Heaven's Gate Timeline
Compiled by Clete Hux
1931 Marshall Herff Applewhite is born near Corpus Christi, Texas son of a Presbyterian minister.
1964 Applewhite leaves his employment as a Choral Director at the University of Alabama.
1966 Hired as a music teacher at the University of St. Thomas, a Roman Catholic college in Houston, Texas. Also involved as a singer in the Houston Grand Opera.
1969 Receives a master's degree in music from University of Colorado in Boulder.
1970 Dismissed by Thomas college over scandal involving a student relationship.
1971 Though previously married, with two children, he continues to struggle with his sexual identity, having homosexual affairs.
1971 Employed by St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.
1972 Applewhite meets Bonnie Lu Nettles, a nurse and astrologer involved in Theosophy and reincarnation.
1973 Nettles leaves her husband and four children to be with Applewhite. They open a New Age bookstore in Houston, Texas. Bookstore fails; they spend six weeks "soul-searching" in the Texas Hill country. Open a restaurant in Taos, New Mexico, called Sunshine Company. Restaurant fails; they begin to travel, supporting themselves with odd jobs. Car breaks down in front of yoga center in Portland, Ore. While camping on the Rogue River, near Gold Beach, Ore., they become convinced they are the "Two Witnesses" mentioned in book of Revelation.
1974 Arrested for stealing a rental car and using stolen credit cards. Charges against Nettles are dropped and she returns to Houston. Applewhite spends six months in jail. While in jail, he writes Statement I, their first recruiting piece. They predict their assassination and resurrection. Promise to take followers away in a spaceship after their resurrection.
1975 March - From
Ojai, California, mail their first public notice, known as
Statement I. Take the names Guinea (Nettles) and Pig
(Applewhite) to reflect they are part of an experiment by the Next
Level. UFO cult recruitment begins. Hold classroom at campground near
Gold Beach, Oregon. They get their first converts and take the names Bo
and Peep. Students are dispersed to hold other meetings.
August - Meeting is held at Canada College where Bo and Peep make their first public appearance. Cult membership begins to grow to about 200.
Sept. - Meeting in Waldport, Oregon, is attended by the press and results in bad publicity. Leaders quickly depart for meetings in Denver, Chicago, and Tulsa. Members sent out in groups without Bo and Peep.
1976 January-April - Cult is
April 21 - Leaders re-emerge. Nettles announces at Manhattan College, Kansas that no new members will be accepted. The "Harvest" is over.
July - Group moves to Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming for the summer. Many members drift away after Bo and Peep set strict guidelines banning drug use and sex. Group is taken into seclusion, will not go public again until 1992. During this period Applewhite assumes the name "Do," and Nettles the name "Ti."
October - Group numbers less than 70 members.
1985 Bonnie Lu Nettles dies of cancer. Cult dwindles to just a few dozen members. After watching the movie, "Cocoon," they believe they will soon be picked up by aliens.
1992 Group reemerges for 3.5 months, producing video, Beyond Human, and broadcasting it on satellite TV. It does not attract any new followers but does bring back some who had left the group.
1993 Applewhite places one-third page ad in USA Today titled, "'UFO Cult' Resurfaces With Final Offer."
1994 Members of group are sent out in teams to recruit new members by holding public meetings.
Group again goes into seclusion; turns to internet as means of getting
its message before the public. They start a business called
Sept. - Post first "exit statement" on internet; intended to address the religious world, "primarily Christians."
Oct. - Post second "exit statement" on internet; intended to clarify first "exit statement."
Summer - group moves to San Diego County.
Oct. - "Brother Logan" rents a 1.6 million dollar mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Cult members move in and operate a computer web site business known as "Higher Source."
Jan. - They again post "Exit Statements 1 and 2" on the internet. Again
talk of going on a trip and begin to curtail business. They send letters
to clients about Hale-Bopp comet being their "sign" to leave
March 23 - Hale-Bopp's closest approach to earth. Fifteen of the group commit suicide, taking phenobarbital with applesauce and a shot of vodka. At least some of them also place plastic bags over their heads to assist the process.
March 24 - Fifteen more commit suicide by same means as first group.
March 25 - Remaining nine commit suicide, the last two disposing of the other's plastic bags.
March 26 - Bodies are discovered by cult member who was not present during the deaths.