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McPherson's death incites Web protests

By LUCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 14, 1998


In death, Lisa McPherson has gained fame around the world. Internet pages describing her death in the hands of the Church of Scientology have proliferated in Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, French and German.


The unusually long investigation began the day after McPherson died, Dec. 5, 1995.
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Scientology critics from Copenhagen to San Francisco walk the streets carrying signs that question the Dec. 5, 1995, death of McPherson in Clearwater. Some of those critics will be in Clearwater on the anniversary of her death again this year to picket Scientology buildings.

Internet interest in McPherson began when the Clearwater Police Department posted a notice on the Worldwide Web seeking information about her death and the whereabouts of three Scientologists who were possible witnesses.

Some Web sites carry photographs of McPherson when she was alive as well as autopsy photos that show the bruises and wounds found on her hands.

Other Web sites include the detailed notes written daily by Scientologists who cared for McPherson during her final days. The notes were disclosed in an ongoing civil suit filed against the Church of Scientology by McPherson's family.

Several of the Web pages include news stories published about the death and question other Scientology deaths that have occurred at the Fort Harrison Hotel. Critics around the world are picketing Scientology organizations with signs referring to McPherson.

They also hand out fliers with details on McPherson's death and addresses for Web sites with more information.

"Scientology Success Story?" asked a sign with a picture of McPherson that was carried in September by Salt Lake City critic Deana Holmes. "Last 17 days of life spent at Scientology Spiritual Mecca, www.lisamcpherson.org." In Copenhagen, critic Catarina Pamnell passed out fliers describing "the real truth about what happened to Lisa McPherson."

In Riverside, Calif., Church of Scientology officials went to court to stop critic Keith Henson from picketing Scientology's movie studio with a sign protesting McPherson's death.

A judge tossed the case out of court saying Henson had a right to picket on a public road.

In several cities, Scientologists have mounted "revenge pickets" at the homes of critics who carry signs protesting McPherson's death.

Another Web site featuring McPherson is www.xenu.com.

 

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