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Does Shelly Miscavige know it’s Christmas?

We understand that Shelly Miscavige may be resigned to her fate.

But there’s a reason that “Where’s Shelly” is the number one question we get from the public — and it’s the same for Leah Remini. (We checked.)

For non-Scientologists, it’s simply incredible to think that David Miscavige, the leader of a worldwide “religious” organization, could get away with banishing his wife to a small mountain compound, never to be heard from again. On a day like today we can only wonder, does Shelly Miscavige really feel no desire to be with her family, or even just to see a few faces besides the dozen other people she has seen day in and day out for 13 years?

The question “Where’s Shelly” reached a whole new audience this month thanks to Leah’s television show, which provided a lot of background for viewers about Shelly’s upbringing. But the episode was light on details about Shelly’s current whereabouts and what we’ve learned about it in recent years. It was obvious from the huge number of questions we got on social media this week that viewers were left with a lot of questions. So on this meaningful day, let’s revisit some facts.


It was late August or early September in 2005 when Shelly vanished. We know that you heard Valerie Haney, in her episode this season, say it was 2006, and a lot of media tends to say that. But when we talked with Valerie directly for our follow-up interview and compared notes with her, she agreed with our other eyewitnesses that it was late summer 2005 when Shelly disappeared, not 2006.

As we pointed out in a video we put out recently, the last public footage we have of Shelly was from September 2004, when Shelly was with Dave and with Tom Cruise at the Ideal Org opening in Madrid. It was at that event when Tom admitted to Dave that after breaking up with Penelope Cruz he was looking for a new girlfriend. Shelly was then put in charge of the effort to audition actresses to find a new mate for Tom, resulting that November in recruiting Nazanin Boniadi for the role. After that relationship broke up in January 2005, Tom found Katie Holmes on his own and their relationship became public in April.

As 2005 progressed, Valerie Haney and Mike Rinder and others have told us, the relationship between Dave and Shelly became more and more strained as they lived at Int Base, Scientology’s secretive 500-acre international management compound near Hemet, California, where, the year before, an increasingly unhinged Miscavige had created “The Hole,” a literal prison for some of his closest lieutenants. Concerned with how Dave’s erratic behavior and epic tantrums were affecting other people, Shelly took it upon herself to make a few changes when Dave spent some time in Los Angeles without her that summer. First, she rearranged some job positions (filled in an “org board”). It was Valerie who explained to us that Shelly did so in part to assign some people to positions where they would be less likely to be in contact with her husband. Shelly was trying to lessen their exposure to his volcanic temper, in other words. And she also had Dave’s belongings crated up so that a long-planned renovation to their quarters could finally get going.

When Dave returned and saw that she had taken the initiative, he blew his stack and returned to Los Angeles. A week later, Shelly vanished. A new detail that was finally confirmed for us by Valerie was that during that week between Dave’s freakout and Shelly’s disappearance, she grabbed a car at the base and drove to Los Angeles in a last-ditch effort to save her marriage. But she soon returned after that mission failed. She was then taken away. This is an important detail, we believe, because it counters the suggestion that Shelly, by taking the initiative while Dave was gone, purposely sabotaged herself so she could be sent away. Would Shelly have made the dramatic gesture of driving to LA to appeal to her husband if that was the case?

So, thirteen years ago at the age of 44, Shelly was escorted from Int Base (where “The Hole” was) about 60 miles to the much smaller compound in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead, the headquarters of the Church of Spiritual Technology, where super-secret CST operates its project to archive the words of L. Ron Hubbard to store in vaults for thousands of years. (We are constantly asked, could Shelly be in “the Hole”? No, the Hole is located at the base where Shelly was taken away from. And we have eyewitnesses to the poor wretches held in the Hole continuously from 2005 to 2016, and Shelly is not among them.)

[In this map, you can see the location of Scientology’s Los Angeles headquarters, “Big Blue,” and about 90 miles east the location of its international management base, Int Base, near Hemet. “The Hole” is located at Int Base, the place where Shelly was living until 2005 when she vanished. Shelly was then moved to the CST headquarters near Lake Arrowhead, a tiny compound about 60 miles northwest of Int Base and marked on the map. That’s where Shelly has been for the last 13 years.]

Almost two years after Shelly was sent away, on June 25, 2007, her father, Maurice Elliott “Barney” Barnett, died at the age of 77. When his funeral was held that summer, Shelly was allowed to attend, but in the presence of a Scientology handler, Anne Joasem, the ex-wife of the defector Marty Rathbun. According to Marc Headley, when someone who knew Shelly approached her with a request, she told them, “Listen to me. I fucked up, and I’m not going to be able to help you.”

(Another indication that Shelly is aware of her fate and its punitive nature: In 2013, just before Leah filed her missing-person report, we revealed that Shelly had told a family member “there’s only one way” she would ever again leave the CST base, referring to the prospect of a family funeral.)

