A utopian German settlement in Chile had already turned darkly cultish by the time it became a secret torture site for enemies of the Pinochet regime.
He was the father of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (a school of therapy that some would liken to scientific brainwashing), a guzzler of cocaine, and a highly paid lecturer with fabricated credentials. He was present when a young woman shot herself in Santa Cruz—but did he pull the trigger? A “parable for the New Age.”
437 children were removed from Yearning for Zion Ranch as part of the largest custody battle in American history. They were eventually returned to the compound polygamist Warren Jeffs made infamous—but questions remained.
Before the guru, Prakashanand Saraswati, vanished in March—before a jury convicted him of sexual abuse; before he slipped across the border into Mexico overnight—he led the premier Hindu temple in Texas and, perhaps, the whole United States.
Spilling to nearly book-length across two issues of Rolling Stone; a Manson-contemporary cult group rises out of a jug band, builds a fortress in the Boston ghetto, bullies control of a community newspaper, swallows a successful actor, fractures, splits for California, and attempts to describe to the reporter the enigma that is Mel Lyman.