On March 26, 1997 thirty-nine people were found dead inside a mansion in Rancho Sante Fe, California. They were all wearing identical clothing, had identical haircuts, and, except for two of them, they were each covered in a purple shroud. The group was Heaven’s Gate, a cult led by Marshall Applewhite, who was one of the 39 people found in the house. Over the course of a day, the group members had each ingested phenobarbital mixed with applesauce and vodka, and had covered their heads in a plastic bag to ensure their deaths. It is, to this day, the largest mass suicide in US history.
Many people remember the Heaven’s Gate cult for the images of their bodies being discovered that were plastered all over the news in the early nineties (most notably their identical Nike sneakers), but the group had been around for almost 30 years before they decided to commit suicide together. Here are some interesting fact about Heaven’s Gate that you may not have known.
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A few weeks before the suicide, DiAngelo left the group with the approval of Applewhite. He was sent a videotape after their suicide which prompted him to inspect the mansion. He was the first person to discover the bodies. DiAngelo claims to still be a follower of Heaven’s Gate’s doctrine. He has written a book about Heaven’s Gate.
After the 39 cult members were all found dead wearing Nike’s Decade shoes: black sneakers with a white swoosh and white soles, Nike decided to discontinue the line out of respect. But some “sneakerheads” are obsessed with finding a pair. Decades can be found on ebay listed at over 6,000 dollars.
He said of the comet that Heaven’s Gate had believed to be harboring a spaceship, “Tonight . . . forget about the world for a minute, go outside, look up in the northwest and take a look at this comet. It’s a beautiful object. It’s lovely. It’s one of the most magnificent celestial objects you will ever see. But for all its beauty, its magnificence, its splendor, all it is is a dirty snowball that’s orbiting the sun. Nothing more.”
You can still visit www.heavensgate.com, an extremely 90’s looking website that is still run by members of Heaven’s Gate. The site flashes an ominous “Red Alert” message at the top of the screen. It is dense and hard to read. The “About us” section begins:
Two thousand years ago, a crew of members of the Kingdom of Heaven who are responsible for nurturing “gardens,” determined that a percentage of the human “plants” of the present civilization of this Garden (Earth) had developed enough that some of those bodies might be ready to be used as “containers” for soul deposits.
It goes on in similar language are equally as wordy sentences for another 16 paragraphs and that’s just one section of a very long website that also includes last statements from some of the members who committed suicide.
Not only is the website still up, the email is still active. This post from reddit shows an email chain from a few years ago.
They rewrote the lyrics to Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music to be about Ti and Do. It’s pretty haunting.