Members Of "Cult-Like" Group Missing

Families say members left behind evidence they were awaiting rapture

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    This undated photo provided by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Saturday Sept 18, 2010 shows Reyna Chicas, leader of the "cult-like" group missing in Southern California. Los Angeles County Sheriff's captain Mike Parker says the group from the Palmdale area left behind evidence that they were awaiting the rapture or some catastrophic event. (AP Photo/Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

    Authorities say five adults and eight  children from a "cult-like" group in Southern California have been reported missing by their families. 

    Los Angeles County Sheriff's captain Mike Parker says the group from the Palmdale area disappeared Saturday and left behind evidence that they were awaiting the rapture or some catastrophic event. 

    Parker says the husbands of two of the missing adults from the  group was asked to keep a purse, and inside it found identification, personal papers and letters suggesting the group  was awaiting the end of the world. 

    Parker says the group's leader -- Reyna Chicas of Palmdale -- is  among the missing

    A news outlet called Breaking News Online identified them as: leader  Reyna Marisol Chica, 32; Ezequel Chicas, 15; Genisis Chicas, 12; Norma Isela  Serrano, 31; Bryan Rivera, 16; Jose Clavel, 15; Stephanie Serrano, 12; Crystal  Clavel, 3; Alma Alicia Miranda Pleitez, 28; Hugo Tejada, 3; Jonathan Tejada,  17; Martha Clavel, 39; and Roberto Tejada, 18.

    They are believed to be in three vehicles: a white 2004 Nissan Quest,  license plate number 6LJF396; a white 1995 Mercury Villager with license plate  3NFX290; and a newer model silver Toyota Tundra pickup with license plate  7P19309.

    "Based on family statements and what we found in evidence leads us to  believe they are in the Antelope Valley rather than elsewhere, but don't know  that for a fact,'' Parker said.

    The Associated Press reported that the group splintered from a mainstream Christian church in Palmdale. The husbands who reported the people missing said to investigators that they believe the sect members were "brainwashed" by Chicas, said Parker.

    "We've got a group here that's practicing some orthodox and some unorthodox Christianity," he said. "Obviously this falls under the unorthodox."