Biggi Reichert: Does Scientology Have Another Lisa McPherson On Its Hands?
When I talked to Marty Rathbun after his return from Germany recently, he mentioned that one of the things he and Ursula Caberta hoped would come from their new friendship was cooperation on a mysterious death involving a German Scientologist.
Today, Rathbun held up his end of that bargain, going public with what he knows in the apparent suicide of a woman named Biggi Reichert, and asking for the public's help in solving some strange unanswered questions in her death.
Rathbun had told me that Caberta, a German government official who has been working since 1992 to curb Scientology's influence there, considers this a very troubling and potentially damaging situation for the church.
And I can't help wondering: Does German Scientology have a Lisa McPherson on its hands?
Marty Rathbun may be in a very good position to help Caberta. Until 2004, he was the second highest ranking executive in Scientology before defecting. Since 2009, he's been writing a very influential blog which, we hear, reaches deep into the ranks of current church members. There may be no better way to canvass for information about what might have happened to Reichert when she made a trip to Scientology's spiritual headquarters just a few days before her death.
Rathbun writes that Reichert was an "OT VIII" -- which means that she had reached the ultimate level of Scientology spiritual training, Operating Thetan level eight. But after reaching that goal, she still had trouble with her marriage and with debts.
In 2006, she traveled to Clearwater, Florida to "handle" those concerns. Experienced Scientologists are encouraged to travel to the town to take upper level training and other counseling at the church's most lavish facilities and at exorbitant prices. In this case, however, just a few days after returning home to Germany, Reichert was found dead in her car in an apparent suicide at a friend's horse ranch:
On the final day of her visit Biggi was found dead in the garage in her car. Sleeping pills were spread about the front seat. The car was fitted with a hose directing the exhaust into the seating compartment. Autopsy determined she died of carbon monoxide poisoning; and that though she had consumed sleeping pills the dosage was not enough to have caused her death. A will of sorts was left behind in Biggi's hand distributing what few possessions she still owned.
Things got stranger, however, when an autopsy was done, and a dozen third-degree burns were found on Reichert's scalp.
While each burn was about the size of a cigarette ember, they were determined forensically to not be cigarette burns. Her hair did not appear to be burned; leading to the conclusion the burns were carefully administered. The burns were determined to most likely have occurred while Biggi was in Florida.
Rathbun writes that Scientology has been uncooperative. (He should know: he has admitted to helping destroy documents in the McPherson matter when he was still working as Scientology leader David Miscavige's fixer.) But he also notes that the U.S. government has not been helpful, which he presumably would have heard from Caberta.
Rathbun is hoping that his blog will reach someone who would have known what happened to Reichert in Clearwater five years ago before she took her own life.
Rathbun alerted me to the story with a text this morning, but I'm still trying to get him on the phone to learn additional details.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology #4: Tom Cruise #5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin #6: Anonymous #7: Mark Bunker #8: Mike Rinder #9: Jason Beghe #10: Lisa McPherson #11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants) #12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives) #13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists) #14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists) #15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics) #16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ #17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano #18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive #19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons) #20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures) #21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church #22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members) #23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church) #24: David Touretzky (and other academics) #25: Xenu, galactic overlord
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"] [Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology] [Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties] In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview] The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley] [Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?] Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2] [A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession] [Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine] [Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise] [Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church] [Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice] [Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense] [Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis] [Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"] Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid] [Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post] [A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview] [Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams] [86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested] [All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots] [Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"] [Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds]
ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS
[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"] [Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!] [Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam] [When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers] [Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.] [Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth] [Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family] [Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- This Queens Couple's Satirical Fatherhood Magazine Celebrates a 'Very Particular Kind...
- Step Right Up to Learn Sideshow Tricks From Coney Island's Finest
- A New York Photographer Dresses Up Penises in Cute, Tiny Costumes