Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mass Suicide Fears Over Missing LA Sect

A religious sect of 13 people - including several children - have gone missing amid fears they plan a mass suicide.
Authorities in southern California said they were searching a desert outside Los Angeles for the group.

The sect includes three sisters, aged 30, 32 and 40 years, a 19-year-old man and eight children, aged eight to 17.

It is headed by "cult-like leader" Reyna Marisol Chicas, according to officials.

Police were alerted after two husbands reported on Saturday that their wives had gone missing after attending a prayer meeting.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a California Highway Patrol "alert" said: "It is believed, through further investigation, that (their) intentions are to commit mass suicide.

"The letters essentially state that they are all going to heaven shortly to meet Jesus and their deceased relatives.

"Numerous letters found say goodbye to their (living) relatives."

But LA County Sheriff's Captain Mike Parker said the letters did not specifically mention suicide, although they did refer to the "end of the world".

He continued that one of the husbands believed the missing adults had been "brainwashed".

The sect consists of El Salvadoran immigrants and Chicas is a 32-year-old woman from Palmdale, in northeast Los Angeles county, Cpt Parker added.

The sect also left behind mobile phones, identification documents and deeds to property.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told the LA Times: "We do not think this is a hoax.

"We don't know that this is a potential suicide, but we know that it's real and we're going to find them." read more

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