For years, Robert Vaughn Young rubbed shoulders with the
more elite schelon in the CoS organization. Since leaving
scientology in 1989, he has been an avowed and outspoken
critic of the CoS, and has testified as an expert witness
at several trials. He has been --- at times --- a regular poster to the
USENET newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, where he has
offered invaluable insight into the inner workings of the
CoS. He is also an acomplished and gifted writer, as the
following will attest.
RVY was actively involved in the events surrounding Hubbard's
death, but it is only within the last few years that he
has begun to doubt the 'official' version of what happened
during January, 1986. In an article to alt.religion.scientology,
he offered this intriguing tale of his own investigation
into the death of LRH.
[ ... ]
When Hubbard died, everything changed. (duh) I went to
the death site (his ranch at Creston, near San Luis Obispo
CA) that night along with David Miscavige and some attorneys.
Since none of us - including Miscavige - had ever been
there, we were met at a restaurant by Pat Broeker who took
us to the ranch. We arrived at perhaps 4 a.m. (Hubbard
was found dead at about 8 p.m. I was told at 10. We left
LA at perhaps 1 a.m. I wasn't always watching the clock,
given the circumstances.)
What's amusing in the cult's attempt to DA me is their
saying that I went to the ranch along with some gardeners
and cooks. Right. Gardeners and cooks were the first to
be rushed up that night, before the authorities were called
or the body taken away. ROFL! Don't you just love these
Creston was where the story was put together that he had
moved on to the next level of research, or however it was
worded, when it was announced at the Palladium and to the
world. The event was so carefully constructed that no one
noticed that something essential was missing, but I'll get
to that in a moment. But during the event, I stayed at
the ranch to deal with any media who might show up or call.
None did and less than 48 hours later, the Challenger space
shuttle blew up, bumping news of his death and any serious
questions from the media. I was monitoring the TV news
via a satellite dish and watched it happen and reported
it. While the rest of the world was in shock, DM was happy
because we had been bumped from the news. But that is how
one comes to view the world at that echelon.
THE NEWBERRY RANCH
I later moved to another ranch Hubbard owned, at Newberry
Springs, east of Barstow CA and stayed there for a couple
of months. Hubbard never visited it (it was merely a fallback
location for him) and I never did see that anyone learned
about this one, even the media. I guess they were all hung
up on the Creston property, near San Luis Obispo, where
The most lasting benefit of my stay at Newberry was that
that was where I stopped smoking. One day DM, Mitoff, Pat
Broeker, Mike Eldridge and I were sitting around and we
all agreed to stop smoking, although Broeker was the only
non-smoker. Mitoff had a horrible time of it. He ended
up on Skoal Bandits, spitting disgustingly into a bucket
while driving back and forth to LA, and also addicting
me to the little cusses. In the end, I was the only one
who stopped, making me wish we had put some money in a
In the months I spent between the Creston and Newberry
ranches, Pat and I became good friends. He had been Hubbard's
closest and most trusted aide and confident for those final
years. With what I already knew about Hubbard, Pat and
I had the greatest talks. Sometimes Pat and I were the
only ones at the ranch, so we eould chat while moving horses
or going to town to shop. I began to learn about the life
Hubbard had lead while in hiding for those last years,
moving between towns in the Bluebird bus and finally settling
down in Creston. (BTIAS)
THE STRUGGLE STARTS - WHO WILL REPLACE HUBBARD?
Meanwhile, a power struggle was brewing to see who would
take control of Scientology and Newberry was the place
where many of the discussions occurred while DM stayed
either in LA or in Hemet. (Jesse will have something to
say about that someday because he was seriously involved
in the ensuing explosion.) It would result in a number
of people fleeing (such as Jesse) or going to the RPF (such
A key element in the power struggle was Hubbard's last
message to the rank-and-file. Those who were in the cult
back in 1986-87 will remember this incident. It was a message
from Hubbard that was issued as a Sea Org directive. It
said goodbye, wishing them well and establishing a new
rank/position called Loyal Officer or LO. (The term is
taken from OT3.)
