Web Drives Cult to Mass Suicide

Rohit Khare (khare@pest.w3.org)
Thu, 27 Mar 97 11:45:45 -0500

March 27, 1997 11:00 AM ET

Group in mass suicide apparently ran Web design firm
By _Maria Seminerio_ [PCWEEK]

The 39 men and women found dead after an apparent mass suicide in a mansion
outside San Diego yesterday were evidently Web site developers who ran a
Denver-based design firm called Higher Source Contract Enterprises, sources
said today.

The company's own Web site, at _www.cris.com/~font/_, makes no mention of
any type of cult or religious affiliation, though it does give an extensive
list of services.

"We at Higher Source not only cater to customizing Web sites that will enhance
your company image, but strive to make your transition into the world of
cyberspace a very easy and fascinating experience," the company says in its
service pitch.

The bodies were found late yesterday afternoon inside a sprawling estate in
Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
The identically dressed victims bore no signs of violence, and no suicide
note was found, police said. The exact cause of their deaths has not been

The home was apparently rented to either Higher Source or some of its individual
employees, and neighbors reportedly have described its occupants as referring
to the mansion as their "temple." A large variety of computer equipment,
apparently used for designing Web sites for clients including the San Diego
Polo Club and a film production company called Kushner-Locke, was found inside
the home, police said.

Higher Source also offered Java and VRML programming, systems analysis, and
consulting services, according to the company's advertising.

The sales pitch also pointed out: "The individuals at the core of our group
have worked closely together for over 20 years ... We try to stay positive
in every circumstance and put the good of a project above any personal concerns
or artistic egos."

Officials at Higher Source did not return phone calls seeking comment this