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Scientology said her father was dead. He’s alive, at its secret HQ. But can she see him?

[Bob Ferris and his daughter Liz]

[Today’s guest article is by Jeffrey Augustine and Vanessa LaRose]

In 2004, former Sea Org member and second-generation Scientologist Liz Ferris called the Golden Era Productions phone line in the Hollywood Guaranty Building. She was asking for her father, Sea Org executive Bob Ferris.

The HGB, on Hollywood Boulevard, is a nerve center for the worldwide Scientology organization, with highly sensitive activity taking part inside.

Liz left the Sea Org after her stint from 1996-2000, but she had remained a Scientologist. She says that in some ways it was only very recently that she woke up that Scientology technology was not “The Key to Life.” But one thing she always knew in her heart was that Scientologists were incorrect about their views on sexuality.

She was still allowed to call her father from time to time and they kept in touch a few times a year with pleasant phone calls. He had been accepting (and even supportive) when she had come out to him as a lesbian earlier that year.


This time, however, when she asked for him, the person on the other end of the line simply said, “He’s dead,” and hung up.

Liz was understandably stunned by the news of her father’s death. He was only 54 years old at the time.

New Scientology watchers may be surprised to learn that it is not unusual for Scientology to tell family members that a Sea Org member has died, when they have not. It is also common to keep deaths quiet when Sea Org members or public Scientologists passes away. You may remember when Tony reported on the death of Ann Tidman in 2012, that it had been months after her death in a Scientology apartment building before her family was told about it.

Fast forward to 2023: Liz received a phone call asking her what her plans were for assisting with her father Bob’s “freeloader’s debt.”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. since when did Scientology try to collect on the freeloader debts of the dead?

In Scientology, Sea Org members are required to sign billion-year contracts, promising to come back lifetime after lifetime. And one way that the organization keeps members from changing their minds is to threaten to saddle them with a freeloader debt if they leave, billing them for all of the benefits they’d supposedly received while working around the clock. Such debts can run up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, they are legally unenforceable, but often former Sea Org members end up paying at least part of them for fear of being declared an enemy of the church with the label “suppressive person.”

Liz knew what a freeloader’s debt was, but why, she asked, would the church be asking her about a debt supposedly owed by someone who had died 19 years earlier? Liz heard a click on the other end of the call.

Angry, panicked, and heartbroken, Liz began asking around until she heard from another former Sea Org member who told her that her father had not, in fact, died in 2004. They told her that in 2005, he had still been working at Scientology’s Gold Base located in San Jacinto, California.

But was he still alive in 2023? At that point, she reached out to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office. An officer from RCSO called Gold Base and inquired about Bob, and he told Liz that an unnamed person at the Base said that Bob Ferris was alive. However, the Sheriff’s Office did not make an actual visit to see if this was true.

Liz decided she would need to go to the base to find out for herself.

She reached out to former second-generation Scientologists Vanessa LaRose and Elysia Hoy after watching their recently launched YouTube channel “Degraded Daughters of Dianetics.” Liz felt that they could understand the challenges she was about to face, and she asked if Vanessa would accompany her to the base.

Vanessa has a BA in psychology from Cal State Long Beach, she’s a certified peer support specialist, and she’s also a mandated reporter in the state of California. Liz also turned to me, Jeffrey Augustine, for additional help.

I’m a private investigator, and I saw this as a missing persons case: Was Bob Ferris dead or alive? If he was alive and 72 years old, what is his physical and mental condition?

On June 10 Liz, her partner, Vanessa, and I made a visit to Gold Base. Liz told me that she did not want to be the daughter who gave up on her father, if there was any possible chance that her father was alive. She wanted him to know that his family outside cares, and will be here for him if he wants to escape.


We met up at the San Jacinto substation of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, and I advised a deputy that we were headed out to Scientology’s Gold Base on a missing persons case. We used an Uber to get there because there is no other safe way to get to the guard booth at the front gate.

Scientology has heavily planted the public walkway next to Highway 79 with thorny desert cactus and plants right down to the highway itself. Highway 79 is a high-speed roadway where the average speeds of vehicles are 55-70 mph. This is Google maps image of the guard booth:


It was obvious to me that the overplanting was done in order to create an unsafe environment to discourage anyone from walking up to the front of the base or the security booth.

Pedestrians risk getting hit and seriously injured or killed by traffic were they to walk to the front of Gold Base from a long distance away where they must park their car. There are other dangers too. In 2008, Scientology protester Anon Orange was tackled and placed under citizen’s arrest by Scientology security officer Danny Dunigan for trespassing.

There are no marked boundaries anywhere and Scientology does not want any foot traffic along Highway 79. Former Gold Base Security Director Gary “Jackson” Morehead agrees, because he was the person who designed the deliberate obstructions when he was in charge of Base security.

Once we arrived, Liz approached the guard booth, identified herself, and asked to see her father Bob. She communicated this information through the speaker on the guard booth. The booth itself is covered in heavily-tinted glass and no one inside can be seen. After about an hour, we had received no communication back from the guard booth. No Scientology official appeared to speak with us. At that point, I called the Sheriff’s Office and asked them to come and conduct an adult welfare check on Bob.

