The Bizarre Story Of Sherry Shriner’s YouTube Cult — And The Murder It Inspired

Published December 3, 2021
Updated December 4, 2021

Sherry Shriner’s conspiracy theories about reptilian aliens eventually led to the 2017 murder of Steven Mineo by his girlfriend Barbara Rogers.

Sherry Shriner

Public DomainSherry Shriner espoused conspiracy theories about reptilians, NATO death squads, and the end of the world.

It happened long before local authorities ever heard the name of online conspiracy theory guru Sherry Shriner, and began with a desperate 911 call on July 15, 2017.

“My boyfriend had a gun,” said the woman on the other end. “He told me to hold it here and press the trigger. Oh my God, he’s dead.”

Pennsylvania police officers arrived at the Coolbaugh Township studio apartment of 32-year-old Steven Mineo to find him dead on the floor with a bullet hole in his forehead. His 42-year-old girlfriend Barbara Rogers had shot him in the head and claimed that Mineo wanted to die because an online cult had ruined his life.

The couple had been loyal followers of Sherry Shriner, who started espousing conspiracy theories online about an alien-reptile cult in the 2000s. She started with a Facebook page but eventually launched numerous websites and a radio station, then garnered over 20,000 YouTube subscribers — all devoted to exposing “shapeshifting” politicians.

“People call me a false prophet,” said Shriner. “Out of every four humans, only one is real … we are at critical mass.”

As chronicled in the six-part VICE documentary series The Devil You Know, Mineo wasn’t even the first to take his own life as a result of Shriner’s indoctrination. The self-described “Messenger of the Highest God” had brainwashed her followers into believing in nefarious reptilians for years — and even turned them against each other.

The Alien-Reptile Cult Of Sherry Shriner

Sherry J. Shriner was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1965. The self-made conspiracy pundit attended Kent State University where the National Guard shot and killed four unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War in 1970. She graduated with a degree in Journalism, Political Science, and Criminal Justice in 1990.

Sherry Shriner Homepage Screenshot

Public DomainA screenshot of Shriner’s website and its grab-bag of topics.

Shriner eventually came to believe in the notion of a New World Order. The conspiracy theory suggested that everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Barack Obama were shapeshifting lizards whose alien overlords were hellbent on world domination and had placed them in power to establish a “one-world government.”

And with YouTube and Facebook, Shriner found a massive reach for her bizarre theories. In addition to a litany of self-published e-books and YouTube videos, the self-described “Servant, Prophet, Ambassador, Daughter, and Messenger of the Most High God” launched more than 10 websites like TheWatcherFiles.Com and OrgoneBlaster.Com — drawing in thousands of gullible devotees.

“We’ve been seeing it on a massive scale,” said Shriner in 2016. “Celebrities, news announcers, even people in commercials. Everybody you see on TV, about 90 percent, is a clone or a synthetic robotoid.”

One of her followers was Kelly Pingilley, whom Shriner convinced at 19 years old not to waste the “last days” on Earth with college — and to work as a transcriber for her “Aliens in the News” radio show, instead. Pingilley was told the only true God was “Yahuah,” and took routine trips to New York to protest the New World Order.

Barbara Rogers And Steven Mineo

FacebookRogers (left) said Mineo (right) became distraught after Shriner’s cult cast them out.

And on Dec. 28, 2012, Pingilley was found dead from an overdose of 30 sleeping pills while wearing an orgone pendant. Orgone was a pseudoscientific substance Shriner claimed could defeat clones and “synthetic robotoids,” alike. After Pingilley’s death, Shriner sold replicas of her pendant online.

Barbara Rogers Shriner claimed Pingilley had been murdered by a “NATO death squad” for believing in Yahuah, and urged her followers to stay vigilant in the fight against world domination. At that point, Steven Mineo was still on board — but soon became fatally disillusioned with Shriner.

Barbara Rogers Kills Steven Mineo

Steven Mineo and Barbara Rogers were satisfied members of Sherry Shriner’s online following, but things soured when Rogers published a trivial Facebook post about enjoying raw meat and Shriner began branding her as inhuman.

“There’s only certain types of people who crave the raw meat, because they crave blood,” said Shriner. “Those with the vampire demon in them.”

Mineo became convinced that Shriner was a fraud and uploaded five videos between May 29 and July 1, 2017, trying to expose her. Shriner and her loyalists essentially cast the couple out and continued to label Rogers a “Vampire Witch Reptilian Super Soldier.”

On July 15, 2017, Mineo and Rogers went to a local bar and drank until 2 a.m. before returning to his apartment in Tobyhanna. He took Rogers out back to shoot his gun in the woods. When they went back inside, he asked her to shoot him in the head.

The Pocono Mountain Regional Police were called at 2:25 a.m., with officers finding a .45-caliber Glock near Mineo’s body and a hole in his forehead. Rogers was taken to the Monroe County jail, adamant Mineo had forced her to pull the trigger.

Rogers made contradictory claims in custody. She admitted to shooting Mineo at his request but said she didn’t know the gun was loaded. She was offered a guilty plea deal for third-degree murder which carried a sentence between 10 and 15 years, but turned it down.

Meanwhile, Sherry Shriner claimed online that Rogers had “morphed her huge teeth out” and revealed her inhuman shape before killing Mineo. She said Mineo “hated me because I warned him she was going to destroy him and she did. He just couldn’t believe she would do that.”

The Lives Lost To Sherry Shriner

Sherry Shriner Facebook Post

FacebookOn Facebook, Shriner claimed Mineo wasn’t suicidal and that Rogers murdered him.

Sherry Shriner responded to Mineo’s death like she did Pingilley’s years before. She urged her followers to donate to the cause, selling orgone for up to $288 and launching GoFundMe campaigns, profiting until her death by natural causes months after Mineo was killed.

Rogers went to trial in March 2019 and was convicted of third-degree murder on June 10. She was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in prison and said that she “was not in control of the situation that happened. I was not the dominating party in that situation.”

Barbara Rogers In Handcuffs

PA Homepage/YouTubeRogers was sentenced to at least 15 and up to 40 years in prison in 2019.

“To me, it’s amazing that somebody could put a gun to somebody’s head, blow their brains out essentially, and a jury finds them guilty of third-degree murder and not first?” Mineo’s aunt, Jackie Mineo said. “She got a break. She got a big break today.”

Today, all that’s left is a legion of devotees wrangling with the cost of having believed in Shriner for years on end. Countless posts online mourned her death and wished her well. Other people, specifically relatives of Steven Mineo and Kelly Pingilley, hope self-taught sleuths become a little more discerning in the future.

“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,” said Nate Pingilley, Kelly’s brother. “If I had to say something of encouragement to people, it would be to tell them, look around you: The world isn’t ending.”


After learning about Sherry Shriner, read about the Denver Airport conspiracy. Then, learn about the U.S. government’s secret Montauk Project.

Marco Margaritoff
A staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff has also published work at outlets including People, VICE, and Complex, covering everything from film to finance to technology. He holds dual bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a master's degree from New York University.