Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult
by T. McCracken and Robert B. Blodgett
EYES OF WORLD FALL ON WALDPORT
Headline in Waldport's South Lincoln County News, April 1, 1997***
Waldport, Oregon, the setting for the final chapter of Creffield's story, was also the setting for the first chapter of another cult story. In September of 1975, when Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles invited people to a meeting at the Pat Boone Inn where they said they were going to talk about their religious philosophies, over 100 people showed up. Waldport's population at the time was about 700. Ron Sutton, chief criminal deputy for Lincoln County, wasn't one of the attendees. "What I heard it was going to be about was the dumbest thing I ever heard of, and I thought no one would show up," he said later. "I kick myself many times for not going to that meeting."
What Applewhite and Lu Nettles--a music professor and a nurse known as "Bo and Peep," "Do and Ti," and "The Two"--told the assembly was how they were from "a higher realm"--had a personal connection with God. They said that at some point they would be assassinated, lie in the streets for three days, and then "ascend to a higher evolutionary level via a spaceship." Those who followed them, they said, would at the same time also ascend to a higher level via a spaceship. Those who wanted to find this salvation by spaceship were told to "forgo their worldly belongings"--all that is except for their automobiles--leave their families, and follow them to Colorado. About two dozen people did leave town with them--leaving everything behind, some even leaving their children behind. The story made national headlines and the group was dubbed by the media as "The UFO Cult."
And as in Creffield's story, worse was yet to come.
The assembly at the Pat Boone Inn was the first successful recruitment meeting held for the group that eventually became known as Heaven's Gate. Over the next twenty-two years the group grew, until in 1997 Applewhite and thirty-eight of his flock "abandoned their containers" in a mansion in California at Rancho Santa Fe. Believing the spaceship from "the Level Above Human" that was going to take them to "their world" in the Heavens was trailing Comet Hale-Bopp, they committed mass suicide.
A hundred years from now, will people be familiar with the story of Heaven's Gate or will it be forgotten like Creffield's story? Fifty years from now will a student from Waldport High happen upon an article about the tragedy, and when she asks her parents for more information be told: "Why dredge up the dead? It'll only hurt the living. It was a one-time thing. Nothing like that could happen again. Or, anyhow, it couldn't ever happen again to normal people. Sane people. People like you and me."
As was promised--the keys to Heaven's Gate are here again in Ti and Do (The UFO Two) as they were in Jesus and His Father 2000 yrs. ago.
Heading for Heaven's Gate's Internet site in 1997