Before we begin a new year of stories on UnFictional, we take one last look at last year's fascinating story produced by the Here Be Monsters podcast. It's another excellent podcast from KCRW's Independent Producer Project.
In 1997, Heaven's Gate became known to the public as the world's most infamous UFO cult, when 39 members ate poison and died in their Californian mansion. They believed that the comet Hale Bopp was their exit to a higher life.
But before all this, Heaven's Gate supported itself financially through a small web design company called Higher Source. Heather Chronert met the members when she was an employee of the San Diego Polo Club, and it was her job to work closely with two Higher Source web designers on the design and execution of the polo club's website.
Meanwhile... Steven and Yvonne Hill of Cincinnati, Ohio found Heaven's Gate online. The two were unhappy with their lives in Ohio, and when they happened on heavensgate.com, it seemed like they'd found a religion tailor-made for them. Steven and Yvonne abandoned their lives in Ohio and moved to California to join the cult. Steven was one of the last people to defect from Heaven's Gate before the comet lit up the sky and the believers of Heaven's Gate killed themselves.
A longer version of this story can be found on the KCRW podcast Here Be Monsters.
Produced by Lina Misitzis and edited by Jeff Emtman, Nick White and Bethany Denton. Thanks also to Amy Isaacson.
The music came from Serocell, Swamp Dogg, Flowers and The Black Spot.