Where Is The Wife Of Scientology's David Miscavige?

"Where's Shelly?" has become almost a rallying cry for critics of the Church of Scientology. It alludes to one of the greatest mysteries about the alleged cult — Shelly, the wife of David Miscavige, the church's current leader, has been missing since 2007.

As detailed by The Guardian, there are many accounts of Miscavige lashing out physically at other Scientologists. Shelly was not only his wife but also an extremely high-ranking member of Scientology's elite "Sea Org." As described by journalist and Scientology expert Tony Ortega, the Sea Org is made up of the church's most "fanatical" members who have signed contracts that will hold them to a billion years of service to Scientology. Until 2005, Shelly and David Miscavige went to every meeting and social function together. Then David started going to events without her, and Shelly's demeanor changed — she seemed anxious and suspicious. In 2007, she attended her father's funeral. Then she disappeared.

Scientology has been accused of many abuses against its members, but Shelly's disappearance shows that even its leader's wife is not safe inside the alleged cult. Despite a police investigation and international attention, no one can definitively prove what happened to Shelly Miscavige, or even that she is still alive.

Where Scientology claims Shelly is

Whenever the media questions where Shelly Miscavige is, they are met with statements from Scientology, usually delivered through their lawyers at Glassman Media Group. Scientology continues to insist that Shelly Miscavige, who has not appeared publicly or given any statements since 2007, is not and never has been missing.

As described in The Daily Beast, after reporting on Shelly Miscavige's disappearance, the outlet received a letter stating, "Mrs. Miscavige has never been missing and is living her life to her choosing" and that she made the decision to stay out of the public eye. As explained by former high-ranking Scientology member and activist Mike Rinder, Scientology has Marty Rathbun (a Scientologist whistleblower who has since been pulled back into the cult's orbit) release a video in which he says that all claims that Shelly Miscavige is missing are a part of a scam by Scientology's critics to get rich and discredit the church.

Despite Scientology's insistence that there is no reason to be worried about her, Shelly Miscavige has not gotten in touch with her concerned friends, gone to any major Scientology events, or made any contact with the outside world whatsoever for over a decade.

Scientology threatens people who ask where Shelly is

Scientology doesn't just send threatening letters to journalists who write about Shelly — members of the church of Scientology are also at risk if they ask where their leader's wife is.

Actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini was good friends with Shelly Miscavige when she was still in Scientology. In an interview, Remini explained that she first noticed her friend's disappearance at Tom Cruise's wedding. As Scientology's biggest celebrity asset, Tom Cruise's wedding was a major event within the cult. David Miscavige went to the wedding, so it was incredibly surprising to Remini that she did not see his wife Shelly Miscavige there with him. Remini hadn't heard from Shelly in some time, so she was beginning to get concerned about her wellbeing. When she asked a Scientology spokesperson where Shelly was, she was told that she didn't have the rank to ask where her friend was.

Remini filed what is known as a "knowledge report" within Scientology, filing an official complaint about everything that had happened at the wedding. As described on journalist and Scientology expert Tony Ortega's website, Remini was ordered to go to Scientology's headquarters as a result of her report. There she was interrogated for three months until she took back her report about what had happened at Cruise's wedding.

The authorities aren't looking

In 2013, Leah Remini filed a missing persons report with the police for her longtime friend Shelly Miscavige. At that time, Shelly had already been missing for more than five years. The LAPD followed up on the report. The hope was that the police would find Shelly alive and be able to bring her out of the cult safely. However, Remini explained in an interview that when she called the detective assigned to the case to follow up, he wouldn't say whether or not he had been able to find Shelly Miscavige. The detective told Remini that Shelly was fine but refused to answer when she asked if he had actually seen Shelly in person.

As reported by The Daily Beast, the LAPD declared that the report was unfounded and that Shelly was not missing. Since the investigation closed, a former LAPD detective has stated that not everyone in the department agreed with this decision, saying (via The Daily Beast), "I and many other detectives believe that the 'investigation' was VERY poorly handled and the LAPD fell way short on this one."

According to Remini, the lead detective assigned to Shelly Miscavige's missing persons case has spoken at a Scientology event.

Shelly is reportedly still inside the church

The question of where Shelly Miscavige is has led to many theories and explanations. Many have hoped that because she is no longer photographed next to David Miscavige at every major Scientology event, she may have left the alleged cult. As nice as it is to imagine Shelly hiding out somewhere under an assumed name, safe from the retribution of Scientology, that doesn't appear to be the case. As described by Shelly Miscavige's former personal aide Valerie Haney (quoted via The Daily Beast), no one who has worked with David Miscavige is allowed to leave. Haney herself had to sneak into the trunk of someone visiting a Scientology base to escape the organization.

