Scientology President's Son Died of Prescribed Methadone While Sick With Pneumonia

The Village Voice/September 11, 2012

I talked earlier today to Ed Winter, assistant chief coroner of Los Angeles County, who tells me that he's ruling Alexander Jentzsch's death an accident.

The 27-year-old son of Scientology president Heber Jentzsch was found dead on the morning of July 3 at the home of his in-laws. Winter has now determined that Alexander was suffering from pneumonia while he was on a prescription of methadone. His injury was "drug intake," Winter says, and "final mode" of death an accident.

"What you're telling me sounds like an accidental drug overdose while he was very sick," I said to Winter.

"That's what I'm telling you," he answered.

Karen de la Carriere, Alexander's mother, tells me that Winter is not done investigating.

"They don't even have all the reports back yet. And they're looking at that methadone prescription," she tells me.

She points out that a healthy 27-year-old is not likely to die from pneumonia. And if he was following his methadone prescription - and so far there's no indication that he didn't - that also should not have been lethal.

It's the combination that killed Alexander Jentzsch.

The son of the president of the Church of Scientology International, cut off by the church from both of his parents, was taking methadone while he had serious pneumonia rather than antibiotics. And that doesn't look good.

Alexander Jentzsch had been raised as Scientology royalty as a child, and he joined the Sea Org at only eight years of age. His father, Heber, had been made president of CSI in 1982 and through the 1990s was the public face of the church. But by 2004, he had fallen from favor and became a resident of Scientology's notorious concentration camp for executives, "The Hole."

In 2010, Karen de la Carriere - a longtime Scientologist who had trained with L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s - went public with the way her ex-husband was being treated, and that her son was growing up without his influence. For that, she was "declared a suppressive person" by the church - excommunicated, in other words - and then Alexander was forced to "disconnect" from her. In the last two years of his life, Alexander was cut off from both of his parents.

He moved to Dallas, but then reportedly lost his job. Just before he returned to Los Angeles, on June 26, he received the methadone prescription. (While the drug is prescribed to help heroin addicts with withdrawal, it is also prescribed for acute pain, and Winter was told by Alexander's in-laws that he had serious back problems.)

At some point, he also came down with a serious case of pneumonia. Was he getting proper medical care for it? That's something de la Carriere tells me Winter is determined to find out.

"In three days I'm meeting with the autopsy doctor and at the coroners for a briefing," Karen tells me. She's determined to learn more.

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