The Death of Rodney Rimando

From: ( Subject: : The Death of Rodney Rimando Date: Tue, 07 May 1996 reply-to: newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology [ The following is from the article 'Search for Salvation Ended in Death', printed originally in the San Jose Mercury News, December 5, 1986. I have omitted some parts of the original, mostly those giving a general discussion of Scientology, and paraphrased others, since I don't have permission of the copyright holders. The author of the story is David Scrieberg. My discussion is enclosed in brackets, except for some analysis at the end.] Two years ago, confused and unsure of his future, Rodney Rimando found salvation. It was called Dianetics.... For a young San Jose man who family and friends said didn't quite fit in, Scientology offered a new and exciting vision of himself and his place in the world. On Tuesday, the 21-year-old man was buried at Oak Hills Memorial Park, one week after tumbling to his death from the sixth floor of the ornate Hollywood church building where he lived, breathed, and ate Scientology for the past six months. Based on their probe in the hours after Rimando's fall and discussion with Scientology staffers, Los Angeles police and the Los Angeles county coroner have all but formally closed the case as a suicide. But the circumstances surrounding both Rimando's life with Scientol- ogy and death are murky. Church officials portray him as an outsider permitted to live inside the church, someone who sought desperately to become a Scientologist but just couldn't cut it. Mental instability and pressure from his family to return home, they say, became set against his commitment to the church, driving him to leap to his death. [Here we have already suggested by the church itself that Rodney was seen as PTS type A. We'll return to this later.] Rimando's family and friends, however, refuse to accept the Scientol- ogists' and police version of events. His mother, Irene Marshall, be- lieves her son was killed but has no evidence and no idea who might have done it. Among the questions that remain unanswered in the case: * The coroner's report and Scientology officials say he had a tearful telephone conversation with his mother over his continued involvement with the church hours before his death. Marshall denies they spoke that night. * According to church officials, Rimando told them he had undergone prior psychological counseling for depression. Neither his family nor a former close friend is aware of any such treatment. [This is an application of the confidential policy of 29 June 1971 "Policy is that we assign any case or upset in Scientology to past damage and intefer- ence with the person by medicine or psychiatry. They were sent to us after medicine or psychiatry had already destroyed them. We cannot be blamed for medical or psychiatric failures." LRH] * Los Angeles Scientology officials say Rimando showed up earlier this year with no prior involvement in the church asking to become a staff member. But in his wallet, returned to his family last week, was a blue six-month Church of Scientology membership card with a January 27, 1985 expiration date. In addition, family and friends say that for more than a year before moving to Los Angeles, Rimando spent all of his time at the Scientology center on Stevens Creek Boulevard in San Jose. He told them earlier this year he was being sent to the Los Angeles center "for further training". * A suicide note found on his bunk bed at the center was not in his handwriting, according to Marshall, and made reference to a "wife". Ri- mondo was single. The police and church authorities also have expressed doubts about the authenticity of the note.... [Paraphrase of next part] Rimando graduated from High School in 1984, living with his father after his parents divorced. After graduation, he didn't have a steady job or clear goals. While working in a fast food outlet, he got involved in Scientology. He became increasingly involved, and quit the restaurant to work at the Steven's Creek Org. "I like the people there," he thold his sister Brenda Rimando, 19. "They are real nice to me. I can relate to them." Rimando did the Purification Rundown and became increasingly distant from family and friends. In May 86, he told his family that he was being sent to LA for further training, and went despite his parents' opposition. In a Hurry "He said he had to leave the next day," said Brenda Rimando. "He was all in a hurry. It seemed they called him up telling him he had to leave." Rimando also told his sister he hoped to train to be a Scientologist minister, and one day have his own church. Yet, the Rev. (sic) Ken Hoden, president of the church in Los Ange- les, said Rimando had not been sent by the church to study or work at the center. "He just came in one day and asked for a job," he said. Church spokeswoman Shirley Young said Rimando applied but was "un- qualified" to become a staff member. Instead, she said, they gave him a job doing janitorial and light construction work. [This is a defi- nite lie. Janitors are staff, working under the Estates Section, De- partment 21.] In letters and brief phone calls, Rimando told his family he was working and studying 11 hours a day, and being paid room, board and $30 a week. [This indicates he was a full Sea Org member, in spite of the denials.] Former Scientologists say long work and study hours, combined with low wages and difficult living conditions, are routine in Scientology. In addition, they say the church tolerates no internal criticism, and can make life tense for adherents, particularly when their families are unhappy with their involvement. 