Where in the world is Shelly Miscavige?
The location of the wife of 57-year-old David Miscavige, who is Chairman of the Board (COB) and head of the Church of Scientology, has been a hotly debated mystery for years. Tony Ortega, editor of The Underground Bunker, has called Shelly “the first lady of Scientology.” Insiders say that she is not just David’s wife, but one of his most important — and powerful — lieutenants.Vanity Fair Confidential: Scientology’s Vanished Queen on Investigation Discovery.
Shelly’s last public appearance was reportedly the memorial service for her father, “Barney” Barnett in August 2007. Ned Zeman, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, claimed that at the service, Shelly ran into a friend who was “anxious and afraid.” The friend had been declared a Suppressive Person (SP), which meant that they would be required to cut off everyone in her life who was not connected to the church.
Ortega says that declaring someone an SP is “almost like a death sentence for some people.” According to Zeman, the friend asked Shelly for help. But Shelly allegedly appeared to be a gaunt, helpless shadow of her former self. “Allegedly she said, ‘I’m sorry, I screwed up, I’m not going to be able to help you with this,'” Zeman said. “After this, virtually no one in the church saw Shelly Miscavige again. She became a ghost.”
Six years later, actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist who has criticized the church and investigated allegations of abuses committed by church members since she left the organization in 2013, filed a missing person report regarding Shelly with the Los Angeles Police Department.Detectives reportedly closed the missing person case after stating that they had seen Shelly, and revealed that she did not want to appear in public. However, Remini has continued to publicly speculate about the well-being of the Scientology boss’s wife. “I do not know that she is alive,” she has said.
“I do not know these things, and so if the church produces her, by bringing her to an event [or] even if she went on a program and said, ‘Hi, Leah Remini. Go f**k yourself,’ I’d be happy to know that she was alive,” Remini said. “The police department should say, ‘Yes, we’ve seen her.’ No, I wasn’t told that. I was told that a representative saw her or spoke to her.”
Former Scientologist Janis Grady is also doubtful that Shelly is safe and well, saying, “I have no doubt they spoke to Shelly, but there was probably somebody standing beside her when they did.”
Shelly’s parents were devout Scientologists who left her to live with L. Ron Hubbard on his ship, the Apollo, shortly after Shelly finished the sixth grade. Shelly was said to have “worshipped” Hubbard. Like other members of the Sea Org, Shelly signed a billion-year contract with the Church. She worked long hours on the boat, performing tasks including scraping rust off the boat and cleaning the deck.
She met Miscavige, a fellow Sea Org member, in 1978 when she was just 17. The couple married in 1982. Miscavige’s meteoric rise within the ranks of the church began when Hubbard became reclusive. He reportedly became Hubbard’s messenger, and used his control over the communications to accumulate power within Scientology — and to get rid of his enemies.
A-list celebrities including John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Tom Cruise joined the church. But in 1995, the church faced controversy after the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who had a psychotic break, and the alleged cover-up by Miscavige afterward.
After McPherson’s death, some former church members allege that Miscavige got more out of control. “If you crossed David, or you did wrong, you were never forgiven,” David’s father Ron Miscavige said. His son cut all contact with him after he left the church a few years ago.
Miscavige later moved from the church’s home base of Hemet, California, to Los Angeles. During this time, Shelly was living in Hemet and, some insiders claim, made some decisions — including putting David’s belongings into crates to make room for new quarters — without consulting David. When David found out, Ortega claims, David was “like a volcano erupting.” Former church members allege that this is when the couple’s relationship reached the point of no return.
Shelly’s absence from public life became most obvious when she didn’t attend the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in 2006.
Eventually, clues began to emerge about Shelly’s location — including mail that a former member alleged was forwarded to Shelly from Hemet to a mountain compound in Lake Arrowhead called the “Church of Spiritual Technology.” This location, Ortega claims, is where Scientologists are immortalizing L. Ron Hubbard’s words. The security at the compound, located about 80 miles from Los Angeles, is reportedly state of the art, with high fences, surveillance cameras, barbed wire, and possibly armed guards.
Many people wonder why Shelly, if she is able to, has not simply made a public appearance to reassure the outside world of her safety. The Church of Scientology has disputed all of the unfavorableclaims in the documentary — and asked that Shelly’s right to privacy be respected.
Watch the “Scientology’s Vanished Queen” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Vanity Fair Confidential on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Shelly Miscavige [Investigation Discovery]