Pat was to be the LO1 and his wife Annie
was to be LO2 and it basically turned the management of
the Sea Org over to them. And since the SO ran Scientology,
that meant they were at the top of the heap. DM was not
mentioned in the directive.
It was later was issued to
all staff - with DM's approval and authority - reduced
in size and put in a small fram with a photo of Hubbard
for the desk of every staff member.
In the meantime, Pat began to slowly take control. I would
often get phone calls from him. He would never identify
himself on the phone, going back to his years of tight
security, but merely would say, "Hi, it's me."
I won't try to give the details of the ensuing power struggle
because I was in LA and it was happened at Creston, Newberry
and Hemet. (I leave it to Jesse, who was there.) But the
outcome was that Miscavige won. And typical of any political
coup, there was a sudden purge as he consolidated his power.
Anyone DM thought might be a friend of Broeker's who would
pose a threat were sent to Scientology's equivalent of
Lubayanka Prison or Siberia: the RPF, so I went. For 16
three escape attempts.
Now here is where it gets interesting, folks.
MISCAVIGE CANCELS HUBBARD'S MESSAGE
While I was on the RPF, a directive came out from Miscavige
saying the supposed final message from Hubbard that named
Broeker was a forgery by Broeker and it was being canceled.
That same day, Annie Broeker appeared on the RPF. This
was not the Annie I had come to know. What stumbled into
the RPF was a completely broken person. She was pale and
hollow and her eyes were empty. There was no mistaking
it. She had been broken and only now was she being thrown
away into the trash heap called the RPF. Even then, she
was kept under guard, just to be sure.
TWO IMPORTANT OMITTEDS
With the cancellation of the message from Hubbard, there
were now two vital things missing that were 100% Hubbard
and 100% standard tech and yet no one seemed to notice
or, if they did, no one dared to remark on it. But then,
as Hubbard correctly pointed out, the hardest thing to
notice is the thing that is omitted.
What was now missing was (1) something from Hubbard to
all Scientologists saying goodbye and what he was doing
and (2) something that passed his hat, which is one of
the most basic tenets in the organization. They had been
missing at the event announcing his death but with the
cancellation by Miscavige, they were missing more than
WHERE WAS HUBBARD'S MESSAGE?
One does not require much knowledge about L. Ron Hubbard
to know that it would be completely unlike him to simply
leave - especially if the story about his going off to
do more research were true - and not leave a message. So
if he HAD left as Scientologists were told, where was the
message if the other was a forgery?
But perhaps more importantly, where was the hat turnover?
I don't mean the volumes of policies and bulletins. I mean
something that says, I hereby appoint Joe Blow to take
over as... Would Hubbard leave the planet and not pass
on the command? Hardly.
Or let's put it in one of the most basic tenets from Hubbard:
if it isn't written, it isn't true.
(Note: Hubbard's will was hardly a Scientology hat turnover
and has not been issued to the rank and file as policy.)
So the question became (to those of us who wondered), if
the LO directive was a forgery, where was the real one?
Where were Hubbard's wishes IN WRITING?
MISCAVIGE HAD NOTHING FROM HUBBARD
Of course, DM never provided anything and no one was willing
to ask and risk being sent to the RPF with the rest of
us. He said it was a forgery and that was that. End of
For the rest of my stay in the cult, Pat Broeker was never
mentioned because, in the cult, you learn what to not talk
about. Pat became what in Orwell's "1984" is a non-person.
He had been written out of history, with anyone who cared
(such as me) being sent to the RPF or interrogated (security
checked) until they got the point, which meant (per the
head on a pike policy) that everyone else got the message.
So without a shred of WRITTEN evidence from Hubbard and
by canceling what even DM had first agreed was from Hubbard,
Miscavige was now in control while Broeker had disappeared.
Can you say, "coup"?
But hold on! It gets better.
