Cult Activity. Real or Prank?
Concerned parents in the St. Augustine area have asked local authorities to look into a cult which is accused of recruiting teens and young adults.
The cult, which so far has not made any social media appearances is said to have stalked local nightspots popular with young adults, asking them to be "set free" according to one man who said he was approached by the supposed leader of the group this pas weekend.
"This guy just came up to me and started talking about breaking free of the chains of society," Mark Fischer said. "I honestly didn't know if he was drunk or just crazy."
When asked if he reported it to police, Fischer said he didn't see a need to. "If I were to report every weirdo I encountered, I wouldn't have time for a job," the 22-year-old said. "This is Florida. Everyone's weird."
But some parents are reporting that something more ominous is happening.
"My daughter was asked by three different people in the parking lot of Wal Mart if she wanted to make herself eternal or something like that," said Peggy Nelson of Jacksonville. "If it's a joke, it is not funny."
Nelson and a group of concerned parents from Jacksonville through St. Augustine have gathered to petition local police to investigate what they are calling a cult recruitment.
Police have yet to issue any warnings about these incidents, which one local police officer said is typical during any investigation.
"We do not comment on ongoing investigations," said Det. Tony Jacobs. "If parents feel concerned about these isolated incidents, the best thing to do is file a police report about it with as much information as possible."
Although Jacobs declined further comment on any investigation, he reported that police with investigate all reports, but said very little is known about any group claiming to be a cult in the area.
Nelson's daughter, though, said it is clear that the cult is real.
"Too many people are talking about it," she said. "It is all around school."
Local school officials, though, remain convinced that this is nothing more than a prank.
"We saw it for the past few years with clowns," said Principal Robert Benson of Maryvale Charter Acedemy in St. Augustine. "This year it's a cult. I asked students to send me any social media posts they see about this activity, but so far, no one has."
Benson said all he has gotten so far is a crude drawing of a symbol, which several students said is the cult's calling card.
"It doesn't look like anything to me," Benson said. "If it has some significance, it is lost on me."
A Florida Weekly Leader investigation into any cults in the area has turned up zero results on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our team will continue to investigate.