In the eleven years since that sighting — thirteen total, since she first was escorted from Int Base — various lines of evidence tell us Shelly has been confined to the CST headquarters compound in the San Bernardino Mountains. The place goes by several names, depending on who you’re talking to: Twin Peaks, Rim of the World, Rimforest, or also Crestline, for the nearest hamlet.

In July 2013, news of Leah Remini’s defection broke. On Monday August 5 she filed a missing-person report with the Los Angeles Police Department. Why the LAPD? For years Leah exchanged cards and gifts with Shelly, whose official address was 6331 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, and which is to this day David Miscavige’s official address. That location is the Hollywood Guaranty Building, an office structure that on its ground floor contains the “L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition.” The eleventh floor is where Miscavige and his most trusted aides run Scientology when he’s in L.A. We’re told that there’s a place there where he can crash for the night, but it’s not the location of his apartment, which is actually a few blocks away.

Anyway, 6331 Hollywood Blvd was the address Leah had from the years she was corresponding with Shelly, and that’s why she submitted her report to the LAPD on Monday August 5, 2013.

Two nights later, on Wednesday, we got word that the report had been filed. The next morning, Thursday August 8, we broke the news that Leah had filed the report. Later that day, reporters who were calling the LAPD for comment were told that Shelly had been contacted and that the idea she was missing was “unfounded.”


Leah was hammered by the press, which for some reason thought her report had been dealt with in less than a day, because our story had come out that morning and by the afternoon the LAPD was saying there was nothing to it. But that’s not what happened.

After Leah filed her report on Monday August 5, and before the LAPD said it was unfounded on the afternoon of Thursday August 8, the LAPD claims that it visited Shelly and talked with her.

When we called to ask about it, we were forwarded to Lt. Andre Dawson, who told us two of his detectives had met with Shelly. He wouldn’t tell us where that meeting had occurred, and when we asked him if the conversation had happened in the presence of other church officials, he quickly said “That’s classified.”

Meanwhile, Leah herself never got any response at all from the LAPD, even though she had filed the missing-person report to begin with.

Did Lt. Dawson’s detectives go up to the CST headquarters, which is in another jurisdiction, San Bernardino County, to check on Shelly? Was Shelly instead brought down to Los Angeles to meet the detectives? Or was the LAPD merely lying to us?

In 2016, Leah still wanted answers about that. Through an attorney, she filed an official records request with the LAPD for documentation on what they had actually done when she filed her missing-person request. But the LAPD told her it was going to give her no documentation at all.

Around that same time, in 2016, we heard from a branch of Shelly’s family that is not involved in Scientology. They asked us for some advice about what to do, saying that they at least wanted to make sure that Shelly was all right. We pointed out to them that the CST compound is in San Bernardino County. So they approached the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, asking that a welfare check be done on her.

They were told that the Sheriff’s Department would require evidence that Shelly was at that location, and the department did nothing.

Surprised by that response, we sent our own letter to the Sheriff’s Department, explaining the evidence that Shelly was located at the compound, as well as a recent possible sighting of her in the town of Crestline itself. We received this response…

Hello Tony,

Concerning the welfare of someone within the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s department, any call for service we receive will be appropriately addressed and handled accordingly.

We encourage anyone with information regarding a crime, or potential crime, to contact Sheriff’s Dispatch or their local Sheriffs station to report it so the matter can be investigated and resolved.

Thank you,

Adam Cervantes, Deputy Sheriff

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept.
Public Affairs Division

So, the LAPD claims it checked on Shelly in 2013 but won’t provide any details about it, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department says it doesn’t have enough evidence that she’s at the CST compound to go check on her.

Is Shelly even alive? We see this suggestion a lot on social media, that Shelly is already dead or has been killed, and there’s a good reason why we tell people it’s probably not true.

Scientology may be very effective at keeping Shelly out of sight, but covering up a death is another matter entirely. Consider the case of Anne Tidman, for example. Also known as Annie Broeker, Tidman was one of the last people to see L. Ron Hubbard alive, and she was also kept out of sight at a Scientology compound for years. When she developed cancer and then became very ill, she was moved to an apartment in Hollywood, where she died in 2011. Scientology was able to keep news of her death quiet for several months, but eventually her family was told about it, and that’s how we became aware of it. If Shelly died, we think the news would get out even more quickly.

Also, Scientology’s attorneys, in reaction to Leah Remini’s episode, made claims to the media that they had either personally seen Shelly or communicated with her. Scientology attorneys may be unpleasant human beings, but they aren’t going to risk their law licenses and claim that a dead woman is alive and well.

Shelly is alive.

