'Giggly' After Castration
The Associated Press
April 6, 1997
NEW YORK -- After Heaven's Gate leader Marshall Applewhite was castrated, five other cult members eagerly followed and "couldn't stop smiling and giggling" about the procedure, says the former member who discovered the mass suicide.
Applewhite decided to get castrated a year ago after two cult members quietly went to Mexico for the procedure, Rio DiAngelo told Newsweek. Once Applewhite got castrated, five other cultists did the same.
"They couldn't stop smiling, and giggling" about the procedure, DiAngelo said. "They were excited about it."
DiAngelo, who said he left "39 of my closest brothers and sisters" about a month before they killed themselves, explained some of the cult's mysteries in the magazine's April 14 issue, on newsstands Monday.
DiAngelo, whose real name is Richard Ford, received two videotapes that described the cult members' intentions. He went to the cult's rented mansion near San Diego on March 26 and discovered the 39 bodies.
Investigators found five-dollar bills in the pockets of the dead -- a curiosity DiAngelo said was a response to a cult member being hassled by police for vagrancy. After that, DiAngelo said, all members carried identification and a small sum of money.
DiAngelo said he became involved with Heaven's Gate after hearing members speak in California. He said the cult allowed him to escape a troubled life that included a divorce, a violent, unstable mother and other bad relationships. The group also shared DiAngelo's interest in UFOs, music and Eastern religions.
Cult members who killed themselves believed a spaceship would take them to heaven.
DiAngelo said that after three years with the group, he had a "disturbing feeling" in February and decided to leave.
He said he believed that everyone who committed suicide with a cocktail of drugs and alcohol did it "on their own." But DiAngelo said he felt no one wanted to be left behind without Applewhite.
DiAngelo told Newsweek he hopes to join the others someday, but suicide "is not part of my plan."
HeavensGate Insured Against
by Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press
April 2, 1997
LONDON (AP) - The company that insured the 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult against abduction by aliens said today it stopped writing new policies after the group's mass suicide last week. The cult members paid $1,000 on Oct. 10 for a policy that covered up to 50 members and would pay out $1 million per person for abduction, impregnation or death caused by aliens. "Because of the manipulation of malevolent third parties, innocent lives were wrecked," managing director Simon Burgess said today. ``I am deeply shocked and saddened, and that's why we're withdrawing from the market. ... We don't wish to contribute to a repetition of the Heaven's Gate deaths.'' He said the group discovered his company provided alien abduction insurance via the Internet.
The 39 took their own lives last week at a home on the outskirts of San Diego, Calif., seeking redemption in a spaceship they believed was trailing the Hale-Bopp comet. The beneficiary of the policy was the Society of Heaven's Gate, said Burgess, a Lloyd's of London insurance broker who is managing director of the brokerage Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson. He said the cult had paid the premium and the annual policy remains in force until Oct. 9. ``They would have to prove that they were abducted,'' he added. Last summer, the company added alien abduction insurance to the unusual policies it offers, which Burgess said account for 10 percent of its overall business.
Heaven's Gate was one of 4,000 policyholders worldwide who bought alien abduction insurance, he said, adding that Britain and the United States were the biggest markets. The policies against alien abduction will not be renewed when they lapse, Burgess said, but the company continues to offer other unusual policies. "We insure virgins against immaculate conception, prostitutes against loss of earnings from headache and backache, conversion to a werewolf or vampire, death or serious injury through paranormal activity and unfaithful husbands" against having their penis cut off, he said.
Waiter liked friendly group
by Jeff Kramer
Orange County Register
April 4, 1997
The call came in on a busy Friday: Could the Marie Callender's Restaurant accommodate a party of 39 on short notice?
Manager John Raino gave the nod. An hour or so later, 39 of the strangest customers the eatery had ever seen showed up for what now appears to have been their last supper. From the moment the smiling, austerely dressed goup walked through the door, waiter Eric Morales, 24, knew this would be no ordinary shift. He made a harmless joke - nothing derogatory - just a good- natured wisecrack to set the mood.
When he returned to the now-seated group five minutes later, they were still laughing at the same joke. "You could tell they didn't go out a lot," Morales recalled.
