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InterAct Entertainment Group Chairman Nick Matzorkis Thrust into Heaven's Gate Media Circus
Nick Matzorkis was Chairman of InterAct Entertainment Group of Beverly Hills, CA on March 26 1997. When Mr. Matzorkis arrived in his office early that morning there was a message waiting for him that an employee named Rio DiAngelo of InterAct’s “Web Sites Now” web design firm wanted to meet with him in person. Several minutes later, Rio showed up at his office looking distraught, so Mr. Matzorkis immediately welcomed him into his office. He was carrying a Fed Ex package.
He showed Mr. Matzorkis the contents of the Fed Ex package containing a letter, two video tapes, and two 3.5” floppy disks. The package was sent from who turned out to be the Heaven's Gate cult. A group which Rio was previously a member. He, along with about 14 other members worked for InterAct Entertainment Group the previous year as contact web designers and programmers via the cult's firm, “Higher Source”, at a time when InterAct's web services companies were booming and internal staff couldn't keep up with demand. Rio had since become a full time employee of an InterAct subsidiary.
Once reading the letter that arrived by Fed Ex and after asking Rio for clarification of what he was reading, Matzorkis became aware that Rio believed all his former colleagues had committed suicide. Realizing the potential magnitude of such an event, Matzorkis concluded that the likelihood had to be very low that it actually occurred. Rio, who utilized public transportation to get around LA, asked Mr. Matzorkis for a ride. On the drive, Rio shared with Matzorkis far more detail about the history of the group (that Matzorkis knew as the “Higher Source” people) than he ever knew in the past. By the time they arrived at the location the group lived and worked, Rio went inside and discovered the largest mass suicide on U.S. soil in U.S. history.
Nick Matzorkis had no other association with the the Heaven's Gate cult or its web design firm Higher Source other than as contract employees. He had come to know several of the members professionally in the course of the contract programming work they did for his InterAct companies. He liked and respected them to the extent he knew them, always finding them to be reliable, cheerful and determined to please. To this day, Mr. Matzorkis regrets the happenstance that lead to his association with this horrific event. Now thirteen years in the past, his hope is that everyone adversely affected and hurt by it have been able to find some degree of healing.
Excerpt from Time Magazine cover story April 7, 1997
"The Heaven's Gate victims did more than leave suicide notes; they left suicide press kits. One of the first to receive the materials was a former cult member using the name Rio D'Angelo (police say he is really Richard Ford), who got a Federal Express package containing two videotapes, a letter and two computer discs. He took the tape home last Tuesday night and watched it. On Wednesday he came to work at the Interact Entertainment Group in Beverly Hills, California, which had employed Higher Source, the cult's Web-page design service. Rio told his boss, Nick Matzorkis, that he was convinced his former associates were all dead. Rio and Matzorkis drove to the house, and Rio went inside. When he came out, says Matzorkis, he was "white as a sheet." They notified the San Diego sheriff's office, whose deputies came in expecting a minor emergency at most and found themselves removing 39 corpses in what was about to become a media circus."
Time Magazine Transcript
New York Times
Excerpt from LA Weekly March 21 2007 by Joshuah Bearman
"[Nick Matzorkis]...a successful, press-savvy entrepreneur, counseled Rio to go into hiding and started acting as Rio’s agent, making the arrangements for Rio to appear on Prime Time Live and the cover of Newsweek, and simultaneously sell a TV movie about his life to ABC".
LA Weekly Transcript
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