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NXIVM was a dangerous cult, but how many members (if any) passed away due to their association with the group?

Did any NXIVM members pass away because of the sex cult?

A new show on Investigation Discovery, The Lost Women of NXIVM, alleges that NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere may be more than just a cult leader & sex trafficker. The documentary show delves into claims that Raniere murdered at least four of his girlfriends. 

For years, Frank Parlato of The Frank Report has been tracking the movements of NXIVM & Keith Raniere. NXIVM’s former publicist, Parlato left the group and began denouncing their activities, drudging up allegations that include murder. 

Let’s take a look at the allegations behind The Lost Women of NXIVM. Is it possible Raniere killed his girlfriends? Let’s see what people close to NXIVM are saying. 

The Frank Report

Frank Parlato published blogs about the deaths involving NXIVM and Keith Raniere well before the New York Times broke the story about branding in DOS. Parlato reported on the mysterious death of Gina Hutchinson – her sister Heidi alleged in The Frank Report that Keith Raniere drove Gina to suicide

Heidi Hutchinson detailed her sister’s past in a guest post on Frank Parlato’s blog called “It Would Have Been My Sister Gina Hutchinson’s 51st Birthday Today”. Hutchinson details how Keith Raniere began “raping her body, mind and spirit” around Christmas 1984. Raniere told Gina that she was a Buddhist goddess and that he was an enlightened being, destined to be with her.

Heidi Hutchinson detailed how her sister became one of Keith Raniere’s “consorts” in NXIVM  – Raniere broke her confidence down for the decade Gina was involved. “It was as if Keith had a contract out on Gina when he wasn’t taunting her, himself  – all in the name of healing science.” 

However, Heidi speculates that the abuse took a turn for the worse. Rather than being driven to suicide, Heidi Hutchinson believes her sister was suicided by Keith Raniere. “I don’t know exactly when that contract went from wanted “Dead or Alive” to wanted “Dead or Transcended.” Gina Hutchinson died in 2002 of a gunshot wound to the head, “apparently self-inflicted”.

 

Dubious claims

Parlato further claims that Keith Raniere gave his girlfriends cancer. He claims that Barbara Jeske, one of Keith Raniere’s girlfriends mysteriously got a brain tumor and refused treatment under the advice of NXIVM. Keith Raniere also made her draft a new will and sign her inheritance over to NXIVM. 

“Barbara lived in a modest home, after years of living with Pam Cafritz [cancer], Karen Unterreiner, [cancer] Kristin Keeffe [cancer], four cats [cancer] and Raniere [cancer-free],” Parlato points out. He also claims that a sample of Jeske’s hair had a high level of barium, a rat poison that can cause cancer.

However, there are people who think Parlato’s claims that Keith Raniere gave the women closest to him cancer are farfetched. Bangkok writes “It’s virtually impossible to give someone cancer on purpose. It can’t even be done in a lab with reliable results.” 

Bangkok further points to a food poisoning outbreak in the YMCA during V Week (a weeklong celebration of Keith Raniere’s birthday & NXIVM’s accomplishments) where NXIVM members were sick for days as proof Raniere couldn’t have poisoned his girlfriends like that. 

“If Keith had been poisoning his senior harem members for weeks/months (in an attempt to give them cancer) they’d have been very sick like that for months.”

Mark Vicente’s take

Mark Vicente, former NXIVM member & documentarian behind What The Bleep Do We Know weighed in on the Discovery documentary. Vicente had been recording Raniere for years, with many of his clips appearing in the HBO docuseries The Vow

Vicente recalled a time when women close to Raniere were getting sick. When Mark Vicente asked Keith Raniere about it, Raniere told him that “it was a mystery”. All the people close to Raniere getting sick at once set off alarm bells in Vicente.

“I do find it really, really strange that everybody close to him had some kind of sickness and some kind of cancer. It’s truly bizarre. It makes zero sense,” Vicente said. However, he clarified that it’s “conjecture” and he doesn’t think we’ll ever be sure Keith Raniere was capable of murder. He added that leaders like Raniere “usually have other people do the dirty work.”

When The Hollywood Reporter pressed him about Frank Parlato’s claim that hair from one of Keith Raniere’s consorts had a high level of barium in it, Vicente responded: “All I can say for sure is, as I said, it’s statistically staggering that it’s this random. It’s weird.”

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