All 39 ordered exactly the same thing: turkey pot pie, house salad with tomato-vinagrette dressing, blueberry cheesecake and iced tea. They mowed through three tubs of lemon wedges during the 90-minute meal, more than the restaurant usually uses in a full day. They gave no explanation. Workers said the diners were pleasant but guarded, growing cryptic when they were asked where they were from. "From the car" and "from all over" they replied.
Mostly, employees were struck by the group's politeness. At meal's end, they stacked their dishes.
Six days later, employees watched news footage and realized the oddball diners they had served had subsequently gone home and killed themselves. "It was a celebration," Morales concluded a week after the dinner. "It was the last time they were going to be together." The bill came to $351, which included a $26 tip for each of the two waiters. A middle-aged woman paid in cash. Raino was so taken with the group, he stood at the doorway and shook each member's hand as they left. And they were gone.
Leader Worried About FBI
April 7, 1997
NEW YORK (Reuter) - A man who left the Heaven's Gate cult four weeks before 39 members killed themselves said the group's leader feared the FBI was stalking them, Newsweek magazine reported Sunday.
Rio DiAngelo, 43, provided the details of the cult's last weeks in an eight-hour interview with the news weekly. Last week he signed a deal to provide material for a TV movie and also was scheduled to appear in an interview on ABC in the coming week to discuss the three years he spent in the group.
"He was very security minded," DiAngelo said of the cult leader, Marshall Herff Applewhite, who was know to members as "Do," saying he often lived apart from the others and worried about the "vibrations" of new members.
DiAngelo, known as "Neody" inside the cult, said Applewhite became increasingly concerned after the government attack on the Branch Davidian sect near Waco, Texas, in April 1993 and said a similar fate may have been the way for the Heaven's Gate people to "exit their vehicles."
"We didn't know if we were going to get caught by the FBI, or if there was going to be another Waco, or if somebody was going to shoot everybody or if everybody was going to have to do it themselves," he said.
DiAngelo said this explained why guns had been found near the San Diego mansion where the group held its mass suicide last month. He said it also explained why the members had money in their pockets when they died, saying that ever since a member had been bothered by police for vagrancy, Applewite required them to also carry at least a $5 bill.
DiAngelo, who had a troubled life that included a broken home and a divorce, left the cult a month before the suicides with Applewhite's permission.
"I told him I felt I had something to do outside ... like a task" after he had been offered a full-time job at InterAct Entertainment, a company that used the cult's web-design outfit.
"He told me he had talked to Ti (Do's deceased partner) just now and he felt like it might be part of a plan, and that I didn't understand and that he didn't understand," DiAngelo said. A few weeks later DiAngelo received a Federal Express package containing the farewell video from members. He drove to the group's home, where he found their bodies.
He said he still considers himself a member of Heaven's Gate and is an "instrument of clarification," left behind to tell the cult's story.
He said the group would be happy with all the attention.
"They really wanted to the whole world to know this information but couldn't get it out," he said. "No one would listen. I think would be happy."
Solar Temple's Quebec
Works for Police
Victoria BC Times-Colonist
The Canadian Press
12 April 1997
Quebec -- The president of the Solar Temple in Quebec is working as a secretary in a surburban police department.
Lise Cote, widow of a high-ranking member of the Solar Temple cult who died in a fiery suicide in 1994, said in an interview published Friday she's winding down the local chapter and wants to pay its debts.
"There aren't any more meetings and there aren't any more active members," Cote told *Le Journal de Quebec*.
Her husband, Robert Falardeau, died in 1994 in Switzerland when cult members took their own lives, believing the death would transport them to a planet called Sirius.
Marc-Andre Fortin, police chief in nearby Charlesbourg, said Cote had told him she was taking care of winding down the chapter.
"I don't have any information at this point that would lead me to believe that Mrs. Cote is a member of the Order of the Solar Temple," Fortin said Friday.
"I checked this with Quebec provincial police. She is not a member."
Fortin said Cote has been employed for a number of years and described her as a good worker. He said she has no access to confidential records.
