NPR

For 'Heaven's Gate' Podcast Host, The Cult Story Hits Close To Home

When he first heard about the 1997 Heaven's Gate mass suicide, Glynn Washington says, "It felt like that was something that my group could have done."

Twenty years ago, in 1997, a bizarre story hit the national news: Thirty-nine people had killed themselves by drinking poison in a mansion near San Diego. All 39 were dressed identically and had the same haircuts — and they were all members of the Heaven's Gate cult.

In their videotaped farewell messages, they insisted their suicides were not a final death; they were simply shedding their earthly bodies in order to meet a UFO they believed was trailing — a UFO that would transport them to the

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