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Suicide survivor says he's going to write a book


'That's a heck of a gamble...for a marketing tour'

May 15, 1997
Web posted at: 9:00 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Charles Feldman

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A former member of the Heaven's Gate cult who tried but failed to commit suicide says he plans to write and market a book and go on the lecture circuit.

Charles "Chuck" Humphrey, 54, was a member of the cult for several years, but was estranged from the group on March 26 when 39 of them committed suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, California.


Shortly afterward, Humphrey tried without success to sell old tapes of cult gatherings and lectures to CNN. In early May, he sent a tape to CNN saying he had decided to take his life and join the other members of the cult.

On May 6, he and another former member of the cult, Wayne Cooke, were found in a hotel room in Encinitas, California.

They were dressed like the other members of the cult and had followed the same procedures, even down to having a $5 bill and some quarters in their pockets. The cult members believed that by "exiting their vehicles" -- killing themselves -- they would be taken aboard a UFO hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet which would deliver them to a higher plane of existence.

'I haven't put all the pieces together yet'


Cooke died; Humphrey did not. He was taken to a hospital, treated and released.

Asked why he isn't dead, Humphrey says, "That's a good question. I was somehow revived. I haven't put all the pieces together yet."

As for Cooke, Humphrey says, "Wayne did what he wanted to do. It was a choice that he made. I'm glad that he was able to arrive at the spot that he chose to arrive at. I'll certainly miss his companionship. He was a good friend."

Humphrey says he no longer wants to kill himself, but rejects the idea that his plans for a book mark him as something of a con man.

Referring to the suicide attempt, he said, "well, that's a heck of a gamble for someone ... just for a marketing tour."

Authorities say case is closed


Asked to describe what he and Cooke did that night in the hotel room, he said, "...we ground up the phenobarbital, mixed it with some applesauce and proceeded to eat the applesauce.

"Then we chased it down with a vodka-orange juice mixture and we both then laid on the beds, placed (plastic) bags over our heads. And for some reason, like I said, I don't know what happened, but my bag was removed."

icon (448K/28 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Law enforcement authorities say the case is now closed and that they have no further interest in Humphrey. The next question, apparently, is whether the reading public will.


Extended coverage of mass suicides


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