A fascinating part of society, cults continue to pop up again and again all around the world. As people that live as a part of the world at large, it may seem incredible that anyone would find themselves joining a cult. But, it is the attempt to understand how this happens that will help deal with them. After all, we all have a desire to belong and to be a part of something important to the world. It is that feeling that is innate in humanity that allows people to fall under the sway of a charismatic leader given the right sense of circumstances. As a result, there is a danger inherent in these groups as they can steal away beloved people in our lives on top of the fact that many of them result in violence. Realizing all of this is what inspired us to put together this list of twenty creepiest cults you should know about.
In order for a cult to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, first and foremost, it needs to include a group of devoted followers that do the bidding of at least one leader. Their way of life needs to be different from the way the masses make their way through the world in some remarkable ways. Next, the more dangerous to themselves and others the group as a whole seems to be, the higher on this list they will find themselves. Finally, the groups no longer need to be in existence as we feel that learning from the misdeeds of the past is of great importance.
19 Heaven’s Gate
A cult that seemed perfectly in tune with the era in which it was created, Heaven’s Gate was founded by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles during the seventies. Based on the concept that our planet would be “recycled,” Marshall taught his followers that a spacecraft was waiting for them concealed by the Hale-Bopp comet. Claiming that the craft would carry the worthy to the next level of existence, he convinced the members of the group that their bodies were just vessels that had to be left behind. Ultimately convincing people to take their own lives, thirty-six members ate phenobarbital mixed with applesauce while carrying five dollars and seventy-five cents in their uniform pockets for some reason. At least their last hours seemed to be happy ones, considering what they thought was in store for them.
18 The Fall River Cult
The Fall River Cult would end up taking the lives of women that sold their bodies for money. Opting to commit their crimes deep in the forest, Carl Drew and one of his girls, Robin Murphy, had one of their victims’ bodies found outside of a Massachusetts high school, of all places. Later reported by Karen Marsden, for some reason, the authorities didn’t take her claims seriously even though she told them that she feared she would be killed by them too. Ultimately, her fears proved well-founded as her skull was discovered six months later, which caused police to act on the information that she gave them. Arresting those two people and another member of the group, Andrew Maltais, some believe that it was this man that was in charge but he was given a reduced sentence after testifying against the others.
17 Kirtland Cult
First becoming a leader of people as a minister for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jeffrey Lundgren was kicked out of that religion for his radical views. Opting to move away, he took his wife and four children and bought a farm in Kirtland where he began amassing followers and forced to hand over their pay cheques and take weapons training. When he announced to his group that women could achieve salvation through s*x acts, the move caused some to begin questioning his teachings. Among those were the Avery family who he believed were intent on leaving the cult. Not willing to take that, he forced the father to accompany him to the city and buy two handguns. After that, they went back to the farm where, one by one, they were taken to the barn where their handguns were used.
16 The Church Of Synanon
A group that was founded by Charles E. “Chuck” Dederich, Sr. in 1958, at first, there was no telling where The Synanon Organization would end up. Based on a belief in “living a self-examined life,” they would eventually christen themselves the Church of Synanon during the seventies. Referred to as one of the “most dangerous and violent cults America had ever seen,” this organization at first helped people kick drugs and alcohol but wound up committing terrorism. At one point placing a de-rattled rattlesnake in the mailbox of attorney Paul Morantz who represented a woman they abducted against them in court, he spent six days in hospital due to the bite. Also heavily implicated in the disappearance of Rose Lena Cole who was enrolled by the court in their program, she has never been seen or heard from since. On top of that, they severely beat ex-member Phil Ritter whose skull was fractured and was in a coma because he had a near-fatal case of bacterial meningitis as a result.
15 Matamoros Human Sacrifice Cult
A criminal enterprise ran by Adolfo Constanzo and Hernandez brothers cartel, the Matamoros human sacrifice cult first popped up on the radar after killing a University of Texas student named Mark Kilroy. Evidently, these crooks came to believe that human sacrifice was magically protecting them from being caught by the police. They were then discovered after one of them ran a roadblock and was arrested. Finding weed on him, the police decided to search his place of residence, a farm owned by the man’s family, and found something truly horrendous. Discovering a black cauldron on the property, it possessed brain matter of the student. The cops were then led to a grave that contained his body.
