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Associate of group member says deaths linked to UFO, Hale-Bopp

Matzorkis March 27, 1997
Web posted at: 12:17 p.m. EST (1717 GMT)

RANCHO SANTA FE, California (CNN) -- The quasi-religious group whose members died in an apparent mass suicide in California left videotapes announcing their intentions to join a UFO, an associate of a former member said Thursday.

In an interview with CNN's "Morning News," Nick Matzorkis of Interact Entertainment of Beverly Hills said he and one of his employees, known as Rio, went to the group's mansion, found the 39 bodies and notified authorities in San Diego and Beverly Hills.

A L S O:
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Group designed Web sites, worked as contract programmers
CNN transcript of Nick Matzorkis interview

"When he first came out of the house, he was as white as a sheep," Matzorkis said of Rio. "He said, 'They did it. ... They left their containers. They committed suicide.'"

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  • Matzorkis said Rio, who left the group recently, received a package Tuesday containing two videotapes and a letter that described the group's intentions.

    In the videotapes, members said their farewells and were "quite joyous" about "leaving this planet," Matzorkis said. The letter said that by the time it was read members would have "already shed their containers," he added. icon (155K/14 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

    According to Matzorkis, the group believed their souls transcend this life.

    "They believed they were going to be taken away, as odd as this sounds, ... by a UFO -- that a UFO would come by and pick them up," Matzorkis said.

    He added that seven months ago the leader of group, whom Matzorkis said was among the dead, told him the UFO was hiding behind Comet Hale-Bopp. icon (147K/13 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

    Investigators interviewed Matzorkis overnight, and the videotapes have been turned over to authorities. Matzorkis said investigators interviewed and released Rio.


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