For First Time, Heaven's Gate Survivors Are Talking

To Diane Sawyer, 25 years after 39 died in cult mass suicide
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2022 1:10 PM CST
25 Years After Mass Suicide, Cult Survivors Speak Out
A screenshot of the group's website.   (

Surviving members of the cult behind America's largest mass suicide are speaking out for the first time about the bizarre life they left behind. In an upcoming two-hour 20/20 special, Diane Sawyer speaks with two surviving members of Heaven's Gate "who share their stories for the first time," as well as family members of the 39 people found dead inside a California mansion in 1997, Rolling Stone reports. The members reportedly believed that in rejecting their human forms, they could reach the "next level" of life via an alien spaceship.

Rio DiAngelo, who left the group before the mass suicide, is among those interviewed. Sawyer also interviewed DiAngelo in 1997. The special also includes never-before-seen home videos offering an inside look at the cult led by co-founder Marshall Applewhite. A sneak peek suggests there were strict rules about dressing and celibacy. "They didn't have any free will," one interview subject says, per Rolling Stone. There are also hints about castration. The Cult Next Door: The Mystery and Madness of Heaven's Gate will air March 11, before streaming on Hulu. (The Heaven's Gate website remains active.)

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