‘Cult’ Suicide Feared: 5 Adults, 8 Kids Sought By Police Near L.A.
JACOB ADELMANand ANDREW DALTON
PALMDALE, Calif. — Deputies searched a wide swath of Southern California early Sunday for a break-off religious sect of 13 people that included children as young as three and left behind letters indicating they were awaiting an apocalyptic event and would soon see Jesus and their dead relatives in heaven, authorities said.
The group of El Salvadoran immigrants, described as “cult-like” by sheriff’s officials, was led by Reyna Marisol Chicas, a 32-year-old woman from Palmdale in northeast Los Angeles county, sheriff’s Captain Mike Parker said.
The group left behind cell phones, identifications, deeds to property, and letters indicating they were awaiting the Rapture.
“Essentially, the letters say they are all going to heaven to meet Jesus and their deceased relatives,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “Some of the letters were saying goodbye.”
The items came from a purse that a member of the group had left with her husband Saturday and asked him to pray over. He eventually looked inside and he and another member’s husband called authorities, Parker said.
The men told investigators they believe group members had been “brainwashed” by Chicas, and one expressed worries that they might harm themselves, Parker said.
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