READING THE MATERIAL ANEW
After Stacy and I fled the cult in 1989, I put it all behind
me. I simply wanted my life back and the last thing I needed
was to think about the cult. They had taken enough of my
life without my adding more. But after a couple of years
of drying out, Stacy and I were invited to help with some
legal cases and this gave us a chance to handle the material
that once handled us. We could now read Hubbard and TALK
about the material, which is completely forbidden in the
cult. It was like back-flushing a radiator and watching
what comes out.
I came across a copy of Miscavige's cancellation of Hubbards
final message and I began to kick it around with Stacy.
As we talked, I started to comment on the various little
oddities, starting with the cancellation itself. I began
to remember a few others that I had packed away at the
time. We were having a conversation that Sea Org staff
could no more do than a loyal Communists might question
the change of power in the Kremlin, and for the same
AN "ACCEPTABLE TRUTH" IS FED SCIENTOLOGISTS
In the weeks and months that followed, I couldn't shake
the events surrounding Hubbard's death and DM's takeover.
Little oddities took on forms like pieces of a jig saw
puzzle. I felt like an amnesiac trying to recover his memory
yet what was there to recover? I was there at the ranch.
I was there when Hubbard's body was taken out. I was there
when the execs were called up the ranch and told to get
an event together, but not being told why. I was there
when the attorneys reported his death and then scurried
to get the body through the coroner. Etc, etc, etc. So
what was the problem? Yeah, the next higher level of research
story was the sort of pap we used to feed the rank-and-file
all the time but it wasn't as if we LIED to them. (Sort
of the way Clinton said he didn't LEGALLY lie.) We didn't
LEGALLY lie, did we?
Per Hubbard's policy, they were given an "acceptable truth"
because of "the greatest good for the greatest number of
dynamics." What that means in plain speak was that there
would be panic and disaffection in the ranks if it was
thought that Hubbard - the OT of all OTs, of course - was
not at cause over life and death. If the tech couldn't
help him, how could it help others? That was the myth that
had to be protected at all costs and that was what the
story did when his death was announced. It fed the myth
that everyone so wanted to believe. (And it kept the money
WORKING WITH PUZZLE PIECES
While in the cult, I had done a lot of investigative reporting
and some of the best I did was working on some of the CIA's
mind control documents created under the code name MK ULTRA.
When the CIA released them, much was blanked out and working
with a team of people hand-selected by Stacy, we went through
documents that the media had skipped past because they
were so fragmentary and so heavily deleted. In one file,
for example, there were receipts for the installation of
mufflers on a 1953 Mercury, a tiny battery-powered motor,
elevator tickets to the Empire State Building, nose plugs,
a receipt for someone to attend a Microscropy convention,
Bit by bit, we struggled to give them meaning until one
piece cracked another, like breaking a code. We came up
with the experiment and got national news on Operation
Big City where bacillus were released (through the mufflers)
to test for bacterial warfare. (The elevator tickets were
so agents could go up and measure the amount of released
bacteria.) It is a story the cult still likes to cite,
along with several others I did for them, under my byline
in the Freedom rag. Since then, per Orwell, my name has
been deleted, of course.
Pouring over those heavily deleted CIA documents was how
I felt like while I chewed on the oddities around Hubbard's
death, such as nothing in writing from him, Broeker missing,
the fact that Denk (Hubbard's physician at the time of
death) had also disappeared, Annie's appearance and little
things that I had seen and learned at the ranch.
THE BLUE FLASH
And then it hit me. It was what Hubbard calls a blue flash,
the sudden insight.
Hubbard didn't die.
He was killed.
I fell back in my chair, completely stunned. In all of
the years since 1986, I had never once considered that
possibility. Even with my being long out of the cult and
directing criticism at various practices and policies,
the thought had never crossed my mind that Hubbard might
have been killed.
I got a sheet of paper and began to take notes, my heart
pounding and my breathing hurried. That nagging feeling
had turned into an adrenaline rush that I couldn't explain.
Who was there at the Creston ranch when Hubbard died?
