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Bernie Headley, 1952-2019: A man who fought against Scientology’s ‘disconnection’

Bernie Headley died today, aged 67. Here’s what Marc Headley posted this evening at his Facebook account:

Yesterday my dad got to see a ton of family members. He got to talk to his sisters on the phone. His sister that lives in Colorado was here all day with him in the hospital. All of the cousins in town came by and all their kids came by as well. From 10:00 AM-10:00 PM he had visitors coming and going full time. He was very clear mentally and was cracking jokes all day with the doctors and nurses. Even my sister, who he has not spoken to in almost 15 years managed to speak with him on the phone for a bit.

Around 10:30 he said he was ready to go to sleep. He asked me if I could make sure all of his computers were logged off and shut down. I told him I would make sure they were all taken care of.


He said he was calling it quits for the night and he was glad he got to see everybody today. I told him I loved him and he could go to sleep.

Rest In Peace Dad! You were the best!

Bernie Headley
Jan 20, 1952 – December 23, 2019

Bernie Headley is the reason that we began our “Scientolody disconnection, a reminder” tribute at the end of every post we do here. We’re comforted to hear that Bernie did get to talk to his daughter briefly before he died, but it’s still incredible that he spent so much time fighting to stay alive so he could see her one more time.

Scientology is an abomination.

Here’s what we wrote about Bernie in 2017…


Bernie Headley sounded really good on the phone. And he says for now, he feels good. The lung cancer he was diagnosed with in 2004 went into remission after he had a partial lung removal. It came back in 2014, but radiation treatments seem to have made that dormant as well. But then lesions started showing up on his brain.

In 2014, he was told he had three to six months to live after his lung cancer came back. And when he found out he had brain cancer, he was again told he had three to six months to live. But he still has no symptoms, and the effects of his most recent radiation treatment are receding. Doctors are waiting for his body to recover from that, and then in March they’ll do a new set of scans on his brain to see whether the lesions have grown.

“I joke about being the Energizer Bunny,” he told us by phone this week. “But Marc hates when I do that. He actually takes it more seriously than I do.”

The Marc he’s referring to is his son Marc Headley who, with his wife Claire, made a memorable appearance recently on Leah Remini’s A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath. Marc and Claire described how they escaped from Scientology’s International Base in California in January 2005, and eventually reunited in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, where Bernie was living at the time.

Bernie was ecstatic to get his son Marc back, after losing him to Scientology some 15 years earlier.

“The night Marc called me, he was very tentative. He wasn’t sure how I was going to react. He couldn’t see me on the other end, pumping my fist, saying yes! And I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it was also. At first, Marc thought he had lost Claire.”

As Claire explained on Leah’s show, after Marc made a run for it, she had to pretend that she was through with him and was staying dedicated to Scientology.


[Marc and Claire on Leah Remini’s show]

Meanwhile, Bernie was hearing from his daughter Stephanie. “She talked to me every day after Marc blew,” he says, using the Scientology term for escaping. (The Headleys insist that Stephanie was only allowed to call as an attempt to track Marc down and get him brought back to the base.) Like her brother Marc, Stephanie Headley had been brought up in the church by her mother and had gone to Int Base after she joined Scientology’s “Sea Organization,” signing its billion-year contract and dedicating her life utterly to the organization. She eventually became the base’s director of communications.

Claire, meanwhile, was still continuing to pretend that she’d given up on Marc when she was allowed off the base for an optometrist appointment at a WalMart in Hemet. She took that opportunity to make a run for it, heading straight for Bernie’s house to be reunited with Marc.

And then Bernie stopped hearing from his daughter. “I lost contact with Stephanie the day Claire left Int Base,” he tells us. “The day Claire left, and they knew where she was going, to my house, then I stopped hearing from Stephanie.”

Bernie said he called the base and was put on hold for an hour when he tried to reach Stephanie and never got through to her. “I called the next day and they said they didn’t know who she was. She was the director of communications at the base and they expected me to believe that.”

He hasn’t heard from his daughter in the 12 years since Claire’s escape, on January 24, 2005. He’s become the target of Scientology’s disconnection policy, even though he was never a Scientologist himself — his unforgivable sin was helping his son escape to freedom.

