In PEOPLE's True Crime Stories: Cults special edition, read shocking tales of people lured into traps of abuse, manipulation and death

Secretive, coercive and often magnetic, cult leaders are known to manipulate their followers’ minds.

In PEOPLE’s True Crime Stories: Cults, read the shocking tales of people lured into traps of abuse, manipulation and death, in the name of everything from religion to family. Through PEOPLE’s unparalleled crime reporting, take a look into the lives of those who followed controversial group leaders Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Tony Alamo, Yaweh Ben Yaweh and more.

See how spiritual but violent teacher Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (as seen in Netflix’s Wild Wild Country) took over a sleepy Oregon town, and the ritualistic horrors that led to the fiery death of David Koresh and his 74 devotees.

Plus, read survival stories from these cult escapees themselves — and how they’re dealing with their past today.

Charles Manson
Charles Manson (center)
| Credit: AP
Allison Mack (center)
| Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty

“It was the most painful, traumatic moment of my life,” actress Sarah Edmondson told PEOPLE of the controversial self-help group Nxvim’s 2016 initiation ceremony.

Prosecutors have said the organization, with celebrities like Smallville‘s Allison Mack among its devotees, branded their members with founder Keith Raniere’s initials, who is now charged with sex-trafficking.

Also: take a first look at the chilling stories explored in season 3 of Investigation Discovery’s People Magazine Investigates, including 11-year-old Mikelle Biggs, who vanished without a trace in 1999, and Canadian teen Reet Jurvetson, whose body was identified 46 years after she was found brutally stabbed in 1969 near the site of the Manson’s family Los Angeles murders.

Read the shocking tales of people lured into cults and controversial groups in People’s True Crime Stories: Cults, available now on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold