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THE BIG READ | Fear and fascination of Heaven's Gate, the cult that caused the world's largest mass suicide

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A new documentary reveals how two Star Trek-obsessed Texans persuaded 39 followers to “exit their human vessels” in the largest mass suicide in American history.(Photo: Gallo Images/ Getty Images)
A new documentary reveals how two Star Trek-obsessed Texans persuaded 39 followers to “exit their human vessels” in the largest mass suicide in American history.(Photo: Gallo Images/ Getty Images)

In the afternoon of 26 March 1997, the San Diego county sheriff's department received an anonymous tip in. “This is regarding a mass suicide, and I can give you the address,” said the person on the line.

First responders could have never imagined the ghoulish scene that awaited them at the mega-mansion in the suburb of Rancho Santa Fe. Thirty-nine bodies in identical black clothing were carefully staged in bunk beds. 

Their heads were shaved but neatly covered with a purple shrouds. They wore matching black tunics and fresh out-of-the-box Nike sneakers. 

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