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Former Cult Member Found Suicide

February 20, 1998

EHRENBERG, Ariz. (AP) _ Dressed like the 39 Heaven’s Gate cult members who killed themselves near San Diego last year, a former follower has been found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in an apparent suicide.

Charles Humphrey’s body was found Tuesday in a small tent pitched near a car, with a tube rigged to pump exhaust into the tent, said Mike Downing, an investigator with the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Suicide is the most likely cause, but nothing has been ruled out, he said.

Next to the 55-year-old Humphrey was a purple shroud, an item found with the cult members who killed themselves March 27, 1997, in a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., a posh San Diego suburb.

He was wearing black sweat pants and a black T-shirt, said Lt. Don Davis, a spokesman for the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department.

A note next to him said ``Do not revive″ and gave two phone numbers to contact his daughter, who lives in the Los Angeles area, Davis said. There also was a note for the daughter.

Humphrey, of Denver, and another cult member took alcohol and phenobarbital last May in a hotel room four miles away from the Heaven’s Gate mansion. Authorities saved Humphrey but his companion died.

Ehrenberg is a small town just across the Colorado River from California.

Formed by Marshall Herff Applewhite in the early 1970s, the Heaven’s Gate cult followed a bizarre theology of Christianity and UFOs. The cultists who killed themselves last year left videotaped messages saying they were shedding their bodies for a trip to a ``level beyond human″ aboard a spaceship trailing the Hale-Bopp comet.

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