Elizabeth Clare Prophet, 70, the spiritual leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant, which gained notoriety in the late 1980s for its followers' elaborate preparations for nuclear Armageddon, has died.

Ms. Prophet suffered from dementia for years, and was at her apartment in Bozeman, Mont., when she died Thursday night, legal guardian Murray Steinman said.

Ms. Prophet led the Park County church that once boasted 50,000 members.

In the late 1980s, church members amassed assault rifles and armored vehicles in preparation for a nuclear missile strike that Ms. Prophet predicted was on the way. The plan brought national notoriety and a federal investigation.

The church's beliefs combined icons from the world's major religions, mixing Western philosophy and mysticism.

Despite Ms. Prophet's illness, her videos and writings continued to dominate church teaching, transformed into a New Age publishing enterprise and spiritual university.

- AP