In a Nutshell
Shelly Miscavige, wife of the leader of the Church of Scientology, vanished from the public eye six years ago. Last seen in August 2007 at her father’s funeral, spokesmen from the Church refuse to comment on Shelly’s current location.
The Whole Bushel
The Church of Scientology has long generated controversy for its seemingly bizarre belief structure. A cult-like organization begun by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology teaches that we are all immortal beings called “thetans” that have traveled to earth from beyond the stars. Following Hubbard’s death in 1987, the movement was taken over by David Miscavige, whose official title is Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center, which is a corporation that controls Scientology. Miscavige is close to Tom Cruise, and served as the actor’s best man in his wedding to Katie Holmes.
Miscavige married his wife Shelly in 1982, and she has been a prominent member of the Scientology community ever since. It is believed that Shelly was personally responsible for “hand-picking” Tom Cruise’s girlfriends in an effort to control the public image of the world’s most visible Scientologist. In 2006, Shelly went missing. She resurfaced briefly the following year to attend her father’s funeral and has not been seen since. Many assume she is imprisoned in “The Hole,” a facility east of Los Angeles operated by the Church and designed to strip away resistance. Leaked reports describe “The Hole” as an indoctrination center where both physical and mental abuse are heaped on in order to brainwash members. The Church denies the existence of the facility.
The mystery of Shelly’s whereabouts is deepened by the strange death of her mother, Flo Barnett. Barnett was found dead in 1985 of what the coroner ruled were self-inflicted gunshot wounds. But this would have been quite a feat, given that Flo had multiple gunshot wounds to her chest and another wound in her head—all coming from a long rifle. How a 52-year-old woman could have pulled off such a brutal suicide defies the imagination.
Where is Shelly Miscavige? Is she merely staying under the radar? Is she locked up against her will? Or has she suffered an even more sinister fate?