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


Ray Emmons, 1942-2017: Clearwater’s cop who sniffed out Scientology’s secrets

[Ray Emmons, left, with Robert Peterson at Flag Down in 2014]

Yesterday, Ray Emmons died of a heart attack. He was 75. We’re remembering him here at the Underground Bunker with the help of Robert Peterson, 68, who got to know Ray when Bob was working for the Lisa McPherson Trust in 2000.

In 1975, when buildings in Clearwater were purchased under the name “United Churches of Florida,” it didn’t take locals long to figure out that something was fishy. In fact, it was L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology invading the town with subterfuge. Later, shocking things about Scientology were revealed in documents uncovered in an FBI raid, and the city of Clearwater wanted to learn more about its new residents. The job of investigating Scientology locally fell to a Clearwater Police Department sergeant by the name of Ray Emmons, who soon was promoted to lieutenant. His work laid the foundation for the 1982 hearings held by the city, and Ray’s famously comprehensive report was released the following year, in 1983.

Ray L. Emmons was born on March 31, 1942 in Carey, Ohio. He got a bachelor’s degree from St. Leo University, and a masters degree in criminal justice from the University of South Florida. He served in the US Navy from 1960 to 1964, and in 1967 he married Georgienne “Gigi” Tice. They have two daughters, Kimberly and Christine. Ray started with the Clearwater PD in 1968 and worked there until 1985, when he went to work for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department until 1993. Following that he worked as a private investigator and later, his favorite job of all, as a substitute teacher for the Pinellas County school system.

In 1998 I was helping a German reporter find information about Scientology in connection with the death of Lisa McPherson. I went to the Clearwater PD where I had made an appointment to view its files. I was not allowed to see them alone; I had to pay for someone to sit in the chair reading a book as I read the report. They brought it in on a dolly, all four feet of it. For the next two days I did nothing but read. Not many can claim to have read the report from one end to the other, but I did it. Most of it is now online in one form or another; that was not the case at that time. Ray told me of several curious things that happened while he and others investigated Scientology. Ray found a suspicious new wire hooked up to his phone line just outside his door. The phone company traced it to a house on Turner St., a house that suddenly became vacant. About this same time his trash cans were disappearing with alarming regularity. He went to Ben Shaw, head of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs and complained. “Steal all my trash all you want but leave the cans, those cost money.” His trash was left alone after that.

I recall the first time that I met Ray Emmons. It was at a picket probably at the beginning of 1998. I have a memory of walking between him and former Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares. Gabe held a sign that said, “Shame on Scientology.” I don’t remember Ray’s sign, but as I recall he was chomping on a cigar as the Scientologists tried to taunt him. He gave them as good as he got and more.


I became close to Ray when I started at the Lisa McPherson Trust in March of 2000. He put me on as an intern under his PI licence. From time to time he did work for Bob Minton, and he often stopped in just to talk and see how things were going. After the LMT closed I lost track of Ray until I found him on Facebook. Then I connected with him again at Flag Down in 2014.

Ray was a man of intelligence, but even more important was his strength of character and kindness. I know that many who knew him share my grief at his passing. At his request there will be no funeral but at some point there will be a remembrance ceremony by his former law enforcement colleagues. Information will be available on his Facebook page.

— Bob Peterson

Ray’s 1983 report on Scientology was an epic work, and too voluminous to adequately summarize here. However, in its introduction, Ray wrote a sort of generic set of recommendations for any government agency thinking about taking on the Church of Scientology, and we found it to be a timeless tribute to Ray’s work itself. Here it is.

Any investigation of Scientology has to be a joint federal, state and local endeavor, with the proper number of investigators assigned. Equipment, clerical staff and professional help such as lawyers and accountants are extremely important.

The total staff committed to any investigative effort would have to be trained in Scientology practices, policies and procedures.

The selection of an investigative staff would be based on each individual assigned having demonstrated by past experience a total commitment in tackling virtually impossible ventures. The persons assigned to this type of investigation would have to have a scholarly background and on an individual basis, willing to take on extreme challenges. It cannot be overemphasized that an investigation such as Scientology must be staffed with the proper amount of people who possess the expertise in the various aspects of investigative/prosecution steps, or the investigation of this organization is merely prefunctionary in nature.

Money should be no object. If the scope of the investigation of Scientology is predicated on a limited budget expenditure that is conservative, the investigation should not commence.

The U.S. Constitution was conceived to protect the citizens of this country, and not for individuals to hide behind. Determinations concerning the possible court challenges and problems involving First Amendment provisions should be made in court. Prosecutors shy away from possible court challenges because they are time consuming and the possibility of winning these challenges is a 50/50 proposition.

If the prosecutor is well-versed in Constitutional law or is willing to educate himself in these areas, he or she should not be hesitant in taking court challenges on a win-or-lose basis. We will never know if we can win in court until we try.

— Ray Emmons

In 1999, filmmaker Mark Bunker took a car ride with Ray, who pointed out some of the Scientology sites in Clearwater. It’s another fitting tribute.



In Amsterdam, Miscavige goes for the trifecta

Festivities are underway today in Amsterdam, where David Miscavige will open his third Scientology “Ideal Org” in as many weeks after ceremonies in Dublin and Birmingham, England. Keep an eye on the comments section for reports to come in today from our correspondents on the scene.



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,916 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 62 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,125 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,899 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,673 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,019 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,513 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,553 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,265 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 791 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,880 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,020 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,340 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,315 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 671 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,973 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,079 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,482 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,355 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 936 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,441 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,685 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,794 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 28, 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 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email