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


‘Let him die’: Scientology leader David Miscavige had private eyes watching his father, say police


SEE ALSO: Jenna Miscavige Hill on her uncle spying on her father: The arrogance is astonishing
SEE ALSO: Read the police report on the spies who kept tabs on the father of Scientology’s leader

Los Angeles Times reporter Kim Christensen landed a bombshell Wednesday night with his story about a police report which shows that Scientology leader David Miscavige paid private investigators $10,000 a week for 18 months to follow his father, Ron Miscavige Sr (pictured).

We broke the news in 2012 that Ron had escaped from Scientology’s International Base after being a musician at the compound for many years. He went to Virginia to live with his son, Ron Jr, before relocating to Wisconsin.

And his son David Miscavige, Scientology’s dictatorial leader, has made sure Ron has been under surveillance to keep an eye on what he might say about Scientology.


On one of the surveillance runs in 2013, however, private investigator Dwayne S. Powell, 43, and his son Daniel, 21, were confronted by West Allis, Wisconsin police, who found that Powell had a small arsenal in his rented SUV: two rifles, four handguns, 2,000 rounds of ammunition and an illegal homemade silencer. He also had a stun gun in the car.

Facing felony charges, Powell decided to spill his guts. He told police that he was keeping tabs on Ron Sr. for Scientology. And at one point, while he was watching Ron in a Walmart parking lot, he saw Ron clutch his chest and bend over. Worried that the 79-year-old man was having a heart attack, he called in to ask what to do.

He told police David Miscavige himself eventually got on the line. “David told him that if it was Ron’s time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way,” the police report states.

Ron had actually been fumbling with his smartphone, and wasn’t having a heart attack.

Scientology denies that Powell was working for Miscavige, but that’s a clever dodge. As Mike Rinder has explained to us in the past, Scientology PIs are hired by intermediary PI firms or attorneys who work for the church so they can say they don’t work directly for Scientology. According to Christensen, Powell told the police he was working for the church through Terry Roffler and Associates, a Florida investigations firm.

According to Christensen, Powell and son were paid to watch Ron, and it was intense: “In his July 2013 interview with police, Powell said he and a second investigator, his 21-year-old son Daniel, searched the elder Miscavige’s garbage, photographed him wherever he went and tracked him with a GPS device attached to his car and linked to an iPad that read out his location, the documents state. Police found marks on the underside of the car that they concluded were made by the magnetic GPS device, the records say.” Powell and his son were paid $10,000 a week for the detail, and Powell’s son backed up his father’s account.

“I asked Powell if he was hired as a hit man to kill Ron if the Church of Scientology ordered such action and he stated that he was not,” the report says. According to Christensen, Powell said he had the weapons for “sport shooting.”

There’s plenty of precedent for Miscavige paying huge sums to have people followed using the tax-exempt coffers of the Church of Scientology. Previously, we brought you the story of Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold, two private investigators Miscavige paid between $10 and $12 million to follow one man for 24 years, former church executive Pat Broeker. Marrick and Arnold were outed (but not by name) in the Tampa Bay Times 2009 series, “The Truth Rundown,” and after that they were used less until they were let go. They then sued for wrongful termination, and for one 24-hour period gave interviews to us and the Tampa Bay Times. We spent the day with them as they were reunited with Marty Rathbun, the former church official who had first hired them in 1988. It was very clear from talking to them that they knew they were working for Miscavige, and that money was no object as long as they kept an eye on their quarry.

As for Scientology’s denials, here’s what Marc Headley, former International Base worker, put in our comments…

I worked at the Scientology headquarters for 15 years and got many submissions and proposals approved through all sorts of Scientology International Management approvals including David Miscavige on several occasions. I can tell you without a doubt:

— The only person who could authorize Scientology PI’s watching Ron Miscavige Sr. is David Miscavige.

— The only person who could authorize spending $1.5 million on PI’s for anything would be David Miscavige.

— The only person who could authorize letting Ron die would be David Miscavige.

David Miscavige demanded seeing proposals on $300 DVD players & TVs that were being purchased for Scientology. David Miscavige had to see the carpet samples for the crew dining hall before purchasing. He insisted on seeing every single decor item for his buddy Tom Cruise’s living quarters at the base. Anyone who has ever lived and worked at the base can tell you that Dave Miscavige considers any money in Scientology to have been made by himself directly through his actions. He told us this himself on hundreds of occasions. “He was the only one who made money and he sure as hell was not going to let a bunch of SP’s spend it all.” That is a direct quote I heard in multiple meetings. David Miscavige hired the PI. David Miscavige paid the PI. David miscavige most certainly told the PI to let his dad die. If you think this is bad, wait until we hear about out all the stuff that they have not been so clumsy about letting accidentally leak out…

UPDATE: We’ve obtained a copy of the court file on Dwayne Powell’s weapons charge regarding his illegal silencer. As the LA Times story indicates, Powell was found with weapons and the silencer when the police responded to a neighborhood complaint about his surveillance work. He was facing a felony, but after cooperating with police and talking about working for Miscavige, his indictment was dropped and he was allowed to enter a pre-trial diversion program. Here’s the relevant court paperwork on that. Scroll to the end for the indictment itself…


Dwayne Powell Docket

According to the indictment, Powell had constructed a homemade silencer to be fitted on a GSG 522 .22LR rifle. There are several different configurations of that model, apparently, but here’s one as pictured by the manufacturer…


As for the background on Scientology’s spy, in the indictment Dwayne Scott Powell is listed as 43 years old and from Leesburg, Florida. In 2006, 35-year-old Dwayne Scott Powell of Leesburg, Florida was a state corrections officer who was arrested and charged after he found his ex-wife in a bedroom with another man. He allegedly attacked his ex-wife by grabbing her by the throat and throwing her, and he chased the man with a kitchen knife, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Circa 1979: Ron Miscavige Sr. officiates as he marries Al Bornstein and Becky Finley in Philadelphia. Al had been first mate on the yacht Apollo with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard several years earlier. Today, she’s Kate Bornstein, well known New York transgendered performance artist and subject of a cover story we wrote for the Village Voice. Becky — now Becky Kelsey — is still a dedicated Sea Org member at Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.



Posted by Tony Ortega on April 08, 2015 at 22:00

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 cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email