Nation/World

Heaven’s Gate Recruited Here

The Heaven’s Gate cult whose members committed mass suicide in Southern California once recruited in Spokane.

And one of the deceased cult members left behind a girlfriend and his belongings in Coeur d’Alene five years ago.

A man identified by authorities as Gary Jordan St. Louis, 44, made a home videotape to explain his decision to join the Heaven’s Gate cult.

“I want everybody who may see this, or to know, that I have chosen to leave,” St. Louis says on the tape he left behind with his former girlfriend, Shelly King, of Coeur d’Alene, in 1992. “I want to rejoin my Heavenly Father, and my classmates, the students of my Heavenly Father.”

The cult last fall asked Spokane author Jess Walter to write a book about them, but he declined.

When the group recruited in Spokane, it went by the name “Total Overcomers.” Three cult members who gave their names as June, Oliver and Alex held an informational meeting on June 25, 1994, at the North Argonne Library.

June and Oliver visited The Spokesman-Review, asking for publicity. The three also asked radio station KPBX for an interview.

Their comments eerily forecast the cult’s final goodbye. They talked about aliens, space travel and “Luciferian” extraterrestrials. They said the road to the Kingdom of Heaven is paved by the denial of all “mammalian” desires.

“This is not a doomsday trip,” Oliver told The Spokesman-Review.

“This is the most joyous thing in the world,” June added.

June and Oliver told the newspaper about “Bo” and “Peep,” the group’s leaders who eventually took the names “Ti” and “Do,” after the notes on a musical scale.

They explained that Ti and Do’s message had attracted about 90 people - including business owners, students and nurses - in 1975.

June and Oliver told the newspaper that Earth civilization was about to be recycled, or “spaded under.” They said they went out into mainstream culture to spread the word.

As part of that mission, they came to Spokane. The library only keeps meeting records for up to two years, and no one Friday remembered the group.

June and Oliver said they were looking for vehicles ready to rise to another level of existence, the evolutionary level higher than the human kingdom.

Although all the victims hadn’t yet been identified, KPBX said Friday its news director interviewed at least two of the members highlighted in the cult’s farewell videotape - Oliver and Alex.

KPBX will air the interview at 12:30 p.m. Monday and 6 p.m. Tuesday.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Kim Barker Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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