This scroll has written on both sides a description of the events to occur when Christ returns and the world as we know it ends. The scroll had been protected by seven seals.
He founded the Mt. Carmel Center near Waco TX with 11 followers in 1935. He called the group "The Shepherd's Rod" after his book title. They attempted to recruit membership from within the SDA church with only modest success. In 1942, he broke completely away from the SDA because the latter refused to grant conscientious objector status to its members during World War II. He selected the name Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists for his organization. After the war, he started to recruit members internationally.
After Houteff's death in 1955, control of the Davidians passed to his wife Florence. She moved the community to a new location farther from Waco. She prophesied that the 1260 days mentioned in Revelation 11:3 would end and the Kingdom of David would be established on 1959-APR-22. Many hundreds of followers sold their possessions and moved to Mt. Carmel in anticipation of the "end time". They were bitterly disappointed when April 23 dawned and it was business as usual around the world. The group almost did not survive the failure of the prophecy; only a few dozen members remained. Many had left to form the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Association which remains active to this day. Florence Houteff left in 1962.
Benjamin Roden assumed control of the group, and renamed it the General Association of Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists. He proclaimed himself to be King David's successor. After his death in 1978, his wife, Lois Roden took control. She had been receiving visions that God is both male and female, that the third person of the trinity (the Holy Spirit) was female, and that Christ would take the form of a woman at his/her second coming! A power struggle developed between Lois and her son George.
Vernon Howell (1959-1993) joined the group as a handyman in 1981. In 1984, he married the daughter of a prominent member of the community, Rachel Jones, then aged 14. A series of power struggles resulted. George Roden had Howell thrown off the property. Roden later dug up a 25 year old corpse, placed it in the chapel and declared that the person who returned the corpse to life would be the next leader. Howell and followers sneaked into the compound to photograph the casket. They were detected and a gun battle between Vernon and George Roden resulted; George was wounded, and later imprisoned for violating a restraining order and for contempt of court. The latter charge was caused by a series of legal actions that he filed which were filled with profanity and threats against the judges. When Roden was imprisoned in 1987, Howell and his followers took over control. They found an illegal drug laboratory on the premises which made met amphetamine; they also found a large quantity of pornography. Both were removed. Howell was later tried for attempted murder, but the jury could not reach a verdict.
In 1989, Roden split his roommate's head open with an axe; he was found not-guilty of murder by reason of insanity. He lived in the Big Spring State Hospital in west Texas state mental facility. (On 1998-DEC-5, at the age of 60, he escaped and was found dead of a heart attack on the hospital grounds.)
A major international recruitment drive was established in 1985; it was aimed at SDA members (in particular those who had been disfellowshipped from the church due to their beliefs). This effort brought in members from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, etc. A number of businesses were created within the compound; guns were purchased wholesale and legally resold at gun shows. There were 130 members living at Waco in the Spring of 1993; they were a multi-racial, multi-ethnic group of whom 45 were black.
The group called themselves "Students of the Seven Seals" (meaning in reality: students of the scroll protected by the seven seals). The term "Branch Davidians" (BD) was derived from Roden's expression "Get off the dead [Shepherd's] Rod and move onto a living Branch". It was not generally used by the membership, but became the name most commonly used by the public and media. In 1990 Howell changed his name to David (after King David of the Israelites) Koresh (after the Babylonian King Cyrus). In 1992, Koresh renamed Mt. Carmel "Ranch Apocalypse", because of his belief that the final -encompassing battle of Armageddon mentioned in the Bible would start at the BD compound.
Their basic beliefs follow those of the Seventh Day Adventist church, with its emphasis on the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ, dietary rules, the inerrancy of the Bible, etc. They differ only slightly from many Evangelical churches. However, they have added a number of additional, novel concepts which were centered on themselves and their leader:
God has provided a prophet whose pronouncements are to be regarded on a par with the Bible.
They believe that the "lamb" mentioned in Revelation 5:2 is not Jesus Christ (as essentially all Christians believe) but is David Koresh himself. The lamb is to open up the seven seals and trigger the sequence which ends the world as we know it. This belief caused a great deal of misunderstanding; many Christians believe that Koresh viewed himself as Jesus Christ, and was thus psychotic.
After the breaking of the seals, Christ would return to earth. A battle would occur in which the BDs would play a major role. The BD members alone would ascend to heaven to be with God.
Massive confusion developed within the BD during the standoff. Koresh apparently believed that the BATF raid was in some way related to the Book of Revelation's Apocalypse and the war of Armageddon. However details did not fit. Koresh taught that it would occur in Jerusalem in 1995, not in Texas during 1993.
The BDs at Waco led a communal, highly regulated and disciplined life: raising early, eating together, growing their own food, committing long intervals of time to Bible study, etc. Some members had jobs outside the community which contributed financially to the organization.
They published a periodical "Shekineth Magazine"
They held conventions which were synchronized with the Jewish feast days defined in Leviticus 23:4-43.
Following Koresh's "New Light" doctrine, he began to persuade married women within the group to join him as "spiritual wives;" this involved sexual access. Couples were separated and their marriages dissolved. All but Koresh and his spiritual wives were required to remain celibate.
There were rumors that Koresh was sexually and/or physically assaulting children in the community. This was supported by disgruntled ex-cult members and by a father involved in a custody suite. Strong physical punishment was used in the compound for discipline of children. However assertions of actual abuse of young children are of doubtful validity. Several investigations were conducted by local Child Protective Services; they turned up no evidence. None of the children who left the compound during the siege exhibited any signs of abuse. However Koresh did state in a videotape that he is the father of more than a dozen children with several "wives" who he allegedly impregnated at the age of 12 or 13. If he was telling the truth, then he certainly was guilty of statutory rape.
They assembled large supplies of arms; one source estimated 11 tons of arms including antitank rifles.
During the 1990's, all but one of the elements which are commonly found in doomsday cults were present at Ranch Apocalypse. Only one element that has been generally found in other destructive cults was missing. There does not appear to have been strict control of information in to the compound.
Ranch Apocalypse was a powder keg, awaiting only a spark. Some BDs observed the approach of 76 heavily armed employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and interpreted it as related to the Apocalypse and the Battle of Armageddon which they so devoutly had been studying and anticipating for years. Given their religious beliefs, no other interpretation was possible.
What is Known about Waco
A major tragedy happened at Waco in the Spring of 1993. There is a general consensus that the sequence of events included:
The ATF decided to arrest David Koresh on firearms violations. He could have been easily arrested away from the compound while jogging or while visiting Waco. But apparently it was necessary for them to arrest him at the compound near the guns in order to have a chance of winning a court case.
A group of 76 armed ATF agents entered the compound on 1993-FEB-28 and attempted to serve a search warrant
A shot was heard; it is unclear whether it was an accidental firing by an ATF agent, or an intentional or accidental discharge from within the buildings.
In the resultant firefight, 6 Davidians and 4 ATF agents died; at least one Davidian and 24 agents were wounded.
The ATF withdrew. The FBI took charge; a 51 day siege followed.
Based on a report from a psychiatrist at the Baylor College of Medicine, the FBI believed that the Branch Davidian children were being sexually and physically abused inside the compound. (The FBI has since acknowledged that the report was false. It is apparently based on false memories implanted in the children).
The FBI consulted a number of experts on new religious movements with knowledge about destructive cults, who warned of a high probability of mass murder or suicide if aggressive action was taken. The FBI also consulted a number of psychiatrists who had no specialized experience with doomsday cults, who assured the FBI that the chances of major loss of life was slim. They also received advise from members of the Anti-cult movement. The Bureau decided that it was safe to attack the compound with tear gas. The FBI seem to have ignored the religious experts and accepted the beliefs of the psychiatrists.
The FBI emergency response team had been at the site for almost 2 months. If the siege lasted much longer, then the team would be in need of refresher training; there was no replacement team.
On 1993-APR-19: About 6 AM, two incendiary tear-gas grenades were fired at a concrete bunker some distance from the frame buildings of the compound. They bounced off the roof and fizzled out harmlessly in a nearby puddle.
About 12 o'clock noon, specially adapted tanks approached the building to penetrate the walls and inject a form of tear gas inside. A group of fires started almost simultaneously in different locations within the compound; they combined to form a great conflagration.
8 followers were able to escape during the attack; many were severely burned
Koresh and about 75 of his followers [numbers differ in various sources] died of stab wounds, gun shots, and from the effects of smoke and flames. This included 21 children.
5 followers were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and firearms violations. Two others were convicted of arms charges.
Later, a video has been distributed which appears to show a flame-throwing tank igniting the compound. This has been proven to be a fake: a forged picture of a flame superimposed in a film laboratory on top of actual footage of the tanks at Waco. The latter was taken about 2 hours before the fire.
Whenever a high-profile and tragic event occurs (e.g. the assassination of President Kennedy, the bombing at Oklahoma City, etc.) facts become mixed with fantasies. Waco is no exception; the truth will probably remain unknown. There have been many individuals and groups who have disseminated information of varying quality, including:
Surviving members of the Branch Davidians still faithful to David Koresh's beliefs
What is not known about Waco
Were there illegal weapons at Waco?: Probably there were. Koresh implied so in a telephone conversation with the FBI; he also admitted it to his lawyer. There is also evidence in the form of a famous video clip showing bullets emerging from within the building and penetrating the outside wall; the firing rate and uniformity indicates an automatic weapon. The McLennan County Sheriff's Office determined that UPS had been delivering components which could convert legal firearms into fully automatic (illegal) weapons. 4 live grenades, 6 grenade launchers and 48 automatic weapons were recovered after the fire, in addition to 151 legal weapons. Countless rounds of bullets and a number of hand grenades exploded during the fire. When the "bunker" was excavated, about 750,000 bullet casings were found.
Was Koresh guilty of statutory rape? Probably not. There is one rumor from former members of the BD that Koresh believed that he had an obligation to father two dozen children by mothers who were virgins, and that he obtained permission from parents to engage in sexual activities with some of the children. Yet a number of investigations by Children's Protective Service found no evidence of any wrongdoing. A report issued by a psychiatrist at Baylor College of Medicine concluded that the children of the Branch Davidians were being sexually and physically abused. This report is now known to be false. The children initially denied any such abuse and only told stories of sexual assaults after intensive and improper interrogation.
Were Army personnel present at Waco? There are claims of helicopter gun ships and tanks equipped with flame throwers being used at Waco. But this appears to be intentional disinformation. The Pentagon has said that three special-forces officers from the Delta Force were present, but only as passive observers. To have active armed forces individuals involved in any role other than mere observers would require special permission; this was never requested.
Who fired the first shot? Only the person responsible knew that, and he/she may be dead. Some believe that an ATF agent accidentally discharged his firearm and shot himself in the foot; there is a rumor of one or more guard dogs being shot; others believe that someone within the compound fired the first shot.
Was a non-fatal resolution possible? Probably. On April 14th, Koresh promised to surrender if he was given time to write a document explaining the seven seals of Revelation. The attack started 5 days later, while he was writing the book, and after he had completed writing on the first seal.
How were the fires started?: There is one belief that when a tank punched a hole in a compound wall, it overturned a propane tank which broke into flames. However, this scenario cannot account for the large number of small, separate blazes that were observed to start about the same time in many buildings. There is another belief that Koresh ordered quantities of kerosene to be placed around the compound and lit manually. This is supported by the video evidence which seems to show a number of small fires that quickly combined into a general conflagration. The engineering consulting firm Failure Analysis were hired by the National Riflemen's Association to study the fire. They presented their findings at a seminar at MIT, concluding that a series of small fires were most likely set by the Branch Davidians themselves. An anti-government propaganda film shows a tank equipped with a flame thrower attacking a building. The film was crudely doctored and a phony flame was added in a film lab. Time.com started a web-site poll on 1999-AUG-26. It asks the question: "Who do you believe started the fire at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco." The results, as of 2000-MR-6 were: Law enforcement 60%, Branch Davidians 34%, Not sure 6% These values should not be considered to be an accurate estimate of American public opinion. Contributors to the poll were self-selected.
Who is responsible for the deaths? This question has as many answers are there are investigators into the tragedy. It is our belief that the responsibility should be divided among:
David Koresh for: assembling a large cache of weapons, exciting his followers into a fever pitch anticipating the end of the world being unable to communicate his beliefs and intents clearly to outsiders, refusing to submit to a government warrant.