* Pat Broeker - MIA.
* Annie Broeker - broken, under their control.
* Two Scientology ranch hands. While trusted to work on
the ranch, I came to see how much they were kept out of
* Gene Denk - Hubbard's personal physician. (And mine.
Small world.) Denk had disappeared for a year after the
death, which was one of those oddities, before returning
to his practice up the street from the main Hollywood complex.
End of list, a too-short list so I started to add who went
up that night in the three-car caravan that included DM,
some attorneys and a couple of us "gardeners and cooks."
I looked at the list. Pat Broeker was the only possibility,
if he was out and alive. For all I knew, he was dead or
locked up somewhere and in a mental state that approximated
cold oatmeal. There was no middle ground. He wouldn't have
been given a safe back-lines job or I would have heard
SEARCHING FOR BROEKER
So how would I find Pat Broeker, if he was alive. I racked
my memory, trying to dig out some clue he might have given
me in the months that we were together but I came up with
nothing. My tendency to not inquire about a person's personal life
had just sold me short. I didn't even know what state he
was from. Who might? Who would know where he came from
or where he was born? I needed some clue to start the search
and the problem was the security that Pat used for his
job. He had explained to me how any trace of him had been
wiped out, to ensure that no one could find Hubbard by
finding him. Plus if Pat had escaped or fled, he was skilled
enough to hide from any search as that was what he had
been doing for years to hide Hubbard from the authorities.
I finally remembered one location he told me about and
sent a message there saying that I was trying to reach
him but no reply came. After a few months I sent another
and waited. The months turned into nearly a year and I
basically gave up until one day when the phone rang.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hi," came a voice. "It's me."
I paused, saying nothing.
"Pat?" I finally said with some incredulity. "Is that you?"
"Yeah," he said, with what I swear was a twinkle in his
voice. "How are you?"
What a question!
RINDER WAKES UP
Let's jump ahead a few years when I was in a deposition
in Denver, in the FACTNet case. The usual goon squad was
Mike Rinder, who proudly heads up the
criminal Dept. 20 where Scientology's felons are produced.
Rinder was struggling to stay awake in the corner while
the cult attorney was going through a list of names, wanting
to know if I had spoken with any of them. Rinder's head
was bobbing as the attorney asked monotonously, "Pat Broeker?"
I glanced at Rinder. I had to enjoy this one.
"Yes," I said.
I couldn't have gotten a faster reaction with a bucket
of water. Rinder jumped awake and looked at me in shock,
fear and hatred. I smiled.
The questions about my involvement with Broeker were routine,
from a list that they asked for each person I named but
Broeker wasn't routine. They soon stopped to take a break.
Like the good sock puppet that he is, Rinder dashed out
of the room, obviously to call DM. (I so wish I could have
watched DM's face too.) About 15 minutes later, Rinder
returned and shoved some questions at the attorney and
the depo continued. But little was gained and not one question
was asked about what Pat might have told me about Hubbard's
death, if he had at all. They clearly didn't want it on
the record, under oath. I found it amusing, this great
powerful cult was so terrified of the subject, not to mention
So let me tell you a little bit about Pat: he's doing fine
and his sense of humor has improved. End of a little bit.
THE CORONER'S REPORT
Now lets back up a tad, before Pat and I spent several
days together, going over old times. I went to San Luis
Obispo, the county seat for where Hubbard died. It was
there that I got the full coroner's report from a very
friendly deputy sheriff. I poured over the pages and noticed
that something called Vistaril® was found in Hubbard's blood.
Since the cause of death was a stroke, I assumed it was
a stroke medication so I didn't bother further. Several
days later, I called a physician friend and was going over
the documents and the medical language.
"By the way,? I asked casually, "what's Vistaril®?"
"A psychiatric tranquilizer," he answered matter-of-factly.
I nearly dropped the phone.
"Excuse me," I said in near-shock, "but what did you say?"
"Vistaril® is a psychiatric tranquilizer, usually injected
through the buttocks."
