Two followers of a cult-like group have died of apparent suicide in the past five years, but their former leader Sherry Shriner says they were murdered by the U.S. government.
On July 15, Steve Mineo allegedly asked his girlfriend to shoot him in the head. Mineo, 32, had been having issues with Shriner’s cult that believes in reptilian aliens, his girlfriend told police when they arrived. Five years earlier, another follower of Shriner, 22-year-old Kelly Pingilley, died after swallowing 30 sleeping pills.
In both cases, Shriner says shadowy forces were responsible. For instance, NATO killed Pingilley because she believed in the god “Yahuah.”
Shriner preaches online from Ohio that the world is being taken over by reptile aliens; that a superpowered substance called orgone can destroy demons, clones, and zombies; that Jesus is actually Satan and that only followers of the god Yahuah will go to heaven. But for all their talk of end-times salvation, it’s their members who keep dying young.
“Sherry Shriner basically runs a death cult based on fear,” Pingilley’s brother Nate told The Daily Beast. “There’s always something major that’s going to happen every month. She tells her followers that the world is ending, basically… Planet X is coming and Planet X is gonna crash into Earth, or minotaurs are gonna jump from the surface of Planet X. These are all literal things Kelly told me were gonna happen.”
These apocalyptic visions seemed out of character for Pingilley, a Lutheran former cheerleader in suburban Detroit. She was a “sweet soul” who, when she observed an old man struggling to cut his steak in a restaurant, got up and cut it for him, Nate said.
Shriner also has stories about Pingilley. They met when Pingilley was 19 or 20, Shriner says, when Pingilley “was struggling with the choice of going to college or spending what time we have left on this for earth, for Yah and doing things He needed done as we headed into the Last Days.”
Pingilley, always a helper, started working as a transcriber for Shriner’s radio show Aliens in the News.
Pingilley also joined Shriner and her followers on “missions” to New York and Kentucky, where the group believed they were battling the New World Order. At Fort Knox, Pingilley claimed she helped liberate a group of “beautiful turtle people” from a government prison, Shriner claimed. In New York City, Pingilley joined her on a hunt for a government base “that extended all the way over to the Bronx and had tunnels extended out to everywhere, even midtown and Times Square, NY.”
Shriner said the god Yahuah made her followers invisible for the mission, and that New York City would now be “on the bottom of the Atlantic” if not for their efforts.
On her blog, Pingilley described her new beliefs as a reawakening.
“A little over a year ago,” she wrote in her first post in January 2011, “I ‘woke up’ again—spiritually—the way I had been when I was a kid.”
But her excitement appeared to sour over the next two years. Her writings became increasingly untethered from reality, and she wrote of visions and voices—perhaps the symptoms of undiagnosed schizophrenia, her brother suggested.
One week before her death in December 2012, Pingilley said the apocalypse was near. Yahuah had shown her a strange symbol, which foretold invasion by an alien race that would eat and enslave humans, she wrote.
On the night of Dec. 28, she left a note on her pillow and drove off to a snowy wildlife park with a bottle of sleeping pills to kill herself.
“Shriner fills people’s heads with delusions of grandeur… tells them they’re really angels with magic powers in human form,” Nate said. “Part of why my sister killed herself was to reach that next level of spirituality. She was convinced in her suicide note that she was off to fulfill some great destiny.”
When hunters found her body in the park the following morning, she was wearing a necklace with a pendant of orgone, the supposedly supernatural substance central to Shriner’s teachings. A photograph of Pingilley before her death shows her wearing an orgone pendant that Shriner currently sells on her website for $44, plus shipping.
“Kelly didn’t hitch a ride on a spaceship. She didn’t die peacefully,” Debra McCorkle, a family friend told the Detroit News after Pingilley’s death. “It was a cold and silent death alone in the woods. She was looking for God and Shriner steered her into some weird crap.”
Shriner disagrees, saying a “NATO death squad” murdered the troubled young woman.
“Kelly just pissed people off because she was supposed to kill me 3 months earlier on a trip to NYC with me and she refused to kill me,” Shriner told The Daily Beast, adding that the alleged murder orders came from “the White House… I was #2 on Obama’s death list for 8 years… she was coming to my house before we headed to NYC… she was supposed to kill me when she got here so the trip would never happen.”
On one of her follower’s blogs, Shriner spun Pingilley’s death into a conspiracy theory of its own.
“She didn’t give up without a fight and they left all the fake evidence… NATO is involved.” Shriner wrote in the days after Pingilley’s death.