She is at the CST compound near Crestline, California, the same place she’s been for 13 years. (We have amazing drone footage of the place, and a former employee there even pinpointed where he thinks Shelly is living and working there.)

She is now 57 years old, and if claims of a recent sighting in the town of Crestline is correct, she may be in ill health.

And yes, we will say again, she may be resigned to her fate.

But on this day, of all days, why can’t her family spend time with Shelly Miscavige? Why can’t she speak for herself? Why can’t we ask her to explain, in her own words, why she is shut up in a tiny mountain compound and can never leave?


Continuing our year in review: The stories of May 2018


It was early in May that we finally got to tell a story we’ve wanted to tell for years, about the reuniting of brothers Robbie and Geoff Levin. The two were part of the 1960’s band People! that had a single radio hit and then partially disbanded as most of the members, including the Levin brothers, got deeply involved in Scientology and joined its Sea Org. Eventually Robbie left, causing Geoff to disconnect from him. But then Geoff had his own doubts, started reading the Underground Bunker, and quietly reached out to us. Now, finally, Geoff was going public with his own disaffection from Scientology, and even better, the reunion of People! after 50 years. What a great story.

Several days later, we noted that Joy Villa had quietly taken down her ‘testing the waters’ pages for a Congressional run. Enough ‘MAGA’ folks had caught on to her Scientology baggage to make a run at Congress implausible, but she’s still working hard at other avenues for her Trumpian ambition.

The next day, we revealed that Jon Atack had a terrific surprise for us. It was his correspondence with Don Rogers, an early Dianetics adherent who was an eyewitness to many of L. Ron Hubbard’s early success. His lengthy letters (part 1, part 2) were a goldmine for our early-Dianetics afficionados.

On May 11, we kicked off a new series that really turned into a great regular feature for us. We asked Marc Headley for an excerpt from his excellent book Blown for Good. And thus “Scientology Lit” was born as a regular Saturday column as we featured excerpts from a great collection of books about Scientology.

A few days later, we were hit with a surprise, a letter written by Heber Jentzsch to his niece Tammy Clark, who shared it with us. Heber was 82, and hasn’t been seen in public in years, even though he’s still nominally the “president” of the Church of Scientology International. Tammy told us she really didn’t believe the veracity of the letter she received when she tried to check on her uncle. We have our doubts too.

It was also in May that we took notice about how Scientology’s constant attacks on Mike Rinder had taken a more disturbing turn than usual. The Church of Scientology uses his estranged daughter, Taryn Teutsch, to pretend that some incidental contact during an ambush is somehow proof that her dad is an “abuser” and should be fired from his TV series. Taryn’s bogus campaign even targeted Los Angeles DA Jackie Lacey right at the time Lacey is considering whether to file rape charges against Scientologist actor Danny Masterson. The whole thing was creepy and inappropriate, and the DA’s office never responded to our request for any correspondence between Lacey and the church.

On May 18 we noted how fortunate we were that a couple of letters written by L. Ron Hubbard had been put up for auction, and so we were able to read their full text for the first time, which included Hubbard claims to friend Russell Hays that he had “unfrigidized” some women who “practically went nympho” when he tried out his practices that would become known as “Dianetics.” What a guy.

Sunny Pereira graced us with numerous gifts this year. In May, she broke down her “freeloader’s debt” that she was hit with after 19 years in the Sea Org, spelled out in invoices she still had in her possession.

A reader in Italy notified us that a Scientology magazine there reported some of the wealthy donors who had received trophies for their annual giving. One of the photos showed actor Erika Christensen and her in-laws, who were celebrated for reaching the “Silver Meritorious” level for donating half a million dollars.

We can never get enough Scientology hip-hop, and in May we got one of our best fixes ever, thanks to Aussie Scientologist Luke Ayers.

On May 28, we got a little behind-the-scenes look at how Joy Villa managed to work her way back to the White House, where she sang the national anthem, sort of.

And we finished up the month with another two-part deep dive by historian Chris Owen, this time about some crazy shenanigans involving the Sea Org and allegations of drug smuggling in the 1970s. (Part one, part two.)


1. Federal judge smacks down Scientology’s shameless attempt to delay forced-abortion case
2. Scientology’s elaborate use of child labor for pennies an hour, spelled out in black and white
3. Erika Christensen shows off her new Scientology trophy for donating half a million bucks
4. Scientology’s smear campaign against Mike Rinder takes a more disturbing turn than usual
5. PRAISE XENU: We have more Scientology hip-hop, and even better – IT’S AUSSIE-FLAVORED

A LOOK BACK AT MAY 2017: We talked to the families involved in the Tennessee house of horrors operated by Scientologists and shut down by local authorities. We got our first drone footage of the compound where Shelly Miscavige is being held. A random photo revealed the location of a Scientology dad, disconnected for seven years. Leah Remini tided us over between seasons with a 2-hour special.