Forty-five minutes later the Sheriff’s Office called back. The deputy said that they had contacted Bob by telephone and spoke with an attorney for the Church who said that Bob did not wish to see his daughter. The deputy said that Bob claimed he might be dealing with a daughter he never knew about, which the deputy seemed to credit.

On the other hand, Bob had told the Sheriff’s Office that he did not want to get a Temporary Restraining Order against his daughter and was not quite sure who this person was. These statements were either contradictory, not truthful, or suggested a diminished mental capacity. There is ample evidence that Bob Ferris knows his daughter Liz. The photo at the top of this article, for example.

The deputy warned me about getting into a trespass situation. I replied that we were on public land and that we would be departing as soon as our Uber arrived. The deputy additionally stated that Gold Base had to get permission from a Scientology attorney to allow Bob Ferris to speak to the Sheriff’s Office.

About a week after our visit, the Sheriff’s Office made an actual face-to-face visit with Bob. The report is not available from the department website. Liz will have to make another long trip to pick up the report in person. Fundraising was just completed to fund this trip. Liz said in a recent podcast that she may never get her father back but has at least paved the way for others to ask to see their missing family members who are in the Sea Org.


— Jeffrey Augustine and Vanessa LaRose


Technology Cocktail

“Explore the immediate past lifetime or lifetimes of the pc. Get the pc’s identity and form (sometimes they were animals), and if lifetime alters position of tone arm, run ‘What about (name)
would you be willing to be?’ ‘What about (name) would you rather not be?’ Do this until incident is flat. If heavy engrams in such a lifetime stick, run ‘What about that incident could you be responsible for?'” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1960



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?


[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner


Source Code

“If it isn’t written it isn’t true. The only orders that affect transfers, functions, programs in an org must be issued as Executive Directives, OODs or FSOs or FBDLs or AIDES ORDERS, CBOs or FOs to be legal…Therefore if anyone tells you to change post or duties or that a function is changed on the Org Bd and cannot show it to you in a policy letter or FO or CBO, it is not true. Furthermore to follow such an unwritten or illegal order is to risk a Comm Ev for accepting illegal orders. It would be just as bad to follow an order to violate an HCOB and run some upsetting process. The reason is very plain. Policy, followed, results in a productive, comfortable post and policy not followed with verbal orders only in effect makes a cat’s dinner.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 16, 1971


Avast, Ye Mateys

“As I’ve had some upsets and checked to find others have from noise in sessions I think it’s best if we have DOC figure out a ‘Ship Noise’ period when we can have all hands chipping and any banging and E/R compressor charging. A couple hours of this scheduled when Qual is NOT auditing would be a great help. New recruits or new members aboard are apparently unaware of areas where they shouldn’t bang and chatter. This should be part of their ship info. DOC should work this out.” — The Commodore, August 16, 1970



Overheard in the FreeZone

“Just re-reading KSW1. I think this is what we’re up against in the Indie Field: ‘The group left to its own devices would not have evolved Scientology, but with wild dramatization of the bank called new ideas would have wiped it out.’ And it looks to me like one of the ways people use to make sure Scientology gets wiped out is to invalidate KSW1.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Tilman Hausherr posted news that a German court has upheld the conviction of a Scientologist police officer. “The Berlin state court has confirmed the conviction (for violation of the data protection law) of the Scientologist cop who had forced job applicants to take a ‘personality test’ and had forwarded the data to the cult. The fine was lowered to DM 9000 (instead of DM 12,000 of the first court, instead of DM 16,000 as out-of-court fine). The cop says he wants to appeal.”


Random Howdy

“That’s it, I’m joining Scientology tomorrow.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:

Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, hearing on proof of service on Oct 3.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing Nov 6.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] EXCLUSIVE: Danny Masterson’s attempt to delay trial over baseball gambit is DENIED
[TWO years ago] Danny Masterson’s nutty lawsuit involving his house loan is finally kicked out of court
[THREE years ago] VIDEO: Portland unrest inspires $250,000 donation from Scientology lifer
[FOUR years ago] Here’s the lawsuit against Scientology and Danny Masterson. Let’s dive into it.
[FIVE years ago] Stanley Clarke turns out to be as deep into Scientology as we feared, all these years later
[SIX years ago] Mirriam & Saina from ‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath’ — The LAPD has let us down
[SEVEN years ago] In 1951, L. Ron Hubbard’s fellow SF writers debated him about ‘badly-written’ Dianetics
[EIGHT years ago] Passion of the Heist: The Scientology hucksters who have made this summer unforgettable
[NINE years ago] After a year’s delay, Mary Sue Hubbard’s house is on the market for $2.5 million
[TEN years ago] Scientologists Say the Darndest Things In Their Disconnection Letters
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology’s Oklahoma Nemesis, Bob Lobsinger: ‘They Lied Every Step of the Way’
[TWELVE years ago] Ed Bryan, OT VIII, Demonstrates the Power of Scientology’s Highest Levels


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,123 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,638 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,188 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,178 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,059 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,363 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,234 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,339 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,786 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,128 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,694 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,613 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,780 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,362 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,623 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,659 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,375 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,939 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,254 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,429 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,980 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,111 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,449 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,304 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,423 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,779 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,082 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,188 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,586 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,462 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,027 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,540 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,794 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,903 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 16, 2023 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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