Today, Marc and Claire each have thriving businesses in Castle Rock, Colorado, and Bernie lives nearby. While she was in the Sea Org, Claire had been forced to have two abortions, which was Scientology policy to keep Sea Org workers from needing to take off time to raise families. Once they got away from the base, however, they started making up for lost time and they now have three boys.

Bernie is happy to be a grandfather to Marc’s boys. But he’s still desperate for news about his daughter, and he knows he may be running out of time.

Through their contacts still in the church, Marc and Bernie learned that Stephanie had been “offloaded” from Int Base and was sent to a backwater facility in Canada — probably, Marc says, as punishment. Not only did Marc and Claire escape from Int Base, but they also later filed lawsuits against the church over the way they were treated in the Sea Org. (Those lawsuits were later dismissed, and an appellate judge who upheld the decision said that although the Headleys had compelling evidence of abuse, they should have sued under a different law, such as false imprisonment.)

Still relying on information they were getting second hand, Bernie and Marc learned that a year and a half ago, Stephanie left the Sea Org, which still frowns on having children, and gave birth to a baby boy. She then went to work for a Scientologist-owned company.

“Some of the people who worked there weren’t Scientologists, and it was Stephanie and her husband’s job to train them in Scientology. But the workers complained to the government, and Stephanie and her husband were fired,” Bernie says.

Watching Stephanie’s Facebook page, they learned that she then went to Mexico, where she turned her Facebook account private. Today, Bernie says, they suspect that she’s returned to Canada, but they don’t know where she is.

“She’s still a Scientologist, and contacting us would ‘threaten her eternity’,” he says, explaining what she must be thinking in Scientology terms.

“It’s not easy. Stephanie was a daddy’s girl. But we keep hoping. We keep trying,” Bernie says.

We asked him if there’s any chance that Stephanie might know about his health challenges.

He says that in 2004, when he was first diagnosed with lung cancer, he was still in touch with her, and she came to see him when he was getting a portion of his lung removed.

“It was the last time I actually saw her. She came for about a week. And her Nextel phone rang constantly — I think they were keeping track of her.”

Marc and Claire escaped from the base in 2005, and then in 2008 they all received disconnection letters at the same time.

“I got one from Stephanie. Marc got one from his mom, and Claire got one from her mom. Marc’s mom lived in Ohio, Claire’s mom lived in La Crescenta, and Stephanie lived in Canada. But their letters were all dated the same day, and all postmarked from the same place, with the same return address — Scientology’s Hollywood Guaranty Building on Hollywood Boulevard.”

In her letter, Stephanie tried to convince her father that nothing has really changed between them, except that he chose to side with Marc, who was trying to destroy the church…

Nothing has changed in our relationship, except for you chose to befriend someone who is actively attacking what I do and love to get back at some personal vendetta insted of being logical and resolving one’s own problems and being responsible for them…The fact of the matter is that what Marc has done in the past three years has only acted to pull the family more apart than ever instead of bringing it together….Marc should take responsibility for whatever happened and handle that and stop blaming everyone for this.

The letter — sent from a Scientology address — is proof, Bernie says, that Stephanie has cut herself off from him simply because the church has told her so.

In October 2014, when they learned that Bernie’s lung cancer had returned, Marc and Claire reached out to each of Stephanie’s aunts and uncles and asked for their assistance, telling them that Bernie had been told he had three to six months to live. Doctors had told him he wouldn’t live to see that Christmas. Stephanie’s mother, Trudy Hensley, responded by telling her brother that neither she or Stephanie would ever speak to Bernie again.

Despite that, Bernie continues to hold out hope that Stephanie will eventually change her mind, and he maintains a website, asking her to contact him.


He’s not giving up, but he’s not sure that Stephanie really knows what his health situation is. If someone knows her, please get in touch with us to let us know where she is, and so we can let her know that Bernie is trying desperately to see her again before it’s too late.

Why, Scientology, are you keeping this father and daughter apart?


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,796 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,300 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,820 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 840 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 731 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,038 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,906 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,680 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,454 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,800 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,366 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,285 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,453 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,034 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,295 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,333 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,046 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,571 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,098 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,661 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,801 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,121 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,977 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,096 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,451 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,754 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,860 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,262 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,134 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,717 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,212 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,466 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,575 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 23, 2019 at 18:45

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