'Pressure and Stress' "There's a tremendous amount of pressure and stress put on people... to believe in a certain manner," said ex-member Keith Scott of Los An- geles. Concerned about Rimando's situation, Marshall drove to Los Angeles on Nov 21 with her boyfriend to visit him. When she saw him the next day, she said she found him thin and un- kempt. He told her he only had 20 minutes free, and showed his visitors the small room he shared with others. Marshall said she counted 16 beds in the room. Hoden said the fa- cilities dormitories have only "several" beds per room. [Hoden is ac- tually telling the truth here. I happen to have once been a liaison with Cedars Estates Service Org, which takes care of room, board, and facilities in the Cedars complex. The rooms are crowded - in my time about 1/3 of the staff lived in rooms that exceeded maximum legal occu- pancy. But there are only a handful of rooms in the building that can possibly hold 16 beds: one on the sixth floor and several in the RPF section on the 7th. The interesting point here is that the 6th floor room was used in my time for people assigned to the DPF - a group similar to the RPF, but less extreme. This suggests that if Rodney was in either of these areas, the only ones that could hold that many beds, he was what we used to call 'ethics bait'. This is consistent with the claim above that he was doing 'janitorial and light construction work.' This could be an 'acceptable truth' for his having been assigned to the DPF/ RPF.] [This also refutes again the lie that he "wasn't really working for us." Nobody lives in this building who isn't a Sea Org member (except ASI employees, which Rodney certainly was not).] Marshall said she then made plans to call him Monday night at 11 and visit him Tuesday. But when she phoned Monday night, she said she was told he couldn't be found to take the call. Hoden said members noticed Rimando was "despondent and upset for the last three days" before his death. According to the Coroner's report "a witness to the last phone call from the mother to the decedent indicated the he ended the phone call by saying, 'I guess I failed' and then began crying as he hung up the phone." They told the coroner that he had been "upset over pressures placed on him to go home with his mother and his commitment to the church." Marshall denies they had any discussion during her visit to Los An- geles about his returning to San Jose. One of Rimando's roommates told police he woke up around 2:15 a.m. and saw Rimando awake and sitting on his bed. Rimando told him he knew he should get some sleep, but gave no indication anything was wrong. Heard thud An hour later, a desk clerk heard a thud outside the building, and later discovered Rimando's body. Apparently, say investigators, Rimando had jumped from the roof of the rambling, castle-like building, landing in an alcove below. "It was no accident, nor was there any evidence of fould play," said Russell Kuster, supervisor of the Los Angeles Police Department homicide division in Hollywood. "There was nothing out of line." But Kuster said his detectives could not explain the alleged suicide note found on Rimando's bed, which asked that someone "contact my wife and take it real easy." He said the case would remain open until the autopsy results are re- ceived in about two weeks. Meanwhile, Marshall insists the church is not revealing the full story behind her son's death, and rejected their offer of financial help for Rimando's funeral: "I told them I don't need their money. I told them it's going to be on their conscience." For his part, Hoden says he understands Marshall being upset. "No one likes to think that family members commit suicide," he said. "People like to find reasons." [End of article.] In spite of Ms Marshall's suspicions, it seems extremely unlikely that Rodney was murdered. There was no obvious motive for it, and a murder would not be set up to look like a suicide that would embarass Sciento- logy. The motive for his suicide will probably never be known, but working from a knowledge of Scientology that the police seemed to lack, a plau- sible hypothesis can be made. Rodney's family and mother had apparently expressed negative opinions about Scientology in the past and clearly repeated them when they met him on the 22nd. It is likely that this con- versation would have been followed by an order for him to disconnect from his mother's "suppressive" influence. When she called him on the 24th, she was apparently not allowed to speak to him, which would indi- cate that a disconnect had been ordered. Rodney had tried for some time to manage the difficulties of being devoted to Scientology but having an anti-Scientology family. When ordered to disconnect, he was forced to make a final choice that he was unable to make. At this time, orders to disconnect from family members were not at all unusual. The 'final conversation' reported by unnamed witnesses, who must have been Sea Org members to have been in the building at that hour, never took place. It was seemingly designed, like the bogus suicide note, and the imaginary psychotherapy, to shift blame and cover up the link between Scientology 'ethics' and Rodney's suicide. Number Six Degraded Joker * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * There is some shit I will not eat. - e e cummings Scientology is a bona fide religion entitled to the protection of the free enterprise Clause. - Norman Starkey --****ATTENTION****--****ATTENTION****--****ATTENTION****--***ATTENTION*** Your e-mail reply to this message WILL be *automatically* ANONYMIZED. Please, report inappropriate use to For information (incl. non-anon reply) write to If you have any problems, address them to

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The suspicious death of Rodney Rimando