Cote said the chapter will be dissolved when the sect receives more than $390,000 currently in a Swiss bank account. She claims Swiss authorities have refused to release the money.
Mike Kropveld of Info-Cult Montreal said the Solar Temple could still have active members even if it doesn't exist on paper as a group.
Muslim group seeks apology
for Nike logo
The Associated Press
April 9, 1997
PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations wants an apology from Nike Inc. for using a logo on shoe samples that resembled the word for "Allah" in Arabic. Nike said it acted to change the logo after its eastern European office noticed the resemblance before the shoes went into production.
The original logo was meant to look like flames for a line of AIR shoes to be sold this summer with the names Air Bakin', Air Melt, Air Grill and Air B-Que. But to Muslims, the logo sewn on the backs of the shoes "clearly becomes 'Allah,'" said Nihad Awad, executive director of the American-Islamic council.
Age of Unarius
Group Believes UFOs are
Coming in 2001
by Duane Noriyuki
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 6, 1997
JAMUL, Calif.--From a hillside east of San Diego, William Proctor points to a distant strip of ocean between the earth and sky. Straight ahead is El Cajon, and beyond layers of ridges to the northwest is Rancho Santa Fe, where 39 people laid down and died in an eerie attempt to enter what they believed was heaven's gate. They were tragically misguided, says Proctor, 43, in believing a spaceship trailing a comet would take them to the "next level." Their bodies were found in Rancho Santa Fe on March 26. Proctor fears there could be more suicides with the coming millennium. That is why it is important to spread the truth. And the truth, he says, is this: In 2001, a spacecraft will land on a raised Atlantis, and it will be followed by others that will land here, perhaps next to the eucalyptus tree to his right, the pepper tree to his left, or somewhere on these 67 acres owned by the Unarius Academy of Science.
In all, there will be 33 spacecraft, landing one on top of the other, each carrying 1,000 "space brothers," he says. More highly evolved than us, operating at a higher frequency, they will teach us the way to peace and harmony. They will speak from their experiences to end hatred and disease, and they will invite us to become a member of an interplanetary confederation.
Unarius, where Proctor is a student and teacher, is not a cult, he says. Nor is it a religion. It is a "new life science" that has unveiled to him answers to life's quintessence--reasons to live, not die. Unarius, which stands for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science, was founded in 1954 by the late Ernest and Ruth Norman. The nonprofit group says it has nearly 5,000 members worldwide and that about 475,000 people have read its books or viewed its videos. It is one of about three dozen UFO spiritual organizations in the country, said Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and founder of the Skeptics Society. They are, he said, the result of this culture's fascination with space and science fiction, and the mysterious reality that "it really is possible there could be external intelligence."
The fact that followers of Unarius and Heaven's Gate believe in UFOs is not as profound as one major difference, said Joe Nickell, an investigator for the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. "Heaven's Gate had an apocalyptic view from the beginning," he said. "They predicted their own deaths, and no matter how far out they were, they were fundamentally a Christian sect. The Unarians are not. They're not anti-Christian, they're a hodgepodge. They have something for everybody, but there is nothing doomsdayish about them." Unarius has been in the spotlight since the Heaven's Gate suicides. The media have come to members' headquarters in El Cajon asking who they are and what they believe and if they might be the next to die in an attempt to reach a higher plane. A few members of the community also have turned their attention to them. The day after the mass suicide, a window was broken at the school, and before it could be repaired, Christian literature was placed inside. Proctor is caretaker of the Unarius 1969 Cadillac, with 472 cubic inches under the hood and a spaceship with blinking lights on its crown. "Welcome Your Space Brothers" is written on its sides. As he drives down the winding road from the hillside and heads back to El Cajon, passersby honk and wave. Usually, he says, people are friendly and amused by the "Space Cad." But lately, he has been cautious. "The other night when I was coming down to the center, I heard somebody holler, 'Why don't you go kill yourself,' " he said. "One of the students got a call from some religious church telling her, 'I feel sorry for you, and I hope you're saved.' " The caller's sentiments were similar to the way Margie Proctor, William's mother in North Carolina, felt when she learned her son had accepted Unariun principles, which include reincarnation and clairvoyance, and when she learned that he believes he rode with Genghis Khan in a previous life. "William was brought up the way we believe," she said, "with the King James Bible. When he started talking about all this, I was concerned that maybe he was being misled. . . . I'll be honest, I thought it was a cult." And when she heard the news from Rancho Santa Fe, she said, there was a twinge of uncertainty about her son's well-being. "I thought of him, yes, but I don't think he would go into something like that. That's not what this group is about. . . . I have asked God to guide him and direct him, and if this isn't right to give him a sign."
