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Former Heaven's Gate member kills himself; another tries

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CNN sent tape on which men make 'exit statements'

May 6, 1997
Web posted at: 7:10 p.m. EDT

SAN DIEGO (CNN) -- A former member of the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide Tuesday and another tried to at a hotel near San Diego, police say.

Police were withholding the names of the men pending notification of their families. The survivor was hospitalized Tuesday afternoon, in very critical condition.

CNN's Los Angeles bureau received a tape and a letter Tuesday morning, sent by one of the men. He expressed a desire "to leave with my Older Member and the rest of the crew," an apparent reference to Heaven's Gate leader Marshall Applewhite and 38 other members of the group who committed suicide in March.



icon Message from man who survived Tuesday's suicide
(272K/25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)


The two men were found in the same room at a Holiday Inn in San Diego County. Police did not immediately disclose what methods were used by the men in their suicide attempts.

In March, 39 members of the group were found dead in a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, north of San Diego.

In the tape received by CNN, each of the men made an "exit statement," similar to tapes made by the Heaven's Gate adherents who died in March.

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"By now you should be aware that I have too have (sic) exited my vehicle," said one of the men. "I do not pretend to have accomplished my task of overcoming this human vehicle and gaining the degree of control I would have liked, but nonetheless, I know who I am and that I must go back with them whether I am ready or not."

"I'd rather gamble on missing the bus this time than staying on this planet and risk losing my soul."

In the letter accompanying the tape, he wrote, "I would like everyone to understand that I simply cannot stay here any longer and I am leaving because it is time for me to leave."

"There is no other reason, no matter how many tail feathers (degrees) follow the name of some psychologists who will undoubtedly insist he has all the answers."

On March 26, the bodies 39 members of Heaven's Gate were found in a cream-colored mansion in an exclusive neighborhood. Medical examiners later determined they had ingested a combination of phenobarbital and alcohol and that some had apparently been suffocated with plastic bags.

Members of the group believed they were "exiting their vehicles," or their human bodies, to move onto a higher plane. They also believe a UFO hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet had come to deliver them from their earthly existence.

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Extended coverage of mass suicides

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