How couple brainwashed hundreds into alien 'doomsday cult'

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When police were summoned to a San Diego mansion on March 26, 1997, they were told they were heading to a suicide.

They found 39 bodies lying upon bunk beds, dressed in new black trousers and shirts, embroidered with the phrase Heaven’s Gate Away Team.

This was the cult Heaven’s Gate. They had killed themselves with drug-laced apple sauce, eaten after large amounts of alcohol, before suffocating themselves.

Their cult leader, Marshall Applewhite, had brainwashed the members to believe their suicide would take them to a new plane of existence on spaceships.

Cult leader, Marshall Applewhite, had brainwashed Heaven's Gate members to believe their suicide would take them to a new plane of existence on spaceships. (AAP)
And their suicides were timed to coincide with the sighting of the Hale-Bopp comet, which Hepplewhite told them was powering a spaceship. They were told they would end up there and become immortal - just like the ‘aliens’ who had also done so 2000 years before.

Remarkably, an online insight it to the bizarre theories members of Heaven's Gate believed, still exists.

Gail Maeder was one of the 39 Heaven's Gate cult followers found dead in a mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif (AAP)
A press release on the site, dated March 22, 1997, announces: “By the time you receive this, we'll be gone - several dozen of us.

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“We came from the Level Above Human in distant space and we have now exited the bodies that we were wearing for our earthly task, to return to the world from whence we came - task completed.

Heaven's Gate co-founder, Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles (AAP)
“The distant space we refer to is what your religious literature would call the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God.”

Jonathan J Moore, who explores Heaven’s Gate in his new book, Doomsday Cults, said: “The incredible thing about that, is the website’s still up.”

Cult leader, Marshall Applewhite, had brainwashed Heaven's Gate members to believe their suicide would take them to a new plane of existence on spaceships. (AAP)
Moore believes as many as 1000 people were members of the cult between the 1970s and the 1990s.

Part of what drove Applewhite creation of Heaven’s Gate, was his belief he had cancer - and didn’t want to journey to the ‘next level’ alone.

The Heaven's Gate website still exists. (Supplied)
He also believed he was an incarnation of Jesus Christ, and had originally started the group with his partner, nurse Bonnie Lu Nettles, who later actually did die of cancer.

Both believed they were on a mission from God - though, according to Moore, some of their theories actually came from TV show, Star Trek.

The strange tale of Heaven’s Gate is just one of the cults explored in the book.

Part of what drove Applewhite creation of Heaven’s Gate, was his belief he had cancer - and didn’t want to journey to the ‘next level’ alone. (AAP)
Another has an unlikely link to Australia.

DEADLY DESERT

Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo or ‘Supreme Truth’ cult killed 13 people and injured a thousand more when they released deadly nerve agent, sarin on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

Packages of the chemical were carried by cult members and pierced with sharpened umbrellas during morning rush hour.

Slowly, the invisible but deadly substance spread through the carriages.

When commuters exited the trains, the killer chemical was spread above ground, too.

The ‘Supreme Truth’ cult killed 13 people and injured a thousand more when they released deadly nerve agent, sarin on the Tokyo subway in 1995. (AAP)
The group already tried to kill thousands by releasing the deadly poison which case botulism in Tokyo - but failed.

Then they sprayed anthrax into the air from a building in the city centre – but the concoction wasn’t right.

They had even tried to get hold of the ebola virus.

And just a few years before the sarin attack, the cult – which was allowed to thrive because laws didn’t allow interference with religious groups - carried out deadly tests on a sheep station in Western Australia.

In 1992, leader Shoko Asahara and 40 supporters turned up in the country - laden with unusual gear.

Deadly sarin was released on commuter trains in Tokyo bu Supreme Truth. (AAP)
“They’ve got this incredible array of equipment, volatile chemicals that they’ve got onto the plane and of course customs put a stop to it,” Moore told nine.com.au.

“They paid $30,000 for their excess baggage, generators, gas masks, chemicals, large bottles labelled ‘hand soap’ which contained hydrochloric acid.

“Out of the blue you’ve got these white robed Japanese cultists appearing in their midst and there were actually bizarre explosions at night in WA.

In 1992, leader Shoko Asahara and 40 supporters turned up in Australia - laden with unusual gear. (AAP)
“The locals thought they were mining for uranium.”

On May 28 that year a massive mystery blast rocked the area - and after the cultists later departed, sarin residue was found in the soil. Around 40 sheep found dead there also contained traces of sarin.

“It was seen as a bit of a test run,” said Moore.

Asahara was executed last year after being imprisoned. Horrifying tales later surfaced of the torture of dissident cult members, and anybody who tried to help family members who lost people to it.

Deadly cult Supreme Truth tried many times to kill thousands of people. (AAP)
PSYCHOTIC LEADERS

But Moore reckons it was actually another cult which might have been deadlier than even Supreme Truth.

Ervil Lebaron was the leader of a Morman fundamentalist group called Church of the First Born of the Lamb of God in the 70s and 80s.

He ordered the deaths of many of his own family, including some of his 13 wives, and his own pregnant daughter.

Ervil Lebaron was the leader of a Morman fundamentalist group called Church of the First Born of the Lamb of God in the 70s and 80s. (AAP)
“They still don’t know how many people are buried in the Mexican Texan desert,” Moore said.

“He was a really nasty piece of work.”

However, he said all the cult leaders have many things in common.

“They’re arch manipulators,” he told nine.com.au.

Heber LeBaron, who was convicted of murder after taking over leadership of the Church of the First Born of the Lamb of God from his father. (AAP)
“They’re all quite psychotic. They have an inability for form relationships at an early age and they basically look at people from the point of view ‘what can they do to me’.

“They’re very selfish, and manipulative, and they’re also good at getting good lieutenants - subordinates who will do their will.

“They definitely have narcissistic person disorder - the real kicker with that, they can’t take any criticism.

“If you cross them, you’re in for a wild ride.”

Doomsday Cults, published by New Holland, is out now.

Email journalist Sarah Swain: Sswain@nine.com.au

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019

https://www.9news.com.au/national/true-crime-news-cults-heavens-gate-supreme-truth-japan-usa/9539325f-ddb4-4368-b884-714a4ca07ad5
 

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