The "CBS Evening News" team has left, and discussion at the Unarius Wednesday night class turns its focus to recent events. The media, members say, have given them this chance to get the word out. It is a continuation of their efforts through books and videos and public access television shows. One woman, a sales representative, describes how in the past she has worried about being looked down upon by outsiders because of her involvement in Unarius, but on a recent job application, she listed her role as a Unarius student and teacher. She has talked to reporters. It was a coming out of sorts. Another woman says that during the television coverage of the Heaven's Gate deaths, she turned her eyes away whenever the face of cult leader Marshall Applewhite appeared on the screen. She becomes teary-eyed as she describes her realization that in a former life she was a cult leader, which explains why at times her ego swells and why she tends to order people around. "My past was being exposed," she said. "I once used spiritual misleadings to pull people one way or another." They are business owners, artists, health care workers, janitors, real estate agents. The oldest is 91 and the youngest are in their mid-20s. They believe that problems in this life can be explained by incidents in past lives. They address these problems now through a process of past-life therapy.
Barbara Rogers, 38, supervisor of the hematology department at a San Diego clinical lab, says she first heard about Unarius on a late-night radio talk show in North Carolina. Intrigued by the discussion of UFOs, she sent off for literature and in it, she says, she found answers to questions. "One of the biggest questions that I had had since ninth grade had to do with my father's suicide," she said. "I always wanted to know where he went. In reading one of the Unarius books, I realized there really is life after death, and in committing suicide, a negative act against himself, I learned there was a place where souls like that were taken for help." She told her mother, a therapist, and her brother, an artist, about Unarius. All three have since left North Carolina and are students at the school, where they attend classes three nights a week. Director Charles Spiegel, known to students as Antares, has been in front of cameras throughout the past week explaining that no, Unarius is not a cult, that suicide is contrary to its principles, that its students live in normal homes and work normal jobs. And that in a former life he was Napoleon. Spiegel, 76, says Unariun teachings help students develop "the clairvoyant aptitude of the mind. . . . Under our constitution, we are allowed to believe anything, which is good. However, that belief has to be based on sound information, scientifically biased, and that is the basis of this teaching. It's called the science of light. It's an extension of the basic physical sciences."
Spiegel graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in psychology and was pursuing teacher's certification and master's degrees in English and psychology at USC in 1949 when he says he met Unarius co-founder Ruth Norman in a vision while walking through a dimly lit Postal Service corridor. "I wasn't thinking about anything. It was quiet, not a soul around," he said. "Then right in front of me, it was like a video screen lit up. I saw a larger-than-life picture of a beautiful woman looking down at me and smiling." The vision, he says, remained in his subconscious during ensuing years while he taught high school English and psychology in Victorville, worked for the United Jewish Appeal in Toronto, then became a trust officer for a Canadian life insurance company. He started reading Unarius literature in 1960 and in 1965 visited the Normans. It was during the drive to their home from the airport that Ruth Norman, known as Uriel, opened the car door, and Spiegel realized his 1949 vision. "That firmed up that Ruth was more than a common person," he said. "She had basic paranormal abilities, and she was a more advanced intellectual understanding of life, a spiritual understanding of life." Unarians believe that there are no accidents, that the encounters and problems they face in this life are the result of past-life experiences in humankind's violent history. The year 2001 will end this negative cycle, they say, and bring forth a new, more positive era. There will be no more wars then, no more suffering when the spaceships come to the pristine hills outside San Diego, they say. It will be proof for the skeptics. It will be rapturous, and it will be heavenly.
Copyright Los Angeles Times