For not allowing two theologians access to Koresh.
Events from the Branch Davidian perspective
Koresh had been preaching the imminent end of the world in which the Branch Davidians would play a major role. He himself would break the seven seals mentioned in Revelation 5:2. The BDs fully expected to be attacked by the government. But there were several confusing features to the ATF raid and subsequent FBI siege:
they had calculated that the end would occur in 1995, a full two years in the future
David Koresh was apparently confused by the lack of agreement between reality and prophecy. He initially offered to surrender if his sermon was broadcast nationally. It was broadcast over the local Evangelical Christian radio station in Waco TX and over the CBN Network on March 2. However, he changed his mind after receiving a revelation that God wanted him to wait. Believing he had received this directive, it is inconceivable that he would surrender at that time.
During the siege, Koresh made repeated requests to communicate with Biblical scholars. Two academics did offer to help in the negotiations, but were turned down by the FBI. 7 David Koresh repeatedly stated that he would not surrender until he received instructions from God. On April 14, he believed that he had received his long-awaited revelation. He was instructed to write a description of the Seven Seals and then to surrender to the FBI with his followers. He was apparently engaged in this task when the attack occurred 5 days later. One of the followers who escaped from the compound during the fire carried a floppy disk containing the part of Koresh's book that he had just completed. It probably would have taken a few weeks more for him to complete the task. There is every likelihood that if the BDs had been allowed a little more time, that the standoff would have been ended without loss of life.
Events from the FBI perspective
They looked upon Koresh as a deranged individual. He believed himself to be Jesus Christ. They knew that he had a huge arsenal of illegal weapons. They genuinely believed that he sexually and physically abused children. Some believed that he was producing illegal drugs. They were totally insensitive to the religious nature of the conflict, and treated the standoff as a conventional hostage situation. They discounted Koresh's obsession with the 7 seals, and interpreted it as an indication that he was psychotic. They assumed that he was lying when he said that he was waiting for a revelation from God with instructions how to proceed. He said that he had received the revelation, to write about the seven seals and then give himself up. The FBI interpreted it as simply another delaying tactic. Seeing no end to the standoff, having received an "expert" opinion that mass suicide or murder was unlikely, and being concerned about the fate of the children in the compound, they decided to risk mass suicide and killing. They attacked with tear gas.
Link to the Oklahoma City bombing
The federal office building in Oklahoma City, OK, was bombed 1995-APR-19, on the second annual anniversary of the disaster at Waco. Timothy McVeigh was charged and convicted as the person primarily responsible for the bombing. According to his former army buddy, McVeigh was primarily motivated by a desire to avenge the 1993 government siege at Waco TX. McVeigh allegedly believed that the "orders were issued" for Waco from the building in Oklahoma City. He was wrong. McVeigh allegedly compared the government workers to storm troopers from the movie Star Wars. At one point, McVeigh allegedly was considering a suicide bombing by staying inside the rented truck to make certain that the bomb went off.
The Branch Davidians Today
The Branch Davidian movement continues, but is divided into two factions:
one is an anti-Koresh group which claims to be the original Branch Davidian group before David Koresh took over. They now control the compound property and have erected a museum on the site which is both anti-Koresh and anti-government.
About 250 surviving Branch Davidian members and relatives of the dead are suing the Federal government. They believe that the fire was started when federal agents punched holes in the walls of the compound and fired tear gas inside. They allege that the gas canisters caught fire and started the conflagration that burned down the entire compound.
On 1997-SEP-7, US District Judge Walter Smith re-imposed long prison sentences on five Branch Davidian members. Four men received 10 years for voluntary manslaughter and 30 years for using a firearm in a violent crime. The fifth was received 10 years for possessing a hand grenade and 10 years for using a firearm.
1999-AUG-25: The U.S. Justice Department had long held that, during the assault at Waco, the FBI did not use any pyrotechnic devices that were capable of setting a fire. Danny Coulson, a former FBI official told the Dallas Morning News on AUG-23 that two potentially incendiary M-651 tear gas grenades had actually been used against the Branch Davidian compound. They were thrown at a concrete construction pit that contained a tunnel entrance which led into the compound. They bounced off of the bunker roof and landed harmlessly in a nearby puddle. This occurred about 300 feet from the wooden compound buildings. (Another source said 90 to 120 feet; the A.P. reported 120 meters or 394 feet 20) The grenades appear to have been unrelated to the blaze. They exploded at 6:07 AM, some 6 hours before the fire broke out. "An investigation by a panel of independent arson experts concluded that the April 19 fire began simultaneously just after noon in three separate places inside the compound. FBI bugs intercepted Branch Davidians discussing spreading fuel and planning a blaze for hours before the compound burned. Arson investigators also found evidence that accelerants, ranging from gasoline to charcoal lighter fluid and camp stove fuel had been poured in the compound." 18,19
1999-SEP-1: The FBI is pushing for an independent investigation into why it took 6 years for them to acknowledge use of incendiary tear-gas canisters at Waco. A second proposal has been made to create a joint House-Senate commission to investigate the affair. Meanwhile the House government-reform committee is proceeding with its own investigation. 20
2000-SEP-9: Attorney General Janet Reno appointed former Senator John Danforth, (R-MO) as special counsel to head up an independent investigation into the Waco tragedy. He is an Episcopal priest, and had been the attorney general in Missouri for eight years.
2000-JUL-14: The relatives of some of the victims in Waco held that the federal government was responsibility for the loss of life in 1993. They had initiated a 675 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit. The Texas jury decided that the government was not responsible for the tragedy. The judge will make the final ruling in this case.
2000-JUL-21: Former Senator John Danforth, (R-MO) chairperson of a ten month independent investigation, announced that the blame for th Waco catastrophe rests solely with David Koresh.
2000-JUL-28: According to Maranatha Daywatch, Attorney General Janet Reno revealed that she had discussed with President Clinton plans to storm the Waco compound on the day before the raid was implemented.
2000-AUG-15: The judge in the Branch Davidian wrongful death lawsuit will order a court-appointed expert to provide testimony on whether FBI agents shot into the Waco compound the day that it caught on fire.
2000-SEP-20: According to DayWatch news service: "U.S. District Judge Walter Smith cleared the federal government...of wrongdoing in the deaths of 80 Branch Davidians during the 1993 standoff with federal agents at the cult's Waco, Texas compound. Smith laid the entire blame for the deaths at the feet of cult leader David Koresh. Special Counsel John Danforth and an advisory jury reached the same conclusions earlier this year."
Books on Waco
A number of books have been written about the Waco tragedy. Recommend are two books written by academics.
J.D. Tabor & E.V. Gallagher, "Why Waco: Cults and the battle for religious freedom in America," University of California Press, (1997). This book is written by two theologians who had contact with Koresh during the standoff. they are concerned about the public's irrational fear of new religious movements. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
S.A. Wright, Ed., "Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspective on the Branch Davidian Conflict," University of Chicago Press," (1996) This contains 15 essays by sociologists, historians, lawyers and theologians covering all aspects of the tragedy.
There are also many book written from a non-academic perspective:
Carol Moore, "Davidian Massacre: Disturbing questions about Waco which must be answered," Legacy Communications, (1996) This takes the position that the government intentionally massacred the Branch Davidian with machine guns from helicopters. Ms. Moore is an investigative reporter.
D.J. Reavis, "The Ashes of Waco: an investigation," Syracuse University Press, (1998). An account of the tragedy by a journalist.
D.B. Kopel, P.H. Blackman, "No more Wacos: What's wrong with federal law enforcement and how to fix it," Prometheus Books, (1997). Chosen as a main selection by the Conservative Book Club.
David Thibodeau, Leon Whiteson, "A placed called Waco: A survivor's story," Public Affairs, (1999-SEP) A book by one of the 9 Branch Davidians who survived the fire. He blames the government for the loss of life.
S.A. Wright, "Armageddon in Waco", University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL (1995)
V.T. Houteff, "The Great Controversy Over 'The Shepherds Rod", Universal Publishing Assoc., Waco TX (1954)
J.D. Melton, Ed, "The Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. II", Triumph Books, New York (1991), P. 676
T. Miller, Ed, "America's Alternative Religions", SUNY Press, Albany (1995), P. 149-158
D. Koresh, text of taped sermon recorded on 1993-MAR-02. Analysis by Stephen Tice included. See: http://www.greatdreams.com/koresh.txt
An expose "GOP keeps focus on ATF'S mistakes in Waco" is available at: http://www.nando.net/newsroom/nt/nation7.html
The Waco Massacre is at: http://www.magnet.ch/serendipity/waco.html
A list of 45 references to the Branch Davidian group and to its leader can be accessed at: http://www.unc.edu/~elliott/koresh.txt
"...the official website of many Branch Davidian survivors who were with David Koresh during the 51 day siege at Mt. Carmel" has three domain names": Seven Seals Revelation, Book 1 at: http://www.sevenseals.com
Seven Seals Revelation, Book 2 at: http://www.branchdavidian.com
Lee Hancock, "Waco: FBI to acknowledge use of pyrotechnic devices - New account on Branch Davidian fire expected," Dallas Morning News, 1999-AUG-25. See http://www.cesnur.org/testi/waco.htm
"Reno orders probe as FBI reverses on Waco gas," New York Times news service, 1999-AUG-27. See http://www.cesnur.org/testi/waco1.htm
"Waco: Who's telling the truth? John Danforth's investigation," Policy.com, 1999-SEP-20, at: http://www.policy.com/issuewk/1999/0920_93/detail692.html
There is overwhelming hard evidence that all of the deaths within the Ugandan Movement for the Restoration..., and many of the Solar Temple deaths were actually murders to cover financial fraud by the leadership.
Watchman Fellowship's Index of Cults and Religions
List of the 189 movements suspected to be harmful or dangerous cults - Belgium
Cults aka New Religious Movements
Cults, Hate Groups, Violent Gangs
THE CULTS 'R US HIT LIST
Killer cults tend to be led by charismatic megalomaniacs who pit themselves and their churches against the rest of the world. They are usually apocalyptic visionaries drunk with lust and power that have physical and sexual control over their followers. In most cases their beliefs stem from twisted interpretations of established doctrines. These self-proclaimed divinities usually amass a large arsenal of weapons before bringing forth their personal day of reckoning. The cults are listed according to number of kills associated with them. Check the morgue for the latest doomsday prophecy.
Be the first one in your block to own "Killers on the Loose: Unsolved Cases of Serial Murder" The book, published by Virgin Publishing, is presently available in the UK. It will be available in the US by March 2001. You can buy it at from Amazon UK or look for it in the True Crime section in Virgin Publishing.
Reverend Jim Jones & The People's Temple (900+) Jim Jones, the son of a Klansman, considered himself the reincarnation of both Jesus and Lenin. He was also endowed with a huge penis which he used repeatedly in the name of Christ. Jim had visions of an impending nuclear holocaust in which only the towns of Ukiah, California and Belo Horizonte, Brazil would survive. With that in mind, he relocated his first People's Temple to Ukiah to await the Armageddon.
Tired of waiting for the third world war, he moved his church to San Francisco where he received numerous humanitarian awards and became the Chairman of the city's Housing Authority. It was there that he first practiced a ritual called "White Nights" in which he prepared his followers for an act of revolutionary suicide to protest racism and fascism.
By 1977, as things started getting weirder, he was forced to move his church to Guyana, South America. There, in the isolation of the jungle, Jimmy created his dream community, Jonestown, and lost his mind. Jim's nirvana rapidly deteriorated into a nightmare which he knew of only one way to end.
On November 18, 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan from San Francisco went on a fact-finding mission investigating alleged human rights abuses at Jonestown. After only a day at the jungle compound, a member tried to stab Ryan. The injury was minor, but Ryan decided to leave with his party and 18 temple members who wanted to to return to the United States. Other members of the cult followed the group to the airstrip and opened fire, killing Ryan, three journalists, and one of the departing members. Eleven others were injured.
Hours later, the good reverend ordered his followers to drink from a tub of grape-flavored Fla-Vor-Aid laced with potassium cyanide and tranquilizers. All 900+ did. Children died first; babies were killed by poison squirted into their mouths with a syringe. Then the adults. Most were poisoned, some forcibly. Some were shot by security guards. As the ritual suicide progressed, it is unclear whether Jim put a bullet through his brain, or someone did it for him.
