Michele Diane Barnett
January 18, 1961
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Organization||Church of Scientology|
|Known for||Marriage to Scientology leader David Miscavige|
|Parent(s)||Maurice Elliott Barnett (d. 2007), Mary Florence "Flo" Fike Barnett (d. 1985)|
Michele Diane Miscavige (born January 18, 1961), better known as Shelly, is the wife of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige. She was last seen publicly in August of 2007. Since then her whereabouts remain unknown.
Actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist and vocal critic of the organization, filed a missing person report regarding Mrs. Miscavige with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2013. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times based on information from an anonymous LAPD source, the LAPD contacted Mrs. Miscavige and subsequently closed the case. The same article reports that Mrs. Miscavige's attorneys have disputed that she is missing, and characterize Remini's allegations as harassment or publicity-seeking.
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 highest profile member, Tom Cruise. When Cruise began 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.
Withdrawal from the public eye
In 2006, Miscavige's husband, church leader David Miscavige, left Scientology's international base. Upon her husband's return, Miscavige was said to have "visibly changed" her mood 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.
Actress Leah Remini, who used to be a member of the Church of Scientology, questioned her absence at the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Remini further questioned Shelly Miscavige’s whereabouts in her show at the A&E network, Scientology: The Aftermath on December 2018, five years after detectives closed her missing persons case, saying that they had met with her in person. The Church of Scientology responded to the announcement of the episode in a letter: “Remini is a foaming anti-Scientologist. Mrs. Miscavige has personally and repeatedly law enforcement that Remini’s acts are abusive. Remini is unhinged and Remini and her cohorts should be prosecuted for knowingly filing a false missing person’s report.” In a statement published in an official website, the church says, "Ms. Remini also continues her obnoxious efforts to harass the leader of the Church of Scientology and his wife, with whom Ms. Remini has been obsessed and has stalked for years. This culminated in a scandalous report filed in 2013 with the Los Angeles Police Department that her book shows were a fraud from the outset. It was solely intended to get publicity and harass the leader of the religion and his wife, who had refused contact with Ms. Remini because of her disgraceful behavior that was both abusive and unethical."
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 Remini. 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." In August 2013, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed they located and spoke with Miscavige following a missing-persons report filed by Remini.
The Church of Scientology will not comment on Miscavige's location. In July 2012, responding to press accounts of speculation on Miscavige's whereabouts, two UK newspapers were informed by lawyers indicating they represented Miscavige "that she is not missing and devotes her time to the work of the Church of Scientology." Former members of the Sea Org have said that they believe Miscavige is being held at the compound of the Church of Spiritual Technology – a Scientology corporation – near the mountain town of 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.
Family and personal life
Miscavige's mother, Flo Barnett, was a long-time Scientologist. On September 8, 1985, 52-year-old Flo Barnett was found dead from three "somewhat superficial" rifle shots to the chest and a fatal shot to the head. The autopsy also reported that there were slash marks on her wrists that may have been a few days old. The death was ruled a suicide.
- 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.
- Wright, p. 176
- Wright, p. 248
- Wright, p. 285
- Wright, pp. 286–87
- Wright, pp. 290-91
- Wright, p. 290
- Wright, pp. 300-1
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- "St. Petersburg Times: The man behind Scientology, page 3". sptimes.com. Archived from the original on 2009-07-03.
- Tony Ortega. "The Strange Death of Flo Barnett, Mother-in-Law to Scientology Leader David Miscavige". Village Voice.