Editor’s note: Lisa McPherson was a 36-year-old Scientologist living in Clearwater, Florida. After showing signs of a mental breakdown in late 1995, she was taken to a psychiatric hospital by emergency responders. A group of fellow Scientologists arrived at the hospital, told staff that psychiatry was against McPherson’s religion, and, with McPherson’s consent, took her from the hospital to a local Scientology-owned hotel for 24/7 observation.
After seventeen days in the hotel, Lisa McPherson died. Her cause of death was listed as a blood clot brought on by severe dehydration; apparently, she’d been deprived of water for at least five to 10 days while at the hotel. Criminal charges were brought against the Church of Scientology, but they were eventually dropped. The Church later settled a civil lawsuit with McPherson’s family, the terms of which are sealed.
Kristin Marie Snyder was a married environmental consultant who went missing in February 2003. The 35-year-old Alaskan had been attending a 16-day intensive Nxivm/ESP course at an Anchorage hotel. Snyder’s spouse, Heidi Clifford, told a news outlet that Snyder was “suddenly sleep-deprived, delusional, and suicidal.” Snyder was last seen leaving the hotel, reportedly in a state of distress. She left a mysterious note in her vehicle and has never been seen again.
[See “The Lost Women of Nxivm” to find out more about Kristen Snyder’s mysterious disappearance.]
Unlike Kristin Snyder, Lisa McPherson’s body didn’t vanish.
No one amongst the Scientologists assigned to sequester her so radically has ever been held accountable for what occurred. But, if you have seen photos of her after her death, you won’t be able to forget them. It’s simply heartbreaking.
For the most complete info about Lisa McPherson and her experiences as a Scientologist, one can refer to the Underground Bunker, Tony Ortega’s platform. There are many articles about Lisa and the circumstances prior to and surrounding her death. Please be ready to feel outrage and deep sorrow. If this is anyone’s first look at the story of Lisa McPherson, it is not easy to imagine, never mind to face.
It’s Essential to Study Cults and Look for Patterns
One of the main things about investigating cult dysfunctionalities is to study many cults, the world over. Then, certainly, you start to be able to observe many prevalent patterns of behavior throughout these group dynamics. There are distinct patterns to be analyzed concerning these personality characteristics, those characteristics to be found within not only cult leadership but also in those who fall for their purported delusions.
When I say that I’ve seen Nancy Salzman’s behavior and her typology before, this is no joke. Two women more “prominent” than Nancy Salzman, within two different organizations, both of whom were playing leadership roles in the guru game, have tried personally to scoop me into their ego crap, masquerading as ”spirituality.”
One interesting factor is that both women were vengeful when it was understood that I will not ever “surrender” my will or comply, or be told what or how to think, to pray, to love or anything else – what to wear, lipstick or no lipstick, how one eats, blah blah blah.
First, you are courted. An attempt is made at smooth recruitment to some kind of a “cause.” Then, if you keep aloof and don’t melt into a pile of butter, the marvelous “you,” who was oh so wanted (for WHAT, really?) is on Someone’s shitlist. So when you do not produce the required reactions, evidently your splendor and marvelousness evaporate. Unh huh. Well, fuck that nonsense! Do not be available to be captured. Stay true to yourself, because essentially you are just FODDER, worth worse than nada if you do not comply with imprisoning yourself.
Lisa McPherson was breaking down, emotionally and mentally. She received the exact opposite of any genuine help. It is almost too painful to even begin to describe. She was also Scientology leader David Miscavige’s personal student leading up to her demise.
This cannot be hidden.
Nor can what happened to Lisa be hidden.
Many ex-Scientologists have fought for the truth to emerge about Lisa’s treatment by the Clearwater, Florida-based Scientologists and specifically regarding those individuals who are known to have guarded her and kept her isolated during the weeks leading up to her death. Lisa has family who have never recovered from this tragic loss although some pathetic form of recompense was offered to them, eventually and without any acknowledgment about how Scientologists treated Lisa.
In Clearwater, there’s a small memorial to Lisa. It has been relocated at least once because some people in Clearwater are compelled to damage it, even to this day.
Lisa died on December 5th, 1995. She was only 36. Unforgettable. Yet, as you study the antics of other groups who tolerate fascism as their governance, you learn how many “Lisas” have been lost. These are people who were seeking knowledge and ways to understand themselves and our world, and who instead were destroyed. Destroyed by cruelty, deception, concealment and lies, way beyond coldhearted.
My main concern is that the primary response people demand is more government interference. People have a right to be scammed, belive nonsense and die by refusing real treatment. McPherson is a special case because she seems to have been abducted.
Certainly these controlling, pseudoscience groups are not good. But the State and politics is a human sacrifice cult, and I am not willing to pick sides between the two.