14 The Immanuel David Cult
Led by a man that was given the name Charles Longo at birth, he would go on to christen himself Immanuel David and tell his followers that he was God. Able to have several people follow his wishes–most of whom were part of his family but not all of them–he used money taken on his behalf to live in a one-hundred-dollar-a-day hotel. Opting to take his own life while the FBI was looking into him, he did it by breathing in carbon monoxide from a pickup truck. That wasn’t the end of things, however, as his wife who believed him to be a deity sent their seven children off their eleventh-floor balcony and then jumped to her own death. If that weren’t enough evidence of the sway this man held, one of his children survived, and although she suffered brain damage and was forced into a wheelchair, she and few others believe him to be a god still.
13 The Ant Hill Kids
A small doomsday cult that formed in Ontario, Canada, the group named The Ant Hill Kids by its leader Roch Thériault was given that title because of how hard he made them work for him. Considered one of “Canada's most notorious criminals” by many, he used all nine women in the cult as his concubines, and because of that, he had twenty-six children at the time of his death. Able to convince people to come live in the wilderness with him, he demanded abject loyalty from them and was vicious when displeased. Said to have “nailed children to trees,” forced people to eat their own feces, and beaten people with bats, he was a horrible man.
12 The Branch Davidians
One of the most notorious cults in North American history, The Branch Davidians was an exceptional group, but the way they perished is what made them so infamous. Led by a man who was born with the name Vernon Howell but changed it to David Koresh after claiming to be the final prophet, he and his followers went to live on a commune they named Mount Carmel. Gaining the attention of law enforcement in part because of this incident, the ATF decided to raid the compound he led because of the firearms and explosives his group had gathered. Unwilling to be arrested and broken up, after a several-day standoff, the cult members inside are believed to have lit their own building on fire killing themselves in an event that took seventy-six lives.
11 Black Jesus Cult
A man that studied to be a Lutheran Minister early on in life before deciding it wasn’t for him, Steven Tari instead traveled to New Guinea where he began calling himself “Black Jesus” and started a cult. Over time able to lead up to six thousand people, he began to claim several young girls as his concubines who he called as “Flower Girls.” Said to have killed a thirteen-year-old girl who was offered up by her mother, people have claimed that he and the child’s mother committed cannibalism afterward. Arrested for some of his misdeeds after outraged villagers nearby attacked him and carried him out of the jungle, he was then able to escape from prison. Returning to his old ways, he took yet another kid's life and attempted to take the life of a teenager before a second uprising against him resulted in his death.
10 The Ripper Crew
A group that seems to have been inspired by the killings of Jack the Ripper, this cult was also remarkable since its leader, Robin Gecht, was a former employee of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. First coming to be known after the body of one of their victims, Linda Sutton, was found with part of her body removed in a similar fashion to The Ripper killings of yesteryear, it was their first discovered killing. Going on to take at least eighteen lives, all of whom had the same body part removed, they would travel around Chicago in a van and find their victims. The four members were sick individuals, and the fact that they found one another is terrifying.
9 The Manson Family
Perhaps the most talked-about cult of all time, The Manson Family stands out not only because of their leader but also due to the fact that they took the life of a celebrity. Led by Charles Manson, he seemed likely to be a part of the hippie culture prevalent at the time but had violence in his heart. Believing that a race war was imminent, he had some of the people he had gained control of go to the city in order to kill people and stage the scenes to make the killings seem racially motivated. Most notably, they murdered Sharon Tate, a famous actor who was pregnant with the child of Roman Polanski at the time, as well as several of her friends. Also taking the lives of a couple the following night, they weren’t as smart at covering up their deeds as they thought and wound up on trial for their homicides. However, Charles’ control was never clearer as his followers proved faithful to him throughout even though their lives hung in the balance.
8 Order Of The Solar Temple
A cult that claimed to have based their way of life on the ideals of the Knights Templar, the Order of the Solar Temple was founded by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984. Believing that they needed to help the world through a time of great change, the leaders of this group called for the unification of all Christian churches and Islam, as well as preparing for the second coming of Jesus. However, these days, this group is best known for what Joseph Di Mambro set in motion when he reportedly called for the killing of an infant he claimed to be the anti-Christ. A few days later having their version of the Last Supper, the followers of this cult then took part in mass suicides and murders as late as years after that initial event.
7 Aum Shinrikyo
Yet another group that was based on their leader’s belief in an impending doomsday event, Aum Shinrikyo was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. The subject of controversy early on due to reports, its leader forced members to donate their money and some followers were held against their will.
Eventually sued by an “anti-cult lawyer,” attempts to negotiate out of the expensive case failed. So instead, they captured and killed him as well as his wife and child. They then began manufacturing sarin gas which at first they used to attack three people, one of whom died. Going on to use the chemical several more times, they unleashed a cloud of it near the home of a judge presiding over a real estate case they expected to lose, killing eight people in the process. They also kidnapped and killed the brother of a former member a month before their most notable deed. Responsible for a Tokyo subway sarin attack that made headlines everywhere, they used the chemical to attack five trains which resulted in the deaths of thirteen people and injuries to another fifty-four. A group that still exists today due to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, today, thirteen of its former members, including its founder and leader, are on death row.
