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News Archive for October, 1998

"Gatekeepers" jailed in California, The Seattle Times, Friday, October 16, 1998
Two members of a religious cult who sit in a California jail on charges of armed robbery and trying to kill a police officer also face murder charges in the death of a Mountlake Terrace man in March. Court papers filed yesterday allege Blaine Applin shot Dan Jess in his trailer in the early-morning hours of March 29, then jumped into a getaway car driven by Chris Turgeon. Jess at one time had been a member of the Gatekeepers, a religious group of 10 to 20 people who look up to Turgeon, a charismatic leader and self-described prophet. Turgeon has claimed to hear God and have apocalyptic visions. In March, after speaking with Jess about him allegedly bilking money from Snohomish County businesses and clients before moving to California last year, Turgeon told one follower that "God's calling us to destroy the enemy," the charges say. Applin then said that God had told him to shoot Jess, according to the charges. Jess, who was 40, was shot six times when he answered the door of his trailer home. If convicted on the first-degree-murder charge in Washington, the men will receive sentences of at least 25 years in prison.
Travolta's sect appeal South China Morning Post, Monday, October 19, 1998
John Travolta is said to be urging President Clinton to join the controversial Church of Scientology to help him ride out the Monica Lewinsky storm. Travolta, 44, earlier this year had a heart-to-heart with the troubled President and offered to help him overcome his sex addiction. According to gossip columnist Janet Charlton, Travolta has sent Mr Clinton books about Scientology and has invited him to meet high-ranking church officials. So far the President, a lifelong Southern Baptist, has not accepted the invitation.
Cult Leader and Followers Vanish, The Washington Post, Saturday, October 17, 1998
In the past week local police have started piecing together the puzzle using the house where Monte Kim Miller, his wife Marcia and their 9-year-old son Matthew, plus a few stragglers lived. Miller runs a group with the innocuous-sounding name of "Concerned Christians," which law enforcement officials believe is a doomsday cult with all the makings of the next Heaven's Gate. Miller believes he can channel the word of God, and that he is a modern-day incarnation of Christ. Cult experts who have followed the group for years share that concern and are trying to find where they've gone. The story began to unravel two weeks ago, when Mark Roggeman, a Denver police officer who has tracked the group's activities and Bill Honsberger, a Christian missionary who also tracks cults, returned home from a countercult conference to find their answering machines overstuffed with the distraught messages of parents whose children are in the cult. In all, at least 20 missing members notified families they were leaving; some said to expect to hear from them regularly, and not to worry. Police said the assurances may have been made so families wouldn't overreact when they discovered their relatives were missing. Denver police have forwarded dates of birth and Social Security numbers of as many members as possible and forwarded the information to the Israeli government. Family members wait for their loved ones to call next week as they promised, and try to stave off the panic.
Campaigner accuses opponent of supporting educating cult groups, The Tampa Tribune, Friday, October 16, 1998
ST. PETERSBURG - State Rep. Mary Brennan's latest campaign mailing accuses State Senate candidate Jim Sebesta of wanting to give state education dollars to "cults and fringe groups." At issue is Brennan's glossy yellow-and-black flier dealing with Sebesta's position supporting the use of taxpayer money for educational vouchers, which would allow families to take children out of public schools and use the vouchers to pay private schools. A large photo inside the brochure shows what appear to be Hare Krishnas chanting on a street corner. Below are the words, "Jim Sebesta wants to give your tax dollars to cults and fringe groups." Sebesta called the mailer "garbage" - the act of a "desperate" candidate. "Is she saying every private school in the state of Florida is a cult and fringe group?" he asked. "If I were a private school in the Bay area, I would be extremely upset. Obviously I have absolutely no intention of allowing fruitcakes like the picture here to be involved at all."
Feral folk plague beach paradise, Sunday Times (London), Sunday, October 18, 1998
On the northern coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay is one of Australia's most fashionable seaside resorts. The prosperous calm of this well-heeled paradise is under threat from members of a wild white bush cult known as "ferals," who bear a startling resemblance to the post-apocalyptic savages of the movie Mad Max II. With their burr-filled dreadlocks, obligatory tattoos and dirty, bleeding feet, the cult members migrate up and down the coast, blocking loggers and disrupting mining operations, taking time off only to besiege Byron Bay each week to pick up their dole cheques. The ferals have the support of some of the residents and politicians, who appreciate them as a powerful, well-organised environmental protest movement. Ross Tucker, a Byron shire councillor and Vietnam veteran, disagrees. He says they have done nothing for the environment and would like them drummed out of town. For Tucker and many other locals, it is the appearance and lifestyle of the cult members which jars the most. Smelling of stale body odor and "bush herbs," they believe washing is unnatural and "filth is good." One sub-group, known as the "rat people," live in burrows in the hillsides, carry pet rats on their shoulders and in their hair. Nudity is not uncommon in summer, when they paint their bodies in "indigenous" styles and stage nudist protests on the beach. The ferals live in tree houses or American-style tepees or just sleep rough on the beach. Behind the idealism, however, is the all-too-familiar story of white unemployed youth with alcohol and drug problems. Many are university-educated, from middle-class backgrounds. Their "doofs" attract hundreds of semi-naked people to forest clearings, where outdoor sex is plentiful. For many Byron residents, it is the ferals' extensive use of drugs such as LSD and ecstasy that is the cause of greatest concern.
Still no word from missing religious group, Denver Post, Sunday October 11, 1998
Monte Kim Miller, the leader of a local religious group, had predicted Saturday would mark Denver's apocalypse. The day came and went without wiping Denver off the map. But Miller and the 30 to 60 members of Concerned Christians remain missing. Bill Honsberger, an Aurora Christian missionary who monitors the group, said Miller, 44, and his followers left the metro area the last week of September and are presumed to be in Jerusalem. Relatives say the group members abruptly disappeared without a trace.
