Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Arlene Cordova needs your help: Where is Scientology keeping her daughter Barbara?

BarbaraRobertOliverIn January, we told you about Barbara Cordova Oliver, 56, a longtime Scientologist who had vanished after having a mental breakdown at her 80-year-old mother Arlene’s house in the Los Angeles area last December.

Barbara had been a fixture at Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Center, where she ran something called Artists for a Better World. But after two failed moves to Clearwater, Florida with her Scientologist husband Robert Oliver, a distraught Barbara found herself at Arlene’s house and obviously needed medical attention. (Arlene has never been involved in Scientology.)

Barbara was briefly hospitalized at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, but Arlene says that a Scientology attorney soon got Barbara released to her husband’s care. The couple then vanished. Arlene thought they might be in Tennessee.

After our initial report, we learned that Barbara and Robert were in Woodbury, Tennessee at a Scientology rehab facility known as Life Center for a New Tomorrow.

Also after our first story ran, a Google Plus page for Barbara appeared, showing photographs of her seemingly enjoying the sights of Woodbury, such as this World War I and II monument…



Even less subtle was the classic “reading a newspaper to prove she’s alive” photo which was also posted…


And a picture of Barbara and Robert outside the Woodbury Applebee’s also showed how much fun they were having…


But Arlene Cordova wanted more than photographs. She wanted to hear directly from her daughter. And we understood her concern. Scientology considers psychiatry its biggest enemy in the galaxy, and the church relies on unscientific methods to deal with serious mental health issues. People who have serious breakdowns are subjected to something developed by L. Ron Hubbard which he called the “Introspection Rundown.” But treating people in distress with Hubbard’s “technology” has ended in disaster in the past. More than a few observers wondered if Barbara was being kept away from her mother as she also went through something like the Introspection Rundown.

After our report, Arlene did see her daughter, but she asked us not to write about it. And now, she’s lost contact again, and she’s worried. She gave us permission to bring our readers up to date on what’s been happening.

Once we had located her daughter at the Tennessee facility in January, Arlene called until she got through to her son-in-law.

“I told him that I wanted to see Barbara, and he didn’t say no,” Arlene told us. She then traveled in April to Woodbury with a friend.

She learned that Barbara and Robert were renting a small house in a remote area.

“I don’t know who’s paying for anything. I assume it’s Scientology,” she says.

They had arranged for a time to meet that first day, and that’s when Arlene learned that Robert had hired a security guard to be present.

“I guess he thought we were going to grab Barbara and run away.”

But at least she got to see her daughter.

“Barbara was not in good shape. She looked very depressed. She is mentally going downhill. I couldn’t get too much out of them. She was very glad to see me, and that was basically it,” Arlene says.

After spending some time with them, Arlene prepared to go and asked when she could come over the next day — they had agreed that it would be a multiple-day visit.

But on the second day, Arlene was delayed. She was involved in a fender-bender, and it took her considerable time to get to the house. When she got there, the place looked all locked up.

“They were inside. I called to them, and Rob answered. He said he wouldn’t let us in until the security guard got there. He called her, and the guard took almost an hour to get there. Poor Barbara was inside yelling at him to let me in.”

After the guard arrived, they spent more time together. Arlene says she then asked if she could come the next day, and says Bob expressed some doubts that the guard could make it.

As soon as Arlene left that second day, Robert packed Barbara into his car and left.

Arlene returned home to California.

She says she subsequently received an e-mail from Robert, who told her that he had taken Barbara to visit his mother, and they had then returned to Tennessee.

“He made it sound practically like it was a honeymoon,” she says. But she’s not buying it.

It was the last she heard from either of them.

“I’m going crazy trying to figure out what to do,” she tells us. “She could be anywhere. I’ve got to do something and I don’t know what in the world to do.”

We were concerned to hear that when Arlene saw her daughter, Barbara seemed to be deteriorating. And if Robert is following Scientology procedure, this woman with serious health issues won’t be given access to proper care.

Arlene says she doesn’t know if Robert and Barbara are still in Tennessee. Has she been moved again? Please, if you know anything about her whereabouts, we’d like to hear from you. And so would Arlene.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 30, 2014 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email