Shriner turned the tragedy into a rallying cry for her surviving followers.
“Obama is on the march folks, if you’re not with him and the Alien New Age you’re against them,” she warned in the dark eulogy. “They have their lists, and they’re going to work on them… Kelly’s death is a wake up call that they are after Yah’s people.”
Shriner posted the eulogy on Truth Seeker Blog, a website run by her follower Steve Mineo. And four and a half years after Pingilley’s death, Mineo finally did heed a wakeup call: He denounced Shriner and set out to debunk her teachings.
Mineo had been a Shriner disciple since 2004, he said in one of his YouTube videos. But he and the self-proclaimed prophetess had a falling-out in May, after Shriner accused Mineo’s girlfriend of being a “reptilian” for eating raw steak. After weeks of infighting, Mineo and his girlfriend broke from Shriner’s circles and Mineo began making long videos about his former leader.
From May 29 to July 11, Mineo uploaded five videos attempting to “expose” Shriner. Then on July 15, he was murdered. His girlfriend, who had also been involved in the alleged cult, called 911 immediately after shooting him in the forehead in their apartment in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania. She told police that Mineo was “undergoing a lot of stress through problems with [a] cult,” and that he asked her to kill him, according to a police report.
The report suggested that Mineo had been killed with the gun placed directly on the forehead, and that he did not appear to have struggled.
Mineo did not appear to know Pingilley directly, but he knew she died.
He talked about Pingilley’s death during an interview with another Shriner cast-out named Richard Brown.
“I’m not trying to get vengeance, I’m just trying to get the truth out, man,” Mineo tells Brown in a YouTube video uploaded weeks before Mineo’s death. “Because I can see the damage she causes people. I heard a woman named Kelly killed herself.”
Brown tells Mineo to be patient. “All things happen in the Lord’s time,” Brown says. “You can’t intervene in what he’s got planned for [Shriner]. Because if somebody else gets hurt the way Kelly got hurt, [Shriner’s] gonna pay for it big time.”
Both men said Shriner and her followers had victimized them when they took a step away from the alleged cult. Brown said Shriner accused him of being a clone, or of having gone to hell.
“If I was a clone, or if I was in Hell, why is it that I made a video about orgone all around me?” Brown said of the supernatural substance, which supposedly destroys clones. “I’ve got tons of orgone all around me. She lied and said I told her to get rid of her orgone. I never said that. I actually went to her house and rebuilt her orgone stonehedge.”
Mineo said Shriner accused his girlfriend of being a reptilian or a witch, and that her followers turned against him.
“She runs her circle with an iron fist,” Laurie Alexander, one of Mineo’s friends told The Daily Beast. “Because if you do not believe in what she’s teaching, she’s like, that’s fine. But you’re at risk of not going to heaven if you don’t believe what I’m saying.”
After Mineo’s death, Alexander spoke out against Shriner on Facebook, calling her “Lizard Laurie” and implicating her in Pingilley’s suicide.
“Now I’m the reptilian,” Alexander said. “She’s going to have to get a new mode of attack, because this one’s getting old very quickly.”
Shriner says the allegations against her—that she’s a cult leader, that her followers are dying of suicide—are government conspiracies.
“They tried to use [Pingilley’s] murder to claim it was a suicide and then blame it on me..to smear me,” she told The Daily Beast, adding “they” made Mineo’s girlfriend a pawn. “Both gov psyops to try and smear me. I’ve been at this a long time, they can shove their psyops up their arses.”
Shriner appears to be weathering the second death exactly as the first. Shortly after Mineo’s death, Shriner uploaded a video calling his girlfriend a vampire who “morphed her huge teeth out” before killing him. A Shriner follower made a video playing Mineo’s most recent YouTube upload backwards. The garbled backwards speech sounded like “gonna serve the devil,” the follower claimed.
And Shriner still appears to be making money from her ministry. In addition to selling orgone for as much as $288 on her website, Shriner also solicits donations. A GoFundMe page says Shriner has pulled in more than $126,000 over the past three years. The donations have not slowed since Mineo’s death. If anything, they’ve become more frequent.
Kelly Pingilley’s brother said he doesn’t know why, after two deaths and countless failed prophesies, people are still following Shriner.
“You’d think every time one of her predictions doesn’t come true, she’d lose followers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Nate said. “If I had to say something of encouragement to people, it would be to tell them, look around you: The world isn’t ending.”