Security Experts Say Cult Is Back in Japan, The New York Times, Sunday, October 11, 1998
The cult that planted nerve gas in the Tokyo subway three years ago, killing 12 people and injuring thousands more, has returned. Aum Shinrikyo, responsible for the sarin attack and for several murders with VX, the most toxic nerve agent known, is regrouping, recruiting new members and raising large sums of money, security officials and Japanese and American terrorism experts say. The resurgence of the sect, the officials said, is due partly to Japan's unwillingness to ban it.
About Monte Kim Miller, The Denver Post, Thursday, October 8, 1998
Before he became the voice of God for his followers, Monte Kim Miller was a foot soldier for Colorado's fundamentalist Christian movement. After growing up in Burlington, going to college, working in marketing and being divorced by his high school sweetheart, he formed an activist group in the 1980s to fight what he saw as an anti-Christian bias in the media and a perceived threat to Christianity posed by the burgeoning new age movement. He called his Denver-based group "Concerned Christians" and gave lectures, wrote newsletters and broadcast messages on small Christian radio stations across the country to further his ideas about Christianity. But over the years, critics say, Concerned Christians has become an apocalyptic personality cult. And they say the 44-year-old Miller, who has as many as 60 disciple-like followers, may be capable of leading members over the edge. Full Story at: http://www.denverpost.com.
Family members concerned, The Denver Post, Thursday, October 8, 1998
Tom Clark's pain poured through the telephone lines Wednesday as he talked about his daughter's involvement in the Concerned Christians religious group. "As a father and a grandfather, my heart is torn between stepping in and interfering with their lives or sitting by and watching them make what I consider to be a terrible mistake," said the 62-year-old Boulder resident, whose daughter, Maleen, her husband and their four children are members of the Concerned Christians group. Maleen and her husband, a chief lieutenant in Monte Kim Miller's Concerned Christians group, swept their four children, ages 1, 2, 4 and 6, out of their Highlands Ranch house the night of Sept. 30 and vanished without a word. Cult experts say the group left to prepare for an apocalypse Miller predicts will hit Denver on Saturday.
Cult lawsuit trial delayed, The Houston Chronicle, Thursday, October 8, 1998
WACO - A state district judge delayed a trial in the lawsuit over who owns the Branch Davidian land near Waco where about 80 people died in a fire on April 19, 1993 until December. Judge Alan Mayfield's action came Wednesday after new papers were filed in the case by Percy Isgitt, a Houston lawyer representing a group of about 20 plaintiffs. The new trial date is Dec. 14.
Chopra rumored to take Ig Nobel Prize, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Thursday, October 8, 1998
At Harvard University's Memorial Hall tonight, a great honor will be bestowed upon San Diego's very own First Citizen of the Cosmos, Deepak Chopra. The metaphysician behind La Jolla's Chopra Center for Well Being and best-selling author of "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind," will receive the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for Physics. An anonymous source close to the Igs read Chopra's citation: "For his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty and the pursuit of economic happiness." Now in their eighth year, the Igs spotlight "scientific" achievement "that cannot or should not be reproduced."
Seven cult followers in group fire suicide, The Daily Telegraph (London), Tuesday October 6, 1998
Seven followers of a fanatical religious cult burned themselves to death in a van east of Seoul yesterday, believing the macabre rite would win them eternal happiness. Police said they were members of the Yongsaeng (everlasting life) Church, one of the dozens of doomsday cults active in South Korea. They were led in their group suicide by a 53-year-old church pastor. It is not known whether the date was a significant one for the cult members.
Alternative Candidates, The Plain Dealer, Monday, October 5, 1998
Zanna Feitler of Shaker Heights says she wants every Ohioan to have a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. That is one reason she is asking voters to elect her governor of Ohio on Nov. 3. Feitler, 47, will appear on the ballot without a party affiliation, though she is the Natural Law Party candidate.
Suspected Cult Members Commit Suicide, The Korea Herald, Tuesday, October 6, 1998
Seven people, believed to be members of a Korean doomsday cult, were killed at 6 a.m. Monday when a fire broke out in their van parked near a construction site in Yangyang County, Kangwon Province. Sokcho police investigating the case said they suspect that the seven might have burned themselves to death in a religious rite to obtain ever-lasting life in heaven, based on the statements of the relatives of 27-year-old Woo Jae-hong, who was found to be the car's owner. Among the dead were Pastor Woo, his wife Choi Sun-ja, his second son and four other believers. Police are also investigating into the possibility that they were murdered.
Minister, six cultists found dead, Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, October 6, 1998
Seven South Korean followers of a doomsday religious cult have been found dead in a burned van, state-run television said Monday. Korea Broadcasting System said their bodies were discovered Monday in Yangyang, about 85 miles east of Seoul. KBS quoted Woo's sister as saying that Woo told her the seven would travel to find a place to die for their belief. It was unclear whether any of the dead had been slain. The leader of the Everlasting Life Church was arrested for fraud in 1993. Police say some of the church's followers have disappeared.
Ferrell to appear on Maury Povich, The Orlando Sentinel, Saturday, October 3, 1998
Convicted killer and vampire cult leader Rod Ferrell will appear Monday on Maury Povich's nationally syndicated TV talk show. Ferrell, 18, was convicted in February of slaying Richard and Ruth Wendorf in Eustis in November 1996. He was sentenced to die in Florida's electric chair.

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