20th anniversary of Heaven's Gate mass suicide - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

20th anniversary of Heaven's Gate mass suicide

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) -  It's been 20 years since 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult were found dead -  their bodies discovered under purple shrouds inside a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe.

In exit interviews videotaped before the mass suicide, members appeared calm and full of peace. They said they felt "lucky" and "happy" and had no fear.  

The cult's leader- Marshall Applewhite, known also as "Do" - also left behind a suicide message, to explain their journey.  

 "If I would title this tape, it would be 'Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before it is Recycled,'" said Applewhite.  

The members executed their plan by drinking a lethal vodka-phenobarbital cocktail, then lying down to die, hoping to enter an alien spacecraft.  

We spoke to San Diego Sheriff's Deputy Robert Brunk on the 10th anniversary of the mass suicide.  

"Mr. Applewhite, I guess, felt that they were aliens and that a spaceship had come to pick them up, and that it was trailing the Hale Bop comet," said Brunk. 

Brunk was the first to respond to the mansion, after a 911 call was made by a man who had received the videotaped suicide messages in the mail. 

The caller was later determined to be Robert Ford, a former cult member.  

After the mass suicide, neighbors of the mansion bought the home and had it demolished.  

The street was also renamed from Colina Norte to Paseo Victoria 

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