January 28, 2021

Suicide cult recruited in Portland in ’78, ’94> Followers of Bo, Peep `mysterious, even back then’

PORTLAND — Members of the Heaven’s Gate cult visited Portland in 1978 and again in 1994 to recruit members and spread their philosophy of spirituality and UFOs.

Even back in 1978, they were predicting that they would leave their bodies to join “eternal beings” in spacecraft visiting Earth.

Fliers advertising their 1978 Portland visit proclaimed that they were “about to leave the human level literally [physically] and enter the next evolutionary level in a spaceship [UFO] within the next few months,” according to a Portland Press Herald story from Oct. 9, 1978.

Thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate cult were found dead Wednesday after committing mass suicide in California. They apparently thought their deaths would lead to a rendezvous with a UFO they believed was traveling behind Comet Hale-Bopp.

Two female members of the cult, calling themselves Ann and Happy, gave a talk at the New Age Community Center in Portland in 1978. At that time, they were identified only as followers of “Bo and Peep,” or “The Two.” The names refer to the cult’s founders, Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles.

Dressed in blue jean skirts and sweaters, Ann and Happy refused to give any biographical information about themselves, calling it “irrelevant,” according to the newspaper article. They wouldn’t say where they were from and requested that no pictures be taken.

“They were very mysterious, even back then,” says Maurice Harter, who ran the New Age Community Center at the time and allowed the group to use its community room. “They said the only way you’re going to get out of the world alive is by becoming intergalactic space voyagers.”

According to the women, the cult’s founders actually were from different planets, and they had given up their “extraterrestrial vibration” to come to Earth to prepare others for the end of the world and the coming of UFOs.

About 25 people came to hear the talk in 1978. The cult drew a crowd twice that size during their second visit to Portland on Aug. 11, 1994.

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