Judge Rules San Diego County Owner of Heaven's Gate Estate

A judge has ruled the County of San Diego is the owner of the estate of the Heaven's Gate Cult. Superior Court Judge Lisa Guy-Schall issued that decision Monday.

San Diego Insider/February 23, 1999

The judge had presided over a three-day trial last month that pitted the County of San Diego against an organization called TELAH, which stands for Evolutionary Level Above Human.

The two founders of TELAH, Mark and Sara King, had claimed the Heaven's Gate members transferred ownership of all their assets to them before 39 cult members committed suicide in March 1997 in Rancho Santa Fe.

The county contended the assets should be liquidated and used to pay claims filed by relatives of cult members to pay for burial costs.

Those claims with the county total almost $100,000. The assets, which include vehicles and computer equipment, are valued at just over $50,000, although it is thought many of the assets could be worth much more at auction to collectors because of the notoriety of the cult.

The judge also hit the Kings with court sanctions for filing a frivolous petition and ruled they must pay the county's attorney fees and other court costs.

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