Within a few months of the mass deaths, other People's Temple members who had survived also committed suicide, with one mother slitting the throats of her three children. A year later, ex-People's Temple members Jeanne and Al Mills and their daughter Linda, who had been speaking out about their cult experience, were shot to death in their Berkeley, CA home. They had become among the most vocal People's Temple critics and feared for their safety.
When the bodies came back home, many could not be identified. Several cemeteries refused to take them until the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland stepped forward in 1979 and accepted 409 bodies. The remaining victims had been cremated or buried in family cemeteries.
Jonestown itself has all but vanished, stripped by villagers and consumed by a fire in the early 1980s. Some believe that Jimmy was linked to the CIA and that the Jonestown massacre was in fact a mind control experiment. If it was, it was a total success. Years later, serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed that he did indeed personally delivered the cyanide to his "good friend, Jim Jones."
Every year, on November 18, a memorial is held at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California, where 260 People's Temple children are buried. Due to the lack of dental records, the children were never able to be identified and thus were buried together there. On the 20th anniversary of the mass suicide, Liz Aguirre, president of Ultraseal International, hand-delivered a $5,000 check to finance a Vietnam memorial-type 20-foot wall to be erected in the cemetery. The black, granite panels of the memorial will have the names and ages of the victims inscribed as well as a dedication written by poet Maya Angelou.
Indonesian Witch Hunters (140+) Since September, 1998, more than 153 people have been murdered in East Java by groups of men clad in black wearing Ninja-style masks. The victims have been mostly Muslim clerics, black magicians and other people accused of sorcery.
The killers have struck against the sorcerers at night, cutting their throats and sometimes hanging their mutilated bodies in trees or tossing them in the street. Victims sometimes have been cut into small pieces and their body parts thrown into mosques.
Shocked by the mysterious murders, Indonesia's justice minister proposed outlawing black magic. In scenes reminiscent of the Salem witch hunts, mobs have also attacked and killed people suspected of being black magicians. Police have arrested more than 100 suspects, but acknowledge there's no clear motive for the grisly slayings.
Justice Minister Muladi blamed the mayhem on the sorcerers themselves and said that anyone who openly claims they can kill or hurt others with black magic should be punished. "That would be one way to resolve the witchcraft issue," added Muladi.
The commander of the Indonesian armed forces said that he had ordered police to bring an end to the mayhem According to Lieutenant-Colonel Isnarno, lynchings have increased as locals, tired of the failure of the police to solve the killings, have started to attack anyone suspected of being involved in the murder spree. Police say at least 10 murder suspects have been killed in east Java alone.
Indonesia's military -- though suspected of being involved in the killings -- has pledged to solve the mystery behind the wave of gruesome murders asap. Analysts have pointed to the butchery as another sign of the lawlessness that hit Indonesia after the economic and political crisis that led to the downfall of President Suharto in May.
Order of the Solar Temple(74) As the millennium rapidly approaches, this apocalyptic eurotrash cult has claimed 74 victims in three bizarre mass suicide rituals. Strangely, most of the members of the sect seem to be highly educated and well-to-do individuals. The Order itself stems from the Knights of Templar, a secretive medieval organization founded by French crusaders in Jerusalem. How it became a New Age Yuppie Suicide machine, remains a mystery.
The Temple came to prominence on October 5, 1994, when 53 people committed murder-suicide simultaneously in several chalets in Switzerland and Canada. The two known leaders of the group, Luc Jouret, a Belgian New Ageist homeopathic doctor, and Joseph di Mambro, a wealthy businessman, were among the dead in Switzerland. Investigators have been trying to find out who took over from the Jouret and Di Mambro. French police say the new leader could be Michel Tabachnika, a Swiss orchestra conductor. The conductor has denied press reports that he is a cult member, however, his wife died in the 1994 murder-suicide ritual in the Swiss village of Cheiry.
The cult seems to give great importance to the sun. Their fiery ritual murder-suicides are meant to take members of the sect to a new world on the star "Sirius." To assist with the trip, several of the victims, including some children, are shot in the head, asphyxiated with black plastic bags and/or poisoned. Luc and Joseph wrote, in a letter delivered after their deaths that they were "leaving this earth to find a new dimension of truth and absolution, far from the hypocrisies of this world."
A second mass suicide ritual occurred about a week before Christmas in 1995. On December 23, on a remote plateau of the French Alps police found 16 charred bodies arranged in a star formation with their feet pointing to the ashes of a fire. Like the rituals of 1994, they all died by stabbing, asphyxiation, shooting and/or poisoning. Their bodies were burned to a crisp as part of a cleansing ritual.
A week before discovering the bodies, Swiss and French authorities suspected the worst when the 16 cult members disappeared from their homes. Some left behind handwritten notes expressing their intentions of committing mass suicide. One of the notes stated: "Death does not exist, it is pure illusion. May we, in our inner life, find each other forever." Two of the dead were the wife and son of French ski champion and millionaire eye wear manufacturer, Jean Vuarnet.
In March 23, 1997 five more dead bodies were found in a burned house owned by Didier Queze, a member of the Order, in St. Casimir, Quebec. The bodies of four cultist, Didier, her husband and another couple, were found in a bed upstairs positioned in what may have been intended to be the shape of the cross. The mother of Didier was found dead on a sofa downstairs with a plastic bag over her head. Unlike earlier suicides in which adults killed their children, the three teen-age children of the cultist couple were spared.
Apparently the teen-agers woke up the day before the suicide to discover their parents and their cultist friend had placed propane tanks, electric hot plates and fire-starters on the main floor of the two-story house and were trying to burn down the place. Realizing what was happening the teenagers expressed their disapproval and negotiated with their parents to be spared. However, Fanie Queze-Goupillot, 14, and her brothers Tom, 13, and Julien, 16, agreed to take sleeping pills before their parents' fiery death and went to sleep in a workshop near the house. "The children were given medication, but they knew that when they woke up their parents and grandmother would be dead."
Heaven's Gate (40) The only "doomsday-cult-web-design-team" of the Archives. On March 26, 1997, 39 members of "Heaven's Gate" decided to "shed their containers" and get on a companion craft hiding in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet. The resulting mass suicide of 21 women and 18 men, ages 26 to 72, all sporting buzzcuts, dressed alike in trendy black pants, oversized shirts, and brand new black Nikes, was unlike any other mass suicide in the Archives. The dead, discovered by two sheriff deputies after an anonymous tip, were found in an antiseptic multi-million dollar mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, an exclusive community north of San Diego. They were all lying on their backs on cots and bunkbeds throughout the mansion covered with triangular purple shrouds with their hands to their sides in a prone position. Officers at the scene said it appeared, "as if they had fallen asleep."
The Heaven Gaters died in three shifts over a three-day period after celebrating their last meal on earth at a Marie Callender's in Carlsbad. 15 cultist died the first day, 15 the second and the remaining nine the third day. As one set of cultist ingested the poison, a lethal dose of phenobarbital mixed in with pudding and/or applesauce and chased with a shot of vodka, they would lie down and another cultist would use a plastic bag to speed up the dying. A frighteningly anal-retentive mass suicide, the cultist would clean up after each round of killing. Before the last two killed themselves, they took out the trash leaving the rented mansion in perfect order. Wanting to be helpful even after dead, all bodies had some sort of identification. Strangely, though, they also had five-dollar bill and change in their pockets and small suitcases neatly tucked under the cots and beds.
In their own special blend of millennial prophecy, the Heaven Gaters -- after watching too many episodes of the "X-Files" -- decided that, after 20 years of waiting, a spaceship flying behind the Hale-Bopp comet was finally coming to pick them up. As the Heaven's Gate web site cryptically states, "The joy is that our Older Member in the Evolutionary Level above human has made it clear to us that Hale-Bopp's approach is the 'marker' we've been waiting for. ... Our 22 years of classroom here on planet Earth is finally coming to conclusion 'graduation' from the Human Evolutionary Level. We are happily prepared to leave 'this world' and go with Ti's crew."
Ti refers to Bonnie Lu Trusdale a cofounder of the cult who died of cancer in 1985. The cult first surfaced as the "UFO Cult" in 1975 when Marshall H. Applewhite, a sexually confused music teacher and opera singer, met Nettles who was working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital where Applegate was looking for a cure for his homosexual impulses. Years later, together with seven other members of the cult, Applegate was surgically castrated leading one to believe that he finally took care of those "bothersome instincts."
At first Trusdale and Applewhite became known as "The Two." They survived nomadically under different -- yet colorful -- names: "The Him and the Her Cult," "Bo and Peep," "Ti and Do, "Human Individual Metamorphosis," "H.I.M.," "Total Overcomers Anonymous," "Computer Nomads" "Higher Source," and finally, "Heaven's Gate." At one point they managed to amass more than 200 members as they crisscrossed the country holding meetings in public places, promising followers celestial bliss and a ride in a UFO. There was even a TV movie made about them called The Mysterious Two, starring John Forsythe and Phyllis Pointer. Prophetically, in a 1979 book called "Messengers of Deception," Jacques Valee quoted a woman who had met "The Two" saying: "These two people are dangerous. It is not hypnosis. It is thought transplant." (Thanks to our friends at 60 Greatest Conspiracies for digging up this little tidbit)
Heaven's Gate, and it's business branch, Higher Source, existed as a new-age blend of Christianity and ufology. In their last incarnation they proudly supported themselves by making web sites at cut-rate prices. In their web site, dubbed by Time Magazine the most elaborate suicide note in history, they state that suicide was wrong for nonmembers but an acceptable way for cult members to ascend to a higher level of life. There are other references throughout the site to the sieges at Waco, Texas, Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Adding fuel to the millennial mix, a purpose statement the group obliquely links a philosophy of bodies moving on to other levels to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Allegedly Do claimed to have been born in a different planet and that his mission on earth was the same as that of Jesus. In a bizarre recruiting tape with messianic overtones Applewhite -- looking very much like My Favorite Martian with bugged-out eyes -- states that, "the planet is about to be recycled. The last chance to survive or evacuate is to leave with us."
In the Higher Source Web site, the group proudly proclaims that they are a sophisticated web site design company that offers programming, systems analysis, and computer security services, as well as Java and VRML. "We at Higher Source not only cater to customizing Web sites that will enhance your company image, but strive to make your transition into the 'world of cyberspace' a very easy and fascinating experience." Tom Goodspeed, manager of the San Diego Polo Club, who had the group design their Web site thought the did "excellent work" and were "very talented. "They were some of the most pleasant people I've ever worked with." Others thought they were harmless "space cadets."
The section "The Difference" in the Higher Source Web site states: "The individuals at the core of our group have worked closely together for over 20 years. During those years, each of us has developed a high degree of skill and know-how through personal discipline and concerted effort. We try to stay positive in every circumstance and put the good of a project above any personal concerns or artistic egos. By sustaining this attitude and conduct, we have achieved a high level of efficiency and quality in our work."
On May 6, 1997, two more members of the cult decided to "exit their vehicles" and join their classmates and teachers in an Encinitas Holiday Inn Express four miles from the cult's Rancho Santa Fe mausoleum. One died, the other was found unconscious and is now in critical condition in Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas.
The two men were found with small tote bags next to them, dressed in star trekking black, wearing black Nikes, with purple shrouds next to them, and five dollar bills in their pockets. Wayne Cooke of Las Vegas was found dead with a plastic bag on his head. Chuck Humphrey of Denver was still alive with a plastic bag near him suggesting that he had second thoughts about dying. Like those who went before, they both ingested phenobarbital washed down with vodka.
Cooke, who's wife was among the 39 cultist who committed suicide in March, said in an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes: "I wish I had the strength to have stuck it out and gotten stronger and continued to be a part of that crew." On his videotaped "exit statement" which was sent to family members and CNN, the star-crossed cultist said he wanted to "assure people, number one, that I'm sane and I'm happy. I want very much to join my classmates and my teachers ... I've never doubted my connection with them." He concluded his comments by saying "Goodbye" with a smile.
