The doomsday cult that disappeared: Mystery of 'off the planet' leader who vanished without a trace along with his partner, daughter and friend - as search for answers continues 10 years on

Mail, UK/May 7, 2017

By Josh Hanrahan

It was an international doomsday cult and he was its leader, controlling his 40-strong online following from his rundown regional home.

Until one day, in 2007, Simon Kadwell vanished.

The founder of 'Truth Fellowship', the English-born Kadwell led police on a search for answers from his adopted home in Nannup, Western Australia, all the way to Brazil.

Not long after the disappearance of Kadwell, his girlfriend Chantelle McDougall, their six-year-old daughter Leela and friend, Tony Popic, 42, did the real mystery about the cult leader begin to emerge, Perth Now reports. 

Kadwell, who was known to his followers simply as 'Si', was better known to many in his homeland as 'Gary Feltham', having stolen his new identity in the 1990s.

And now, close to a decade since the four were last seen on July 13, 2007, an inquest into their mysterious disappearance and 'suspected deaths' was announced.

Having just 40 followers allowed Kadwell to easily interact with the people who he called 'The Forecourt'.

Through a chat room called 'The Gateway' they would discuss the teachings written in 'Servers of the Divine Plan' - a book Kadwell had written himself. 

Inside it were promises of a new world, one promoting a higher consciousness once a 75,000-year cycle had been completed.

According to neighbours, the cult founder was 'off the planet' and 'paranoid', not just about earth's pending doom, but also 'electromagnetic fields'.

'Simon was paranoid about electromagnetic fields,' Bruce Blackburn said in 2015. 

'He was always ranting and raving about them, to the point where he was breaking out in hives and his face looked as if it was about to burst, it was so red.

'He began burying a heap of magnets around the place because he believed they diverted these rays away from him.'

Not long after, Kadwell, Ms McDougall, their daughter Leela and Mr Popic left behind their personal belongings and without any warning left their Nannup home.

A few days following their landlord found a note on the door saying: 'Gone to Brazil'.

They were seen for the last time in Busselton, north of Nannup, where they sold their car for $4,000 before being whisked away in a waiting vehicle.

While it is now believed the four are most likely dead, police initially suspected they may have escaped the country to New Zealand before fleeing to South America. 

Cult hotspot Rio Branco, Brazil, had been mentioned by both Kadwell and McDougall previously.

However Ms McDougall's parents refuse to believe their daughter has passed away, claiming it is more likely the foursome are hiding away under the guidance of Kadwell.

'I think he's probably got them hiding somewhere while he is up to his usual tricks of getting money off people by scamming them over the internet with this cult stuff,' Jim McDougall has previously said.

The McDougall's continue to spread the word about their daughter in the hope she is still alive, spreading posters throughout the Nannup area.

Four years ago an investigation revealed a man identifying himself as Popic visited a Perth backpackers on July 15, 2007, just days after the group left Nannup. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Balfour said police believe the man could have been Popic, Kadwell or someone completely unknown to them.

'It's such a bizarre story and we have as little an idea of their whereabouts today as we did in 2007 when they disappeared,' Snr Sgt Balfour said.

'There's no evidence to suggest they are dead, just as there's no evidence to suggest they are alive.

'Remember, he successfully isolated Chantelle and Leela from their families so it's perfectly possible they are alive, living off the grid somewhere in Australia or overseas.' 

The inquest into the disappearance of Kadwell, Ms McDougall, Leela McDougall and Mr Popic will get underway in December.

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