Today in History: March 26, bodies of 39 members of Heavens Gate cult are discovered


In 1812, an earthquake devastated Caracas, Venezuela, causing an estimated 26,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In 1827, composer Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna at age 56.

In 1945, during World War II, Iwo Jima was fully secured by U.S. forces following a final, desperate attack by Japanese soldiers.

In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Baker v. Carr, gave federal courts the power to order reapportionment of states’ legislative districts.

In 1973, the soap opera “The Young and the Restless” premiered on CBS-TV.

In 1979, a peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and witnessed by President Jimmy Carter at the White House.

In 1982, groundbreaking ceremonies took place in Washington, D.C., for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

In 1988, Jesse Jackson stunned fellow Democrats by soundly defeating Michael S. Dukakis in Michigan’s Democratic presidential caucuses.

In 1992, a judge in Indianapolis sentenced former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to six years in prison for raping a Miss Black America contestant. (Tyson ended up serving three years.)

In 1997, the bodies of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate techno-religious cult who committed suicide were found inside a rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

In 2010, the U.S. and Russia sealed the first major nuclear weapons treaty in nearly two decades, agreeing to slash the former Cold War rivals’ warhead arsenals by nearly one-third.

In 2013, Italy’s top criminal court overturned the acquittal of American Amanda Knox in the grisly murder of British roommate Meredith Kercher and ordered Knox to stand trial again. (Although convicted in absentia, Knox was exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court in 2015.)

In 2014, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, was convicted in New York for his role as al-Qaida’s fiery chief spokesman after 9/11. (He was later sentenced to life in prison.)

In 2018, a toxicology report obtained by The Associated Press revealed that the late pop superstar Prince had levels of fentanyl in his body that multiple experts described as “exceedingly high.”

In 2020, the U.S. surpassed official Chinese government numbers to become the country with the most reported coronavirus infections.

In 2021, Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, saying the cable news giant falsely claimed that the voting company rigged the 2020 election.

In 2022, President Joe Biden said in Poland that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” dramatically escalating the rhetoric against the Russian leader after his brutal invasion of Ukraine.

In 2023, Ukraine’s government called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to “counter the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail” after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed plans to station tactical atomic weapons in Belarus.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is 89.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 84.

Author Erica Jong is 82.

Journalist Bob Woodward is 81.

Singer Diana Ross is 80.

Rock singer Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) is 76.

Singer and TV personality Vicki Lawrence is 75.

Actor Ernest Thomas is 75.

Comedian Martin Short is 74.

Country singer Ronnie McDowell is 74.

Movie composer Alan Silvestri is 74.

Rock musician Monte Yoho is 72.

Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is 71.

Radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa is 70.

Country singer Dean Dillon is 69.

Country singer Charly McClain is 68.

TV personality Leeza Gibbons is 67.

Actor Ellia English is 65.

Actor Jennifer Grey is 64.

College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen is 64.

Actor Billy Warlock is 63.

Actor Eric Allan Kramer is 62.

Basketball and College Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton is 62.

Actor Michael Imperioli is 58.

Rock musician James Iha is 56.

Country singer Kenny Chesney is 56.

Movie director Martin McDonagh is 53.

Actor Leslie Mann is 52.

Actor T.R. Knight is 51.

Rapper Juvenile is 49.

Actor Amy Smart is 48.

Actor Bianca Kajlich is 47.

Moderator Margaret Brennan (TV: “Face the Nation”) is 44.

Actor Sterling Sulieman is 40.

Actor Keira Knightley is 39.

Rapper J-Kwon is 38.

Actor Carly Chaikin is 34.