A LOOK BACK AT MAY 2016: One of Ron Miscavige’s fellow musicians sticks up for him. L. Ron Hubbard admitted he was mostly kidding. Kate Bornstein and Caitlyn Jenner raided the Los Angeles org. And Tommy Davis got a new job working for James Packer.

A LOOK BACK AT MAY 2015: Our book about Paulette Cooper, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely goes on sale and it’s featured on the front page of the Daily Beast. Paulette joins us for a talk on our book just two blocks from Scientology’s Los Angeles headquarters. At Spanky Taylor’s house we witnessed the meeting of Paulette and Leah Remini. Jamie DeWolf threw a twisted party for Paulette and your proprietor in San Francisco. And for once, Greta Van Susteren gets called out for her Scientology affiliation.

A LOOK BACK AT MAY 2014: Florida horse doctor Lee Shewmaker told us about what drove him away from Scientology. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden asked the IRS to review its policies on Scientology. We obtained the Clearwater Police report on the strange death of Russian Scientologist Evgeny Zharkin. And the National Association of Forensic Counselors files a massive lawsuit.

A LOOK BACK AT MAY 2013: Lori Hodgson makes a surprise visit to see her son in Austin, Ron Miscavige Sr. resurfaces by selling gym equipment, Wise Beard Man reports from Portland, and we review Marty Rathbun’s book Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior.

Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of May 2018


May 2: robbie levin
Hello Tony and Bunkerites! I want to give you all my deepest warm regards and thanks for being the driving force in initiating and accelerating my brother’s final departure from the evil “Church.” We have been reunited and talking almost daily for the last few years, making up all of the lost time (almost 30 years) due to my suppressive declare in 1984. One of the back stories that you all should know is that if were not for Tony, Geoff probably would not have emerged from his near-death illness. As well, without the additional support of those of you contributing to the site I don’t believe that Geoff would have been able to make his journey to full recovery as quickly and easily as he did. I have worked with him diligently as well since we have reestablished our close brotherly connection, but, it takes a village and all of you have been a huge part of that wonderful community.

May 6: Jack99
When I first started posting on this website I was very disarmed and I did not want to stay. I felt resentful to the people who wrote funnier posts. You know who you are. Then I read what other people wrote about those who were funnier and I felt more comfortable. You are exquisite people. So I decided to stay. I have asked myself, how do you do? I’ve learned a lot. To be in front of myself, not behind where you see less. I feel pretty. Good. I have resized my behind.

May 9: Observer
What strikes me most about these [Don Rogers] letters so far is how much he saw, knew and acknowledged of Hubbard’s chicanery, and he still bought the lies and admired the old charlatan.

May 12: Bernie Headley
I should add that other stories of disconnection keep my situation in perspective. I just received Lori Hodgson’s book and have read several others, which have shown me others have it way worse than me. I try to stay focused on what I have, rather than what I don’t have. First and foremost, I have Marc, Claire, and three fantastic grandsons in my life in addition to a very large extended family. That makes coping with the rest a bit easier!

May 18: Andrea “i-Betty” Garner
I wonder how far back Hubbard’s need to dominate and sexualise woman goes. To his days amongst the Blackfoot Indian women as “an inquisitive youth”? To the women nursing his conjunctivitis back to heath after he became “the first American casualty of South Pacific combat.” To the time he beat up his second wife Sara “out of the blue,” rupturing her eardrum? To the many hundreds of Sea Org women who he ordered overboard or in to chain lockers or to light his cigarettes or help him on with his trousers or speak with his voice? To the third wife who went to prison in his stead? I am feeling seriously unfrigidized. What a man.


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!


Now on sale: Twice the Miss Lovely!

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. What a pleasure it is for us to work with her on this after we wrote about her ordeal as a victim of Scientology’s “Fair Game” campaigns in our 2015 book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, which is also on sale in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions.



[ONE year ago] Thetans roasting on an open fire: It’s Christmas in the Bunker, and we’re full of cheer
[TWO years ago] From those who left, a special Christmas message for Scientology’s remaining members
[THREE years ago] Merry Christmas 2015: Here’s your Scientology present under the tree
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s 2014 in review: May your days be merry and bright!
[FIVE years ago] Merry Christmas, and here’s your present! From the Underground Bunker, with feeling
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s 2012 in Review: Eight Days that Shook the World


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,309 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,440 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,942 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,422 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 485 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 373 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,680 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,548 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,322 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,096 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,442 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,008 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,928 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,095 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,676 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,936 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,976 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,688 days.
Ginger Sugerman has not seen her three children in 1,461 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,214 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,303 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,443 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,763 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,619 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,738 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,094 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,396 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,502 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,905 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,776 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,359 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,854 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,108 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,217 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 25, 2018 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, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates

Join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news


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