Shelly Miscavige is most notable for being the First Lady of Scientology thanks to her marriage to the leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige. She has been involved in Scientology all her life; from her devout parents to serving under the founder of the religion and then marrying the leader of the religion. However, she disappeared from the public eye, and people have wondered what happened that Shelly Miscavige suddenly stopped showing herself in public.
Shelly Miscavige’s Early Life
Shelly Miscavige was born on the 18th of January, 1961 in Dallas, Texas. She was born Michele Diane Barnett to parents Maurice Elliott Barnett and Mary Florence ‘Flo’ Barnett (née Fike). Both of her parents were longtime members of the Church of Scientology, and they imbibed the religion into their daughter. Her father, Maurice, worked as a handyman, but information on her mother’s occupation is not available. When Shelly was very young, her parents divorced. Shelly grew up with an older sister named Clarisse, and at an early age, the sisters were sent to serve Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (also known as L. Ron Hubbard), a science fiction and fantasy author, and the founder of the Church of Scientology. It was in the service of L. Ron Hubbard that she met husband and young Scientology leader David Miscavige.
As a 12-year-old, Shelly Miscavige was sent to serve under Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. This made her become the youngest member of Commodore’s Messengers Organization; a group of Hubbard’s most devoted followers. She was part of the Sea Org group that followed Hubbard on his flagship ‘Apollo’ when he fled to international waters to escape investigation during Operation Snow White. Operation Snow White was a conspiracy run by the Church of Scientology to infiltrate different levels of the US government with the aim of removing unfavorable reports about the Church and its founder.
Shelly Miscavige was a devoted follower who worshiped Hubbard, following his every order to the letter. This steadfastness earned her growing popularity within Hubbard’s personal stewards. It was around the time she met and became interested in David, a 16-year-old fresh out of school to join the Sea Organization in Clearwater, Florida. David rose through the ranks to become the leader of the Scientologists, with Shelly Miscavige by his side. She became his second-in-command after he appointed the Chairman of the Board of Scientology’s Religious Technology Center. However, she slowly receded into the background as her duties seemed to be reduced until she stopped giving appearances to the public.
Marriage and Relationship with Husband – David Miscavige
Shelly Miscavige met David Miscavige when she was 15 years old and part of the Florida Sea Org.
In her teenage years serving L. Ron, Michele Miscavige met and fell in love with David, a fellow Commodore’s Messenger Organization (C.M.O) member. The two of them started dating in 1978 and then tied the knot in December 1982 when she turned 21 and David 22. At the time, David was the chairman of the Board of Scientology Religious Center so that upon Hubbard’s death, David became the leader of the Church.
After the marriage, Shelly was by her husband’s side at virtually every event he was involved within the church. She was given a workspace that connected to her husband’s office, so they could co-ordinate duties together. Her roles started out as his official assistant and unofficial counselor as the situation warranted. As the years went by, the dynamic began to change.
Assuming the role of the first lady of the church had many responsibilities such as assisting her husband in his duties to develop the church, finding suitors for eligible young men and women of the church and advising younger messengers on how to lead their lives. She is reported to have led a church program to find a new girl-friend for Tom Cruise which led to Tom’s marriage to Katie Holmes.
Shelly Miscavige’s husband began to treat her as less of a second-in-command and more of another employee. He became her boss. Eyewitness accounts tell how the couple never showed affection towards each other, even when the gathering was an informal one. This rose her suspicions that her husband would leave her, fueling her to confront other members of the church about it. In order to gain favor in her husband’s eyes, she embarked on solving certain issues by herself while he was away. She also filled certain church positions with personnel her husband hadn’t vetted. The efforts backfired, and reports say David Miscavige grew furious over her exercising such power.
Shelly Miscavige’s Disappearance
Shelly Miscavige deciding to make decisions without the consent of her husband was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The month after she was appointed church personnel, David Miscavige began to ignore her, spending most of his time in Los Angeles. Eyewitness accounts stated that after the return of her husband, Shelly seemed subdued and cowed. Her appearances in public became less and less until she was last sighted in public in August 2007. Leah Remini, an actress, and former Scientologist began to make inquiries about Shelly Miscavige after the latter was absent in the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Remini’s inquiries into the whereabouts of Shelly yielded nothing. Instead of keeping quiet about it like she was asked to, she became more persistent.
Leah Remini filed a missing person’s report with the LA Police Department in 2013. The police reported meeting Shelly Miscavige and speaking to her, but there has been no evidence of that. Former members of Sea Organization believe that she is being held at the Church of Spiritual Technology’s compound in California, but there is no concrete evidence to support this. As of a 2016 report, Shelly Miscavige had been spotted twice in public looking like she a homeless person, making one wonder if she is being held against her own will as well as being mistreated.
Where Is She Now?
Michele Miscavige had a dysfunctional childhood where she was shunned by her peers leading to her becoming reclusive. She was seen as a misfit and this pushed her to become utterly devoted to Hubbard and her husband David.
This makes it difficult to determin if she is voluntarily hiding or otherwise. Some speculations believe that she possibly must have incurred her husband’s wrath after the filling of several job vacancy ads without his permission. Marc Headley, a former Scientologist who wrote about the church says Michele is really the only person to tell the whole truth and end the puzzle. She was sighted at her fathers funeral but was carefully guarded by Scientology Handlers. Vanity Fair story for March 2014 claimed that Michele is being kept at Twin Peaks, Rim Forest, a 500-acre site located outside Los Angeles.