*The Disappearance Of Rose Cole
- In 1958, Charles E. Dederich founded a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Santa Monica, California called Synanon. As the years went on, Synanon expanded beyond drug treatment and attracted people interested in an alternative lifestyle. By the 1970s, it had devolved into a dangerous religious cult. It got to the point where anyone who joined Synanon was forced to turn over all their assets to them and become a lifetime member. Anyone who tried to leave the cult would face serious consequences. By the time the 1990s rolled around, Synanon was shut down by the Internal Revenue Service for financial misdeeds, and some of its members were even convicted of attempted murder. One unresolved mystery which surrounded Synanon was the disappearance of a teenage girl named Rose Cole. In 1972, Rose was 15 years old and ran away from home. After she was found, Rose told a judge that she used and sold drugs, so she was sentenced to a court-ordered stay in Synanon’s treatment program. Months later, Rose Cole vanished without a trace. The story goes that Rose ran away from Synanon at some point. Her family received two letters from her, where she claimed to be living on the streets of San Francisco and suffering from a kidney infection. In her last letter, Rose expressed fear that Synanon officials would find her, and said she would not write again until she turned 18 and became a legal adult. Rose’s family never heard from her after that, though there were unverified rumors that she contacted her father sometime during the 1980s to confirm she was still living on the streets. While there’s no evidence that Synanon caused Rose Cole’s disappearance, the organization’s shady history has caused much speculation.
*The Disappearance Of Alexander Olive
- In the early 1980s, a young woman named Rosemary Olive became involved with the charismatic Ulysses Roberson. She eventually gave birth to a son named Alexander, whom Ulysses renamed “Salaam.” Ulysses engaged in abusive relationships with several different women, who were forced to father his children and live together as a quasi-polygamist cult. Ulysses abused all his children. Alexander was his most frequent target since he was biracial and Ulysses believed the boy was harboring a demon inside his body. When Alexander was four years old, Rosemary finally broke free from Ulysses’s cult and went to live with her son in San Francisco. On November 9, 1985, Ulysses abducted Alexander from his home, and this was the last time his mother ever saw him.
- Rosemary traveled to South Lake Tahoe to demand the return of her son, but Ulysses proceeded to beat her. Ulysses served one year in jail for assaulting Rosemary but denied all knowledge of Alexander’s whereabouts. After Ulysses was convicted of an unrelated rape in 1997, two of his former girlfriends finally came forward and told authorities that shortly after Alexander was abducted from his mother, they witnessed Ulysses beating the boy with a piece of firewood and taking his lifeless body on a van ride to a remote area. When DNA tests found traces of Alexander’s blood in Ulysses’s van, he was charged with Alexander’s murder. Even though Ulysses maintained his innocence, he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Alexander’s body has never been found.
*The infamous New Age figure Carlos Castaneda
- gained prominence after publishing a 1968 memoir entitled The Teachings of Don Juan. The book described Castaneda’s magical adventures with a Yaqui Native American shaman named Don Juan. Even though the book was since been debunked as fiction, it sold millions of copies, and Castaneda also found success by teaching a movement technique called Tensegrity. During the 1990s, Castaneda formed a corporation called Cleargreen to promote Tensegrity and recruited five women to help run his operation. However, Castaneda’s operation was run like a cult, as all five of these women changed their names, abandoned their old lives, and lived in complete seclusion with him as his lovers. They became known as Castaneda’s “witches.” On April 27, 1998, Castaneda died of liver cancer. However, his death was kept secret and not revealed to the media for two months. By that time, Castaneda’s witches were nowhere to be found.Castaneda’s five female followers were Amalia Marquez, Patricia Partin, Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar, and Kylie Lundahl. Shortly after Castaneda’s death, these women closed down the Los Angeles compound where they lived with him. The phone numbers for all these women were disconnected, and they completely disappeared. Partin’s car was soon found abandoned in the Panamint Dunes area of Death Valley National Park. In 2003, skeletal remains were discovered in Death Valley and were eventually identified as Partin. Her cause of death could not be determined but is believed to be suicide. It’s been speculated that all five of Castaneda’s witches went off somewhere to commit suicide after his death. Even though Cleargreen continues to operate to this day, no trace of the other four missing women has ever been found.
*The Disappearances Of Chantelle And Leela McDougall
- In October 2007, 27-year-old Chantelle McDougall and her six-year-old daughter, Leela, mysteriously vanished from their hometown of Nannup, Australia. At the time, Chantelle was living with her 45-year-old husband, Simon Kadwell, who also went missing without explanation. Chantelle had gotten involved with Simon when she was still a teenager. At the time, the family lived in a caravan owned by 40-year-old Antonio Popic, who also disappeared. They left everything behind, including their wallets and credit cards. They were last seen selling Chantelle’s vehicle for $4,000, but none of the money in her bank account has ever been touched. However, things took a bizarre turn once investigators started delving into the background of Simon Kadwell.It turned out he had previously lived in England under his real name, Gary Feldman, and had stolen the identity of another Brit named Simon Kadwell before moving to Australia. He lived under numerous aliases over the years and was the head of a bizarre New Age religious cult. The cult followed the teachings of a doomsday book entitled Servers of the Divine Plan, based around the idea of “servers” taking a specific position on Earth to prepare for the impending apocalypse. Chantelle McDougall and her daughter were also members of this cult and had cut off all communication with Chantelle’s immediate family. It’s theorized that all four missing individuals traveled to a specific location to prepare for doomsday, but there is no evidence of them ever leaving Australia. They have practically vanished off the face of the Earth and have not been seen for over seven years.
