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Bonnie Nettles is known as one of 'The Two' who started the so-called UFO cult often referred to as Heaven's Gate with Marshall Applewhite.
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They worked as a team with Applewhite as the speaker and Nettles as the sage. Known by many names, including "Guinea" and "Pig," "Bo" and "Peep," and "The Two," the messianic figures from outer space attracted a lot of media attention, as well as followers. They made the national news in 1975 and were the subject of a book, U.F.O. Missionaries Extraordinary,
the following year. Both Nettles and Applewhite were overwhelmed by the scrutiny that came with their raised public profile.
That same year, Nettles and Applewhite decided that they would stop adding new members. They set out to reduce their followers to include only the most dedicated. Reaching the "level above human" required refraning from earthly needs, desires and addictions, such as sex or drugs or possessions or even the ego. To the two, the body was just a "vehicle."
In 1983, Nettles' "vehicle" was beginning to break down, losing an eye to cancer. She died two years later in Dallas after the cancer had spread to her liver. Applewhite told their followers that she had returned to the Next Level. Fourteen years later, he and 38 Heaven's Gate members committed suicide, believing that they too would ascend using the Hale-Bopp comet.
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Combine a charismatic personality with fringe beliefs and an appetite for violence, and you get some of history's most notorious cult leaders. Charles Manson terrorized frightened Americans in the late 1960s, convincing his followers to commit heinous murders in his name. David Koresh led the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, leading to a standoff with the federal government in 1993 that resulted in the death of Koresh and 75 of his believers. Learn about these leaders, and many more, who inspired hundreds to follow their unconventional philosophies—often with tragic results.
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