At a San Diego news conference after the March mass suicide, Humphrey, 56, said, "I left the group because it had been 15 years, because many of the things we were told were going to happen didn't... I got tired of waiting." In his "exit statement" he erroneously states: "By now you should be aware that I ... too have exited my vehicle... I do not pretend to have accomplished my task of overcoming this human vehicle and gaining the degree of control I would have liked, but nonetheless, I know who I am and that I must go back with them whether I am ready or not... I'd rather gamble on missing the bus this time than staying on this planet and risk losing my soul." Sadly for him, he both missed the bus and lost his soul.
According to Dick Joslyn, a former cultist, Humphrey had grown frustrated by the lack of attention given to the group's ideas. "He was a little discouraged by the inability to get the word out. He made it clear to me that when his work was done, he would go too. Humphrey, one of the brains behind the Higher Source web design team, "was supposed to spread information about the 'next level' and maintain the Internet site." Apparently, when someone "commandeered" the site, he tried to kill himself.
Crocodile Men From Congo (33) Six tribal chiefs believed by villagers and police to possess a mystical ability to turn themselves into crocodiles have been arrested for killing 33 people. One suspect, a chief of Buma village in Bandundu province, about 330 miles from the capital of Kinshasa, confessed to killing and eating five people, Voice of the People radio station quoted police as saying.
Those under arrest have been identified by their community as belonging to a witch gang whose members villagers believe are able to transform themselves into crocodiles, and who have been blamed for 33 deaths in the area since 1995.
Police made the arrests based on allegations made by a Buma fisherman who claimed he was banished from his village by "crocodile men" because they believed he could identify them. The fisherman told police that he narrowly escaped an attack by the men -- monsters with human legs, faces and hands but other crocodile features below the waist.
Jombola Cult (30+) The mystical Jombola cult, believed to be made up of more than 300 men and women, surfaced in the war-ravaged regions of the southern part of Sierra Leone three months after the signing of the November, 1996, peace accord between the government and the rebel Revolutionary United Front. Operating in the southern districts of Bo, Pujehun and Bonthe, the cult has carved along its way a path of death and destruction.
"We are not exactly sure how many people have been killed by cult members who clearly have supernatural powers," said Pa Santigie Murray Kawa, a 60-year-old resident of Lugbu chiefdom in Bo. Reports state that at least 30 innocent people have died at their hands. The Jombolas are believed to possess the power to transform themselves into bats, cats, dogs and other creatures before wrecking havoc on villages. Terrified residents of the troubled areas have remarked that the sight of the transformed cult members when they are going on their military operations, mesmerizes their victims.
According to a captured 25-year-old cultist, the Jombolas have a political agenda. "Our objective is to overthrow the government and the local hunters' militia -- Kamajors -- and we are doing this not only by force of arms, but through the power of the dark."
Analysts believe that the brewing conflict between the Jombolas and the Kamajors is a battle for supremacy in the wake of the weakening of the national army. Both groups are said to possess mystical powers. The Kamajors' mystical powers have been revered in the country, especially in their fight against the RUF rebels. "The vacuum created by the government army's impotence in holding the rebels at bay, the rising power of the Kamajors, and in fact, the general chaos that has followed the six-year long war, combine to explain the emergence of the Jombolas," opines political analyst Desmond Williams of the University of Sierra Leone.
According to a captured member, the cult's leader, Pa Kujah, "lives in the southern town of Yambama. About 52 of us were recently initiated, and this number included 25 women." Although these women are members of the cult, their role appears to be that of sex objects to entice victims. "We use our womenfolk to overpower male victims, often sexually."
The Church Of The Lamb Of God (24+) Led by neo-polygamist Mormon patriarch Ervil LeBaron, this tribe of killers (many of them his wives and children) murdered at least 20 people -- mostly rival polygamists and fringe Mormons -- over a 20-year period. LeBaron himself died in prison in 1981, but the killings were continued by his followers for years after his death.
Aaron LeBaron became the sect's high priest after his father's death. Like father like son; Aaron soon got into trouble with the law. In June 1988, as a "blood atonement" ceremony for leaving the cult, Mark Chynoweth and his brother Duane Chynoweth were shot to death in Houston, and Edward Marston was killed simultaneously in Dallas. A young girl was also murdered for witnessing one of the slayings. According to Ervil's Lamb of God 510-page tome, anyone leaving the cult had to be killed before believers could inherit God's kingdom on Earth.
In 1996 Aaron was arrested near the cult's colony in northern Mexico. A year later, on March 1997, he was convicted by a Houston court of directing the 1988 slayings of the three sect defectors and the girl. The jury also found him guilty of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, conspiracy to obstruct religious beliefs, racketeering conspiracy and racketeering. However, the murder-for-hire conviction was overturned.
On June 13, 1997, Aaron was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the killings and the racketeering charges. LeBaron was also ordered to pay $134,000 in restitution to help pay for the victims' funerals. All in all it seems to us that Aaron got away with a light sentence for orchestrating four deaths. As Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Shelby said after the sentencing, "His father created a monster called the Church of the Lamb of God, but Aaron LeBaron gave that monster direction."
In a rambling statement in court, LeBaron said he wanted to get a degree in journalism while in jail and tell the public how to prevent crime. Three other cult members are already serving life sentences for their roles in the slayings. Authorities are still seeking LeBaron's half-sister, Tarsa LeBaron, who is believed to be hiding in Mexico or Belgium.
Here at the archives we have received the following e-mail from Aaron's younger sister, Jessica leBaron:
I am a survivor of the "LeBaron Cult".
The thing was a nightmare, that both Aaron LeBaron and I were born into. Just like any other children we believed and tried to do what we were taught. It was not fun. Perhaps we are not good folks, but when all the bad things happened we had never been to school, were isolated on a ranch and have a family history of mental illness (treatable with medication) and other factors that contributed to extreme fanaticism.
As a little child I believed all the stuff the "church" did was right. We are not evil, even though what we did is really bad.
I know that you all make your money with this sensationalism and rant about evil and all, but I just thought I'd let you know that (though we didn't act like it for a while there) we are human beings.
Hey, did your ancestors keep slaves? Did your folks believe that Black folks are inferior? Where were you when lynching and mob violence and discrimination were going on in this country?
A lot of folks don't have a choice of whether or not to discriminate,when they are little, but can grow up to change. We have grown up, just as many of the racists in this country have. Our bad ideas came about kind of like racism in this country did. It is not excused. We are sorry. Making all this adieu about evil?-well ask yourself.
I don't think you are making the world a better place by writing this stuff. It is not accurate. As a cult member I didn't have qualms about what I was doing but decided to do it anyway. Do you have qualms about writing this stuff but do it anyway? As a cult member my conscience was clear. After I found out that what we did was wrong, well that was a different story. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do; realize what kind of person I'd become. It really sucked! It was worth it though.
When he is not forced to lead a stupid church Aaron LeBaron rocks. I love him for helping us get out of the cult, for doubting it first, for opening his mind to the possibility of mental illness and seeing a doctor and tacking medication for manic depression. I love him for being brave enough to admit to me long before the cops got him that what we had done was wrong, when I was so shocked that it was wrong that I would not believe him. I admire him for getting rid of all my dads literature and replacing it with six copies of The New international Version of the Bible and suggesting that we read the New Testament.
Recognizing that what you did is wrong is one of the hardest things that a human being can do. Yet, he went further and discovered that everything we had believed was b.s. as well. Twenty four is a young age to discover such difficult truths.
Our deeds had been done before this and of course people were mad and prosecuted him. Society got revenge. You all got something to write about. But, the truth is a different story.
If you are black madam or sir, what do you think about the white folks who are sorry that their folks were so ignorant and prejudiced, and got over it? Do you think that those folks merit compassion? I think that my brother and I merit compassion.
Your LeBaron Cult story gives me a stomach ache so I wrote this instead of tacking pain medication.
Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo & Sara Aldrete (24) Constanzo, a Cuban-American bisexual cult leader and male model, managed a drug smuggling ring in Matamoros, Mexico. He and Sara Aldrete, his college-student-gone-cult-priestess partner, were very successful in the drug trade because of their habit of ritually sacrificing their competition. Through sacrifice, Constanzo preached, they would be invisible to their enemies. Constanzo himself was fond of wearing necklaces made out of human vertebrae for protection. Once one of the members of the cult who got into a fight in a bar, pulled a severed finger out his pocket to scare away his attackers.
Their gig ran afoul when they decided what they needed was to kill a gringo. They abducted Mark Kilroy, a college student on spring break, and killed him in their border ranch called Santa Elena. There his body was dismembered and his heart, genitals and spine were used to make a magic stew. The disappearance of Kilroy triggered an all out police search around the border. Authorities were alerted of the weird rituals practiced in Rancho Santa Elena. As the digging in the ranch began a large number of dismembered bodies started appearing and several members of the cult were arrested.
Previously no one cared about the missing drug dealers figuring there were victims of a drug war. However, once the gringo was sacrificed, the group was put on the run. By the time the bodies in Matamoros were found Constanzo and Aldrete were hiding in an apartment in Mexico City. Police discovered their hideaway and surrounded the apartment. After a brief exchange of gunfire Constanzo ordered another cult member to kill him and his boyfriend. When police stormed into the apartment they found the embracing couple machine-gunned to death inside a closet. His college-student-gone-cult-priestess girlfriend, Sara Aldrete is now in jail in Mexico where she gives totally schizophrenic interviews.
Shoko Asahara & Aum Supreme Truth (18+) This apocalyptic sect and its charismatic, blind leader are suspected of releasing Sarin gas in five Tokyo subway stations the morning of March 20, 1995, killing 12 people (one dying a year after the attack) and sickening more than 5,500 others. The religious cult is also suspected of a similar gas attack in June, 1994 in Matsumoto, a town north of Tokyo, that killed seven people and wounded 144. Furthermore they are suspected of a series of slayings and kidnappings of anti-cult activists and of preparing to overthrow the Japanese government -- all in the name of "good karma."
Asahara justified indiscriminate mass murder through the religious belief of "poa" -- a Tibetan Buddhist term for reincarnation to a higher existence. According to Shoko's twisted doomsday teachings, one can only save their soul through killing. Through the years Asahara developed a mumbo-jumbo collaged religious doctrine that resembled some sort of New Age-Hippie-Buddhist-Mysticism. He even went on a pilgrimage to see Nostradamus expert Michel Chomarat at Lyon's municipal libr justified indiscriminate mass murder through the religious belief of "poa" -- a Tibetan Buddhist term for reincarnation to a higher existence. According to Shoko's twisted doomsday teachings, one can only save their soul through killing. Through the years Asahara developed a mumbo-jumbo collaged religious doctrine that resembled some sort of New Age-Hippie-Buddhist-Mysticism. He even went on a pilgrimage to see Nostradamus expert Michel Chomarat at Lyon's municipal library to gain new insights into divination.
To the New Age cocktail brewing in his head, Asahara added the incentive of world domination through violence that he taught to his followers. According to Shoko a "poa" killing relieved victims from everyday life and the inevitable accumulation of bad karma. Thus what we call cold blooded murder was regarded "as a beautiful 'poa,' and wise people would see that both the killer and the person killed would benefit."
In 1994, seeing that his cult was entangled in all types of legal difficulties, Shoko ordered his disciples to mass produce deadly nerve gas and test its power in the streets of Matsumoto. It was the start of a doomsday plot to wipe out untold numbers of innocent people in his first volley in a war against the police and the Japanese government. The objective of the attack was to kill several judges staying at a courthouse dormitory that were due to rule against the sect in a property lawsuit. Seven people died and 144 were injured in the experiment. However, nothing happened to the judges.
Under Asahara's command, the doomsday cult built a sarin plant to produce 70 tons of the lethal Nazi-invented gas. On the side he also had plants manufacturing barbiturates and truth serum. Furthermore, he ordered the production of 1,000 automatic rifles and one million bullets. He was also looking into the possibility of procuring weapons-grade Uranium to build an atomic bomb with the help of Russian nuclear scientist hired by the cult.
At the peak of its influence in 1995, the Aum owned about 30 pieces of property throughout Japan, as well as a business empire that controlled restaurants, computers and other technology companies. Its net worth was estimated at $20 million to $1 billion. It was also said to have 10,000 followers in Japan and up to 40,000 in other countries, 30,000 of them in Russia.
