On the Saturday the husbands of two women reported them missing, saying they were part of a “cult-like group” and had been “brainwashed” by its leader. One wife had left her purse with money and a mobile phone still inside. It also contained notes that “talked about meeting Jesus, talked about deceased relatives soon to meet up,” said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department. The men feared that the group, comprising of 13 Salvadoran immigrants, eight of whom were between the ages of 3 and 17, were planning to take their own lives.
An extensive search of the Palmdale area of Northern Los Angeles was mounted, on horseback and by helicopter, before a resident spotted one of the vehicles identified in the lookout at a park and notified the sheriff’s department. The group was found alive and unhurt, praying in the park. One of the wives of the worried husbands said they had been praying all night in the park, that they had done this routinely and that their husbands were aware of the practice. Members of the group were shocked and angry to learn that such an extensive search was underway.
“It is better to overreact than underreact,” said Whitmore. (via CNN)