Rejneeshees in Oregon
From Oregon Live:
Ma Anand Puja stepped into St. Vincent Hospital on a summer night in 1985, hunting for James Comini.
The Filipino nurse was there to kill the rural Oregon politician, who was recuperating from ear surgery at the Portland hospital. She carried a syringe to inject a mixture into Comini’s intravenous tube that would stop his heart.
But once inside Comini’s seventh-floor isolation room, Puja discovered her target wasn’t on an IV. Flustered, she hurried from the hospital to a getaway car, and her assassination team started the long drive home.
Their destination: Rancho Rajneesh, a spiritual encampment 200 miles away in eastern Oregon. It was base for Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a guru from India, and 2,000 of his worshippers.
The murder scheme was just one of many increasingly desperate attempts to save the guru’s empire.
The Rajneeshees had been making headlines in Oregon for four years. Thousands dressed in red, worked without pay and idolized a wispy-haired man who sat silent before them. They had taken over a worn-out cattle ranch to build a religious utopia. They formed a city, and took over another. They bought one Rolls-Royce after another for the guru — 93 in all.
Along the way, they made plenty of enemies, often deliberately. Rajneeshee leaders were less than gracious in demanding government and community favors. Usually tolerant Oregonians pushed back, sometimes in threatening ways. Both sides stewed, often publicly, before matters escalated far beyond verbal taunts and nasty press releases.
Three months after the aborted Comini plot, the commune collapsed and the Rajneeshees’ darkest secrets tumbled out.
Hand-picked teams of Rajneeshees had executed the largest biological terrorism attack in U.S. history, poisoning at least 700 people. They ran the largest illegal wiretapping operation ever uncovered. And their immigration fraud to harbor foreigners remains unrivaled in scope. The revelations brought criminal charges, defections, global manhunts and prison time.
But there was much more.
Read Part 2: Thwarted Rajneeshee leaders attack enemies, neighbors with poison here
Read Part 3: Rajneeshee leaders take revenge on The Dalles’ with poison, homeless here
Read Part 4: Rajneeshee leaders see enemies everywhere as questions compound here
Read Part 5: Rajneeshees’ Utopian dreams collapse as talks turn to murder here