Soap opera cult storylines are not that uncommon. For the past few months Port Charles, New York, the fictional setting for ABCs General Hospital, has been systematically taken over by a smooth-talking master manipulator and his “family” of young women who call themselves “Dawn Of Day.”
However, many longtime soap fans will be able to say that this is not the first series to be infiltrated by a shady religious movement.
No doubt leader Shiloh — with that lethal combination of charm and chilling menace — reminds many of that perverted preacher man Mitch Lawrence who attempted to seduce the ladies of One Life To Live under the pretext of spiritual guidance.
And the slow indoctrination of perpetually confused Kristina surely conjures memories of Nicole Newman from The Young And The Restless who found herself the target of the nefarious “New World Commune.”
But, what some fans may not remember is that there was another cult storyline on a now long-canceled daytime soap that was actually brought to a halt following a real-life tragedy of massive proportions. Read on to discover the truth about Daytime’s Long Forgotten Cult.
The year was 1978 and the month was chilly October. A young female washed ashore and launched a tantalizing puzzle for the characters of CBS soap opera The Edge Of Night.
The only identifying clue on the young woman’s person was a tattoo that identified her as a member of a growing commune who styled themselves “Children Of Earth”. Their beloved leader was the charming European Elliot Dorn, who controlled his flock with an iron fist and delegated tasks to his right-hand man, Cody Patrick, an obsessive devote.
But something about the group was off. The young female congregation was attempting to flee in droves and they inevitably ended up dead — drowned like the first unfortunate woman.
Enter tough lady cop Deborah Saxon who was assigned a deep undercover mission to root out the killer. But just as the storyline beginning to heat up a sinister event was about to shock the world.
On November 18, 1978, 900 individuals who called an agricultural commune in Guyana their home either consumed cyanide-laced fruit drinks or were shot dead by armed soldiers loyal to the groups’ paranoid prophet Jim Jones.
News of the Jonestown massacre soon reached the United States and CBS realized they were in trouble.
The Children of Earth story was brought to a swift and speedy close. Desperate to avoid as much comparison to the real-life horror it was revealed that a simple-minded lackey of Cody Patrick had committed the murders at Cody’s behest and it was made clear Elliot Dorn knew nothing about the crimes.
And, so sadly, due to the similarities to a violent real-life event “Children of Earth” has gone on to become a storyline long buried and long forgotten in soap opera lore.