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Remembering Diane Colletto, Who Would Have Been 60 Today

TheAuditorSpanky Taylor asked The Bunker to observe a special anniversary today.

She and another former Sea Org friend, author Ira Chaleff, sent us a brief remembrance of Diane Colletto, who would have turned 60 today.

For readers of Lawrence Wright’s excellent book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief, you may remember Colletto’s appearance. It’s a short and sad tale. Diane Colletto was the editor of The Auditor and held other responsibilities in the church’s publications division. Although she was only 25, she was going places. Until, that is, the night of August 19, 1978, when she was brutally murdered right outside Scientology’s big headquarters in Los Angeles. But even today, nearly 35 years later, Colletto is still remembered fondly by those who knew her well.

Here’s what we received from Taylor and Chaleff…

Today would have been ex-ASHO staff member Diane Colletto’s 60th birthday. Regrettably, more than 30 years ago she was murdered by her husband, fellow Sea Org member John Colletto, who then took his own life. Those fortunate enough to have known Diane will recall her petite stature, her lovely smiling face, her always professional dress and her enormous heart as well as her talent as the editor of The Auditor magazine. Her death was a true tragedy as she loved life and would have gone on to contribute so much more on whatever path she may have chosen. Please join us in remembering this special person and friend. You’ll remain forever in our thoughts and hearts, Diane.

Love always,


Spanky Taylor & Ira Chaleff

As Wright explains in Going Clear, Diane’s husband, John Colletto, had questioned church policy, which landed him in the Sea Org’s prison detail, the Rehabilitation Project Force. He was declared a suppressive person (excommunicated, in Scientology parlance), and Diane was ordered to “disconnect” from him. As Wright says, John Colletto then apparently decided that if he couldn’t have Scientology, he’d keep Diane from it too.

By pure accident, the night John Colletto went to attack Diane, she was being accompanied by a young Marty Rathbun, who was very new to Scientology and still getting accustomed to its culture. He was assigned to ride along with Diane as she pulled her car away from Scientology’s large headquarters complex in Los Angeles. To their shock, John Colletto came out of nowhere in his own car and smashed into them, then got out to begin firing a gun.

We’ll quote at some length here from Wright’s book…

When Rathbun recovered, he saw Diane on all fours, crawling on the sidewalk, and Colletto running toward her with the gun. Rathbun says he got up and tackled John. They crashed through the picket fence and wrestled on the lawn. More shots were fired. At one point, according to Rathbun, the barrel of the revolver was pressed against the nape of his neck and Colletto pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire, but Rathbun went exterior, viewing the scene from twelve feet above his body.

Colletto broke free and caught up to his wife. He stuck the gun in her ear. Rathbun says he saw what was happening and did a “flying sidekick,” but at that fatal moment the gun fired.

Colletto was knocked to the ground by Rathbun’s blow and the gun skittered across the pavement. Rathbun picked it up and tried to fire it at Colletto, but the chambers were all empty. Colletto got in his car and screeched away.

Rathbun went back to Diane. Blood was gurgling and spewing from her mouth. He thought she was drowning in her own blood. Rathbun took off his shirt and put it under her head. As he heard the sirens screaming, she died in his arms.

Three days later, John Colletto’s decomposing body was found. He had slashed his wrists and bled to death on the shoulder of the Ventura Freeway.

Wright got his hands on the police report of the incident, which backed up Rathbun’s account of what happened that night.

But Rathbun tells us there was more to the story.

“What happened afterwards was just as strange,” he tells us. “I got arrested, and I tried to explain what was going on. I had blood all over me, and no shirt on.”

Rathbun says the first group of police officers on the scene accepted his explanation that he’d been defending Diane, but a second group of officers, including a sergeant, decided to take him to Rampart Station and hold him.

“They spent hours trying to make me confess. It went on all night,” he says.

Then, he says, he was informed that Church of Scientology executive Heber Jentzsch had called the station and was asking to speak to him. Rathbun was told he only got one call, but he decided to take it.

“Heber ran down the whole history on Colletto. He had a history of violence. I ran that back to the cops, and about an hour later they released me,” Rathbun says.

We asked him about the days that followed. “Personally, I was treated like a hero, but I felt bad because I had allowed it to occur. You’re not ready for something like that to happen. but I realized that if I’d had a chance to run it again, I’d have found a blunt object to knock the guy out. He was big physically and really amped. I felt really guilty that I hadn’t taken him out before he got the fatal bullet in there. I didn’t really feel so heroic.”

We wondered how well he knew Diane before that night.

“I didn’t know her at all. I’d seen her. I was a greenie. I was an expediter, stuffing envelopes. She was a big shot, head of planetary dissemination and all this. I don’t think I’d even spoken to her before I got in the car with her. But I knew of her,” he says.

Rathbun says he’ll have even more about the incident and its aftermath in an upcoming book about his history in the church.




RockCenterPlease join us as we live-blog the appearance of Bunker regulars Luke Catton and Eric Tenorio tonight on NBC’s Rock Center. The show starts at 10 pm Eastern, but we’ll put up a new post well before that to get the party started early.

A preview of the segment with Harry Smith, and a companion text story, were posted yesterday to NBC’s website. Catton was featured and looked rock solid on camera. As for the story, most of the details were familiar to Bunker readers, but we had one major complaint about the way NBC is framing this tale. The network is putting everything on what Catton and Tenorio have to say now that they’ve decided to go public about Narconon’s well-documented deceptions.

But that’s just it — Narconon’s track history for deception goes back decades and is quite well established in court records and the church’s own documentation. And what’s made our stories about Catton and Tenorio here so fascinating lately is that the former Narconon executives have brought out more than their own memories — each of them has revealed stunning documents that lay out Narconon’s problematic business practices.

NBC has access to those documents, but instead they’re presenting this story as if Catton and Tenorio had nothing more than their own credibility to back up their stories. And naturally, the church is going after their credibility with the use of their high-paid attorneys.

Is NBC really being fair to Catton and Tenorio to leave out the documentation that backs up what they’re saying?

Well, let’s all tune in tonight and see how this story comes off.



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Posted by Tony Ortega on April 5, 2013 at 07:00

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