Not the humble type, Asahara demanded that his followers treat him as a "living incarnation of God." He allowed them, at a steep price, to drink his bathing water as a way to cleanse their souls. He also sold strands of his hair and little vials of his blood -- at $8,100 a shot -- as part of an initiation ritual. Former cult members testified in court that they paid up to $2,400 for an intravenous injection of an unknown substance. Shoko also had a habit of kidnapping and executing anti-cult activist and lawyers representing former cult members. Prosecutors described how one rebel cult member, Kotaro Ochida, was strangled while Asahara looked on.
During the opening day of his trial the blind visionary's only words were: "I have nothing to say." Later he appeared to doze off and one of his lawyers had to wake him up. Throughout the trial Asahara has been repeatedly removed for bursting out incoherently and interrupting proceeding. Virtually all other top cult members -- including Shoko's wife -- have been arrested for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to helping to carry out the Tokyo subway murders. Until his arrest, the portly cultist predicted that the world would soon come to an end and only the Aum Supreme Truth would survive. Until then, they will all be in jail waiting for the apocalypse rather than actively participating in it.
Zebra Killers(15) 1973 -- The Black Muslim-inspired Zebra killers who, in their six-month spree, killed 15 & injured eight whites in random attacks, shoot & seriously wound future mayor Art Agnos, San Francisco.
San Francisco's "Zebra killings," a murder spree roughly simultaneous during the time that the SLA was active, were allegedly perpetrated by American Black Muslims motivated by "revenge" on the white race. Given the history of such tactics as the use of disinformation and smear campaigns against "subversive" groups, it is possible that this was a CIA/FBI program to discredit the Muslim movement in America, and that the murders were possibly committed by whites in black face makeup. For a 179-day period, the "Zebra" killers brutally assaulted, robbed, and sodomized a total of twenty-three persons, leaving fifteen dead.
These crimes were allegedly carried out by a Nation of Islam group that called themselves the "Death Angels" and who believed that they were serving Allah by killing "blue-eyed devils," i.e. Caucasians. To become a Death Angel, a member supposedly had to kill either nine white males, five white females, or four white children in order to earn their "wings". Polaroid photographs were taken of the victims at the murder sites as proof by the murderers that the killings had been accomplished. These murders were supposed to guarantee the killers a special place in Mecca in the afterlife. (The police estimated that up to two thousand persons earned their "wings").
The code-named "Zebra" killings (so-called by police because the crimes involved black on white crimes) took place in San Francisco during a six month period from 1973 to 1974 and occurring during the time of CIA/FBI involvement in Vacaville and anti-subversive type operations in California.
The murders involved shootings, stabbings, and hackings with machetes.
On January 28, 1974, the killers claimed five victims in one night. A group of five black Muslims were arrested and accused of being the principal perpetrators, but one defendant (A.C. Harris) turned informant and testified with immunity. According to some sources, up to twenty of these killers were never caught or identified. The Nation of Islam paid for three defense attorneys during the trial. All of the suspects received life sentences.
Yahweh Ben Yahweh & The Temple of Love (14+) This charismatic black leader of the Church of Love and sixteen followers have been charged with the slayings of at least fourteen people. The Temple of Love was a black Israelite sect that believes blacks are the lost tribe of Israel and that true Jews and white people are devils. Their leader Ben Yahweh, born known as Hulon Mitchell Jr., and six others were convicted in 1992 of conspiracy for ordering 14 killings of white people and resistant black disciples. Yahweh Ben Yahweh, which means "God the Son of God" in Hebrew, built a multimillion-dollar business empire in the Miami area through murder, fire bombings and extortion. However, he also managed to join Miami's Chamber of Commerce and was even honored with the proclamation of "Yahweh Ben Yahweh Day" by the city's mayor.
The secretive Church of Love preached that the American blacks were true Jews living in the land of the "white devil". It's members dressed in white robes, took the last name Israel and followed a kosher diet. The black supremacist cult was accused of a reign of terror that includes the beheading of an ex member, the fire bombing of a Delray Beach neighborhood and many other acts of violence. It seemed that to become part of the "Brotherhood", a secret group within the sect, one had to smoke a "white devil".
Many of the shady details of the sect's activities come from Robert Rozier, a former NFL player who also called himself Neariah Israel, or "Child of God," who was arrested in 1986 in connection to four killings. Rozier was convicted of committing four murders under orders from the cult. Later he admitted to seven killings and was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but was released after 10 years in 1996, after testifying against Yahweh and other followers. Rozier became a federally protected witness in 1996, relocated to his home in California and changed his name. He was recently arrested for violating his program agreement by writing bad checks totaling $125.24, which due to a new "three strikes" California law might send him to prison for life.
On March 24, 1999, New Jersey prosecutors charged Rozier with stabbing a homeless white man to death in Newark as a sacrifice to Yahweh Ben Yahweh. Prosecutors said Rozier, 43, stabbed Attilio Cicala in 1984 as a sacrifice a few days before the cult's leader was to visit Newark. At the time Rozier was the leader of Newark's Temple. Along with Rozier another former cultist John Armstrong, 40, was also charged with the murder. Presently Rozier is in jail in California on $1 million bail.
Tijuana Religious Ritual (12) On Dec. 13, 1990, 12 people died in a religious ritual in Tijuana. It was never clearly established if this was a suicide and authorities speculated the deaths might have been accidental. They said some kind of industrial alcohol, perhaps rubbing alcohol, was poured into a fruit punch the participants shared during the religious ceremony.
Charles Manson & The Family (9+) Meet the Reigning King of America's Homicidal Maniacs and his harem of acolytes. Between July and August of 1969, Charlie and his "Family" of society drop-outs carved themselves a niche of infamy in the American psyche after a blood-soaked series of murders that hammered shut the hopes of the flower generation.
Born "No Name Maddox," Charlie was the son of a teenage, bisexual, alcoholic prostitute. As an infant his uncaring mom once traded him for a pitcher of beer. As a young boy he watched his mother bring home lovers of both sexes and was constantly shuffled between the home's of relatives and orphanages. One particularly sadistic uncle forced Charlie to wear a dress to school so he would "learn to fight and be a man." Not surprisingly Charlie started his career in crime at a young age. As a young man he was the poster-boy of institutional life, constantly in and out of reform schools and prisons. Before he was thirty-five, he had spent more than half of his life incarcerated.
When he was paroled in 1967, this ex-con and aspiring musician drifted to San Francisco just in time to catch the Summer of Love. There he became the "God of Fuck". Charlie's charisma made him the Messiah of every lost flower child and, strangely, after years of incarceration, he turned out to be full of love. Describing himself as a "little runt" he managed to surround himself with a bevy of beautiful young girls who considered him God. While in San Francisco he traded the rights to one of his songs for a bus, which his girls painted black and he drove all across the West collecting what he called "Garbage People."
When the bus broke down north of Los Angeles, they settled in the Spahn Ranch, a derelict ranch that was used for Western movies. There the Family grew to have more than 30 girls with more joining each day. At first their life in the ranch was pure hippie Nirvana. Charlie would sleep with a different girl each night as they all fried on acid and sang songs around a campfire when the sun went down. They would raid garbage dumpsters in the back of supermarkets for food and would shoplift for other necessities. Back at the ranch, as they fucked and sucked with abandon, the Family envisioned themselves as representatives of the "Infinite Soul." On the side they formed alliances with various satanist and biker groups and with who they occasionally committed ritual murder.
All along Charlie planned to launch his stellar career as a folk singer with the help of Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Sadly, for Sharon Tate and her friends, things didn't turn out the way he thought. Shunned by the music industry Charlie grew bitter and vengeful. His odd interpretation of the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter" warned of a coming race war in which "blackie" would win. Then he and his minions, who had been breeding at a furious rate in the Spahn ranch, would take over and rule the world. Ultimately, the reign of terror perpetrated by this midget genius had nothing to do with his visions of Armageddon. Instead, it was simply an act of revenge against the music industry that had ignored him.
Terry Melcher, a music producer who had rejected Manson (and also the son of Doris Day), moved out of his house in Cielo Drive and subleased it to Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate. In a desperate attempt to get his music produced Manson had gone to talk to Terry to find out that he had moved. He thought the new tenants of Cielo Drive treated him like "a piece of scum to be sucked into the toilet." So when he felt that a series of random murders were in order to feed the "Infinite Soul" he knew exactly where to go
The first hit was Gary Hinman, a rich Buddhist musician partly associated with the Family. Members Susan Atkins, Marie O'Brien and Bobby Beausoleil went to pay him a visit. After torturing Gary for five or six hours he proved unwilling to give the Family money. Manson and Family member Bruce Davis were called to the scene to see if they could convince Hinman to cooperate. He refused again and Manson told Bobby: "You know what to do. Kill him-- he's no good to us." Bobbie stabbed him and later wrote on the wall "POLITICAL PIGGY" in blood to divert attention to the Family and make it look like a hit by the Black Panthers.
The next stop in their war against "the Establishment" was Cielo Drive. On August 8, 1969, Manson sent Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to "do the Devil's business." What ensued was a blood bath of apocalyptic proportions. Armed with knives and a gun, the Family members butchered Steve Parent, Abigail Folger, Voityck Frykowski, Jay Sebring and a very pregnant Sharon Tate. After the killing Tex ordered Susan to return inside and, "write something that will shock the world." Using a towel soaked in Tate's blood she wrote "PIG" on the door. She also thought of carving out Tate's unborn child and bringing it to Charlie wrapped in the towel. "How proud Charlie would be if I presented him with the baby cut from the womb of the woman." She later considered cutting out the heart and eating it or skewering the baby and roasting it in a bonfire. Fortunately these were just fleeting thoughts.
Feeling that the massacre in Cielo Drive was too messy, the next night Charlie joined his hippie death squad to demonstrate how the killings should be done. After meandering through the streets of Los Angeles they ended next to a monastery in the Los Feliz area. There he entered the home of supermarket magnate Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. After tying up the couple and reassuring them that everything was going to be fine, Charlie sent Tex, Leslie and Patricia to do the job. They killed the hapless couple and scribbled in blood "ARISE" on the wall, "DEATH TO ALL PIGS" on the front door, and "HELTER-SKELTER" on the refrigerator. Then they took showers, ate watermelon and hitchhiked a ride home. Before leaving, Patricia, in a stroke of evil brilliance, carved the word "WAR" on the stomach of LaBianca using a fork. When police discovered his body the next day he still had the fork protruding from his gut. To make the rampage look like part of the impending race war Charlie drove to a black neighborhood and left the wallet of Rosemary LaBianca in the bathroom of a gas station.
The last killing perpetrated by the family before their arrest was a ranch hand called Shorty Shea who knew too much about the "five dead piggies." The Family then relocated to the Barker ranch in Goler Wash on the outskirts of Death Valley. There Charlie and the Family "tried to get as close as we could to all the animals, try to learn from them how to live." They also had fun with dune buggies playing some type of desert war games. Eventually, because of their nightly desert escapades, U.S. Marshalls came to arrest the Family on charges of arson and auto theft after they torched some park ranger equipment. Once in custody Susan blabbed to one of her cellmates about the murders and their house of cards came tumbling down.
During their trial Charlie tried unsuccessfully to defend himself and staged several media pranks in his ongoing attack on "the Establishment." He wanted to form a corporation with the other six jailed Family members called "The Family of Infinite Soul, Inc." to pay for their defence. Eight days after the defense rested their case, Manson's court-appointed attorney Ronald Hughes dissapeared. His decomposed body was found five months later. At one point Charlie and the girls carved Xs on their foreheads as a symbol of X'ing oneself out of society. All the histrionics never amounted to anything other than Vincent Bugliosi penning a best-seller out of prosecuting the Family.
By 1971 seven members of the Family were handed death penalties which were revoked in 1972 when the California Supreme Court abolished it. Charlie, although convicted of multiple murders, was never proven to have killed anyone. It is believed that the Family was probably responsible for dozens of other deaths before and after the arrest and incarceration of their leader. Years later, on September 4, 1975 Family member Squeaky Fromme managed to capture headlines when she lunged at President Gerald Ford with a gun. Fortunately a Secret Service agent managed to wedge his thumb between the hammer and the firing pin preventing one more death to be tallied for the Infinite Soul. A week later fellow Family member Sandra Good leaked to the press a hit list of corporate and political big wigs targeted for assassination by the Family for their destructive actions against the environment.
