Twenty-five years ago, police responded to a 911 call in what became the largest mass suicide in America.
A new documentary special, The Cult Next Door: The Mystery and Madness of Heaven’s Gate, will air March 10, 2022 and will examine never-before-seen footage found during the investigation.
What is Heaven’s Gate?
Marshall Applewhite was previously an average person He was a co-founder of Heaven’s Gateaccording to his sister.
He was an avid singer and performed in musicals and was choirmaster at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.
Applewhite was born in 1931 to a Presbyterian minister who moved the family every three years to open a new church. Applewhite wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he pursued singing.
But everything changed when he ended up in the hospital in 1972 with heart problems.
His sister Louise Winant told it CNN 1997 that her brother had a near-death experience in the hospital, “and one of the nurses convinced him that there was a very special reason and that it could be used very well in a group that she knew.”
Winant said the nurse, Bonnie Lu Nettles, “started seeing him and persuaded him to join this group.
The group was the widely denounced Heaven’s Gate cult, a religious group that mistakenly believed they were destined to take to the skies in a UFO.
Heaven’s Gate recruited followers, first by word of mouth, then by placing an ad in newspapers.
In the ads, they urged anyone who wanted to reach the “next level” to discard their earthly and human instincts and move on to enlightenment.
The cult eventually made the news, and Applewhite and Nettles, who had legally changed their names to Do and Ti, reduced their group to the most devoted.
For those who followed Heaven’s Gate, they had to follow a set of rules, including abstaining from alcohol, smoking, sex, and in some cases castration.
Applewhite and Nettles decided to leave their families and sever all ties with them.
“He came to us in Dallas, where we were living at the time, to tell us he was going away with this group and we wouldn’t hear from him again,” Winant told CNN.
“And of course we tried to talk him out of it. I told him he wasn’t, but he said, ‘You don’t know the real me.'”
What happened to the Heaven’s Gate cult?
Police responded to an 911 call at the San Diego Dispatch Center on March 26, 1997.
“This is about a mass suicide. I can give you the address,” the caller said.
The home was in an upscale neighborhood in Rancho Santa Fe, California, but when police entered the home, they found 21 men and 18 women dead.
Each person was found wearing Nike sneakers and wrapped in a purple blanket in what was believed to be the largest mass suicide the US had ever seen.
Toxicology results showed that every member of Heaven’s Gate had drunk a deadly cocktail of phenobarbital mixed with applesauce and vodka.
Phenobarbital is a drug used by doctors to slow down activity in your brain and nervous system, and is generally used to treat people suffering from seizures or as a sedative to help you relax.
You’re not alone
SUICIDE is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Leading Causes of Death Report.
Accordingly, there were “more than two and a half times as many suicides” in the United States as murders report.
For people aged 10 to 34, suicide was the “second leading cause of death” and the fourth leading cause of death for those aged 35 to 54.
Suicide is a vital health problem in the United States. It affects all genders, races and ages.
That’s why The-Sun.com launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The campaign calls on readers to discuss their mental health issues with their family, friends and healthcare professionals. We can all help to help others who may be suffering and help save lives.
If you’re having trouble coping, you’re not alone. There are many free and confidential programs in the US that aim to help people who are struggling with their mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, these organizations are here to offer support:
Investigators found Applewhite among the deceased and later found video he took before her death. The video showed some of his followers including one smiling on camera and saying: “39. Beam me up.”
In the video, Applewhite shares an ominous message. “They’re about to leave and they’re looking forward to leaving,” he says.
What did Marshall Applewhite say to his Heaven’s Gate followers?
Marshall Applewhite continued to run Heaven’s Gate after Nettles died of cancer in 1985.
For several years he mourned her death and retired from Heaven’s Gate, but in the late 1980s he began to gather followers again.
His last ad was in USA Today in 1993 – “UFO Cult” Reappears with Last Offer, the headline read.
The Hale-Bopp comet was discovered two years later, and Applewhite came to believe that this was a signal from the aliens that they were coming to them, in other words, it signaled the “next coming.”
In late 1996, Heaven’s Gate continued its mission. The cult had secured the home in Rancho Santa Fe and had an online business where they posted videos telling people it was their “last chance to evacuate the earth before it gets recycled.”
Heaven’s Gate mistakenly believed that by rejecting their human form, they would become extraterrestrial beings and take to the skies on a UFO.
Retired San Diego County homicide detective Chuck Curtis told it San Diego 7 News When he arrived at the scene in 2017 and the body count was piling up, it was unlike anything he had ever seen.
“As they went in, they found more and more bodies and more and more bodies,” Curtis said. “It was an amazing thing for them that they thought, ‘Is this ever going to end?'”
What is special about Heaven’s Gate 20/20?
The new 20/20 special, The Cult Next Door: The Mystery and Madness of Heaven’s Gate, will feature never-before-seen home video and audio tapes, as well as interviews with two Heaven’s Gate survivors.
The special will air March 11, 2022 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC and be available to stream on Hulu the following day.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17914338/what-is-heavens-gate/ What is Heaven’s Gate?