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DOCUMENT TITLE: Media accounts of first letter from "Hubbard"
SUBJECT: Media accounts of a copy of the first of three letters purportedly written on 3 February 1983 by the missing L. Ron Hubbard "proving" that Hubbard was alive
PARTIES: Purportedly, L. Ron Hubbard; Sherman Lenske and Stephen Lenske, Hubbard attorneys who delivered the letter, both Special Directors of the corporation known as "Church of Spiritual Technology" (CST); Howard C. Doulder, U.S. Treasury Department document examiner; Richard L. Brunelle, forensic chemist with Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)
BACKGROUND AND NOTES
It was on 10 February 1983 that the world first learned anything at all about the three letters purportedly written on 3 February 1983 by the missing L. Ron Hubbard, and it only found out about one of them. (See our overview of the three letters here, our report on the second one here, and our report on the third one here.)
Below are relevant excerpts from the first known media reports about the first letter, delivered on Friday, 10 February 1983 to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge L. John Cole, presiding over the trial of Gerald Armstrong concerning 30,000 original documents and manuscripts belonging to Hubbard (later valued at $5 million) that Armstrong had stolen. (The second letter purportedly written by Hubbard on 3 February 1983 goes to a different court four days later, on Monday, 14 February 1983. The third letter doesn't turn up until 20 February 1983, in the Rocky Mountain News.)
It is not mentioned in these stories, but it is certain from media reports about the companion second and third letters that this first letter came through Hubbard's attorneys Sherman and Stephen Lenske. Both were already Special Directors of CST at the time.
The second report below is a press release submitted by "church" spokesperson Heber Jentzsch, notable because Jentzsch provides the first mention of two U.S. Treasury Department personnel, Howard C. Doulder and Richard L. Brunelle (although he doesn't identify them as Treasury Department) who had been hired by the Lenskes to "authenticate" the letters. Jentzsch also admits that the inks used were inks "employed by U.S. government agencies" and were "not available anywhere in the world." (More information about Doulder and Brunelle comes in a later press release sent to PR Newswire by Bill Widder on behalf of Hubbard attorneys Lenske, Lenske, Heller & Magasin about the second letter.)
Analysts conclude almost unanimously that the Treasury Department connections were provided to the Lenskes by Meade Emory, architect of the corporate restructuring and of the Hubbard probate documents. And many are inclined now to believe that it was all part of an elaborate fraud perpetrated by Emory, the Treasury Department personnel, and the Lenskes to cover up the fact that Hubbard was an unreported missing person--dead or incapcitated.
Of particular note is the fact that only a copy of the letter is presented for press viewing. Although Jenstzsch asserts that the "original" contained "Hubbard's own inky fingerprints," there is later substantial evidence that Sherman Lenske's modus operandi for court evidence was to keep originals in his safe, and submit only "certified copies" to the court (certified by him), with attached affidavits from hired experts attesting to the "authenticity" of the originals. Although acceptable to judges, this also resulted in no one but Lenske and his hired experts ever getting to actually view the originals. And to this day, no one else has been allowed to see the originals.
As noted above, this purported Hubbard letter would be followed four days later by another letter also purportedly written by Hubbard on 3 February 1983, the second letter presented to the judge in the Ronald DeWolf lawsuit. And the court letters would be followed in less than a month by third "authenticated" letter, this time to the Rocky Mountain News, and a few months later by a Declaration purportedly from the misssing Hubbard--all of them coming through Sherman Lenske, and all using exactly the same mechanism of fingerprints, special government inks, and authentication by hired experts, two of them from the United States Treasury Department.
The Associated Press
February 10, 1983, Thursday, AM cycle
Church Repeats Contention That Hubbard Still Alive
By JAY ARNOLD, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES
BODY: Church of Scientology officials Thursday displayed a copy of a week-old letter said to be written by L. Ron Hubbard, and told reporters allegations that the church founder is dead were an "extortion" attempt.
The original two-page handwritten letter contained Hubbard's own inky fingerprints, said Church of Scientology International President Heber Jentzsch. The letter was sent to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who is deciding ownership of some 30,000 of Hubbard's documents allegedly stolen [by Gerald Armstrong] from the church.
Jentzsch said the sweeping scrawl on the letter had been verified by handwriting experts as that of the 71-year-old Hubbard, who has not been seen publicly for more than two years. Jentzsch said a chemist also had verified that the letter had been written in a one-of-a-kind ink especially designed for Hubbard's use.
