Notorious Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide and castrated members

Heaven's Gate became one of the most notorious cults of the 20th century after 38 members and its leader committed mass suicide in matching black tracksuits and sneakers.

The American cult that became one of the first to embrace the internet era as it went from reclusive group to recruiting members online.

The group’s beliefs were a blend of Christianity and extraterrestrials with God being an alien.

Founder Marshall Applewhite told followers he was the second coming of Jesus and that the end times were coming.

On March 26 in 1997, 38 members at Applewhite were found by police with black Nike trainers poking out from a large purple cloth.

The group committed mass suicide with the intention to free themselves from their bodies so the souls would ascend to a spacecraft flying in the wake of the passing Hale-Bopp comet, where they would be taken to their new home.

Members were wearing matching tracksuits and trainers and consumed apple sauce laced with barbiturates.

This was then washed down with vodka before each person put their head in a bag before laying down with the purple shroud over them.

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There were 21 women and 18 men who were discovered dead at the Heaven’s Gate home in California, known as "The Monastery".

According to reports, the members were split into three groups and died over a period of three days.

Their last meal they had together before the suicide was salad with tomato vinegar dressing and a turkey potpie, reports the Los Angeles Times.

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The matching Nike trainers and tracksuits were staple for Applewhite and were a must for all members due to his love for the brand.

Heaven’s Gate even used the slogan "Just Do It" but used Applewhite’s nickname of Doe instead.

According to Rolling Stone, an unworn pair of the same Nike trainers worn by the cult, which Nike discontinued, was discovered in a storage unit and went on eBay for £6,000.

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Although the group thrived in the 90s, it was founded by music teacher Applewhite and nurse Bonnie Nettles in the early 1970s.

The two met during Applewhite’s stay in a psychiatric institution and would later rename themselves Bo and Peep.

Nettles and Applewhite were reportedly huge sci-fi fans and had a love of Star Wars.

They formed a group known as “the crew” and would travel around Southern California before Nettles died battling cancer in 1985.

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Following her death, Applewhite changed the group's philosophy by telling his followers that death was necessary for the transformation, resulting in the mass suicide several years later.

Applewhite also invented a loyalty test where he would ask his followers a question on what they would spend $100 (£75) on with the correct answer being a wedding ring.

He would then hold marriage ceremonies where he would wed his followers.

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According to a HBO docuseries, Applewhite required members to be genderless and where unisex attire.

This reportedly meant that male members had to be castrated by a doctor due to sex being seen as a drug.

However, prior to medical professionals carrying out the surgery, one member cut off his testicles and the evidence was then thrown off a pier before the man was taken to hospital.

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Each member was given a new name on joining the cult but they had a strange rule that all had to be six letters and end in “ODY” with the whole name being capitalised.

It is believed that some surviving members of the cult are still secretly active with the group's website still operational to this day.

The strange videos spreading Applewhite’s beliefs, and convinced so many online, are still available online including his final message before the suicide.

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