Heaven’s Gate Cult was formed in the 1970's by a man named Marshall Applewhite and a lady named Bonnie Nettles. The two met when he was a mental patient at a hospital where she worked as a nurse.
They were referred to as “Bo and Beep” and “Do and Ti” respectively. They believed that they both were extraterrestrial entities from heaven trapped inside human bodies, and that it was their duty to give humans a chance to become enlightened.
They traveled all around the country, leaving little notes at churches and synagogues. Their first group was called the Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM). They went to a Colorado desert to await for a UFO. Of course it never came. In 1985, Bonnie Nettles died of cancer, and Applewhite went on to form a group called Total Overcomers Anonymous (TOA). In the 1990's, he began looking for recruits on the Internet.
The group believed that human bodies are only “vehicles” that help souls go through journeys. They gave up material possessions, became celibate, and gave up on other “human indulgences”. They believed that they had to purify their body in preparation for leaving the Earth for good. In the mid 1990's, the group became known as Heaven’s Gate. This would be the last incarnation of the group before the members finally committed mass suicide.
Heaven’s Gate members believed that if they committed suicide at the perfect time, their souls would “sleep” until finding a new vessel or container to occupy. In other words, they believed that their souls would be reincarnated in bodies that are more evolved than human bodies. They believed that their souls would be taken up in a space ship upon death. Easter was also on the way, and they took that to be another sign that the timing for their suicide was “perfect”.
On March 26, 1997, they believed their time had come. The comet Hale Bopp was bright in the sky then, and they believed that the comet was carrying their space ship. Thirty nine members (18 men and 21 women) took their own lives in California. The suicides took three days to take place. The members scheduled their suicides in shifts. They would first drink citrus juice to “cleanse” the impurities out of their bodies, and then they would drink a deadly mixture of phenobarbital and vodka. The final step involved plastic bags being secured over their heads in order to become asphyxiated.
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