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Five years ago: Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ and the death of Alexander Jentzsch

[Alexander Jentzsch, age 7]

We have pointed out numerous times that the first week of July in 2012 was perhaps the most eventful in our 22 years of reporting on Scientology. So much was happening that week as the media scrambled to cover the fallout over Katie Holmes splitting from Tom Cruise at the end of June.

We also reported that week on a development that had a much more direct impact on Scientology itself: Word reached us that church leader David Miscavige’s own father, Ron Miscavige Sr., had literally escaped from Scientology’s secretive “Int Base” in a bid for freedom. (He had actually made his move in March. His book about that escape, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, came out last year.)

We also received the stunning news that week that an entire mission had broken away from the church as Dani and Tami Lemberger in Haifa, Israel provided one of the most visible examples of the “independent” movement that was challenging the church.

But easily the most dramatic moment for us during that monumental week was the surprise message we received from Karen de la Carriere. In 2010, Karen had left the church after once being part of its royalty. She had been trained by L. Ron Hubbard personally as a Class XII auditor, and she had been married to Heber Jentzsch, the president of the Church of Scientology International which, although it was mostly a public relations position, still carried with it high visibility and influence among church members.

Their marriage had produced a son, Alexander, who had disconnected from Karen when she left the church. Alex was also separated from his father, who, since 2004 had been a prisoner of “The Hole,” Scientology’s bizarre prison for executives at Int Base. Karen only rarely received information about Alexander, who had been told to cut off all ties with her.


Then, on July 5, we received an anguished email from Karen that shook us to the core. We published it minutes later at the Village Voice:

My son is DEAD.

My 27 year old son is dead.

Mike Rinder confirmed it and the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office just confirmed it.

His body is lying at the morgue.

They had him disconnect from me 2 years ago and now he is dead never to speak to me again.

Born and Bred in Big Blue

The Church is trying to cover it up.

I will send you death certificate

Alexander had actually died on July 3, but Karen was not told and had to find out through a Facebook message from Aaron Smith-Levin.

We worked hard over the ensuing days to learn what we could about Alexander’s final weeks. He had been living with the parents of his estranged wife, and had come down with a case of pneumonia, not something that would normally kill a healthy 27-year-old. But, Los Angeles coroner Ed Winter told us, Alex had been taking a medication for back pain that tended to suppress breathing as a side effect. The combination proved lethal.

Karen, a successful art dealer who could have easily provided her son with quality health care if he had allowed it, was kept from seeing her son’s body as the Church of Scientology continued to prevent her having access to him.

Today, five years after Alexander’s death, Chris Shelton has put together a video to remind us of what Karen lost, and what she went through after her son’s death.

Says Chris: “Alex Jentzsch was a friend of mine in the Sea Org who died just as I was starting to get my head out of Scientology. On this fifth anniversary of his death on July 3, 2012, I wanted to put together a memorial befitting him. His mother Karen De La Carriere and her husband Jeffrey Augustine were kind enough to do interviews with me at their home and dredge up some pretty bad memories in the process. I think the final result was worth it. Alex was one of the good guys.”



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,800 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,557 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,903 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,397 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,437 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,149 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 675 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,764 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,904 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,224 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,199 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 555 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,857 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 964 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,366 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,239 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 820 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,325 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,569 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,678 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 3, 2017 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.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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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