‘The Cult Next Door’: ’20/20′ Diane Sawyer Special explores Heaven’s Gate, mass suicide, leader Marshall Applewhite

It remains the greatest mass suicide of all time on American soil: In 1997, 39 people took their own lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California, believing a UFO would carry them to a higher plane of existence for eternity.

Among the dead were nurses, veterans, and even a valedictorian who left their daily lives, careers, families, friends, and even small children for the Heaven’s Gate cult.

In a new two-hour special of “20/20,” ABC News host Diane Sawyer and her team unravel the mysteries of the cult and investigate the mysteries of its persuasive leader, Marshall Applewhite. Watch the trailer in the media player above.

In 1997, Sawyer had the exclusive interview with Rio DiAngelo, a member who left the group before the tragedy to serve as an ambassador to the world. 23 years later, Sawyer interviewed him again.

The special includes exclusive, never-before-seen tapes and intimate audio recordings of Applewhite, his followers, interviews with former members emerging from the shadows, loved ones of deceased followers and authorities who worked on the grisly case. Two survivors also share their experiences in the sect for the first time.

The Cult Next Door: The Mystery and Madness of Heaven’s Gate will air on ABC on 20/20 Friday, March 11 at 9|8c and stream the next day on Hulu.

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https://abc7.com/the-cult-next-door-heavens-gate-diane-sawyer-special-2020/11619769/ ‘The Cult Next Door’: ’20/20′ Diane Sawyer Special explores Heaven’s Gate, mass suicide, leader Marshall Applewhite

Laura Coffey

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