'The Vow' Episode 4: Was NXIVM mastermind Keith Raniere involved in prominent cult member Pam Cafritz's death?

Cafritz, along with Kristin Snyder, Barbara Jeske and Gina Hutchinson had been intimate with Raniere and reportedly died under suspicious circumstances


                            'The Vow' Episode 4: Was NXIVM mastermind Keith Raniere involved in prominent cult member Pam Cafritz's death?
Keith Raniere and Pam Cafritz as seen in 'The Vow' (HBO)

HBO's miniseries, 'The Vow' dives deep into NXIVM (pronounced Nex-e-um), the self-help organization that was revealed to run a secret society named DOS that recruited women to become "sex slaves" for NXIVM's founder Keith Raniere. After a six-week trial in 2019, Raniere was convicted in June 2019 of charges including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking. 'The Vow' features former members including actresses Sarah Edmondson and Bonnie Piesse, as well as Piesse's spouse, filmmaker Mark Vicente.

Not all who have spoken about their experiences have come forward to reveal who they really are, however, this week's episode features a woman who has taken on the alias of Jane who speaks of her experience being recruited into DOS by a Black woman (given the alias Rachel) and how she became her slave. Jane talks about meeting 'Smallville' actress Allison Mack – who was an integral part of NXIVM and DOS, and was arrested in 2019 on related charges, India Oxenberg, and even Raniere himself, who revealed to her that he was the mastermind behind DOS and that he was Mack's master.

Another person Jane met was Pamela Cafritz, who was also an integral part of NXIVM and co-founded Jness, a society within NXIVM aimed at women. Jness taught that women are fundamentally self-absorbed, narcissistic and manipulative, according to a former member who spoke to The New York Times. In the 1990s, Cafritz resided with Raniere and Karen Unterreiner in an Albany home. Cafritz died in 2016 from cancer and as shown in 'The Vow', her death left members devastated. However, what 'The Vow' did not dive into in this episode were the allegations that Cafritz may have been poisoned by Raniere.

A 2019 special by Investigation Discovery, titled 'The Lost Women of NXIVM', aimed to investigate the mysterious disappearance of four women, of which two had been diagnosed with incurable cancers. Led by investigative journalist Frank Parlato, a former NXIVM member himself, who dedicated to bringing out negative reports about NXIVM after he left the group. In the special, Parlato says that Kristin Snyder, Barbara Jeske, Gina Hutchinson, and Pamela Cafritz died under suspicious circumstances. The deaths span a 14-year period between 2002 until 2016. The women had been intimately involved with the Nxivm leader. The special included a video of Raniere secretly recorded by a then-follower. “Here’s the thing, I’ve had people killed because of my beliefs -- or because of their beliefs.” 

The deaths of Jeske and Cafritz were attributed to cancer that developed after both women lived with Raniere in his Halfmoon, NY, home. Jeske died in 2014 at 63, Cafritz in 2016 at 57. Tests on another woman who spent time in the home and subsequently developed cancer revealed unusually elevated levels of ­bismuth and barium. Parlato believed they all had been ­poisoned.

Meanwhile, Snyder had begun telling an NXIVM class in Anchorage, Alaska, that she was pregnant with Raniere’s child. She was ejected from a seminar and disappeared less than 24 hours later. A suicide note was later found in her truck. Hutchinson's death was also ruled a suicide, however, Parlato said that Hutchinson "was going around saying she had sex with Raniere when she was 14 years old. Others, including her sister, have verified this," adding that both deaths were suspicious as well.

'The Vow' airs on HBO on Sunday nights at 10/9c.

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