Shelly Miscavige: Where Is She?

She’s at the center of the increasingly bitter fight between TV star Lea Remini and the Church of Scientology. But she reportedly hasn’t been in public since 2007 prompting heated speculation about whether she’s being held against her will. So just where is Shelly Miscavige?

Michele Shelly Diane Miscavige, 52, is the wife of the church’s controversial leader, David Miscavige. Over the years, she has been the focus of a swirl of rumors. Some of the church’s most vocal critics have alleged that she is a virtual prisoner at one of the church s many compounds, while some stories have even suggested that she battled serious health problems. But church officials say Miscavige is fine. “She is not a public figure and we ask that her privacy be respected,” says a Scientology spokeswoman.

What is known is that Miscavige is a lifelong Scientologist who rose to membership in an elite group within the church known as the Commodore’s Messenger Organization, or CMO. She wed fellow CMO member David Miscavige in 1982. Several accounts say that she played a key role in the church’s leadership alongside her husband until around 2006. Shelly Miscavige was last seen in public at her father’s funeral in 2007. According to some accounts, Shelly Miscavige has been living at a church compound near Running Springs, Calif. Others maintain she has spent time at “Gold Base,” another church facility, near the town of Hemet, Calif. Multiple reports name Gold Base as the location of the Hole, a church center where leaders are disciplined for religious infractions. Scientology officials insist the Hole does not exist and that no members are held against their will. Last year, former Scientologist Debbie Cook testified in court that she was sent to the Hole, a pair of doublewide trailers for underperforming executives. The Tampa Bay Times reported, They spent their nights in sleeping bags on ant-infested floors, ate a soupy slop of reheated leftovers and screamed at each other in confessionals that often turned violent.

Sources close to Remini say the actress confronted David Miscavige about his wife’s whereabouts in 2006, at the wedding of their mutual friend and fellow Scientologist, Tom Cruise, to Katie Holmes. Remini says she was then publicly berated by Tommy Davis, a Scientology spokesman, and forced to go church “security checks” at Scientology’s headquarters in Clearwater, Fla. (critics says “sec checks” are a form of interrogation; Scientologists say they are process similar to confession in other religions). Nicole Remini-Wiscow, the star’s sister, says that church denied Remini’s requests to speak with Shelly Miscavige and offered to pass along correspondence to her. A church spokeswoman calls Remini’s account “ludicrous.”

But since her public break with the church on July 12, Remini has not let the subject go. The actress filed a Missing Persons Report with the LAPD, and on August 8, detectives announced they were not pursuing an investigation. Officials won’t say whether they met with Shelly Miscavige face to face, but concluded that “there were not sufficient grounds” to continue looking into the matter. This doesn t surprise the couple s niece Jennifer Miscavige-Hill, who left the church in 2005. When you re in the church and are being treated poorly, it s not something you are rushing to tell law enforcement that would be considered the worst crime you could possibly do, she tells PEOPLE. So the likelihood she would say something derogatory about them is very unlikely.

Church officials reacted strongly to Remini’s inquiry, calling it “nothing more than publicity stunt for Ms Remini, cooked up with unemployed anti-zealots.” They have repeatedly maintained that Shelly Miscavige is not missing and devotes her time to the work of the Church of Scientology. A church spokeswoman will not comment on Miscavige’s exact location.

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