The experts' analysis "proved that Mr. Hubbard was putting together this document after Feb. 2, 1983," Jentzsch told a news conference at the imposing gothic headquarters of the Church of Scientology of California.
"It tells the court ... that Mr. Hubbard is alive and is clearly interested in this case," Jentzsch said, adding that he hoped it would "put these rumors to rest."
...A copy of the letter said to be from Hubbard read in part: "Some years ago I loaned to the Church of Scientology many of my personal papers and entrusted them with the safe custody of those. Many documents were held by me but due to the fact that my writing and research over the past several years has precluded my establishemnt of any permanent residence, I was too short of space in my baggage to retain them and entrusted my personal papers and such to the Church of Scientology for safekeeping and storage." ...
The Associated Press
February 14, 1983, Monday, AM cycle
Church Produces Purported Letter From Hubbard
DATELINE: RIVERSIDE, Calif.
..."I know [Hubbard's] alive and well. That's all I've ever said," [Sherman] Lenske said Monday...
...Church lawyers submitted an alleged Hubbard letter...in the church's Los Angeles County Superior Court suit against former Hubbard assistant Gerald Armstrong. The church is trying to get back some 30,000 church documents it says Armstrong took. ...
February 10, 1983, Thursday
DISTRIBUTION: TO NATIONAL DESK
LENGTH: 622 words
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10 /PRN/ --A fully authenticated, handwritten letter from best-selling author and Dianetics and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, bearing a set of his fingerprints and dated Feb. 3, 1983, has been received by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, who immediately ordered that it be made part of the official court records, the Church of Scientology announced today.
Church President Rev. Heber Jentzsch, who was also sent an authenticated copy of the letter, said the letter reaffirms Hubbard's ownership of documents now being held by the court and asks the judge to expedite their return to the church, which had been holding them in safekeeping.
Jentzsch said the letter "not only categorically settles any question of Mr. Hubbard's ownership of these documents, but testifies decisively to the current, excellent state of his well-being, and to his continuing, vitally active and penetrating grasp of the whole, immensely diverse range of his activities and interests."
Authenticity of the two-page letter was conclusively established by renowned experts using three different methods, according to the Church of Scientology.
Los Angeles handwriting and fingerprint expert, Howard C. Doulder, submitted a sworn affidavit attesting that the script and prints were Hubbard's.
Internationally recognized forensic expert Richard L. Brunelle [BATF] used a sophisticated timed-ink identification technique employed by U.S. government agencies to verify that the letter was written after Feb. 2, 1983.
In his affidavit, Brunelle stated that he had prepared a unique formulation of ink not available anywhere in the world, and had placed it in a ball-point pen cartridge on Feb. 2. Brunelle stated the ink used by Hubbard was that same ink.
"Accordingly," he stated, "I have conclusively determined that the writing referred to in this document had to be written on, or subsequent to, Feb. 2, 1983."
Jentzsch said Hubbard's letter to the Hon. Judge John L. Cole will expedite a lawsuit brought by the church against former church filing clerk Gerald Armstrong, charging him with illegally taking documents and records belonging to the church, including personal letters and memorabilia of Hubbard.
Armstrong was compelled by judicial order to return the documents to the care of the court at the request of the Church of Scientology, Jentzch added.
In his handwritten letter to the Hon. Judge Cole, Hubbard noted that the court had impounded the records and said, "Some years ago, I loaned the Church of Scientology many of my personal papers, and entrusted them with the safe custody of these. Many documents were held by me, but due to the fact that my writing and research over the past several years has precluded my establishment of any permanent residence, I was too short of space in my baggage to retain them and entrust my personal papers and such to the Church of Scientology for safekeeping and storage."
Hubbard wrote, "I hope I have set the record straight and would sincerely appreciate your assistance in assuring that my belongings are returned to the church or their legal representatives."
Jentzsch stated that Hubbard had written to at least one other court discussing his newest novel, "Battlefield Earth," and its musical sound track, "Space Jazz," and his business and personal affairs. Jentzsch declined to identify the court but stated that the second letter from the writer-philosopher "substantially expands Hubbard's views on a number of timely matters and affairs.
CONTACT --Rev. Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology, at 213-663-2058
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