Does this sound familiar:
Rumours that the comet was being followed by an alien spacecraft gained remarkable currency, and inspired a mass suicide among followers of a cult
named Heaven's Gate.
Heaven's Gate was an American UFO religion based in San Diego, California and led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The group's end
coincided with the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide, which he claimed would allow their
souls to board a spaceship that they believed was hiding behind the comet.
Further, Heaven's Gate believed that the planet Earth was about to be recycled (wiped clean, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance
to survive was to leave it immediately. While the group was formally against suicide, they defined "suicide" in their own context to mean "to
turn against the Next Level when it is being offered", and believed that their "human" bodies were only vessels meant to help them on their
The group believed in several paths for a person to leave the Earth and survive before the "recycling", one of which was hating this world strongly
enough: "It is also possible that part of our test of faith is our hating this world, even our flesh body, to the extent to be willing to leave it
without any proof of the Next Level's existence".
The members of the group added "-ody" to the first names they adopted in lieu of their original given names, which defines "children of the Next
Level." This is mentioned in Applewhite's final video, "Do's Final Exit," that was filmed on March 19, 1997, just days prior to the suicides.
For a few months prior to their deaths, three members, Thurston-ody, Sylvie-ody, and Elaine-ody, worked for Advanced Development Group (ADG), Inc.
(now ManTech Advanced Development Group), a small San Diego-based company that developed computer-based instruction for the U.S. Army. Although they
were polite and friendly in a reserved way, they tended to keep to themselves. When they quit working for ADG, they told their supervisor that they
had completed their mission. A few weeks later, they were dead.