In Palmdale, California, Reyna Chicas, mother of two and leader of a cult-like religious sect, is being held for further mental evaluation and questioning after she and 12 of her “members” were found Sunday after leaving cryptic notes for family.
Authorities were alerted when family members of the missing women looked in a purse left behind for them, and found cell phones, deeds to property, identification cards, and letters describing their wish to be with Jesus and dead relatives and also mentioned awaiting the Rapture. Officers immediately began the search for the thirteen Salvadoran members, including eight children between the ages of 3 and 17 along with five adult women, for fear the letters were meant as suicide notes.
The search came to end when a jogger spotted Chicas and others praying on a blanket in Jackie Robinson Park with the children playing nearby.
Upon finding the group, Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore, said, ‘The leader, if you will, seems very confused, so we’re going to send her for further evaluation.’
‘She denies she is who we know she is. We even presented her with documents that say who she is, and she said no that’s not me,’ Whitmore said. ‘Her intent doesn’t seem to be deceiving. She just seems very confused.’
The members, after being reunited with their families, said they meant no harm to anyone, and found it surprising that anyone would think they wanted to harm themselves. However, one of the husbands of the missing women told investigators that his wife and others were part of a cult-like group and were being brainwashed by Chicas.
Whitmore said the authorities feared the worst after reading the letters.
Sheriff’s Captain Mike Parker said, ‘The L.A. County Sheriff’s Office, the news media and the public went to great lengths to find these people with a hope that we would find them safe and sound.’
Members of the group later said they left their possessions behind because it was a sin to have them while they prayed because they bring evil.
Whitmore also stated that the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services was called to conduct follow-up interviews with the children.
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