Rehab facility linked to Scientology blamed for deaths of three patients who underwent 'five hours a day in sauna and mega doses of vitamins'

Mail, UK/August 14, 2012

Stacy Murphy was like any other young woman her age.

The pretty blonde, who was 'loved by everyone', was a cheerleader, went to church regularly and had dreams of being a vet.

But the 20-year-old died last month while she was a patient at Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma, the home of Scientology's drug treatment program.

She became the third person to die while under the care of the flagship facility in the last nine months. Seven have died since 2005 as exposed by NBC's The Rock Center with Brian Williams in a segment to air on Thursday.

The deaths have sparked outrage, the families of those who died want answers, and there are new questions about this global network of rehab centers.

The rehabilitation program was founded in 1966 and is based on the teachings of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Narconon claims it is a non-profit, non-medical rehabilitation program with around 150 patients. Its methods include spending up to five hours a day in a sauna for 30 days straight and mega doses of the vitamin Niacin.

The hypothesis underlying the program is that drugs and their metabolites are stored in the body's fatty tissues for years, causing the addict's cravings when partially released later on.

But these can be flushed out through a regimen comprising elements such as exercise, sauna and intake of high doses of vitamins, according to the facility's methods.

The program tries its best to hide its affiliation with Scientology, which licenses Narconon centers through its division called ABLE, the Association for Better Living and Education.

Famous Scientologists Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley have praised the program - with Cruise calling it: 'The authority on getting people off drugs' and Travolta saying: 'Compared with other rehabs, we are the best'.

But the three recent deaths of Stacy, Hillary Holton, 21, of Carrolton, Texas, and Gabriel Graves, 32, of Owasso, Oklahoma, have attracted lot of negative publicity.

Last month, the inquiry into the July 19 death of Stacy was expanded to include the April death of Hillary and the October death of Gabriel.

The state district attorney has asked the sheriff's department to deepen its investigation into the center.

Stacy Murphy's father, Robert Murphy, said his daughter would have been grateful that 'law enforcement will continue to give full diligence in the investigation of her death'.

He told NBC: 'We put our faith in this place. Then I got a phone call that morning from her mother to tell me, "She's dead", and I'm like "WHAT?"'

The CEO of Narconon Arrowhead, Gary Smith, said that due to privacy laws, he cannot comment on the deaths, but said he and his staff are devastated by the loss of young lives.

'We will continue to cooperate openly with any local and state agencies that are looking into these matters.

'Our prayers are with the families of the deceased,' he said in a statement.

Toxicology and autopsy reports are pending and authorities say that what charges, if any, are filed is dependent on the results of this and any subsequent investigation.

Stacy and Hillary's autopsy and toxicology reports are pending.

Gabriel's autopsy report lists his cause and manner of death as 'undetermined' and 'unknown'.

A man who wanted to be known only as Rick S. spoke to the Village Voice about Stacy Murphy's death.

He was a patient at the same time as the 20-year-old, who had been there for approximately six weeks before she died.

Stacy was allowed out on day release from the center, despite not meeting the criteria.

When she returned on July 18, the staff noticed she was high and tested positive for opiates.

The 20-year-old was sent to the 'withdrawal unit' of the facility and it was there that her condition became grave, according to Rick.

He claimed the drugs that might have saved Stacy's life were either not available or that no one there at the 'unit' knew how to administer them.

He said: 'My understanding is that everyone there is pretty much a former patient. You really can't expect them to be able to diagnose a drug overdose.'

Rick said he checked himself into Narconon two months ago to dry out with no idea that it was connected to Scientology.

He paid an upfront fee of $13,000 and after an initial withdrawal period including sauna treatments and high doses of vitamins, he was put on a strange 'training program'.

Rick told Village Voice: 'Within the first hour of that, I realized this was Scientology. But I thought, I might as well give it my best shot. But what they try to get you to do is insane.'

He claims he was talking to ashtrays before long.

Tom Cruise is known to have done some of his early Scientology training by talking to ashtrays and beverage bottles, part of Hubbard's approach that is supposed to increase a person's communication skills.

Rick claimed that none of the patients received any counseling about their addictions, what caused them to fall victim to drugs or alcohol and how to prevent it in the future.

Instead, the patients sat in a sauna for five hours a day while taking massive doses of Niacin and other vitamins.

Rick got kicked out of the facility shortly after Stacy's death because he was talking to police and the media about 'how upside down the place is'.

Narconon International declined request for an interview, but in statements said it has served 'tens of thousands of people' and 'three out of four Narconon graduates are able to live stable, drug-free lives'.

Since its establishment, Narconon has faced considerable controversy over the safety and effectiveness of its rehabilitation methods and the organization's links to the Church of Scientology.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.