Heaven's Gate Website Still Active

KXNT CBS News, Las Vegas/May 2, 2012

San Diego -- Some websites, once popular, eventually fade into obscurity and become what are known as "ghost sites." Though left untouched and unedited for extensive amounts of time, these sites continue to exist like time capsules buried deep in the Internet.

Heaven's Gate has one such website.

The Heaven's Gate cult gained notoriety in the late 1990s with its belief that Earth was about to be sanitized – or as they phrased it, "recycled" – and all life at the time would be wiped out to make way for a new dawn of human civilization.

The cult was ahead of the curve in the sense that they used the Internet, then in its infancy, to relay its message. However, they committed mass suicide in March 1997 with the arrival of the Hale-Bopp Comet, which they believed was the sign of the apocalypse.

The cult's website, HeavensGate.com, hasn't been updated since then.

Its most recent page, entitled "'Away Team' Returns to Level Above Human in Distant Space," states that, "[b]y the time you receive this, we'll be gone – several dozen of us … we have now exited the bodies that we were wearing for our earthly task … task completed."

However, long after the suicides, the site is still actively maintained. The domain name and the server have been renewed every year since 1997 by an unknown party acting under a cloak of anonymity.

The WHOIS records show that all contact information is kept private. And when called, the information phone number listed greets callers with an error message.

"Please note this voicemail box is not monitored," it states.

There is also an email address listed, which serves as an alias for the email address on the site itself.

The history of the domain name reveals that it was owned by the Telah Foundation and the contact was Mark King. These records were updated last year, at which point the contact information was removed.

It is hard to define the identity of the Telah Foundation. Information on Mark King is equally as scarce, and with the exception of old WHOIS records, the only mention that CBS Las Vegas found of him was in a lawsuit from 1998.

In that lawsuit he was named as a trustee of the cult and was suing to halt the sale of unauthorized Heaven's Gate merchandise by the defendant in the case, Chuck Humphrey. Later on that year, Humphrey killed himself with an overdose of barbiturates, much like the other Heaven's Gate members.

There also doesn't seem to be a connection with the site to the last known Heaven's Gate survivor, Rio DiAngelo, although DiAngelo holds firm to the same tenants by which the cult lived.

"I can say with absolute undeniable certainty that 'Do' [AKA Marshall Applewhite] was a second coming of Jesus," he said in an interview with CNN last year.

CBS Las Vegas contacted the site directly via email for information about the current status of Heaven's Gate.

The responses to those emails were sparse and lacking in detail. Whoever responded was not forthcoming with any information about the individuals that run the site.

But the recipient did admit that the site is still run by the Telah Foundation, which has a total of two members.

"The Group left us to take care of the website, book and the tapes that they wanted to speak for them," the group told CBS Las Vegas. "[But] very few people ask for the book or tapes, so very little is given out."

The Telah Foundation also says that the group that committed suicide were "the finest and most caring individuals that were on this planet," and that they have "no plans other than continuing with the Task the Class gave us back in 1996."

As for the upcoming date of Dec. 21, 2012, a day believed by many to be the beginning of the end for humanity, the Telah Foundation is not worried.

"Our own opinion is that it is a bunch of nonsense," the representative said. "The world will still be here on December 22."

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