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13 Missing Religious Sect Members Found Alive, Safe

New Jersey Tribune via YellowBrix

September 20, 2010

LOS ANGELES – The 13 members of a Southern California “cult-like” religious sect were found praying in a Los Angeles park early Sunday afternoon, ending a frantic police manhunt.

The search began after two members’ husbands came to police with cell phones, identifications, house deeds and letters left behind by the group. The notes indicated members would ‘soon see Jesus and their dead relatives in Heaven,’ sparking fears the group would take part in a mass suicide.

The group of El Salvadorian immigrants consisted of five adults and eight children between the ages of three and 17.

The alleged leader, Reyna Marisol Chicas, 32, was hospitalized Sunday for a 72-hour mental evaluation after she gave investigators a false name, was rambling during questioning and told authorities she had no children even though her two children were with her.

The husbands who first reported the group missing told authorities they thought members had been “brainwashed” by Chicas. However, neighbors of the woman said she was devout but hardly fanatical in her religious beliefs.

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