Newspaper Archive of
Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
April 3, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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April 3, 1997

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i Betting their lives on Heaven's Gate what if nobody's home when they get there ? The day before those 39 salvation-seeking souls took it upon them- selves to play God with their own lives over in Southern California, a close friend and former business associate of the recently departed space voyagers from the Heaven's Gate group received a videotape and suicide pack from the millennial cult. The video contained footage of the group's members explaining why they were going to commit the mass suicide - one of a number of similar feeds that went to a variety of people across the country. The recipient, I'm told, didn't even bother to look atthe tape, thinking it was just another of their frequent recruiting promos to join the off- beat religious cult, that is until after reports of the mass suicides began saturating the airwaves last week. And even after he had viewed the macabre video, he told my friend in San Diego that he still didn't believe it could be true. He wasn't alone in reaching that conclusion. The entire suicidal phenomenon was brought dangerously close to home when it was reported that the California cult's bizarre belief that a UFO was trailing the Hale-Bopp comet streaming across the western skies possibly could ha-,e been triggered by Internet rumors and Pahr- ump-based late night talk show host Art Bell. Maybe the Pahrump Valley Gazette's Iongtime photog Ethel Messer heard the same show when she did her popular questions last week before news of the strange suicides broke. This is the second time in a row that she's gotten the jump on the national media. If readers of her popular photo column "Gazette On The Street" will remember, a couple of weeks back, she was the first to raise the question about the cloning of sheep over in Scotland before it became national news and a topic of popular conversation. I know she's a regular browser of the Internet, or could it be something in the water over in the neighboring Chicago Valley where Ethel and Hubby Lavon live? In any event, the 39 men and women who were found dead in an apparent suicide pact last Wednesday in a rented Mansion in Rancho Santa Fe after the paper had gone to press, and at about the exact same time the comet was observed being at a point closest to Earth in the western hemisphere. Not that I would possibly believe in such strange coincidences. Would you? The computerized cult maintained a "Heaven's Gate" home page on the Internet and operated a business called "Higher Source," that developed web sites for various companies, which is how my friend in San Diego became involved with the nerdish group of heavenly hackers. Personally, I haven't had the time to become a regular browser, but I confess tobeing a regular Art Bell listener, and I even have been known to have watched Channel 8's George Knapp on the tube on occasion, How- ever, and again this is hearsay, in recent months on the cult's own homepage, the believers have said the comet's arrival was the marker they've been waiting for. With the comet supposedly came the spacecraft from the "Level Above Hu- man to take us home" to heaven, according to the Internet site. In recent months, many of the late-night shows on Bell's 347- station national network were told of reports of a "companion star" operated by aliens that was hiding behind Hale-Bopp. Bell broad- casts from his home on Homestead Road. While Art said he was saddened by the suicide deaths of the cult, he never heard of the Heaven's Gate group before this tragic incident and takes no responsibility for their actions. He said the Internet is ripe with rumors just like Nye County or the "Kingdom," as he frequently calls it on his show with my permission and encourage- ment, of course. It's obvious, both Art and I believe in advertising. D California, has signed Target by Joe Richards from the Kingdom of Nye Whether you hate him or love him, he won't let you ignore him! J # A member