Investigation Discovery’s ‘The Reptile Cult Murder’ chronicles the bizarre tale of self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist Sherry Shriner and her online alien reptile cult. Based out of Ohio, she produced eccentric claims of alien invasion and doomsday predictions, amassing thousands of gullible followers all over the country. However, her brain-washing allegedly led to two unfortunate deaths, though her popularity remained unwavering. If you wish to learn more, here’s what we know.
Who Is Sherry Shriner?
Sherry J. Shriner was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1965. She studied at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1985. One of her classmates, Randy Sumner, recalled how he and Sherry were from Ohio, thus creating an instant connection. He remembered, “She was like a hurricane with her big, blonde hair, and she came into the room with confidence, ambition, and she intended to take control of the room pretty quickly.” He stated Sherry came to Liberty University because of the institution’s unparalleled broadcasting equipment at the time.
Dr. Jerry Falwell started Liberty University and was one of the most popular television evangelicals at the time, making his way into all homes across the country on Sunday mornings with his preachings. Sherry was greatly inspired by Jerry Falwell, and Randy believed it played a significant role in Sherry’s future activities. According to the show, she dreamt of being an anchor in one of the New York television networks. However, she was frustrated when she failed to land a position in CNN’s Washington Bureau’s internship program.
Randy recalled how Sherry went home in Ohio, and author Tony Russo stated she went silent for the following five or six years — the same quiet that comes before a storm. She graduated with a degree in Journalism, Political Science, and Criminal Justice from Kent State University in 1990. By 2003, Sherry discovered a way to build an audience without leaving her house. She had a Yahoo group where she claimed to have prophecies from her Liberty University days when Satan allegedly contacted her.
By 2003 or 2004, she had amassed a considerable number of followers and started her radio show, streaming once to thrice a week. Reporter Kelly Weill recalled how Sherry interacted with her followers through social media and web shows, hiding her face and only posting audio messages, thus creating a certain aura of intrigue around herself. Kelly added how Sherry was ahead of the curve when it came to conspiracy theories and online interactions, close to what we call influencers nowadays.
According to former cult members, Sherry preached the world is being taken over by reptile aliens; that a superpowered substance called orgone can destroy demons, clones, and zombies; that Jesus is Satan, and that only followers of the god Yahuah will go to heaven. One of her bizarre conspiracy theories suggested that everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Barack Obama was shapeshifting lizards and their alien overlords well hellbent on world domination.
According to Sherry, these alien overlords had placed influential people in power to establish a “one-world government.” With the help of YouTube and Facebook, she found a massive audience for her bizarre theories. By 2018, Sherry had garnered more than 15,000 followers online. The self-described “Servant, Prophet, Ambassador, Daughter, and Messenger of the Highest God” had a litany of self-published e-books and YouTube videos and launched more than ten websites — drawing in thousands of gullible devotees.
Is Sherry Shriner Dead or Alive?
But for all her talk of end-times salvation, Sherry’s reptile cult members kept dying young. On the night of December 28, 2012, 22-year-old Kelly Pingilley left a note on her pillow and drove off to a snowy wildlife park in Waterloo Township with a bottle of sleeping pills to kill herself. Five years later, Steve Mineo allegedly asked his girlfriend, Barbara Rogers, to shoot him in the head on July 15, 2017. According to Barbara, the 32-year-old had been experiencing issues with Sherry’s cult.
Kelly’s brother, Nate Pingilley, stated, “Sherry Shriner basically runs a death cult based on fear. There’s always something major that’s going to happen every month. She tells her followers that the world is ending, basically.” He alleged, “Shriner fills people’s heads with delusions of grandeur… tells them they’re really angels with magic powers in human form. Part of why my sister killed herself was to reach that next level of spirituality. She was convinced in her suicide note that she was off to fulfill some great destiny.”
When Kelly was found, she was wearing an orgone pendant — the supposedly supernatural substance central to Sherry’s teachings. She then sold the pendants online on her website for $44, plus shipping. However, the conspiracy pundit refused to admit any blame for the teen’s suicide and added a bizarre claim by stating, “She (Kelly) didn’t give up without a fight and they left all the fake evidence… NATO is involved.” Five years later, Sherry was again in the headlines after Steve’s death.
Sherry claimed the allegations against her—that she’s a cult leader, that her followers are dying of suicide—were government conspiracies. Even after two deaths, her popularity did not seem to dwindle. Nate stated, “You’d think every time one of her predictions doesn’t come true, she’d lose followers. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.” She sold the orgone for as much as $288 on her website in 2017 and also solicited donations. Reports stated her GoFundMe page pulled in more than $126,000 between 2014 and 2017.
She seemed to profit from the tragedies, with the donations getting more frequent after Steve’s death. While preparing for Barbara’s murder trial, Monroe County prosecutors wanted to know if Sherry or her followers contributed to Steve’s death. However, she died of a heart attack on January 7, 2018, before she could meet with the prosecutors. She was 52 years old at the time of her death. However, even though she is not anymore, her preachings still remain online.