6 Superior Universal Alignment
Called a “UFO cult” by some, Valentina de Andrade, as the leader of Superior Universal Alignment, told her followers that she received messages from extraterrestrials. Claiming to know that there is no god as a result of these communications, instead, the group believed that Jesus was an alien that would send a spacecraft to pick up true believers. The biggest problem with her teachings, however, is that she said that all boys born after 1981 were evil and had to be “purged.” Starting out by convincing those around her to give away their kids that fall into that category away, things went evil when she led her group in the ritualistic killings or mutilations of nineteen boys. Scarily enough, once enough evidence was gathered to press charges on her and four other members of the group, she was the only one to walk free as she wasn’t present when these acts took place. Even worse, she continues to have an online presence too.
5 The People's Temple Of The Disciples Of Christ
If you’ve ever heard someone saying that following blindly is drinking the Kool-Aid, you may not know it but it is this cult that is being brought up at that moment. Founded in 1955 by Jim Jones, this cult that is commonly shortened to The People’s Temple and based its belief around religious elements of Christianity, as well as socialism and equality. Different than many religious groups at the time as it was made up of people from many different races, from the outside, it seemed at times to provide an idyllic for its members.
Ultimately moving to the country of Guyana because of Jones’ belief in an upcoming nuclear war, after some former members spoke out about abuses, a congressman went there to investigate. Finding out that some people wanted help departing the group, when the politician was set to leave the island, armed members attacked, killing him and three journalists that were present. Surmising that this would bring law enforcement upon his group and take his control away from him, instead of giving his authority up, Jim had his followers drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid. Ordering the shooting of anyone who attempted to flee, the fate of those present were set in stone which is why this event resulted in the deaths of a stunning nine hundred and eighteen people.
4 Movement For The Restoration Of The Ten Commandments
A cult that formed in Uganda back in the eighties, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments taught its followers that they had to live their lives a certain way to survive the apocalypse. Believing in the importance of the Ten Commandments, its leaders told their followers that the end was coming on January 1st, 2000. When that day came and went and confusion ruled the day, they revealed that their mistake was that it was set for March 17th instead. Yet again not coming to fruition, this time around, instead of pushing the date back once more, the leaders instead opted to set their church ablaze with their followers inside. Resulting in the fiery deaths of five hundred people, that wasn’t even it as authorities found nearly four hundred more bodies at other properties ran by the group.
3 The Vampire Clan
A small group led by Rod Ferrell, who was sixteen at the time, he told his followers that he was a 500-year-old vampire named Vesago. Becoming involved with another teenager named Heather Wendroff, he wowed her with stories of his so-called vampire clan in another state, and the two of them drank one another’s blood. Eventually moving away from her back among his three followers, the foursome traveled to “save” Heather and, once they made it to her home, took her parents' lives. Ultimately found when one of the group contacted a parent looking for money, Rod was given death for his crimes which made him the youngest person set to be killed by the state at the time. However, he would eventually have the Florida Supreme Court reduce his sentence to life in prison.
2 The Russian Teen Satanic Cult
A group that was active in the mid-2000’s, The Russian Teen Satanic cult was led by Nikolai Ogolobyak and started out being violent by sacrificing small animals. Not content at that level of killing, before too long, these eight teens set their sights on people and, over two nights, lured four kids slightly younger than them to the outskirts of their city. Once there, they attacked their victims, killing them in the process and then took part in cannibalistic rituals. Clearly a very disturbed group of people, the bodies of their victims were found two months after the incident but they got off relatively easy with their leader getting the harshest sentence of only twenty years. Considering the time frame of their actions, it is therefore safe to assume that some of the members have already been released or will be soon.
1 Marcus Wesson: The Vampire King
A family cult that lived under the thumb of their patriarch, Marcus Wesson’s level of control over his children is horrific to consider. Fifty-seven years old at the time of his arrest in 2004, he emerged from the house and ruled with an iron fist covered in blood. Said to have believed in a combination of Christianity and vampirism, he thought that Jesus was a bloodsucker and used his teachings to control his children. Forcing his kids to not intermingle the genders, he would have eighteen children in total, several of whom were birthed by young girls themselves, and he would claim all of his daughters as his future wives. Ultimately confronted by relatives of his that were not under his control, Marcus opted to murder nine of his followers when the police were called on him.