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 reasons.
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 coming in.)
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, etc.
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 the loop.
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." Nothing there.
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 about it.
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 there, including 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 Broeker.
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 shit.
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 last will.
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 Hubbard?"
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 the scene.
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?