March 26, 1997 -- Heaven's Gate Suicides

On March 26, 1997, police received an anonymous call telling them that there was believed to be a suicide at a home in Rancho Santa Fe, about 30 minutes north of San Diego.  

When police arrived, they found a mass suicide, 39 bodies belonging to members of the Heaven's Gate cult. 

All of the bodies were wearing black sweatpants and shirts, Nike 'Decade' shoes, had plastic bags over their heads and were covered in purple shrouds.

The group, led by Marshall Applewhite, believed that extra-terrestrials would someday visit them and give them new bodies.  In 1996, when they discovered the comet Hale-Bopp would be approaching Earth, Applewhite was convinced a spaceship was just behind it and that this was the vessel that would take them on their 'universal astral journey.'

There was only one problem...they had to shed their earthly bodies to 'catch' it.  The only way to do that?

Suicide.   The suicides are believed to have taken place over three days starting on March 22, 1997.

Listen to Bill's segment about Heaven's Gate.

The Heaven's Gate website is still active, and is believed to be maintained by a few surviving members of the group.

This was one of the initiation videos that Marshall Applewhite produced to recruit new members.  

A former member of Heaven's Gate talked to Inside Edition recently. 

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