How An Obsession With A Cult Leader Led One Follower To Murder Their Partner

Many people have problems in their relationships, but few can say that one of the main ones was one partner's obsession with an alien reptile cult. Even in the handful of instances where this would be the case, even fewer have escalated to the point of murder. This, tragically, was the case for Barbara Rogers and Steven Mineo, per The Washington Post.

When police arrived on the scene at the couple's double-wide trailer in Coolbaugh Township, Pennsylvania, they came across what they thought was a cut-and-dry domestic dispute-fueled murder. With Steven Mineo dead on the floor, they questioned Rogers, who eventually brought up the topic of reptilian aliens and a stream of videos and podcasts produced by a woman named Sherry Shriner that perpetuates the idea of these aliens inhabiting human bodies.

Shriner was accused of leading a cult, an accusation she vehemently denied, per Cult or not, the murder put Shriner and her work under the microscope, even after her own death not too long after Steven Mineo's.

Sherry Shriner and the reptilian alien cult

According to All That's Interesting, Sherry Shriner was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1965. She went on to attend Kent State University where she studied a handful of subjects including Criminal Justice, Political Science, and Journalism. Some of her studies became useful around a decade after she graduated in 1990 when she started pedaling a set of conspiracy theories online.

Shriner began espousing views that a New World Order comprised of shape-shifting, reptilian aliens were seeking to take over the planet. To do this — at least, according to Shriner — the aliens were masquerading as politicians and other prominent public figures tasked with doing the bidding of their overlords. "We've been seeing it on a massive scale," she said in 2016. "Celebrities, news announcers, even people in commercials. Everybody you see on TV, about 90%, is a clone or a synthetic robotoid."

Shriner began spreading her beliefs through websites, and then eventually by way of YouTube videos and podcasts. Through these media, she was able to tap into a somewhat small, but extremely dedicated audience. As time when on, her ideology shifted from being a fringe conspiracy theory to a pseudo-religion with vampires, demons, and zombies sprinkled in for good measure (via

First signs of trouble

Shriner was not the first person to traffic in this kind of conspiracy theory. It was first widely publicized by David Icke, author of the book "The Biggest Secret," which according to Ohio State University is still a popular book among those who buy into the reptilian alien theories. Those who took to Shriner were highly devoted, and this was something Shriner seemed to take advantage of. One of her followers was a woman named Kelly Pingilley. According to All That's Interesting, Pingilley was just 19 years old when Shriner convinced the teen to abandon her plans to go to college and instead work on her radio show, "Aliens in the News." There she worked on transcribing Shriner's broadcast but as time went on, she became more and more involved, even regularly showing up in New York City to attend protests against the New World Order that Shriner had warned against.

Shriner claimed that wearing a substance called orgone would protect against things like zombies, aliens, and other unsavory beings. According to, Shriner raised over $100,00 to build "orgone blasters" which would further help in defending humanity. According to The New Republic, Shriner also sold orgone rocks on her website, starting at $34 all the way up to $288 a pop.

In 2012, Pillingley was found dead after taking more than two dozen sleeping pills. She was found wearing a pendant made from orgone.

The death of Steven Mineo

Coolbaugh Township, Pennsylvania is nestled in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, a place known for its scenic beauty and for being a popular vacation destination. According to PennLive, police arrived at the double-wide trailer Steven Mineo and his girlfriend Barbara Rogers shared on July 15, 2017, and found 32-year-old Mineo dead via a gunshot wound to the forehead. Rogers had placed the distraught 911 call that brought police to the scene. She appeared to have been the person responsible for pulling the trigger.

On the surface, it seemed to investigators that they were dealing with domestic murder; someone getting angry and killing their partner. Rogers was a military veteran in her early 40s at the time of the murder. She had been discharged years earlier on medical grounds.

However, details soon emerged that made this anything but a routine, open-and-shut murder case: that Mineo and Rogers had been a part of a cult — specifically Shriner's — and that the leaders meddling in their relationship had caused major problems between them.

A series of strange accusations before and after Mineo's death

Rogers admitted that she and Mineo were members of what Judge John L. Musmanno later referred to as a religious cult, per PennLive. It's safe to assume that both had begun following Shriner on their own accord, but then something highly unusual happened. In an opinion denying Rogers' appeal, Judge Musmanno wrote that "Rogers stated that she and Mineo had recently become upset with the leader of the cult, who believed that Rogers was actually a reptile."

This all stemmed from when Rogers made a seemingly innocuous post on Facebook about trying and liking exotic foods, specifically steak tartare. She also wrote that she ate "raw meat all the time for some reason." While most wouldn't think much of this, Sherry Shriner saw it differently. According to, Shriner claimed that this was proof that Rogers was possessed by a reptilian. "There's only certain types of people who crave the raw meat, because they crave the blood. Those with the vampire demon in them," Shriner later said.

Shriner warned Mineo about her concerns, and this apparently — and unsurprisingly — led to difficulties in Mineo and Rogers' relationship. These issues culminated in July 2017 with Mineo's death. However, Rogers claimed that he had asked to be killed, citing difficulties he had with members of Shriners' cult, and that Mineo believed Shriner was a reptilian, per The Morning Call.

The death of Sherry Shriner and the trial of Barbara Rogers

According to PennLive, Shriner died just a few months after the incident between Mineo and Rogers. This is echoed by The New Republic, which reported that some of Shriner's websites and even her YouTube channel are still active and appear to be run by her family. "Her family is still here keeping her websites up," one of the websites reads, "and fighting the forces of darkness as the Lord leads them."

Barbara Rogers was put on trial and while she was acquitted of first-degree murder, the jury still found her guilt of third-degree murder. Although this is a less serious charge, Rogers was still sentenced to 15 to 40 years in prison. She appealed her conviction, citing problems with her initial trial, such as the evidence not supporting her conviction, and that the original trial judge wouldn't allow the jury to consider even less serious manslaughter charges. The ruling was upheld by a Pennsylvania state Superior court in 2021.