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As you watch Leah Remini’s show tonight, keep these people disappeared by Scientology in mind


[Shelly Miscavige, Angelo Pagan, and Barbara Ruiz, circa 2004]

UPDATE: We’re living blogging Leah’s show in the comments at a new post. Please join us!

Forty five years ago this week, on Saturday, November 27, 1971, the daily notices that were sent to the crew of the yacht Apollo, known as the “Orders of the Day,” included a notation about a new crew member.

The Apollo was Commodore L. Ron Hubbard’s flagship, from which he had run Scientology since 1967. It was crewed by young Scientologists, some of them working to keep the ship sailing, others to conduct Scientology drills and processes, and others were tasked with responding to the Commodore’s daily needs, including young girls to run his messages around the ship. That Saturday 45 years ago, the newest of his messengers arrived.

She was ten years old, and her name was Michele Barnett, although her name was misspelled (as it often is) in the brief notation…



“Her study program is to include SO Member Hat, SS I, SS II, AB Checksheet, Basic Staff Hat, Data Series, etc.”

It sounded like a heavy workload for a child, particularly on a ship that could be a harsh place for its crew. Just a few months before, in June, a 23-year-old woman from Colorado named Susan Meister was found dead in her cabin with a gunshot wound to the forehead. Authorities ruled it a suicide, but Susan’s father, George Meister, doubted the explanation of her death.

Michele, known as Shelly, became one of Hubbard’s dedicated messengers, not only carrying communications around the ship for him, but also lighting his cigarettes, doing his laundry and drawing his baths. The messengers saw Hubbard at his worst, but they also became fanatically devoted to him.

Hubbard eventually mothballed his private navy in 1975 and came back to shore, ending up a few years later in the desert of California, making amateurish movies. One of his cameramen was another young member of his “messenger” corps, a kid from New Jersey by the name of David Miscavige. And after Hubbard went into total seclusion a few years later, Miscavige and Michele Barnett were married. When Hubbard died in California in 1986, David Miscavige took over Scientology, and Shelly helped him run it.


[Shelly, left, and Dave, right, in their Sea Org naval gear]

But then, in the summer of 2005, Shelly Miscavige vanished. She’s only been seen in public one time since then, in the summer of 2007, when she was allowed to attend the funeral of her father in the presence of her Scientology handler.

We’ve written about Shelly’s disappearance numerous times. Several different lines of evidence convince us that we know where she’s being held, in a secret compound near Lake Arrowhead, California, and recently we provided the first drone footage of the place.

But the church itself hasn’t said where Shelly is or why she hasn’t been allowed to attend Scientology events or even to see her own family members.

And when you watch Leah Remini’s A&E series premiere tonight at 10 pm Eastern, you might keep in mind that in the lead up to the series debut, Scientology’s most forceful attack on Leah was that she dared to try to find out where Scientology was holding Shelly Miscavige.

In 2013, Leah filed a missing-person report about Shelly with the LAPD. She filed it on a Monday, and we broke the news of it three days later, on a Thursday morning. By that afternoon, the LAPD was telling reporters that Shelly was not missing and the case had been closed as “unfounded.” We later talked to Lt. Andre Dawson of the LAPD, who told us that after Leah filed her report, two of his detectives had met with and spoke to Shelly, who said she did not want to make a public statement. When we asked Lt. Dawson if that meeting had taken place in the presence of other church officials, he quickly said, “that’s classified.”

Today, Scientology attacks Leah for even filing the report, saying she wasted the resources of the LAPD. But the church has still not said anything publicly about Shelly’s whereabouts.

Shelly is the most famous of Scientology’s disappeared, the people who fell afoul of David Miscavige and are now cut off from not only the outside world but also other Scientologists.

We’ve written about others. A 2004 photo of Shelly Miscavige and Leah Remini’s husband, Angelo Pagan (at the top of the story, above) also includes Barbara Ruiz, who used to run Scientology’s science fiction event, the Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest. Besides running that annual church public relations show featuring prominent sci-fi authors, Barbara was also quietly taking care of some of David Miscavige’s dirty work. In January 2004, when Miscavige started what would become “The Hole,” Scientology’s bizarre prison for upper management at the International Base near Hemet, one of its early prisoners was the organization’s international spokesman, Mike Rinder. And Rinder tells us that one of the people running the prison was Barbara Ruiz. Shortly after that, Ruiz herself vanished. Despite writing about Barbara’s disappearance four years ago, we haven’t heard anything about her current whereabouts. Like Shelly, she’s simply gone.

And then there’s Rena Weinberg, who used to run one of Scientology’s most important subsidiaries, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), which oversees many of Scientology’s “social betterment” front operations, including its network of drug rehab centers, Narconon. Rena was a highly visible executive in Scientology, but she too was seen in The Hole — as a prisoner. Our eyewitness reports put her in The Hole from at least 2007 to 2012. Is she still there today? Is she being held somewhere else now? She continues to be absent from Scientology events and, like Barbara and Shelly, has been made a non-person by David Miscavige.

As you watch Leah’s show tonight, you’ll see the repeated disclaimers that A&E’s lawyers insisted be put onscreen — essentially, that Scientology labels everyone in the series as liars.

But if Leah Remini and Mike Rinder and the rest are lying, why can’t Scientology produce Shelly Miscavige? Or Barbara Ruiz? Or Rena Weinberg?

Makes you wonder.


Leah Remini says she tried to stop a 60 Minutes piece on Scientology

Amid all the publicity today for Leah Remini’s A&E series premiere, The Hollywood Reporter got something really great from Leah that we hadn’t heard before. Here’s the sequence…

Did they ever object to the content of the show [‘King of Queens’]?

Yes. They wanted us to take out a reference to Katie Holmes.

Was it a joke about Scientology? Or just a reference to her?

It was just a reference to her name but this was when she was in good graces with the church. Of course they’d have no problem with that once you leave — they’ll try to destroy you and your family. Another time, I got pressure to call Les Moonves at CBS to try and get a 60 Minutes report squashed. I got a call from the church and Tom to call Les Moonves and use my influence to squash the story.

Tom Cruise was on that call?

Yep. So I called Les Moonves, even though I was really uncomfortable with it. And he said, “Listen — you’re not the only one who has called me about this and I have no right to interject my opinion of what I like or don’t like with the news organization of CBS and I will absolutely not engage this conversation. I’ll tell you or anyone else who calls me.” He said, “I don’t give a shit if it’s you, if it’s Tom Cruise, if it’s Jenna Elfman, you’re all going to get the same story from me.” And I said, “OK.” And then I called them back and said, “Hey, I tried.”

What did they say?

They just weren’t happy that I couldn’t squash the story. I said, “I’m just a f—ing actress on television and I can’t demand that my boss take a f—ing report off the air.”



Go here to start making your plans.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 29, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated 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 L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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


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