FYI:w00f: UFO hiding behind Hale-Bopp: the plot thickens... (fwd)

Eugene Leitl (
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 22:42:05 +0100 (MET)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 14:29:32 -0700 (MST)
From: Ryan R. Snyder <>
Subject: w00f: UFO hiding behind Hale-Bopp: the plot thickens...

Police Identify Bodies from Mass Suicide

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. (Reuter) - Police investigating the mass suicide
of 39 cult members said Thursday they have identified all
of the bodies but were not releasing the names of the dead until they
notified relatives.

"We know who they are," Sgt. R.H. Morse told reporters outside the
million-dollar mansion in this exclusive community near San

Some 30 detectives and crime laboratory technicians from the San Diego
Sheriff's Department were working on the case, and experts
from the Los Angeles Coroner's Office were helping.

The group members apparently committed suicide in the belief a UFO,
shielded behind a comet, would take them to heaven.

Police said the men and women, dressed alike and with their hair in buzz
cuts, appeared to have died from drug overdoses in a carefully
planned mass suicide over several days.

"We also were able to determine, based on their physical appearance and
some of the characteristics of their bodies and liquid found at
the scene, that they may have ingested drugs," Lt. Gerald Lipscomb of the
San Diego County Sheriff's Department told CNN.

Lipscomb said the suicides, discovered Wednesday in a luxury mansion in
Rancho Santa Fe, north of San Diego, may have taken place
over seven days. He said all of the victims did not appear to have died
at the same time.

San Diego County Coroner's Office spokesman Chuck Bolton said the
identification process would take several days.

In Washington, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he was shocked and
sickened by the deaths.

"It's heartbreaking, sickening ... shocking," Clinton said when asked his
reaction to the deaths, which police described as the largest
mass suicide in the United States in this century. He said he did not
know any more about the incident than he had seen in media

The bodies were discovered by Beverly Hills computer expert Nick
Matzorkis and one of his employees, a former member of the
group. Matzorkis said the employee, identified only as Rio, received a
packet from the group Tuesday night saying its members had
committed suicide.

Matzorkis, owner of Interact Entertainment of Beverly Hills, told CNN the
package also contained a video showing the members
saying goodbye and that they appeared happy about their decision.

In an interview on the NBC "Today" show, he said Rio told him he had
received two videotapes and a letter from the cult. The two
then drove to Rancho Santa Fe on Wednesday.

"He read me the letter in the car ... and they explained that by the time
this letter was being read that they will have already, as they
described it, 'shed their containers,' which is I guess what they use to
describe their bodies," Matzorkis said.

According to the letter and the videotape, he said, the cult members
believed "that they were going to be taken away by, as odd as this
sounds, I'm just telling you what I heard, by a UFO, that a UFO would
come by and pick them up."

He said he had met about 15 members of the cult, which designed computer
Internet web pages, and they told him the UFO was hiding
behind the Hale-Bopp comet as it neared Earth.

"They explained to me that they believed that there was a UFO following
behind that comet and using it as a shield so it could not be
detected by Earth and that that UFO may very well be the one to take them
away," Matzorkis said.

When he and Rio arrived at the $1.6-million mansion on Wednesday, he
said, Rio went into the house. "When he first came out he was
white as a sheet. He said 'They did it."'

Matzorkis said he then contacted police in San Diego and asked them to
check the house. He said the pre-suicide videotapes showed
the victims "were quite jovial and excited about moving on to this next

In Washington, Attorney General Janet Reno said the FBI would be ready to
help state and local law enforcement agencies in the

"The FBI is working with state and local law enforcement in monitoring
the situation," she told her weekly Justice Department news
briefing. "I don't know whether there has been a request for assistance
but we stand ready to assist, and I understand the FBI is
working with state and local law enforcement," she said.

Cmdr. Alan Fulmer of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said the
smell was so bad that police first feared the members may
have died from poison gas, but they later determined the house smelled of

"There were no gas fumes in the house. The only smell coming out of that
house was that of dead bodies," he said.

Fulmer said he believed the 39, including an undetermined number of
women, took their lives in a ritual that left them appearing as
though they had died peacefully in their sleep. "My supposition at this
point is that it was a mass suicide."

He said all the victims were cloaked in purple, triangular shrouds
covering their faces and chests and wore black trousers and black
tennis shoes. He said they were found lying on mattresses or cots with
their hands at their sides as if they had fallen asleep.

No suicide notes were found and there were no signs of physical trauma,
adding to the mystery surrounding the deaths.

Some 30 detectives and crime laboratory technicians from the sheriff's
department were working on the case, Fulmer said, and experts
from the Los Angeles Coroner's Office would be joining them later.

Milton Silverman, a lawyer for the owner of the house, was quoted by
local TV stations as saying it had been rented to a religious
computer group led by a man called "Father John" and that its members,
who did not drink alcohol or smoke and were celibate,
believed they were sent to America as "angels."

Ryan R. Snyder     Internet Specialist
"One should try everything once, except incest and folk dancing." -Arnold Bax