On March 26, 1997, a mass suicide was discovered in a wealthy suburb of San Diego, California. It would be known as the largest mass suicide in the United States.Inside a mansion, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate religious group were found lying dead on mattresses, arms at their sides, dressed in the same all-black clothing, Nike sneakers, short hair, and a $5 bill and three quarters in their pockets for interplanetary tolls.
The eerily calm and planned ritual took place over three days. Death was brought on by a lethal mix of phenobarbital in apple sauce or pudding, paired with a drink of vodka, and followed up by suffocation with plastic bags. Some members assisted in the suicide and cleaned the home, evidenced by the plastic bags found behind the home and the last two members to die still covered by the bags.The Heaven’s Gate group (if you dare to click, their original website can still be found here) was led by religious cult leader Marshall Applewhite (seen in this chilling initiation video). Known as “Do,” the self-proclaimed prophet believed he was a descendant of Jesus.
Applewhite convinced members that the world would be “wiped clean” by alien founders and that they must leave the “containers” that were their bodies and meet a UFO alien spacecraft trailing behind the Hale-Bopp Comet. The incident brought UFO-religious New Age movements — and dangerous cults — to the public eye.
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Main photo: Marshall Applewhite [YouTube screenshot]