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No, the National Enquirer has not ‘found’ Scientology’s Shelly Miscavige

When a cover like this shows up on the National Enquirer, we hear about it. Lots of people have been messaging us over the last few days, asking us what we thought about the National Enquirer’s claim that Shelly Miscavige has been “found” after 13 years.

Oh, brother.

Inside, what you find is a more or less competent recounting of what we’ve been telling people for years about Shelly. (Several key paragraphs in the Enquirer story are so close to our own there’s little doubt what material they were reading for background, which is fine.)

In late summer 2005, Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology’s dictator, David Miscavige, vanished from the organization’s secretive “Gold Base” near Hemet, California. Since then, she’s only definitely been seen once — at the 2007 funeral of her father, in the presence of a Scientology handler. In those 13 years, based on several independent lines of evidence, we believe that she’s been kept out of sight at a much smaller compound in the mountains above Los Angeles.


Just recently we visited that compound with a crew from 60 Minutes Australia. And there is no reason for us to believe that Shelly is not still in that compound.

But the Enquirer claims that in December someone saw a woman stepping off of Scientology’s private cruise ship the Freewinds in the Caribbean, and then the woman flew to Miami. The newspaper published a photo of the woman, which it says looks “just like” Shelly, and they claim….

A private investigator reviewed the photos at The Enquirer’s request and concluded the facial similarities indicate these could be the first images of Shelly in more than a decade.

Ooh, that sounds OFFICIAL! Well, only if you ignore that the woman they photographed has a completely different chin, eyes, nose, and pretty much everything else about Shelly Miscavige.


[Shelly Miscavige, circa 1990]


[The National Enquirer’s “Shelly”]

Rather than turning to some nameless “private investigator,” we asked people who actually knew Shelly well what they thought of the woman in the photograph.

Tom DeVocht: “That certainly is not Shelly and does not look anything like her.”

Amy Scobee: “Not even close!”

Valerie Haney: “Doesn’t look anything like Shelly. Not even slightly.”

Oh, but it gets worse. As Mike Rinder revealed, the Enquirer knew their story was bogus. They showed the photo to Rinder, who told them it wasn’t Shelly, but they published the story anyway.

So this story is not only a mistake, it’s dishonest.

We are well aware that our publishing a story like this is mostly a waste of effort. Probably for years (and we’re not kidding about that), we’ll be hearing from people that Shelly Miscavige was seen leaving the Freewinds because of this one bogus story.

And Shelly goes from a prisoner in a secretive mountain compound to a pampered cruise ship guest, which cuts right against the outrage about her whereabouts.

People have asked us if this is the kind of thing that David Miscavige would want planted in a friendly publication. We tend to resist that kind of conspiracy theory, and for now we’ll simply assume that the Enquirer set out to dupe its own readers purely for the motivation of cash register sales.


HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

Janis Grady has set the June 22 combined event. Her annual reunion and barbecue will coincide with the Saturday event for HowdyCon. If you wish to attend, you will need to RSVP with Janis (, and there will be a small contribution she’ll be asking for to help pay costs.

We are very close to securing our Friday night venue in Los Angeles, and we’ll provide another update on that as soon as we have it confirmed. All we can tell you at this time is the Friday night event will be more like a presentation in a theater (like the final night last year in Chicago), and the Saturday event will be a more casual barbecue setting.



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

[Alanna Masterson, Terry Jastrow, and Marisol Nichols]

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!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Orlando, you’re next! Scientology makes an ‘Ideal’ move on the magic kingdom
[TWO years ago] More federal charges for Scientology family that sold rhino horn products
[THREE years ago] Laura DeCrescenzo, on eve of crucial hearing, explains Scientology for new judge
[FOUR years ago] Now it’s Scientology UK that opens its books, and we have the numbers
[FIVE years ago] Telepathic space-age exorcism — Let’s do Scientology’s New Operating Thetan Level Six!
[SIX years ago] Anne Archer, Terry Jastrow, and…Could It Be…Tommy Davis, At Film Reception Tonight?
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology Thaumaturgy: Commenters of the Week!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,371 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,502 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,004 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,484 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 547 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 435 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,742 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,610 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,384 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,158 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,504 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,070 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,990 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,157 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,738 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,998 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,038 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,750 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,276 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,365 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,505 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,825 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,681 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,800 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,156 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,458 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,564 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,966 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,838 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,421 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,916 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,170 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,279 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 25, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 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. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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, or 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 | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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