Mass suicide survivors who stayed behind to keep death cult's bizarre teachings alive for 20 years

Twenty years ago this week, the last of 39 people in identical robes and Nike trainers drank a lethal cocktail of vodka, poison and apple sauce, put plastic bags and purple shrouds over their heads – and laid down to die.

They believed an alien spaceship hiding in the tail of a speeding comet was coming to collect their souls.

The dead were all members of Heaven’s Gate – the world’s first and most notorious internet-connected suicide cult. They were led by Marshall Applewhite, a wild-eyed minister’s son and former music teacher, who was one of the last to die.

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