DANBURY, CONNECTICUT—Late last night, Max Wild was found dead, in a school-bus full of his followers (also dead), just outside the town of Danbury, CT. The cause of death was cyanide poisoning, according to the statement released by the coroner’s office early this morning. The group in the bus, believed to be a cult calling itself The Wild Things, had been threatening mass suicide for months, but were on the move at all times. The FBI has not yet given sufficient reason for their inability to find and put a stop to the cult’s activities and a spokesperson said this morning that there is an ongoing investigation into the FBI’s failure in this instance.
Only 57 when he died last night, Max Wild led an ordinary, and apparently mostly happy, life. In his youth, his mother told reporters this morning, he “was a bad little boy sometimes, but he grew up so well, so well.” Indeed, he was the recipient of countless sports, outreach, and team effort trophies and certificates during his elementary and high school days. These are still on display on the mantelpiece of his childhood home.
Wild’s boyhood room also contains evidence of his obsession early in life with monsters and grotesqueries. An only child, he had a large collection of plushies lining the walls of his room, a variety of them disfigured by his own hands. “But they were his creations, he was being an artist, always an artist,” his mother sobbed.
Wild graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and went on to work in a variety of attempted and aborted careers. With a trust fund left to him by his grandparents, Wild opened a restaurant, converted it into a bar, and then into an arcade. Eventually, after years of starting one business after another, Wild began teaching himself to code and profited from the early days of the hi-tech industry. Working at Microsoft for some years, Wild became known for his alternating starry-eyed optimism and fits of rage. “We all thought he was bipolar,” an old colleague of his said. “But we stopped saying anything after a while ‘cause we knew he’d been to therapists a lot as a kid ‘cause his mom forced him to, and it was a sore subject with him. He didn’t believe in medication, therapy, any of it. He thought it was all in the power of the human mind, you know?”
In 2000, Wild was outted as gay during the course of an office affair that went badly, and his contract was soon thereafter terminated (he had moved on from Microsoft to a smaller startup company by that time). After a years-long lawsuit, which he ultimately lost since he was unable to find sufficient evidence that his company had fired him due to his sexual identity, Wild launched his own non-profit startup in 2009 along with several acquaintances from the tech industry. The startup, We Ignite Loud Dreams (WILD), created an app aimed at teachers and students all over the world, available in over 150 languages, in which children would write out their dreams and aspirations in their profiles and connect with other like-minded children. As the company’s mission statement stated, they hoped the children would become “the igniters of tomorrow’s dreamers.”
The company went under in 2012, however, after their funding ran out and investors were reluctant to come on board since the app wasn’t successful. Soon thereafter, rumors of The Wild Things cult began to circulate on Tumblr and in a variety of mental-illness recovery forums. Rather than pursuing treatment, The Wild Things believed in the ultimate power of mind over body and imagination over reality. Max Wild, who was only proven to be the cult leader in death, recruited members from all over the country. He uploaded an anonymous podcast on the cult’s website that gained thousands of listeners, many of them teenagers. The FBI is trying to determine whether other Wild Things leaders are still alive and planning another tragic mass suicide.
Max Wild’s family is being kept under surveillance and separated from the media; they recommend that old friends wishing to help simply donate to suicide prevention centers. As Max Wild’s body is still being held by the police, it is unknown what the funeral arrangements will be.