Back in 1997, 39 bodies were found lying on the floor of a home in San Diego, Calif. They had committed suicide, believing that the arrival of the Hale-Bopp Comet was the end of the world. With everyone seemingly gone, it begs the question of just who is keeping up the Heaven’s Gate website.
Though the site itself hasn’t been updated since 1997 (its Comic Sans alert banner is a dead giveaway), records show that the domain has been actively maintained. CBS Las Vegas dug into the matter a little bit deeper, finding that up until last year it had been renewed by the TELAH Foundation. The Foundation is seemingly linked to a trustee of the Heaven’s Gate group. Since then, who owns the domain name has been cloaked in a shroud of mystery.
(MORE: ‘Cult-Like’ Group Found Alive, No Plans of Group Suicide)
Despite the cult’s demise, the group maintained an online presence back when the Internet was just starting to take off. According to an article from the Associated Press, website design actually funded the group’s activities, through the name of Higher Source:
Higher Source designed Web sites and offered programming, systems analysis and computer-security services.
Clients described Higher Source employees as diligent and professional. They said the Web-site designers didn’t look particularly unusual for computer experts with a lot of work in the entertainment industry, with dark, collarless shirts and closely cropped hair.
CBS Las Vegas finally e-mailed the website owners, who replied that the site is still run by the TELAH Foundation. There are only two members left; unsurprisingly, the remaining group members after the 1997 incident also later met the same fate as the others. In a sparse e-mail, few details were given: “The Group left us to take care of the website, book and the tapes that they wanted to speak for them. [But] very few people ask for the book or tapes, so very little is given out.”
MORE: Missing: Cult-Like Group in California
Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.