Not one to be sitting on past laurels cyber-Charlie has now his own website. At his latest parole hearing on April, 1997, he pointed out that he was hard at work on the website and had no time for parole. Showing that he was keeping up with current events he also remarked: "These monks (Heaven's Gate) that just took their heads in San Diego they're way behind the times."
Even in jail America's favorite psychopath remains at odds with the law. In the summer of 1997 he was caught dealing drugs inside the Corcoran state Prison. As punishment he was transferred to the tougher Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City and was placed in a segregated Security Housing Unit where he has virtually no contact with other inmates. He can only leave his cell for treatment sessions, showers and his daily solitary exercise routine. After more than a year of punishment Manson was returned to Corcoran. In jail he receives four fan letters a day, more mail than any prisoner in the United States.
The latest two reports about Charlie have him cowarding away from a group of prisoners attacking fellow serial killer Juan Corcoran in maximum security. In the altercation Manson's beloved guitar was smashed. Charlie is also said to be assisting a criminology professor with a course on the American legaL system.
The Ripper Crew (18) In the early eighties Robin Getch, a former employee of John Wayne Gacy, and three associates, Edward Spreitzer and brothers Andrew and Thomas Kokoraleis, had a Satanic cult suspected for the disappearances of 18 women in the streets of Chicago. Known as the Ripper Crew, Gecht and his gang drove around in a van looking for prostitutes to sacrifice in Gecht's apartment. They would remove one breast from each victim and eat it as Robin read passages of the bible.
Getch and his friends were arrested in 1982 for the stabbing of a teenaged prostitute. Like every good Satanist they all started squealing on each other. Though Robin's associates and other witnesses implicated him in some of the deaths, investigators never had enough evidence to charge him with murder. Robin is serving 120 years in Menard Correctional Center for mutilating and raping an 18-year-old prostitute. Fellow cultist Edward Spreitzer and Andrew Kokoraleis were sentenced to death. Kokoraleis' brother Thomas was sentenced to life for his role in the murders.
On March 16, 1999, Andrew Kokoraleis was executed by lethal injection at Tamms Correctional Center in Southern Illinois for the 1982 strangulation murder of Lorraine Borowski, a 21-year-old secretary at a real estate office that was abducted on her way to work. Her mutilated body was found in a cemetery. Kokoraleis, 35, sighed three times, licked his lips and appeared to be speaking quietly to himself before he died.
Defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that Andrew was coerced into confessing. They also argued that new information cast doubt on the credibility of confessions by two co-defendants who accused Kokoraleis. Kokoraleis, who had been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Rose Beck Davis, was the first prisoner executed at a new super-maximum-security prison in southern Illinois.
On March 7, 1999, David A. Gecht, the son of Robin, and two others, were charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of a Northwest Side man. The killing is believed be to gang-related, police said.
Youngsang ("Everlasting Life") Church (7) On October 5, 1998, six doomsday cult members and their leader were found burned to death in a mini-van in a suspected self-immolation ritual. The dead cultist were identified as members of the Youngsang (everlasting life) Church, one of the dozens of doomsday cults active in South Korea.
Police said the doomsday cult leader, Woo Jong-min, 57, left his home in Seoul in July with six followers, saying that they were embarking on an everlasting journey. Jong-min taught his followers that when they die, they will live a new, happy life in heaven. The news shocked South Koreans, most of whom had returned to their home towns to celebrate Chusok, a traditional lunar holiday. It is not known whether the date was a significant one for the cult members.
United Pentecostal Church of Brazil (6) On November 27, 1998, Brazilian police announced that six members of the United Pentecostal Church of Brazil, a tiny religious cult deep in the Amazon, beat and kicked to death six people, including three children, purportedly to be taken to heaven "after wiping out the enemies of God."
Six members of cult the were arrested at a remote rubber plantation where men, women and children were subjected to vicious ritual beatings. Among those arrested was Francisco Bezerra de Moraes, known as Toto, who is believed to be the pastor and leader of the 30-member sect.
The killings began two weeks before their arrest when the pastor announced during a sermon that he could hear "voices from Jesus Christ" ordering a former leader of the group and all his followers to be punished. The pastor, helped by his wife and two other men, began beating, whipping and stamping on the worshipers. For the next several days the "disciplinary" torture continued in a nearby shacks. "Every day they held a ceremony that began with the veneration of Toto's wife. Then came the torture." The sessions were accompanied by prayers and chants of "Out, Satan!" he added.
Among the dead were two boys ages three and four, who police said were killed by their father, and another 13-year-old boy. The mother of the dead brothers was also murdered. The former leader of the group escaped and raised the alarm with police who stopped the killings when they reached the remote plantation. When police arrived, they discovered the bodies of the dead out in the open, decomposing, torn apart and being eaten by animals.
"They said the only thing that made them do it were voices from the beyond," a police officer said.
Rituals involving death are not common in Brazil. However, police in Para state, also in the Amazon, are investigating a suspected group of satanic worshipers believed to have murdered at least eight young boys in recent years. And in a town in neighboring Maranhao state, 14 boys have been murdered or vanished over the last seven years. Investigators say black magic could be behind that case but an illegal trade in human organs might also be to blame.
Mexican Witch Killers (6) On November 6, 1996, an entire family, including four children, was stabbed to death by three men who accused them of being witches. The slayings happened in Vicente Guererro, 80 miles southeast of Mexico City. The victims were identified as Eduardo Quiahua Maquixtle and his wife, Andrea, and four children between the ages of 6 and 12.
Two brothers, Florencio and Constantino Chipahua Maquixtle, and a third man, Amador Atilano, were arrested in connection with the killings. The suspects claimed the victims were witches responsible for the deaths of Florencio's wife and two daughters.
Siberian Satanist Cult (5+) In March, 1997, Russian police announced that they were searching for the ringleaders of a Satanic cult in western Siberia. The cult is believed to be from the city of Tyumen, 1,400 miles east of Moscow, where five young people have been found hanged to death in what, at first, authorities though were suicides. Later, the discovery of cabalistic jottings in the belongings of the dead youths revealed their involvement in a seven-stage initiation ceremony that culminated in ritual suffocation.
The first death occurred in April,1996. Denis Abramov, 19, was found hanged in his room at home in the village of Roshchino. In May Dima Bronnikov, 17, and in July, Stas Buslov were found hanged from a tree. Three days later his friend Sergei Sidorov, 18, hanged himself at home. So did Tanya Stankeyeva, 22, in October. All the victims were friends and used to meet in a basement, which was equipped with a kind of Satanic altar and had walls painted with diabolical signs and cryptic symbols.
The mother of Sergei Sidorov said her son admitted to her shortly before his death that he was involved in a cult. "Mama, I'm a Satanist. I know it is bad, but I cannot escape. They are terribly strong." Mr. Buslov, the father of one of the victims, discovered that 36 young people between the ages of 12 and 22 have hanged themselves in Tyumen province in the past year. While there is no known connection to any cult, the high number of deaths have shaken the whole of western Siberia. A spokesman for the provincial prosecutor's office said: "We may be dealing with a serial killing, though it is not clear if this is murder or incitement to suicide."
The leader of the cult is said to be a man in his 40s, who, helped by two younger acolytes, exerted enormous influence on naive provincial children. But, thanks to the "Russianness" of the police, there seems little chance of catching those responsible.
The Chijon Family (5) On November, 1, 1994, the Chijon Family, a South Korean gang of cannibals, was sentenced to death for murdering five people. The gang was founded in 1993 by Kim Ki-hwan, a former convict, and six other former prisoners and unemployed workers who shared his grudge against the rich.
Kim christened his band the "Chijon Family" and ordered them to kidnap wealthy people and extort money from their families. The gang's hatred of the rich led them to systematically kill the best customers at one of the most exclusive department stores in Seoul. The six gangsters were found guilty of murdering five people in 1994, burying some of the corpses on remote hillsides and burning the rest in an incinerator specially installed for that purpose in the cellar of their rustic hide-out.
One gang member admitted dismembering his victims and eating their flesh, saying this was to fire up his courage and to renounce his humanity. The gang, boldened by a series of successful murders and kidnappings, decided that they needed a more effective way to pick out wealthy victims. They were able to buy the mailing list from Seoul's exclusive Hyundai department store from a disgruntled worker. The list contained the names of the shop's 1,200 best customers who paid with credit cards. From it they chose their next victims.
After sentencing none of the murderers showed any trace of remorse. One told television reporters before his trial that his only regret was that he had not killed more rich kids.
Jeffrey Lundgren (5) As a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Lundgren wielded total control over his six-family flock. He beat misbehaving children with poles, trained his followers for war and masturbated while naked female cult members danced around him. A man of strange appetites, Jeb7, as he liked to be called, enjoyed having excrement rubbed all over his body by his loving wife as he preached about the coming apocalypse.
In 1987 he settled with his cult in a fifteen-acre farm in rural Ohio. There, according to cult members, they were intending to meet God in the final days of planet Earth. However, God would be angry with the cult, due to "man's sins." Lundgren, a resourceful man, figured that if he sent five of his own, the Avery's (whom he considered the weakest family in the cult), before the "judgement bar," God would take out his anger on them.
The Avery family was thrown in a pit under the barn of the cult's ranch and were shot to death with a Colt 45 which, incidentally, Avery had paid for. After the killing Lungren and his family fled to what they called "The Wilderness" in Tucker County, West Virginia. By the fall of 1989 the group relocated to Jackson County, Missouri where things started to really fall apart.
On December 31, 1989, Larry Keith Johnson, (whose wife, Katheryn Renee Jackson was chosen by Lundgren as his "wife.") reported the murders to Larry Scott of ATF-Kansas City. Three days later the first body was uncovered, that of Dennis Leroy Avery. On January 7, 1990, Jeff Lundgren, his son Damon, and wife Alice were arrested in Room #29 of the Santa Fe Motel in National City, California. At the time of their arrest police and ATF agents found an arsenal of weapons tucked in the room with them. His wife and nineteen-year-old son received five consecutive life terms for the doomsday killings of the Avery family. Jeb7 was sentenced to death. The remaining cult members (except for Larry) were sentenced to various lengths of imprisonment.
Chevie Kehoe & Danny Lee (3) Gloria Kehoe, the mother of a man accused in a murderous plot to set up a whites-only country, testified that her son once told her about killing a gun dealer and his family. Chevie Kehoe, of Colville, Washington, bragged to his mom that he put the victims on "a liquid diet" by tossing their bodies into a bayou. Looking across the courtroom at her son, Mrs. Kehoe said: "It's got to be told, Chevie. There's wrong and there's right. God won't let me live with it anymore. I'm very sorry."
Chevie, 26, and Danny Lee, 26, of Yukon, Oklahoma, are charged with racketeering, conspiracy and murder in an alleged plot to overthrow the government and set up the whites-only Aryan Peoples Republic in the Pacific Northwest. Among other things, they are accused of murdering gun dealer William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and their daughter.
Mrs. Kehoe said her son told her that he and Lee donned FBI outfits, entered the Muellers' Tilly, Arkansas, home and waited. They took the family by surprise, bound their hands with plastic ties and told them they were being arrested. Then Lee and her son put plastic bags over the Muellers' heads and that Kehoe beat Mueller in the head with the butt of a shotgun.
"Kentucky Occult Teen Killers" (3) On February 20, 1998, four teen-agers and two young adults from eastern Kentucky pleaded guilty to killing a couple and their 6-year-old daughter. Prosecutor Berkeley Bell said the deal -- which spared them from the death penalty -- was supported by the relatives of Vidar and Delfina Lillelid, who were shot to death with their daughter Tabitha. Their 2-year-old son Peter survived a bullet through his eye and is living with relatives in Sweden.
On April 6 the Lillelids -- who were on their way back from a Jehovah's Witnesses conference in Johnson City -- met the killer teen squad in a highway rest stop in northeast Tennessee. They were later found in a muddy ditch along a gravel road several miles away. Vidar, shot six times, and Delfina, shot eight times, died with their children in their laps. Their legs had been run over by their own van, prosecutors said.
The six suspects -- Jason Blake Bryant, 15, Natasha Cornett, 19, Crystal Sturgill, 18, Karen Howell, 18, Dean Mullins, 20, and Joe Risner, 21 -- were arrested in Arizona while driving the Lillelids' van two days after the slayings. The group had been turned away at the Mexican border because two of them were juveniles.