*The Disappearance Of The Tarkington Children
- Over the years, there have been numerous armed standoffs between law enforcement and fanatical religious cults, and they have often ended in violence. Believe it or not, one of these standoffs has been going on in Trinidad, Texas for 15 straight years. John Joe Gray is the zealot leader of a religious militant sect known as the Embassy of Heaven Church, an organization which rejects government authority. In December 1999, Gray was indicted for assaulting a state trooper. After failing to appear in court, he barricaded himself behind a padlocked gate on his 47-acre wooded ranch, refusing to leave the property and threatening violence against any trespassers. At the time, at least 15 of Gray’s family members and followers were believed to be holed up inside the compound. They have lived there ever since. The most troubling aspect of this story is an unsolved mystery involving two missing children. For three years, Gray’s daughter, Lisa, was married to a man named Keith Tarkington. The couple had two sons, Joe and Samuel. Keith became perturbed by Lisa’s cult-like family and filed for divorce in April 1999. He was granted custody of his children when Lisa failed to show up for their divorce hearings. The last time Keith spoke to his ex-wife and two sons was outside the gate of her family compound, but he has not seen them since. Even though Gray claims that that Lisa, Joe, and Samuel are no longer living at his ranch, there have been no confirmed sightings of them for nearly 16 years. Even though there is a warrant for Gray’s arrest, authorities have not ventured onto his property, fearing that the situation could escalate into a violent bloodbath. As a result, Keith Tarkington still does not know the fate of his two children.
*The Suspicious Suicide Of Bethany Deaton
- The International House of Prayer (IHOP) is a religious organization based out of Kansas City, Missouri. One of their worship groups, consisting of over 20 people, is run by Tyler Deaton, who found himself at the center of controversy after the death of his 27-year-old wife, Bethany. On October 30, 2012, Bethany Denton was found dead in the back seat of a van near Longview Lake. She had been suffocated by a plastic bag over her head, and an empty pill bottle and handwritten suicide note were found at the scene. Initially, authorities did not find anything suspicious about Bethany’s death, but nine days later, a fellow IHOP member named Micah Moore walked into the police station and confessed to murdering her. He claimed to be acting under the orders of Tyler Deaton.Tyler came under fire for running his worship group like a cult. All of his followers lived together in two houses, separated by sex, and he controlled every aspect of their lives. Tyler had been married to Bethany for 10 weeks but carried on affairs with other men, believing his marriage would cure his homosexuality. According to Micah, Tyler ordered him to murder Bethany because she had been sexually assaulted by other men in the group and Tyler wanted to prevent her from talking about it. Micah was subsequently charged with first-degree murder. While Micah claimed that he’d forged Bethany’s suicide note, his DNA was not found on the bag over her head, and a handwriting analysis concluded that she likely wrote the note herself. Micah later recanted his confession, and with no other evidence to implicate him, prosecutors dropped the murder charge in November 2014. Officially, Bethany Deaton’s death is still considered a suicide, but many suspicions remain about her death.
*The Disappearance Of Charles Southern
- In 1987, 39-year-old Charles Southern worked as a college English professor in Chicago. His life took a bizarre turn after he joined a cult-like spiritual sect known as “Conscious Development of Body, Mind, and Soul,” run by a woman named Terri Hoffman. Shortly after Southern underwent one of her meditation sessions, his family found him wandering the streets and rambling incoherently. Southern wound up hospitalized and soon became disillusioned with Hoffman and her sect. Southern had plans to take a vacation to India in December, but during that month, he mysteriously vanished without * Southern’s family found his passport at his residence, indicating he had not left on his scheduled trip. There were other disturbing clues, too. A vial containing the poison curare was found in a drawer. Some of Southern’s clothing was folded on a ceremonial stool to resemble a Nigerian tribal symbol for death. Southern’s family also found two notes, which appeared to be his last will and testament. They named Terri Hoffman as the executor of his estate, but the will was so badly written that Southern’s family doubts he was the author. This would not be the only inheritance Hoffman ever collected. Over the years, 11 people associated with Hoffman’s cult have committed suicide or died under suspicious circumstances, and in many of these cases, their wills named Hoffman as the beneficiary. In fact, prior to leaving her his estate, Hoffman’s own husband committed suicide after making a farewell video where he claimed to have terminal cancer. An autopsy showed no trace of cancer in his body. Nonetheless, there has never been any evidence to file criminal charges against Terri Hoffman, and Charles Southern remains missing.