When Shelly was young, she worked directly for Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard. When David Miscavige became Scientology's new chairman of the board, he and Shelly were already married. As well as being his wife, Shelly Miscavige was officially her husband's assistant — a job that put her at the very heart of Scientology's elite. As described in an exposé by Vanity Fair, Shelly was in charge of at least 12 staff members and worked closely with Scientology's leader on almost everything. Wherever David went, Shelly went, too.

As an anti-Scientology activist explained to Insider, someone like Shelly Miscavige knows too much to be allowed to leave Scientology. Instead, she would have to be taken somewhere isolated where they could persuade her — or physically force her — not to reveal what she knows.

She might be in a doomsday compound

The question, "Where's Shelly?" has never been answered by Scientology or the LAPD, but former members of the church have an almost unanimous answer: Shelly Miscavige is at the Church of Spiritual Technology (CST).

As explained on journalist Tony Ortega's website, CST is a branch of Scientology so secret that few within the church even know about it. CST owns the copyrights to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's writing — both Scientology texts and the hundreds of science fiction stories he wrote prior to starting a religion. CST's job is to make sure that Hubbard's work is preserved for people to read in the future. This is particularly intensive because CST is anticipating a nuclear holocaust.

To protect the writing from nuclear fallout, they are kept in underground storage bunkers. Hubbard's work is engraved on steel plates and gold compact disks and sealed in titanium cases. CST's headquarters, sometimes called "Twin Peaks," are located near Lake Arrowhead, California. Few Scientologists know about the compound, and fewer have been allowed to visit. It is believed that Shelly Miscavige is being held at this mysterious area.

As seen in photographs of the "Twin Peaks" compound's exterior published by Insider, there are spiked fences — the same brand used on the border between the U.S. and Mexico — all around it. The majority of the spikes point inward as if they are designed to keep people in rather than out. Security cameras record everything that happens at the perimeter.

If she is captive, her husband might not voluntarily let her go

"The closer to David Miscavige you get, the harder you're going to fall. ... It's just a matter of when," former Scientologist Claire Headley told Vanity Fair. No one was as close as Shelly Miscavige. At one time, the Scientology power couple did everything together — but, as quoted in Vanity Fair, those who worked closely with them have stated that they never saw them being physically affectionate with each other, and they slept in separate bedrooms. While no one ever saw him physically harm Shelly, he would scream at her in public. Things took a turn for the worse when she attempted to complete a church project without her husband's approval.

David Miscavige is now notorious for being controlling and enforcing his leadership with violent outbursts. As described by journalist Tony Ortega, things got worse when he decided to put together a complex chart, laying out the responsibilities of each member of the Sea Org. It's not clear why, but David Miscavige reportedly became fixated on this project and would berate anyone who attempted to complete it. Miscavige became more erratic and prone to violent outbursts, and the project remained unfinished.

In 2005, David Miscavige left Shelly behind for the first time when attending a major Scientology function. While he was gone, she completed the chart and assigned the Sea Org members their new jobs. When her husband returned and found it done without his approval, he was furious. Shelly disappeared one week later.

Shelly may have known she was in danger

The Sea Org is known for being harsh — former members have described working intense hours, dealing with constant sleep deprivation, and abuse from higher-ranking officials. Upper-level Scientologists are known to scream at their subordinates. As stated on Tony Ortega's website, Shelly was not an exception to the aggressive culture of the Sea Org, but she was known to be respectful compared to her husband. Before she went missing, though, her behavior changed.

One former Sea Org member told Vanity Fair that Shelly burst into his office shouting at him to keep his wife away from Miscavige. Her outbursts became more frequent and hard to predict. She even began lashing out at her friends and told her staff not to bother taking care of her or making her meals. Physically, she was changing, too. People who worked with her said that she began to fixate on her appearance. She changed her diet and lost a significant amount of weight.

One of Shelly's friends told The Daily Beast that she had confessed to him that her husband was "losing it." When Scientology whistleblower and activist Mike Rinder was still a high-ranking Sea Org member, he described being confronted by Shelly after he returned from an assignment with David Miscavige. Shelly demanded to know which wedding ring her husband had been wearing, which Rinder interpreted as her being concerned that he wasn't wearing it at all.

She was last seen at a funeral

After David Miscavige returned to find that Shelly had finished structuring the Org Chart without his permission, she was removed from her position of power. Sea Org members were told that she was on a special project. Members of her staff were told they weren't responsible for helping her anymore. It is believed that in 2005, she was then sent to CST as a form of exile. As described by Tony Ortega to The Daily Beast, "[David Miscavige] sent her up there to be a non-person."

