An offshoot branch of the QAnon conspiracy cult appears headed in a new and potentially deadly direction.
Online conspiracist Michael Brian Protzman drew his followers, who call him Negative48, to Dallas last month to await the return of John F. Kennedy and his son John F. Kennedy Jr., but the tone of his comments turned morbid over the weekend in a video chat participants openly discussed their own deaths as part of a journey toward some unknowable truth, reported Vice.
"Ultimately," said one participant, "we have to experience that physical death ... let go ... come out on the other side."
An administrator for Protzman's Telegram channel posted an ominous screenshot hours later that showed the destination on a navigation app as Waco, Texas, where a monthslong standoff between law enforcement and the Branch Davidian religious sect ended in the fiery deaths of 76 people, including 25 children."The moment when the leaders of a cultic group start talking about the need for physical death to reach utopia," tweeted Mike Rothschild, the author of The Storm Is Upon Us, a book about QAnon, "is the moment to get the authorities involved."
One woman whose sister left her husband and three children behind to join Protzman's group in Texas is increasingly concerned about her involvement and doubts she'll see her alive again.
"She left her children for this and doesn't even care," Katy Garner told Vice. "She is missing birthdays and holidays for this. She truly believes this is all real and we are the crazy ones for trying to get her to come home. But she won't. I don't believe she will ever come back from this. We are in mourning."
Garner's sister has given about $200,000 to Protzman's group, cut off all communication with her family and has been taking a hydrogen peroxide solution to protect against COVID-19, and experts in cults and extremist groups share her alarm about what may be coming next for his followers.
"These are basically the exact same spiritual/religious teachings that the guy in California was getting into just before he brutally murdered his two young children," tweeted Caroline Orr Bueno, a behavioral scientist who studies social media manipulation and far-right extremism.
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