Missing religious sect members found safe in park

Michael Santo's picture

A group of religious sect members were found on Sunday, after being missing since Saturday, and their leader placed under 72 hour mandatory psychiatric hold. Family members had found notes saying the group was awaiting an apocalyptic event and would soon join Jesus and their dead relatives in heaven.

Leader Reyna Marisol Chicas was placed under a 72-hour mandatory hold

Meanwhile, their leader, Reyna Marisol Chicas was placed under a 72-hour mandatory hold, after authorities concluded that she was unable to care for herself or others. Chicas is a 32-year-old resident of Palmdale, which is in northeast Los Angeles county.

Deputies found Reyna Marisol Chicas and 12 others just before noon PDT at Jackie Robinson Park, which is near Palmdale. All members are safe, police reported.

Family members became concerned because one of the sect members had left behind identification, cell phones, and deeds. That member had left her purse with her husband Saturday and asked him to pray over it. Eventually, he looked inside and he and another member's husband called authorities, it was reported.

That sort of activity, along with the notes, may have led family members, as well as police, to believe sect members were preparing for a group suicide, a la Jonestown.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said, "These letters read like a will and testament. They read like goodbye letters. Coupled with the two husbands that come in and tell us 'Our wives are missing, we believe they are under the spell of this lady, '" meaning Reyna Marisol Chicas , deputies treated the matter with extreme seriousness.

However, it is still unclear what the notes meant. When the deputies arrived at the park, they found the group's children playing on swings and the adults on a blanket praying in Spanish. The adults expressed astonishment that any would believe they would harm themselves.

Formerly a member of Iglesia De Cristo Miel, a Christian congregation in Palmdale, Chicas left about two years ago. Apparently forming her own group of 12-15 people, Chicas and others would gather at her home in Palmdale.

In addition to Chicas, the group of missing people included Norma Isela Serrano, 31, Alma Alicia Miranda Pleitez, 28; Martha Clavel, 39; Jose Clavel, 15; Crystal Clavel, 3; Roberto Tejada, 18; Jonathan Tejada, 17; Hugo Tejada, 3; Ezequel Chicas, 15; Genisis Chicas, 12; Bryan Rivera, 17; Stephanie Serrano, 12.

Chicas was detained after she gave authorities a false name during questioning. She also appeared to be rambling, and additionally, she told deputies she had no children, despite the fact that her two children Ezequel and Genisis were with her.

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