Lisa McPherson PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 October 2008 13:36

Lisa McPherson

Born: February 10, 1959, USA.(1959-02-10)

Died: December 5, 1995 Clearwater, Florida,

Age: 36

Cause of death: Pulmonary Embolism.

Notable because:  Her family are adamant that Scientology destroyed her life. Scientology sign up process has changed because of her.


Lisa McPherson  was a member of the Church of Scientology who died of a pulmonary embolism while under the care of the Flag Service Organization (FSO), a branch of the Church of Scientology. Following her death, the Church of Scientology was indicted on two felony charges, "abuse and/or neglect of a disabled adult" and "practicing medicine without a license."

The charges against the Church of Scientology were dropped after the state's medical examiner changed the cause of death from "undetermined" to an "accident" on June 13, 2000. A civil suit brought by her family against the Church was settled on May 28, 2004.

1994, Lisa McPherson, who became a Scientology adherent at age 18, moved from Dallas, Texas, to Clearwater, Florida, with her employer, AMC Publishing, which was at that time owned by Bennetta Slaughter and operated and staffed primarily by Scientologists. During June 1995, the church placed Lisa in an Introspection Rundown due to perceived mental instability. Lisa completed the rundown, and she attested to the state of Clear in September.

On November 18 McPherson was involved in a minor car accident. Paramedics initially left her alone because she was ambulatory, but after she began to remove her clothes, the paramedics decided to take her to the hospital. At one point she remarked that she had taken off her clothes in hopes of obtaining counseling. Hospital staff agreed that she was unharmed, but recommended keeping her overnight for observation. Following intervention by fellow Scientologists, McPherson refused psychiatric observation or admission at the hospital and checked herself out after a short evaluation.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Frank Quesada concluded:

Lisa McPherson refused psychiatric observation or admission at the hospital; she expressly stated her desire to receive the religious care and assistance from her fellow congregants that she and they wanted her to have.

McPherson was then taken to the Flag Land Base for "rest and relaxation" according to the Church of Scientology, but sworn statements demonstrate that McPherson was brought there for another Introspection Rundown.

Mark McGarry, an attorney with the Florida Office of the State Attorney, characterized Lisa's stay at the FSO as an "isolation watch":

My understanding now is, from talking to many, many witnesses, the purpose of her being there in the Church, correct me if I'm wrong, she was experiencing some mental problems, and you guys were going to stabilize her through an isolation watch. And after that watch occurred, there was going to be a procedure run on her, and the procedure was an Introspection Rundown.

The church accommodated McPherson in a cabana and kept a "24 hours watch" over her. Detailed logs were kept on McPherson’s day-to-day care. These logs were handwritten on plain white paper. Most of these logs were kept but the logs for the last three days were summarized from the originals and the originals shredded. Brian J. Anderson, the then Commanding Officer of the Church's Office of Special Affairs (OSA) in Clearwater, said in his sworn statement:

I saw the handwritten notes, gave a cursory look to see if the summary -- see if they matched and matched, and I threw the handwritten reports in my shred basket, and I had the report, kept the report.

McPherson’s "care logs" narrate the last 17 days of her life: McPherson was incoherent and sometimes violent, her nails were cut so she wouldn’t scratch herself or the staff, she bruised her fists and feet while hitting the wall. She had trouble sleeping and was being given natural supplements and the drug chloral hydrate to help her sleep. She looked sick and developed sores; "She looked ill like measles or chicken pox on her face." On repeated occasions she refused food and protein shakes that the staff offered. On the 26th, 30th, 3rd and 4th the staff attempted to force feed her, noting that she spat the food out. She was noted to be very weak, not standing up nor on some days moving at all. Scientologists who questioned this handling were told to "butt out".

On December 5, 1995, the Church staffers contacted David Minkoff, a Scientologist medical doctor who twice prescribed drugs (Valium and chloral hydrate) for McPherson without seeing her. They requested for him to prescribe an antibiotic to McPherson because she seemed to have an infection. Minkoff refused and stated that McPherson should be taken to a hospital and he needed to see her before prescribing anything. They objected, expressing fear that McPherson would be put under psychiatric care. Janice Johnson stated that Lisa had been gasping and had labored breathing while en route. However they passed a total of four hospitals along the way to their ultimate destination. When they arrived at Minkoff's hospital 45 minutes north of Clearwater McPherson arrived without vital signs. They worked on her for about 20 minutes trying to resuscitate her, giving her CPR and antibiotics, but to no avail. She was then declared dead.

Scientologists called McPherson’s family to say that she’d died of meningitis or a blood clot on December 5, 1995 while at Fort Murray for “rest and relaxation”. A suspicious death investigation began the next day and an autopsy was performed. A year later, in response to a Clearwater Police Department website request for information on her death, Clearwater media began speculating about the causes of McPherson’s death.

The controversy included regular pickets outside Scientology offices on or around the anniversary of her death.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:41

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