In the summer of 2007, however, Shelly Miscavige's father died, and she was allowed to go to his funeral. As described by Vanity Fair, she was escorted by a Scientology handler and constantly watched during the event. However, when she went to the bathroom, she was able to have a private conversation with a former Scientologist, who was hoping Shelly could help her. Shelly told her that because of the mistakes she had made, she wouldn't be able to help her.

In 2013, Tony Ortega reported that Shelly was alive and still living at CST. Insiders told the journalist that Shelly had attempted multiple times to visit her family but wasn't able to. Reportedly, Shelly said that there was only one way she would be allowed to see her family again — if one of her family members died and she was permitted to attend another funeral.

She was taken from the Hole

Scientology's prison camp, "The Hole," has become notorious as a grueling and miserable place, and many of Scientology's highest-ranking officials end up there as a punishment at some point in their Scientology careers. Some assume that Shelly is currently being held at the notorious prison camp, while others don't think it's likely.

As described on Tony Ortega's website, when Shelly Miscavige was first taken away in 2005, she had been living and working at Scientology's "Int Base," which is where The Hole is located. Since Shelly disappeared from this location, some believe that she was taken 60 miles away to CST. While it is theoretically possible that she was brought back to The Hole later, many former Sea Org members who were held at The Hole from 2005 to 2016 have reported that Shelly was never with them. Like those in The Hole, however, Shelly might be being held by her husband as a form of punishment.

As former Scientologist Mike Rinder explained in an interview, the conditions in The Hole were brutal. Former members have described sleeping on the floor in insect-infested buildings, enduring humiliating physical punishments, and even being forced to compete with each other to remain in Scientology — not that they were allowed to leave. It is unknown how Shelly's purported treatment at CST compares to that of the Sea Org members at the Hole.

She is reportedly being watched by armed guards

It has long been assumed that Shelly Miscavige would never be permitted to leave Scientology, but in 2014, Scientology whistle-blower Mike Rinder reported that he had received a story that confirmed the suspicion that Shelly Miscavige is being held prisoner within Scientology.

A former private security guard reportedly admitted that for six months, he had been hired by Scientology to guard the Twin Peaks CST compound — and watch Shelly Miscavige. The former security guard stated that he and the other guards worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. They carried semi-automatic assault rifles, among other weapons. While he said that he never interacted with Shelly personally, he said that she was present at the CST compound. According to the security guard, Shelly was the sole reason for the high security.

Why the church would pay overtime rates to heavily armed security guards to watch Shelly Miscavige if she is simply taking a step back from her husband's public life, as Scientology claims, is unclear.

Shelly may not want to be found

Shelly Miscavige might be a prisoner in a top-secret Scientology base, under armed guards, on the orders of her husband. While it's highly unlikely that she would ever be allowed to leave if she tried, it's possible that she is not trying to escape. As described by former Scientologist Mike Rinder, who was a very high-ranking member before his escape, having the physical opportunity to leave the cult is not always the only barrier to getting out.

Shelly Miscavige was in Scientology long before she married David Miscavige, working personally for its founder L. Ron Hubbard. Since she was very young, she has been indoctrinated into the church. One of the things that Scientology teaches is that whatever happens to a person is their own fault. Shelly may still believe that her imprisonment is a justified result of her own actions. Since questioning the church's leader is in itself a transgression against the church, it's possible that someone in Shelly's position would convince themselves that they do not want to leave.

She may still be alive

Since Shelly Miscavige has not made contact with any of her loved ones outside of Scientology or even been seen in public since her father's funeral in 2007, some have feared that the church is concealing her death. In 2016, however, someone reported seeing Shelly Miscavige in person — haggard but alive.

As described in a report on Scientology expert Tony Ortega's website, a woman who lives very close to the Twin Peaks CST compound where Shelly is thought to be being held says that she saw Shelly multiple times in the town of Crestline, California. At the time, she hadn't heard of the Scientology leader's missing wife, but the mysterious woman's appearance and demeanor made her stand out. Later, the eyewitness saw an interview with Leah Remini that showed a photograph of Shelly Miscavige. She and her husband both recognized Shelly as a woman they had seen in town. According to the eyewitness, Shelly was accompanied by two younger men who seemed to be leading her.

"She was a thin, smaller woman, escorted by two men," the eyewitness told Tony Ortega. "Disheveled. Almost like a drug addict, or like she was homeless." If true, it would confirm that as of 2016, Shelly was alive and living at the CST Twin Peaks base but not doing well.