Cornett, the reputed ringleader,told her first lawyer she was the daughter of Satan. Prosecutors said two days before the killings the group held a bizarre ritual in a Pikeville, Ky., motel room that included self-mutilation and bloodletting. Cornett -- who said she wanted to to cross the country killing people like in "Natural Born Killers" -- had almost 20 cuts on her right arm and about 50 on her left arm when she was arrested. Apparently she only could communicate with Satan after cutting herself and bleeding.
"The West Memphis Three" (3) Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Lloyd Misskelley, three bored teenagers from West Memphis, Arkansas, shocked their way into national infamy when they were accused of killing three youngsters in a half-baked attempt at performing a satanic ritual. On May 5, 1993, the three hapless eight-year-old boys went riding their bikes through the Robin Hood Hills in West Memphis and were never seen alive again. The next afternoon their dead bodies were discovered in a shallow stream near the woods. They were tied, beaten, nude, and one of them was sexually mutilated.
For weeks local police had no leads. One theory was that a trucker or hitchhiker -- mockingly referred to as Mr. Bojangles during the trial -- was responsible for the carnage. Police cracked the case open when they interviewed dim-witted Jesse Lloyd Misskelley who claimed to have been drinking beers around a campsite in the woods with a stranger the night of the murders. The stranger turned out to be Mark Byers, the step-father of one of the murdered kids. He told authorities he knew nothing of the killings. However, after submitting Misskelley to a lie detector, they realized he had first-hand knowledge of the crimes that only someone involved in them would know.
Misskelley, together with Echols and Baldwin, had formed a satanic cult for disaffected youths. According to Jesse their little clique enjoyed killing and eating dogs, and organized orgies. Echols, the 19-year-old ringleader, claimed to be a Wiccan, a practitioner of white magick. Kerr Cuhulain, a Wiccan and an expert on Wicca and anti-Wiccan groups, was called in on the case by the police to interview Echols. Not surprisingly, he found out that Damien knew nothing about Wicca at all. Echols explained that he got the name from watching an Evangelical Christian teleminister who said Wicca was a type of Satanism. He figured that being a Satanism was fairly common, but a Wicca seemed more special. So he called himself a Wiccan to be cool.
A self-styled Satanist, 19-year-old Echols was always dressed in black, sported a couple homemade tattoos of occult symbolism and lived in a ratty trailer with his 15-year-old pregnant girlfriend. When arrested he proudly proclaimed to the media, "I'm a freak," as authorities carted him away. Rising to the occasion, Echols -- who changed his first name from Michael to Damien -- flicked his tongue and licked his lips for the cameras in a truly satanic fashion.
During their 10-month trial Echols emerged as a profoundly disturbed youth who, until he was twelve, thought he was "an alien put here from another planet." A court appointed psychologist testified that Damien's unhappy childhood and broken home left him living in a fantasy world. Not Mr. Nice-Guy, Damien told the psychologist he hated "the human race." As a sorcerer he enjoyed drinking the blood of his sexual partners to gain power and, "feel like God."
Because of his incriminating confession Misskelley was the first one to be tried. On February 4, 1994 he was found guilty and sentenced to life plus 40 years. A month later Echols and Balwin were tried together in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Prosecutors were not allowed to use Jesse's confession as evidence and resorted to other kids who had heard the two boys bragging about the killing. During the trial Damien took to sparring with the prosecution and stated his opinion of what he thought the alleged killer might or might not have done. He said the killer would enjoy hearing the victims scream and would have thought the murders were funny.
Baldwin did not testify, but a jail house buddy told the court that Jason had told him that he mutilated one of the boys and sucked the blood from the severed body part. Throughout the trial Echols rocked back and forth on his chair and mugged for cameras and spectators. On March 18, the two boys were convicted of three counts of murder. The next day Baldwin was sentenced to life in prison without parole and Echols was sentenced to death by lethal injection. A defiant Damien bent on making some kind of statement went to the bathroom before sentencing and changed into a black Harley Davidson T-shirt.
On death row at the state prison at Tucker, Damien enjoys the occasional visits from his girlfriend and their child who was born during the trial. He also has been receiving plenty of fan mail and request for his autograph from fellow Satanist. While he awaits his state-sponsored appointment with death, he spends most of his time reading fantasy novels, listening to music and watching "Tales from the Crypt."
On October 29, 1999, October 29 Damien Echols requested permission to get married at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit of the Department of Corrections. The wedding, if approved by the warden, would take place in December in the prison chapel and would be paid for by the bride and groom. The happy couple, prison authorities say, could have as many as six guests present. "But that doesn't say we have to provide a Barbie and Ken night of glamour," Dina Tyler, spokesman for the Department of Correction, noted. "There isn't a fancy reception with hors d'oeuvres and there is not a honeymoon."
The bride's identity remains a mystery, but West Memphis detectives say they've heard the woman is a New York architect who started writing to Echols after watching an HBO documentary that convinced her he was wrongly accused. Detectives say the bride-to-be recently moved to Little Rock to be closer to Echols.
"I would like for her, under Freedom of Information laws, to roam through the case file and then she would see that the HBO documentary was so biased in Damien's favor," said Lt. Mike Allen, who investigated the boys' deaths. "That documentary did kind of make you wonder 'what if?' but only because it didn't show the facts of the case that two juries listened to."
Like many other visitors to the Archives, Carol Ann Matthews believes the "West Memphis Three" are innocent, and their incarceration is a miscarriage of justice. There's even a film, "Paradise Lost" and a website http://www.wm3.org that state, in no uncertain terms, how Damien, Jason and Jesse where unjustly convicted for crimes they did not commit.
Carol, a true believer, states:
I have been an avid reader of true crime stories, and never in my life was I disturbed in the same manner as when I viewed the documentary 'Paradise Lost.' It is petrifying, the fact that three young men have been convicted on the evidence that the prosecution presented at this trial. To convict someone, there must be no reasonable doubt.
"There are so many avenues that went unexplored, or rapidly dismissed. The mystery man at Bojangles, Mark Byers, and the ever lingering possibility that it was someone that has gone unsuspected thus far. The only actual physical evidence presented against Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin were fibers. Fibers! This makes the whole scenario seem even more ridiculous. The confessor to this crime has an IQ of 72. That is the IQ of a mere child.
"The case of the West Memphis three is purely 'Satanic panic.' They wore black, listened to heavy metal, and read the wrong books. They weren't 'socially acceptable' in their community. Essentially I have learned from 'Paradise Lost' that teenagers -- even those who like wearing black lipstick and have purple hair -- are insecure and testing their hold on life. I makes me despondent to think that one community interpreted 'teens expressing themselves' as something sick and twisted. The real tragedy in this story is that three little boys were maliciously murdered, but six boys lost their lives.
Backing Ms. Matthews' opinion, Anita Dalton wrote to the Archives saying:
The truth of the matter is that Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin were railroaded because of their appearance and their unusual beliefs. Since when is listening to Metallica and dabbling in Wicca proof that a person is a killer? The "proof" that the boys attended esbats and ritually sacrificed animals was given by subliterate town folks who wanted to claim reward money.
And speaking of subliterate, Jesse Misskelley was convicted on the basis of a coerced confession. Miskelley has an IQ of 70 and was grilled until he "confessed." The only problem the prosecutors and the judge in West Memphis have with this confession is how they are going to manipulate it to include a fourth killer. You see, Jesse didn't mention anyone else other than himself and Damien and Jason. A recent examination of the face of victim Steve Branch revealed that a previously unexamined wound on his face was in fact a bite mark.
Dental impressions have been taken from the three men and will be examined by a forensic odontologist. How will the coerced confession stand up when it is revealed that none of the men imprisoned for the crime bit the boy? I'm sure this damning piece of evidence will be brushed aside, like the fact that Jesse confessed that they boys were raped by Damien when if fact none of the boys were sexually assaulted. One of the the boys had been emasculated, and to the backwoods cops who fed the information to Misskelley so that he could have "facts that no one would know but the killer," they confused the severing of the penis with rape.
An FBI profile of this crime revealed that it was the work of a Custodial Killer, like a parent or step-parent, and John Mark Byer has been a suspect in the eyes of rational people for a long time. He also mysteriously lost his teeth when it was revealed that there were dental prints on one of the victims. This also fits a profile of what killers do when confronted with dental related evidence. It will surprise no one that he gave several stories about how he lost his teeth, just like he gave several conflicting alibis on the night of the murders. Add to this that he has been in and out of trouble with the law since the killings, and that his wife died under mysterious circumstances, a record of lawless and brutal behavior is clearly established.
Free the WM3 and bring justice to those little boys. I encourage you guys to print updates in your news section about the upcoming hearings on October 26-30 when the dental impressions will be analyzed. This hearing is for Damien Echols, but the plight of the three can begin to end with this hearing.
Jose Augusto dos Santos (2) On June 25, 199, Brazilian police arrested voodoo priest Jose Augusto dos Santos on suspicion of robbing graves and making human sacrifices after finding 16 skulls and other bones buried beneath his home. Dos Santos, 40, is being investigated for allegedly sacrificing a small child and a man in a rare Afro- Brazilian religious ceremony aimed at winning favors from the devil.
"This man had pictures of Lucifer, Satan, all over the house. He had statues of him as well," said homicide investigator Marcio Peironi. "He says he bought all these bones from a worker at the cemetery. But we have reason to believe he may also have committed human sacrifice," he added. Peironi said Augusto dos Santos admitted to paying a grave digger for skulls and skeletons for use in black magic rituals at his home and "terreiro" (house of worship) in the remote state of Mato Grossoor.
Augusto dos Santos is known as a "pai-de-santo" (high priest) in Afro Brazilian religion. He told authorities his terreiro was used for Candomble ceremonies, in which West African gods possess followers' bodies during heated moments of dance and drumming. But the Candomble religion, like virtually all Afro- Brazilian religious practices, does not involve human sacrifice.
Police said they believe dos Santos was paid by middle and upper class followers of the darker, Quimbanda religion, where the pai-de-santo summons evil spirits to win favors from them.
Along with the remains of a young child buried beneath Augusto dos Santos' terreiro, police say they found a photo of a baby with the words "Para Morrer" or "To Die" written on the backside. The high priest, who denies allegations of murder, told local press the photo was of his own child. Police also believe they may have found the remains of Romualdo Pereira Barbosa, a man who had been missing since 1995, in the priest's house.
"Kentucky Vampire Clan" (2) On November 29, 1996, four teens and an adult from a self-described "Vampire Clan" in Kentucky were arrested in Baton Rouge, La., for bludgeoning to death a Florida couple. At first authorities feared the daughter of the dead couple, had been abducted by her parents' killers. Soon, they realized she too was a suspect, along with her former boyfriend and three other vampire friends. Eventually, authorities determined that Heather -- the daughter of the murdered -- did not know of her parent's murder until she got in the car with her buddies, and therefore was not a suspect in the case.
"They apparently like to suck blood. They cut each other's arms and suck the blood. They cut up small animals and suck the blood. They honestly believe they're vampires," a Murray, Kentucky., police detective told the media. The teens became attracted to vampires because of a best-selling role-playing game. However, this crew took their roles a little too seriously. Heather had told friends she was a demon in past lives and had talked with spirits during human blood-drinking rituals.
Rod Ferrell, 16, leader of the so-called Vampire Clan, told a friend had become possessed with the idea of opening the Gates to Hell, which meant he would have to kill a large, large number of people in order to consume their souls. By doing this, Ferrell believed he would obtain super powers. He also told friends that his sign was a "V" with dots on each side signifying himself and the members of his clan. Cigarette burns in the shape of a "V" were scorched onto the body of the adult Wendorf, along with two pairs of dots on each side of the letter.
Prosecutor Brad King said he wouldn't seek the death penalty against Dana L. Cooper, 19, and Charity Lynn Keesee, the two female members of the clan. However, he will seek the death penalty for Ferrell and Scott Anderson, 17, who allegedly did the bludgeoning. After defense attorneys requested separate trials, Circuit Judge Jerry T. Lockett tentatively scheduled trials for Ferrell, Anderson and Keesee in February 1998. Cooper has not waived her right to a speedy trial and could be judged as early as May.
