Death of Susan Meister (23)

Susan died aboard the ship, Apollo, June 25th, 1971, with a bullet in the middle of her forehead

Part of by Mike Gormez. Visit the message board.


Chapter 18 of Bare-Faced Messiah
By Russell Miller

At around this time, another young woman began causing problems for the Commodore. Susan Meister, a twenty-three-year-old from Colorado, had joined the crew of the Apollo in February 1971, having been introduced to Scientology by friends while she was working in San Francisco. When she arrived on the ship she was a typically eager and optimistic convert and wrote home frequently, urging her family to 'get into' Scientology.

Letters of Susan Meister to her family

Dear Family,

I just had a session an auditing session
I feel great! Great GREAT! and my life is EXPANDING EXPANDING and it's All Hurry Up: Hurry, Hurry SCIENTOLOGY
Be a friend to yourselves Get into this stuff Now - It's more precious than gold it's the best thing that's _ever_ever_ever_ever_ come along.

Love, Susan

Chapter 4 of A Piece of Blue Sky
By Jon Atack

She once more urged her mother to read Hubbard's books, and take Scientology courses. Ten days after writing the letter, Susan was dead... According to her father, Susan was "lying on a bunk, wearing the new dress her mother had made for her, her arms crossed with a long barreled revolver on her breast. A bullet hole was in the center of her forehead and blood was running out of the corners of her mouth. I began to wonder how Susan could possibly shoot herself in the center of her forehead with the long barreled revolver. She would have had to hold it with both hands at arms length. There were no powder burns on her forehead, which certainly would have been the case if the gun was against her forehead as it would have to be to shoot herself as the photograph appeared."

Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1978

In mid-July that year, according to State Department correspondence obtained by The Times, Miss Meister's father traveled from Colorado to the Moroccan port of Safi, 125 miles south of Casablanca, where the Apollo was then moored, to inquire into his daughter's death. Meister is said to have questioned the explanation of the death proffered by the ship's officers, and indicated that he might seek an investigation of the Apollo. In turn -- according to a Nov. 11, 1971, letter from Assistant Secretary of State David M. Abshire to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- the Apollo's port captain threatened in the presence of the American vice consul from Casablanca, William J. Galbraith, that "he had enough material, including compromising photographs of Miss Meister, to smear Mr. Meister first."

Affidavit of Hana Whitfield
8 Mar 1994

187. Susan was on board about six months. She was "PTS" - her family was upset because the ship's location was confidential and they did not know where she was.
188. In mid 1971, in my office on A Deck, I heard a strange, sharp sound. It was traced to the aft bridge cabins where the senior Ship's Officers berthed, and specifically to that of Chief Officer Amos Jessup. Susan was found, shot, lying on the bunk in Amos' cabin. I helped Mary Sue Hubbard, who was in charge of the GO, to investigate the death. Mary Sue checked the aft bridge cabin where Susan died. I checked Susan's bunk below decks and her possessions, but found nothing amiss. Mary Sue had already removed Susan's letters, note books and other personal effects. I arranged for someone to send Susan's clothes to her family. We interviewed Amos Jessup, who was visibly upset and shaking on and off. He blamed himself, as Susan wanted a committed relationship and he didn't. Susan was in the cabin alone after he went to work. He didn't see her alive again. He had no idea she was suicidal.
189. We interviewed a deck hand who was working on A deck port side, aft of the bridge cabin, when the shot occurred. He reported the sound and located Amos. We interviewed Susan's superior, the ship's medical officer and several other people. They all said Susan was emotionally unstable. Mary Sue wrote a report for the Moroccan police.

George Meister showing picture of his dead daughter Susan Meister - Link to
"This is a picture of my daughter, and that's all I have."

Susan's father testified about the death of his daughter and subsequent harassment and death threats he received. The transcripts of those City of Clearwater Commission Hearings held in 1982 are available here. Also on the web are the Preliminary and Final Report of the Clearwater Commission. Here's a collection of newspaper articles covering the Hearings.

This is amongs other things what Susan's father had to say:

My name is George Meister. I'm here, not because I've ever been a member of the Church of Scientology or ever will be, but I'm here in behalf of my daughter, Susan. And I'd like to have the camera get a shot of this picture, possibly. This is a picture of my daughter, and that's all I have. Susan died aboard the ship, Apollo, June 25th, 1971, with a bullet in the middle of her forehead.

View in realvideo the moving testimony of George Meister on . Read also Scientology's disgusting attempt to get Jack Galbraith, Vice-consul from the American Consul in Casablanca, who helped Susan's father, in trouble: From the files of the FBI: #246   #247   #248   #249 and #250 .

Susan wanted to go home but was denied the request to leave
The following is Ken Urquhart in 2001, giving his comments on the critical book 'A Piece of Blue Sky' by Jon Atack.

Urquhart was closely working with Hubbard and even now he still sees L. Ron Hubbard as some kind of superman. Keep that in mind reading the rest of his story.

I was involved unknowingly in Susan Meister's situation. A week or so before her death, she had written to LRH asking his permission for her to leave the ship and return home. At that time, his policy on such was to refuse (it varied). I composed a reply to this effect and included it in his mail for signature. He signed it. He was considerably put out when I reminded him of this - he had signed the reply without reading it or its original request (and this was not unusual practice for him - I should have known better). From then on, I put a warning note on any similar reply composed for him to sign... I will always deeply regret that her cry came through me, and I chose to adhere to the current policy rather than to hear her, listen to her, and help her in compassion and good sense.

Update August 31, 2013 by rhill: Somebody sent me by email a partial scan of the Greeley Daily Tribune from December 18, 1971 concerning the obituary of Susan Meister:

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