The Gatekeepers

A religious militant group that demanded total obedience, leading to deadly consequences for dissenters.

The Gatekeepers originated as a Bible study group in the early 1990s, led by Christopher Turgeon, who declared himself a prophet after claiming to have received a direct revelation from God. This small group quickly evolved into a religious cult with Turgeon at its helm, preaching extreme beliefs, including that death was a just penalty for certain sins, like homosexuality or an interest in astrology. The cult’s doctrine emphasized that Turgeon was a divine judge sent to purge the world of evil.

As the cult grew, Turgeon’s teachings became increasingly apocalyptic and paranoid, particularly towards the government. The Gatekeepers isolated themselves from society, with members severing ties with their families and the outside world. Under Turgeon’s guidance, they engaged in low-level fraud schemes against individuals and businesses Turgeon deemed immoral. These acts were purportedly to fund the group’s activities and prepare for the apocalypse.

The group’s criminal activities escalated, culminating in the murder of former member Dan Jess in 1998, who had left the cult and denounced Turgeon as a fraud. The killing was ordered by Turgeon after Jess threatened to expose the group’s illegal activities. Cult members Blaine Applin and Turgeon were eventually arrested for a separate robbery and linked to Jess’s murder through forensic evidence.

Turgeon and Applin faced justice for their crimes, with Applin receiving a 101-year sentence and Turgeon 89 years for their robbery spree. Following these convictions, they were extradited to Washington for Jess’s murder trial, where Applin was sentenced to 39 years and Turgeon to 50 years in prison​​​​.

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