Where is Richard Simmons? It’s the question at the center of the most popular podcast in America as friends of the beloved fitness guru delve into his sudden disappearance from public life. And episode three of Missing Richard Simmons, which aired last week, made startling claims.
In the episode, Mauro Oliveira – a longtime friend and former masseuse – repeated his shocking allegations that Simmons, 68, is being held hostage by his housekeeper, Teresa Reveles.
Simmons – once a staple on morning talk shows and TV infomercials – has not been seen in public in nearly 1,100 days.
But Simmons’ rep, Tom Estey, vehemently denies Oliveria’s claims and tells PEOPLE exclusively that the claims in the podcast are a “complete load of crap.”
Estey says the star has merely decided to step back from the spotlight and live a more private life. Attempts to reach Reveles directly were not successful.
Dan Taberski created the podcast as one of the many former friends of Simmons who are now concerned about his disappearance, which started in Feb. 2014. In the most recent episode, Taberski spoke to Oliveira about the last time he saw Simmons, and why he believes Reveles is holding Simmons against his will.
It is now the most popular podcast on iTunes and the first three episodes are among the most downloaded in the country.
“It was 6 p.m., and I went into his house. He was sitting in the living room, and he was very weakly, physically and mentally. He was trembling. He said, ‘Mauro. I called you here because we cannot see each other anymore. I’m just going to stay here,’ ” Oliveira recalls of their last face-to-face interaction in May 2014, three months after Simmons stopped teaching his fitness classes and cut off contact. “I thought of the worst. I thought the worst was going to happen. I thought he was suicidal.”
Oliveira says he tried to get Simmons to go upstairs to his massage room so they could talk further, but Reveles stopped him.
“She realized that I was in the house, she started screaming like a witch, ‘No no no no, get out, get out! I don’t want him here!’ Richard looked at me and said, ‘You got to go.’ I said, ‘Really? Is she controlling your life now?’ and he said yes. And that I have to leave.”
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Oliveira says he hasn’t seen Simmons since that day, and neither have any of Simmons’ other former friends. Taberski talked to several of them, all of whom said they can’t get past Reveles to see Simmons.
Estey says these allegations are entirely false.
“Theresa has been working with him for, since I’ve been working with him [27 years]. So, holding him hostage is the biggest, I mean … Theresa is the housekeeper, she’s the caretaker, she is extraordinary, she is amazing, she takes impeccable care of Richard and she has for as long as I have been working with Richard, so that is a complete load of crap,” Estey says.
“Richard made a choice. To live a more private life. If he decides to come back, he’ll come back … People claim that it happened overnight. It really didn’t. We were turning down stuff for years and just kind of quieting down, and when he decides that he wants to come back, that’s when he’ll come back, and when that will be, I have no idea or if he will at all. There really isn’t anything to report.”
And Estey adds that neither he, nor Simmons or Reveles, have any part in the podcast.
“We did not cooperate nor participate in this podcast because we didn’t feel the need to nor did we want to. All these things distract from his legacy and I will not allow that to happen because this man is a world treasure. He has helped millions of people lose millions of pounds. He has saved millions of lives, spent millions and millions of his own money helping and saving people’s lives. This man is a saint, so treat him like a saint and leave him alone.”
Taberski maintains that Oliveira’s account holds up, except for his contention that Reveles is holding Simmons in his home through witchcraft. According to Oliveira, witchcraft is something that make sense to someone like himself and Reveles, who are from Brazil and Mexico, respectively.
And Taberski adds that Oliveira doesn’t have much to gain from telling his side of the story.
“I come from a good place. My only hope is for Richard to get help, and be a happier person, because for the past three years, he has not been a happy person,” Oliveira says. “All the money, all the fame, all the resources, for what? He’s pretty much locked in his home.”