Members of a “cult-like” group in Southern California—five adults and eight children—were reported missing by their families late yesterday, and left behind letters indicating they were waiting for the Rapture, The Associated Press reported.
Capt. Mike Parker of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that husbands of two group members, who are from the Palmdale area, reported the people missing early Saturday. He also said that sheriff’s authorities are looking for three vehicles: a 1995 Mercury Villager, a 2004 white Nissan, a silver Toyota Tundra pickup.
According to the AP, one of the husbands had a purse by one of the group members that contained letters mentioning the group was awaiting the end of the world, along with property deeds and identification.
"They were awaiting the rapture or some other catastrophic event," said Parker.
Among the missing is the group’s leader, Reyna Marisol Chicas, 32, of Palmdale.
Parker said that the members were part of a mainstream Christian church and that they mentioned to their families about their unusual beliefs. He also added that the group had planned a trip to a wilderness area, Vasquez Rocks, to meet a similar event, but was called off when a group member revealed the plans.
The Los Angeles Times reported a California Highway Patrol alert that said: “It is believed, through further investigation, that [their] intentions are to commit mass suicide."
According to the newspaper, documents that the group members left behind gave no indication of suicide, but made mention of the "end of the world" and "going to heaven," said Parker.
Steve Whitmore, a sheriff’s spokesman, said they do not think that this was 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."