FYI:w00f: More on the (dead) weirdos... (fwd)

Eugene Leitl (
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 21:32:05 +0100 (MET)

99 weirdos sat on the wall...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 08:15:30 -0700 (MST)
From: Ryan R. Snyder <>
Subject: w00f: More on the (dead) weirdos...

Apparent Mass Suicide Victims Cloaked in Shrouds

RANCHO SANTA FE, California (Reuter) - The bodies of 39 men and women,
cloaked in purple shrouds, were found in a million
dollar California mansion Wednesday in what police said appeared to be a
mass suicide.

Commander Alan Fulmer of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said
at a news conference in the early hours of Thursday that
the cause of death remained a mystery, but ruled out gas poisoning.

"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 people, including an undetermined number
of women, took their own lives in a strange 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.

Fulmer added that all the victims were cloaked in purple, triangular
shaped shrouds covering their faces and chests.

He said that the previous description of the victims as all males between
the ages of 18 and 24 was incorrect. "There were some
women among the victims and some of the victims were over the age of 24,"
Fulmer added, explaining that sheriff's deputies did not
examine the bodies on entering the house.

Fulmer also said the victims were found lying on mattresses or cots with
their hands at their sides as if they had fallen asleep. But no
suicide notes were found and there were no signs of physicial injury to
the victims, adding to the mystery surrounding their deaths.

Some 30 detectives and crime laboratory technicians from the San Diego
Sheriff's Department were working on the case, Fulmer said,
and experts from the Los Angeles Coroner's Office would be joining that
team later Thursday.

In addition, Fulmer added, San Diego detectives had been in touch with
the Beverly Hills Police Department, but he declined to say

According to broadcast reports, the dead belonged to a religious group
that designed computer web pages. But Fulmer refused to
speculate on whether the victims belonged to a religious cult.

Local TV stations quoted Milton Silverman, a lawyer for the owner of the
house as saying it had been rented to a religious computer
group called "WWW Higher Source". WWW stands for World Wide Web, a major
computer Internet source.

Silverman said the group was led by a man called "Father John" and that
its members, who did not drink alcohol or smoke and were
celibate, were sent to Middle America as "angels."

Real estate agent Scott Warren, who said he showed the house recently,
described to ABC's "Nightline" a "bizarre" scene in which the
occupants considered the residence a "temple."

Deputies were alerted to a problem at the $1.6 million mansion in the
exclusive San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe by an
anonymous caller who asked police to check on the residents.

In addition to the shrouds, the victims all wore black trousers and black
tennis shoes.

Hours after police first arrived, investigators had little information
about the group.

"We have no idea of their identities or where they come from," Fulmer
said. "We don't know if they belonged to any religious cult or
group or anything like that."

News of the apparent suicides quickly spread through the affluent
neighborhood, shocking local residents. A neighbor, Bill Strong, told
reporters the mansion was owned by a man named Sam Koutchesahani, who had
rented it to people "from out of state" in October.

He said the people who lived in the house were "middle-aged, men and
women." The mansion is surrounded by a brick wall in a
community of palatial estates known as the "Beverly Hills of San Diego"
some 20 miles north of San Diego.

Police said there was no indication the deaths were related to an
incident in Quebec last Saturday, when five members of a doomsday
cult -- the Solar Temple -- died in a blazing house in an apparent ritual
suicide pact. In 1994 and 1995, 69 members of the Solar
Temple cult died in fires in Canada and Switzerland.

Ryan R. Snyder     Internet Specialist
"To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing. To be on the 
alert is to live, to be lulled into security is to die." -Oscar Wilde