I flipped to the document where the Coroner had examined
Hubbard's body. I read it to my friend, about the needle
puncture wounds found on the left buttock, under a band-aid.
"Could that be the Vistaril® shots," I asked.
"Probably," he said. "That's where they are usually given."
I looked at the Coroner's report and the blood sample report.
Holy shit, I said to myself, in my best French. Holy fucking
THE AUTOPSY IS PROHIBITED
I pulled out another document, signed by Hubbard. It prohibited
any autopsy of his body on "religious" grounds, which was
legally binding on officials. DM and attorney Earle Cooley
had shoved it at the coroner to stop him, leaving him to
take only blood samples, which turned up the Vistaril®.
So, I thought, L. Ron Hubbard, the man who fought psychiatry
since 1950 and who railed against the dangers of any psychiatric
drugs had died with them in his brain while signing a new
Plus even the coroner was suspicious of the will as it
had been signed by Hubbard just before he died. Coincidences
like that tend to make coroner's worry. (I wonder what
the coroner would have thought had he known that Denk was
gambling at Lake Tahoe when Hubbard had his stroke, as
several people can attest. The impression the coroner had
was that Denk was "in attendence" with Hubbard not only
at death but was there at the stroke, having stayed at
the ranch for months. Hmmm....)
I fell back in my chair, trying to catch my breath.
OUTPOINTS? WHAT OUTPOINTS?
Okay, I said to myself, lets see if we understand this.
Hubbard signs a will while on the psychiatric tranquilizer
Vistaril® and then dies. The coroner cannot conduct an autopsy
because Hubbard also signed a paper (also while on Vistaril®?)
prohibiting an autopsy on religious grounds. The Scientologist
doctor who was in attendance (except when he went to Lake
Tahoe and Hubbard had the stroke) signs the death certificate
as the physician attending to Hubbard and then disappears
for a year. Then even though David Miscavige has nothing
else in writing from Hubbard, he cancels Hubbard's last
message and hat transfer to trusted aide Broeker and ousts
Broeker, who disappears while his wife is turned into a
compliant vegetable, leaving DM in charge.
Nope, nothing wrong here, I facetiously thought. No outpoints,
borrowing Hubbard's word for oddities.
I had to take a walk.
STARTING WITH A TITLE
I don't know when it was but I clearly remember a particular
moment when I sat down at my computer keyboard. I am one
of those writers who needs either the opening words of
the article or a working title in order to really start.
I had a working title, not for an article, but a book,
and I typed it out. Then I leaned back in my chair, took
a deep breath and read it. It said, "Who Killed L. Ron
I leaned back and my eyes roamed over each word and letter.
I took in the question and then the words and letters and
back to the question. I even digested the tiny pixels on
the screen, as if I hoped the answer would leap from the
phosphorescence but nothing changed but the black cursor
blinking at me, almost mocking my effort. Yes, I thought,
it is a pretentious question but it was the one I had to
try to answer, if there was an answer.
Then I had the exact moment for the opening words. It was
on the night that Terri Gamboa - former Executive Director
of Author Services, Inc. and now out of Scientology - called
me to DM's office where I was told that Hubbard had died
and that I would be going to his ranch.
THE WRITING STARTS
I leaned towards the keyboard and began to write. To my
amazement, the words and the scene poured out effortlessly.
I wasn't striving for literature. I merely had to capture
As the cursor flitted across the screen, I began to remember
how it happened that night and into the days that followed.
There was more that I needed to remember but for now, this
would do. Let it roll, I told myself. Let it roll. It was
as if I was regaining myself.
Perhaps six or so hours later, I finally stopped, exhausted
and sufficiently satisfied for the moment. But even then,
I found it difficult to sleep as my mind kept returning
to the ranch, Broeker, DM, the RPF, the Challenger disaster,
Newberry, the ambulance taking away his body. I was searching
for pieces of a puzzle that had no comprehension.
And how could I possibly answer the question?