|Born||Michele Diane Barnett
January 18, 1961
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Organization||Church of Scientology|
|Known for||Marriage to Scientology leader David Miscavige, allegations that she has disappeared.|
|Parents||Maurice Elliott Barnett (d. 2007), Mary Florence "Flo" Fike Barnett (d. 1985)|
Michele Diane "Shelly" Miscavige (born January 18, 1961) is the wife of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige. She has made no public appearances since August 2007. This has become the source of speculation concerning how Scientology treats its members. The Church of Scientology denies that she is missing and states that she is working for the church out of the public eye, though it has declined to reveal her present location. A 2013 missing persons report filed at least two separate times was closed and classified as 'unfounded' by the LAPD, but no information was made public in regards to her location or reason for disappearing from public view. A detective associated with the LAPD claims that detectives have met with the Miscaviges and seen Shelly in person.
Career in Scientology
Miscavige is a member of the Sea Org, the organization responsible for the international management of the Church of Scientology and its affiliated entities. From the age of 12, she was a member of the Commodore's Messenger Organization (CMO), the internal Sea Org group responsible for personally servicing Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard aboard his flagship Apollo in the 1970s. She was described as "quiet, petite and younger than most of the other Messengers at the time ... and a bit overshadowed by the older girls." Jim Dincalci, one of her shipmates, says that she was "a sweet, innocent thing thrown into chaos." At the age of 21, in December 1982, she married a fellow CMO member, 22-year-old David Miscavige.
She subsequently joined her husband's group as "COB Assistant," the official assistant to her husband, the Chairman of the Board (COB) of Scientology's Religious Technology Center. According to author Lawrence Wright, she was closely involved in the Church's liaison with its most famous member, Tom Cruise. When Cruise started a three-year relationship with Penélope Cruz, Miscavige supervised Cruz's auditing and helped her through the Church's Purification Rundown program.
After the end of the Cruise-Cruz relationship, Miscavige was reported to have led a Church program to find a new girlfriend for Tom Cruise, which led to him marrying Katie Holmes. Around a hundred young Scientologist actresses were interviewed, though they were not told why. An actress named Nazanin Boniadi was introduced to Cruise and dated him for a few months before he broke off the relationship in January 2005. The search resumed, with more actresses invited to audition for what they thought was a role in a forthcoming Mission: Impossible film, and eventually concluded with Katie Holmes meeting and in due course marrying Cruise. His attorney denies that any Scientology executive set him up with girlfriends. Miscavige subsequently oversaw a project to use Scientology members and contractors to renovate Cruise's nine-bedroom mansion in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.
Allegations of disappearance
Miscavige has not appeared in public since August 2007. This has provoked allegations by critics of the church that she is missing. She is said to have seen herself and her husband as reincarnations of Simón Bolivar and Manuela Sáenz, Bolivar's mistress, and to have believed that she needed to protect her husband from himself by preventing him making the same kind of mistakes as Bolivar. In the spring of 2006 she returned early from a cruise with her husband aboard the Scientology ship Freewinds. While her husband was absent she decided to make a number of appointments to a reorganized senior management structure in the church, a task that had preoccupied her husband for several years. According to her brother-in-law, John Brousseau, Miscavige was said to have "visibly changed" her mood soon after her husband returned and to have "looked cowed". Mike Rinder, then the church's chief spokesman, says that she asked him if her husband was still wearing his wedding ring. Shortly afterwards, in June 2006, she no longer made any appearances in public. She was seen once more in public in August 2007 at her father's funeral but has not been seen in public since. In August 2013, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that detectives met with her in person following a missing-persons report filed by actress Leah Remini.
The Church of Scientology will not comment on Miscavige's location, though its former spokesman Tommy Davis said he knew her whereabouts and refused to reveal her location. In July 2012, responding to press accounts of speculation on Miscavige's whereabouts, two UK newspapers were informed by lawyers indicating they represented Mrs. Miscavige "that she is not missing and devotes her time to the work of the Church of Scientology." This was brought to public attention again in July 2013 when it emerged that actress Leah Remini had left the Church, reportedly after receiving "an unbelievable torrent of attack" when she asked publicly why Miscavige was not present at Tom Cruise's November 2006 marriage to Katie Holmes.
Miscavige's location is the subject of much speculation. Former members of the Sea Org have said that they believe Miscavige is at the compound of the Church of Spiritual Technology – a Scientology corporation – at Running Springs in San Bernardino County, California. According to Noriyuki Matsumaru, who worked for David Miscavige as a finance officer in the Religious Technology Center, her husband sent her a sweater and gloves for Christmas one year. Others have said that she may have been sent to "The Hole," a facility operated by the Church of Scientology at its Gold Base in Riverside County, California.
Missing-person reports have been filed with the Los Angeles Police Department concerning Miscavige. At least two such reports have been filed; one is reported by Lawrence Wright, though he does not state who submitted it, while another was filed in August 2013 by the actress Leah Remini, who had reportedly fallen out with David Miscavige over the disappearance of his wife. Detective Gus Villanueva, in response to the missing person report, said: "The LAPD has classified the report as unfounded, indicating that Shelly is not missing."
- Ortega, Tony (25 January 2012). "The Strange Death of Flo Barnett, Mother-in-Law to Scientology Leader David Miscavige". Village Voice. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
- Wright, Lawrence (2013). Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 303. ISBN 978-0-307-70066-7.
- Edwards, Jim (13 July 2012). "Tour The Compound Where The Missing Wife of Scientology's Leader Might Be Living". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "Leah Remini's Scientology Mystery Solved: Missing Person Case for Shelly Miscavige Now Closed, Per LAPD | E! Online UK". Eonline.com. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
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- Wright, pp. 300-1
- Lutz, Ashley (3 July 2012). "Scientology leader David Miscavige's wife has been missing since 2006". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- Wright, p. 302
- "Leah Remini reportedly files missing persons report for Scientology leader David Miscavige's wife". Fox News. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- Wright, p. 303
- "Where's Tommy Davis". Nine Network. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- "Mrs Shelly Miscavige". Telegraph. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Clarifications & corrections". Daily Mail. 2012-08-21. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Latest celebrity defection casts light on Scientology leadership". Reuters. 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- Wright, pp. 302–303
- "Leah Remini Files Missing Person Report for Scientology Leader David Miscavige's Wife". The Hollywood Reporter. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-08-08.