Sunday, December 11, 2011
My Dad's Tapes (#35), The Arizona Daily Star (01/29/85)
Coroner to match fingerprints, check if dead man was Scientology founder
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif (AP) — Coroner's officials yesterday said they would match fingerprints taken from a body as quickly as possible to try to confirm the announced death of L. Ron Hubbard, the reclusive founder of the Church of Scientology.
The wealthy organization, often entangled in battles with the Internal Revenue Service and the target of lawsuits from former members, said late Monday that Hubbard, 74, died Friday of a stroke at his San Luis Obispo County ranch.
It said Hubbard, who had not been seen in public since 1980, was cremated, and his ashes scattered at sea.
A funeral was held Monday at the Hollywood Palladium for Hubbard, a science fiction writer who founded Scientology in 1954, said Ken Hoden, president of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles.
"We had 2,800 people inside, and approximately 2,000 outside who just couldn't get in," Hoden said. The service was sent by satellite to 600 churches and missions across the world, he said.
Scientology is based on Hubbard's 1948 book "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health," which has sold millions of copies. Through the use of a so-called E-meter, somewhat like a lie detector, church members undergo exercises and counseling to eliminate negative mental images.
The church has claimed up to 6 million members worldwide and reportedly earned $100 million a year at its peak in the 1970s. Former members have estimated membership from 200,000 to 2 million.
In 1980, the IRS took the church to U.S. Tax Court in Los Angeles because of the group's tax-exempt status from 1970 through 1972. The IRS maintained the California branch of the church was not tax-exempt and owed $1.4 million in income taxes for the period. In 1984, the court decided against the Church of Scientology, ordering payment of back taxes and penalties.
Hubbard's elder son, Ronald E. DeWolf, filed a lawsuit in 1982, saying Hubbard was either dead or mentally incompetent. A judge ruled Hubbard was alive.
Fingerprints taken from the body at a mortuary were to be matched to see if they were Hubbard's, San Luis Obispo County Coroner Don Hines said yesterday. Hines said he was notified of the death at 7:30 am Saturday, several hours after Hubbard reportedly died.
A death certificate signed by Hubbard's physician, Dr. Eugene Denk of Los Angeles, a will and a certificate of religious belief from Hubbard asking that no autopsy be performed were turned over to the coroner's investigator who viewed the body, HInes said.
Survivors include Hubbard's third wife, Mary Sue Hubbard; three daughters; and two sons, including DeWolf.
Arizona Daily Star, January 29, 1986, Page A8