It’s been 220 days since more than 1,000 people traveled from across the U.S. to Dallas at the behest of Michael Protzman, a QAnon influencer known as Negative 48, who promised his followers that John F. Kennedy would reappear at Dealey Plaza. JFK didn’t reappear, of course, but the QAnon cult is now returning to Texas.
More than seven months after the group first met in Dallas, it is heading back to the city this weekend after Protzman once again promised that JFK would reveal himself to the group, proving once and for all that he is, in fact, the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Protzman has already checked into the Hyatt Regency, where hundreds of people gathered back in November.
“What started in Dallas ends in Dallas,” one member of a Telegram group linked to the cult wrote on Friday morning.
Earlier this week, Protzman, in hours-long audio chats on his Telegram channel, laid out what he predicted would happen this weekend. He told his followers that JFK would only reveal himself to those willing to travel to Dallas on Saturday. This would be followed by 10 days of darkness before JFK would finally reveal himself to the world.
A core group of followers remained in the city for months after their initial gathering, before going on tour to follow former President Donald Trump at rallies across the country. In that time, Protzman has destroyed relationships, financially ruined families, and pushed increasingly erratic and wild conspiracies about Trump, JFK and the Ukraine war.
It’s unclear how many people will be in Dallas this weekend, but a review of posts on Telegram, as well as videos posted by those already in Dallas, suggest that at least dozens of people will once again make the journey.
For the family members of those involved, the fact that so many are once again willing to flock to Dallas, shows just what a hold this man has over his followers.
“I’d like to say that I am glad Protzman’s group of believers are all heading back to Dallas so that Michael Protzman will be exposed as a liar, but I am not holding my breath that any of his followers will suddenly have the ability to think critically and see that they are following a madman,” a family member of one of Protzman’s followers told VICE News. “They have the uncanny ability to believe everything Protzman tells them. I mean EVERYTHING.”
The family member, who did not want to be identified over fears of retaliation from the group, described the last 220 days as a “nightmare,” adding that they and the rest of the families affected by this just want “closure.”
“It has been something that has almost broken me completely,” they said. “I have had to come to grips with losing my loved one, and yet they are still alive. The person I once knew doesn’t seem to be there—mentally—anymore. It has filled me with anxiety, confusion, deep pain, and deep feelings of rejection. It has been a difficult journey of trying to come to grips with something so unbelievable that it seems impossible to reconcile in my own thinking.”
Protzman, a former demolition expert from Federal Way in Washington state who was previously arrested for domestic violence, rose to fame as a QAnon influencer through his use of a bastardized version of the Jewish numerology system known as gematria, which assigned a numerical value to each letter of the alphabet, allowing those who use it to draw links between seeming disparate events, names, and phrases.
He amassed tens of thousands of followers on his Telegram channel in the space of months, and was able to persuade over 1,000 people to pay for flights and accommodation to come to Dallas at the beginning of November last year.
In Dallas, he forced elderly followers and children to spend hours waiting for the JFK appearance that never materialized. One day, he forced his followers to wait in the rain at Dealey Plaza—where JFK was assassinated in 1963—for the former president to reappear. When that didn’t happen, he forced everyone to buy expensive tickets for a Rolling Stones concert in the city where he claimed dead celebrities like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Aaliyah would join JFK Jr on stage dressed as the members of the band.
While many of the followers realized Prtozman was a fraud at this point, there were still over 100 who remained loyal to him and remained in Dallas for months, spending Thanksgiving and Christmas away from their families.
Many of them also handed over tens of thousands of dollars to Protzman to pay for his penthouse suite at the Hyatt. Numerous family members who VICE News has spoken to over the course of the last seven months have said that their family members have given huge sums of money to the group.
This year, Protzman has taken his group on the road, travelling to numerous Trump rallies where he has claimed that Trump was in fact JFK in disguise. The group became so friendly with the event staff at Trump’s rallies that they were given jobs helping set up seating at the events in exchange for VIP tickets.
Protzman has continued to make wilder and wilder claims, including false assertions that the Ukraine war was a cover to unmask President Joe Biden’s criminality and that Melania Trump was the Queen of Russia.
The group has also posted images of some of the most prominent members, including Protzman himself, making Nazi salutes. One of the members of the group told VICE News at the time that it was done for “just some laughs” and to “make fun of you guys who falsely report us as a cult.”
In March, it looked like the group may be about to collapse, when Protzman kicked out some core members of the group and subsequently formed a splinter group, which became known as the Scooby Doo Crew. The group, led by former actor Stephen Tenner and Shelly Mullinax, have also been travelling to Trump rallies, most recently in an RV painted to look like the Mystery Machine from the Scooby Doo cartoons.
The two groups have been fighting with each other for months, both online and in person when they meet at Trump rallies.
However, Tenner and Mullinax both believe that Protzman only kicked them out of the main group as a plot to expose others within the group as frauds and that he will ultimately welcome them back into the fold. The reality, VICE News previously reported, is that Protzman kicked Shelley out of the group because she refused to give him more money.
Both Protzman’s group and the splinter group have continued to solicit and receive donations from followers on Telegram using the money to travel around the country.
They still share the same interests—on Thursday night, the Scooby Doo Crew arrived in Dallas and also checked into the the Hyatt Regency.
For the last seven months, an open-source researcher who is known as Karma has spent countless hours monitoring this group’s activities, flagging Protzman’s increasingly erratic behavior, and helping families get their loved ones back.
She believes that calling followers to Dallas this weekend will result in more hardship and pain.
“Michael Protzman has caused irreparable damage to his followers’ families, tearing apart husbands, wives and children,” Karma told VICE News. “Protzman asking more of his followers to come to Dallas on the 11th is worrying because more than likely some will stay on past that date and more families will be torn apart.”
Protzman or other members of his group did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.