The afternoon of the killings, Heather Wendorf and Ferrell performed a blood drinking ritual in a cemetery to induct, or "cross over," her as a fellow vampire. "The person that gets crossed over is like subject to whatever the sire wants... Like the sire is boss basically. They have authority over you." In the cemetery, investigators say, she and Ferrell talked about their plans to leave town. Ferrell allegedly discussed killing her parents, but she told him not to harm them.
Ferrell, Heather and others had plotted for seven months through letters and phone conversations to run away together. Considered misfits when they met at Eustis High School, the two found solace in each other's company. When Ferrell later moved to Kentucky, they stayed in touch.
Friends have described Ferrell as hostile and prone to animal torture. He may have had a troubled family life as well. His mother, Sondra Gibson, pleaded guilty in Kentucky last November to trying to entice a 14-year-old boy into having sex as part of a vampire initiation ritual.
John Goodman, a Kentucky cult member who didn't travel with Ferrell to Florida, said his friend "had become possessed with opening the Gates to Hell, which meant he would have to kill a large number of people in order to consume their souls. By doing this, Ferrell believed that he would obtain super powers."
When questioned by investigators, Heather said the only reason she went with the group was because she had no place to go and feared she would be blamed for the murders. She said she learned about the murders during the trip and was distraught at hearing her parents were dead.
Wyoming Valley Satanist (2) In 1996 Shaun Marc Zarcufsky (16) and Stanley J. Szcuzupski (16), two Wyoming Valley West (Pennsylvania) High School students, were found dead in Larksville, Pennsylvania's West Side Landfill. Both had died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head resulting from a "satanic worship pact."
The teens' interest in Satanism was only 3 to 4 weeks old before the double suicide. In that short time, it was evident to parents, teachers and friends that their personalities changed dramatically. Police found 130 pieces of evidence at the suicide scene including a marijuana pipe, alcohol and music cassettes, one of which, "Origin of Feces," was by a heavy metal band with Satanic overtones called "Type-O-Negative."
A search of Zarcufsky's bedroom at home uncovered "scores" of occult-related literature on "Black Magic". Both youths had left suicide notes, and, prior to their deaths, the two got high and taped their last moments together. The cassette recorder was still on "record" when it was found by police investigators.
Russian Satanist (2) On February 19, satanic cult members in Russia were convicted on charges of murder with aggravating circumstances. The cult members, whose ages range from under 20 to 80, stood trial in the city of Donskoi, for two ritual murders in 1998. The cult's leader, Yelena Kuzina, 80, was sentenced to five years in prison. Her oldest son, second in command in the cult, was sentenced to ten years. Defense lawyers of the Satanists said they would protest the sentences.
Crimean Satanist (1+) On October, 1997, a group of youngsters aged 16-17 suspected of performing satanic rites was detained by the police of Simferopol. Local law enforcement bodies suspected in spring that a ritual murder had been committed when a dismembered body of a dead young woman was found in the city cemetery followed by several incidents of vandalizing graves at city cemeteries were registered.
In September, one of the participants in these atrocious orgies was arrested. He confessed to having worshipped Satanism for several years. In 1997, he vandalized two graves and removed sculls and bones to perform magic rites. He also took away metallic plates from tombs to make knives for a ritual. Crimean police reported that in the attic where the man practiced satanic worship they found a black crucifix turned upside down, sculls of different animals, earth taken from a graveyard and a diary where the man thoroughly described his satanic practices.
The diary helped trace other satanic worshipers. The young woman found dismembered in the cemetery was not the only one who fell victims to the vandals who cheated innocent youngsters, persuading them to join the group and then cut their veins and drained their blood.
San Luis Obispo Satanist (1) Little Elyse Marie Pahler, 15, was "sacrificed to Satan" by three San Luis Obispo teen-agers. The three boys Roger Casey, 17, Jacob Delashmutt, 16, and Joseph Fiorella, 15, took Elyse to a secluded eucalyptus grove about a quarter-mile from her home, fed her drugs, raped her, tied a belt around her neck "to make it easier to stab her", and offered her up as the "ultimate sin against God".
Elyse knew her killers from the school bus. Delashmutt, Fiorella and Elyse attended Arroyo Grande High School in San Luis Obispo, 195 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Delashmutt was expelled from the school in September of 1995; Fiorella left in February 1996 to be home-schooled. Casey attended a nearby school. The three stabbed the girl to death at at an alleged "Satanic altar". The boys "selected and stalked" Elyse believing that a virgin sacrifice would earn them a "ticket to Hell".
Elyse disappeared July 22, 1995 and had been reported missing until Casey came forward and led authorities to her body on March 14, 1996. The girl left her house voluntarily the night she died, although it wasn't clear where she was headed or at what point she encountered her killers. If the teenagers are tried as adults and the jury finds special circumstances, they face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. If tried as juveniles, they face up to about 7 years in juvenile detention.
David Obertorf (1) Proving once and for all that the French are indeed from hell, suspected satanist and car factory worker David Obertorf stabbed to death an elderly priest in a church in France. 18-year-old David allegedly stabbed 68-year-old Father Jean Uhl 33 times in his church in the Alsatian village of Kingersheim on December 20, 1996. "The priest's body bore very specific wounds which suggested satanic symbols," a police spokesman said.
Lords of Chaos (1) In 1996, a group of teen-age friends in Fort Myers, Florida, banded together in a small gang created to "cause chaos and destruction." They called themselves the Lords of Chaos. The group ran afoul when they shotgunned to death the school band leader. Three of the teens have been convicted of participating in the murder. Two others have been convicted in connection with the group's crime spree.
The Lords of Chaos began its crime spree with assorted arson and vandalism in April 1996. The night of the slaying, they planned to burn down the high school gymnasium but Mark Schwebes, the 32-year-old school band leader caught them outside and said he would report them the next morning.
One by one, the former Lords of Chaos have taken the witness stand to testify against Kevin Foster, their ex-leader. Foster, who enjoyed being called, is accused of shooting Schwebes. After the band leader busted the teen-agers trying to burn down the gym, Foster led three gang members to Schewebe's home to make sure he would not report them. When Schewebe's answered the door Foster shot him in the face and again in the buttocks after he fell face-down on the ground.
On the way back from the murder Foster told the three other boys that they had done a "job well done," and called for a group hug. "He gave a little chuckle" said, Derek Shields, now 20. When someone asked Foster whether he thought Schwebes was dead. "He sure the hell ain't alive," the wanna-be god answered.
At the time of the slaying, Shields -- who knocked on Schewebe's door the night of the of the slaying -- was a high school senior and member of Schwebe's jazz band. "You're all going to do as I say, or you're going to die. Someone is going to die tonight," Foster told them, according to Shields' testimony. Shields pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Foster faces the death penalty. The others convicted in the killing are Peter Magnotti, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and received a 32-year prison sentence, and Chris Black, who was sentenced to life in prison for a murder conviction.
Foster's lawyer presented a series of alibi witnesses Foster's mother and sister. "Kevin was in my home the entire time -- never left," Ruby Foster, said of her son. Prosecutors contend the gun used to kill Schwebes came from the pawn shop she owned at the time. Police said the gang planned a trip to Walt Disney World to kill black tourists. When the group members were arrested, they were planning an armed robbery and had a stockpile of weapons. On June 19, 1998, Foster was sentenced to death for the murder of Mark Schwebes.
The Ant Hill Kids Commune (1) Only one actual murder was committed by this group, but the sheer ferocity of its leader, French-Canadian alcoholic hippie-guru Rock Theriault, makes them charter members of the Killer Cult Hit List. A truly deranged individual, Theriault started out in Adventism but eventually became a polygamist who terrorized two Canadian provinces for many years. He's currently in prison, and still has loyal followers in Canada.
Concerned Christians (-) On October 16, 1998, more than 50 members of a Denver doomsday group called Concerned Christians have vanished, raising the possibility of a mass suicide. The group's leader, 44-year old Monte Kim Miller, espoused his belief that an apocalypse would strike Denver, and stated his intention to die in the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999, only to rise again in three days. Miller has made other doomsday predictions and claims to be the voice of God.
Mark Roggeman, a Denver police officer and cult expert, received "...an avalanche of calls from family members." Bill Honsberger, an Aurora minister who has been monitoring Millers' Concerned Christians cult, also fielded distraught calls, as did Janja Lalich of the Cult Recovery and Information Center in Alameda, California.
One member of the group called her sister recently from Texas. "She said they were not going to commit suicide," said the woman's sister, requesting anonymity. "She said that she couldn't tell us what they were doing and that I was asking too many questions." Another woman reported a similar disturbing experience with her sister. "She told me that since I didn't believe in what she did, she felt closer to her group than to her family. She'd be with them in the hereafter and not with us."
Ironically Miller founded Concerned Christians in the early 1980s, preaching against the evils of cults and New Age movements. Along with Honsberger and Roggeman, Miller originally counseled people involved in cults and so-called New Age religions. In October of 1996, Roggeman, Honsberger and a seminary student confronted Miller with their concern of his control over several people in his group. During the confrontation, the three men claimed Miller began speaking to them, according to Miller, "...in God's own voice..." while referring to himself as "Kim" in the third person.
Hal Mansfield, director of the Fort Collins-based Religious Movement Resource Center, said Miller might have started the movement as a financial scam. Nevertheless, the group transformed itself into an apocalyptic personality cult. Miller, 44, claimed that God was using him as a vehicle to speak to his followers. After prophesying that the Apocalypse would begin with an earthquake in Denver on October 16, the cult dropped from sight. It is believed they might be in Mexico en route to Jerusalem.
The recent silent, rapid departure of Miller's group did not surprise Honsberger. "They've been talking this way for quite a while, and not hiding it," he remarked during a joint Denver Post/9News report. "According to them, (Miller) is the last prophet on Earth. (They think) he is one of the two witnesses from Revelations 11, which is a biblical account of the end of time. The bigger picture, really, is the notion that, according to him, he and his co-prophet are going to die in the streets of Jerusalem."
Honsberger went on to add that he fears a group suicide is in the making. "I don't think they're going (to Jerusalem) to cheerlead. My fear is that, if (Miller's prophecy) doesn't happen, he's liable to do something bizarre just to ensure his place in history. And there's nobody in his group who could say, 'I don't think the Bible says that.' He has that much control.You question him - you question God."
The latest episode involving the Concerned Christians cult is now centered on Rafina, a small town 15 miles west of Athens, Greece. The twenty members of the group recently deported from Israel to Denver are now suspected to be in Greece. Greek security officials are investigating reports from the media that the twenty cult members joined other members of their group in rented apartments and villas in the nearby hillside community of Neo Voutza. Authorities ordered surveillance of the two sites and together with immigration officials are attempting to determine if these individuals are in fact members of the apocalyptic cult.
God's Salvation Church (-) The God's Salvation Church has emerged in San Dimas, California as potentially suicidal sect eerily reminiscent to the Heaven's Gate cult. The Taiwan-based God's Salvation Church came to the attention of authorities on December 24, 1997, when Sheriff's detectives went to investigate a Taiwanese woman's claim that her teen-age daughter was kidnapped by her cult member uncle. While rescuing the girl at the church, detectives learned that the group was going to Garland, Texas, where they expect Christ to come down in a flying saucer to pick them up . Authorities also found neatly packed backpacks with matching white clothing and sneakers for the members to take in their heavenly rendevouz.
Already 140 followers of the church -- dressed in white and wearing sunglasses and white cowboy hats -- have left for Garland for the expected March 31 date with their maker. Though church members deny their intentions of committing mass suicide, Taiwanese media reported last week that the group's leader, Hon-Ming Chen, was encouraging newcomers to kill themselves so their bodies could be picked up by flying saucers. Chen -- who believes the Bible got it all wrong -- decided to move his church to Garland early this summer because the name sounds like and means "God's Land." He also interprets promotional sky writings as signs from God specifically directed at him. The former Taiwanese sociology teacher did claim to be the father of Jesus Christ and that God will assume an identical body to his own at 10 a.m. on March 31.
On March 25 God's alleged TV appearance on Channel 18 at 12:01 failed to materialize. Instead, believers -- under the glare of worldwide media lights -- were treated to static instead of a broadcast heralding the second coming. Even in failure Mr. Chen -- in his signature hat and white clothing -- said his faith remains immutable. However, in a strangely non-apocalyptic manner, he asked others to stop believing his preachings. "Since God's appearance on television has not been realized, you can take what we have preached as nonsense. I would rather you don't believe what I say anymore."