Heidi Clifford told us that McPherson was a cold case detective 🕵️♀️ she talked to 2 tines. I talked to people who could never find him or that could tell me he was a cold case detective. How did and where did he die? From what?
Who is this that’s writing this article? How do you know about McPherson’s death- where?
Have you gone to the authorities about this finding? We need you to tell us everything that you know.
Do you know where my sister Kris’ remains are? If so, please know we need to lay her to rest properly. This is her ONLY little sister, Kim – talking to you. Please help us.
Despite the similarities, there’s a crucial difference between McPherson and Snyder. When McPherson died under the care of Scientologists, it CREATED a huge problem for Miscavige, a problem that never went away.
But Snyder was screaming that she was pregnant with Raniere’s child. When she vanished, it SOLVED a problem for Raniere.
Good article, Shivani! I am glad I took the time to read it. Thank you.
Keep them coming!!!!
“Lisa McPherson was breaking down, emotionally and mentally.”
I would say in the case of NXIVM that the victims were “being broken down” — as Keith Raniere once admitted. Not just that they were somehow spontaneously breaking down.
There is a difference – a HUGE one – and I’m sensitive to it bc I‘ve heard too many suspect voices try to avoid — or help NXIVM avoid — their true culpability in NXIVM’s fatalities and reported or known psychotic breakdowns during NX courses and/or Keith’s indoctrination’s and some of Nancy Salzman’s applied “breakdown” methods — by claiming there was something inherently wrong with these broken victims that would have made them go berserker regardless of the cult programming OR deliberate “breaking down” efforts.
…Especially those specifically done for the purpose of destroying the victims mentally and emotionally, and that includes the torture techniques NXIVM and other cults use.
(Can there be any question that someone deprived of water for weeks, who died of thirst, was killed? Lisa McPherson wasn’t just deprived of mental health treatment. What if she were deprived of air? Any 3rd grader knows without water death is certain, though it’s a longer, slower, more painful and crueler one than being deprived of air. Putting a pillow over her face would have been more merciful.)
This is the crime, IMO. The cold, calculated, repeated attempts to “break down” these girls for, in the case of a NXIVM, sexual “compliance.”
Call it a predicate act to the sex trafficking and forced labor in the case of NXIVM, IDK how it’s categorized or should be but, it resulted in deaths, I call it murder.
And the ongoing attempts to blame the victim – and/or someone else – whether subtly, as in “when someone PRESENTS with psychosis and can only be removed by a cult (you know who you are)” or outright as in, “the lesbian wife done it” should be a crimes as well. “Accessory after the fact?”
Like your style, as always, dear Shivani.
After watching even the most sensational and clearly manipulated footage from NXIVM in the different documentaries, it seems clear that this story is a great magnet for more and
more exaggeration. Now there’s murder, what’s next?
This story was more interesting when it was not as exaggerated. Now anyone can accuse the group of anything. It sort of takes the interesting “maybe this is real” aspect of it.
What happened to branding and collateral?! Those were credible and edgy subjects that called for even serious journalism. Now NXIVM is everything bad that ever existed. Now it’s like a bad horror movie
The “murders” concerning nxivm happened way before, DOS/collateral. So technically they come before, the rest of the nxivm story.
You say clearly manipulated. What was according to you manipulation? And why was manipulation a necessity?
You claim that, nxivm now has become a bad horror movie.
But if you read all the victim statements, the “station” bad horror movies, was passed long ago, concerning nxivm.
Personally i think, this is just the tip of the iceberg when we talk about nxivm.
Keith is on tape saying that he’s had people killed. Was he exaggerating?
I don’t know the story about McPherson, but it’s sad any time someone dies. However, when there is no body, the story is missing important information. Here is the thing about stories. They are just that. Something made up from limited data. Sorry. I don’t believe the story that anyone in NXIVM killed Kristin Snyder. It’s too fantastical.
— I don’t believe the story that anyone in NXIVM killed Kristin Snyder. It’s too fantastical.
In a way someone did, and there is nothing “fantastical” about such a belief, presuming the content of Kristin’s suicide was actually written by her and is to be believed. From the latter, Kristin herself explicitly attributed her psychological condition that drove her to commit suicide to what NXIVM did to her, so whether she was explicitly murdered by individual(s) from the organization or not, it played a significant part in her death. This is not a tenuous, possible, causal connection of another purported connection of another purported connection, etc., for however long the chain may be. This is a direct causal connection from the source directly.
I don’t know that they killed her directly. They were negligent in her care. They should have called her emergency contact. They should have kept her safe. Taken her to the hospital. Called 911. Anything normal, compassionate, ethical people do in a crisis.
Stories. Made up from limited data. – is that the best you can offer for a rebuttal?
Also if you don’t know about something [Lisa McPherson] doesn’t mean it isn’t so.