Scientology - A Question of Faith
Eight months after the murder of Elli, the Church of Scientology threw a gala opening for its new building in Buffalo. Jeremy was unable to attend the party - he was behind the barbed wire at the Rochester Psychiatric Center.
"I didn't think it was wrong for why I did it," Jeremy said in a taped conversation. Asked why not, he replied, "'Cause I thought she was evil at the time."
Within days of his arrest, Jeremy was put on anti-psychotic medication. Dr. Joseph says the drugs did not cure Jeremy, but at least they stabilized him. "The change was dramatic. It was remarkable," he says.
"I firmly believe, as his doctor, in those days had he received psychotropic medication, perhaps been in a mental hospital for a period of time, I don't think this would have happened," Dr. Joseph argues.
But Scientologist Jan Eastgate disagrees. "That's just a hackneyed response by psychiatrists. It's typical of what they will say. Because there is no evidence that a psychotropic drug is going to prevent an act of violence."
She believes all psychiatrists are corrupted by connections to the pharmaceutical industry.
But curiously, John Nuchereno says Jeremy has his own opinion. "Jeremy himself told me that he firmly believes that had he been taking these medications that it would not have happened," he says.
Ken Case's prosecution of Jeremy effectively ended when the state's own psychiatrist concluded that he was not responsible for the murder.
The court sent Jeremy to the secure Rochester facility. Nuchereno says there have been no incidents involving Jeremy at the institution and that he is a "perfect patient to people that are there."
Jeremy has never blamed the church for what happened, but he has complained about Scientology's effect on his life.
He told a doctor he might have been pushed too much into the church by his parents. "'Cause at any time there was a problem they said they could handle it in Scientology. Which is good. But I lost, 'cause I tried to help out too much there when I could have been with my friends."
The Perkins tragedy did not seem to alter the church's position on psychiatry. In 2005, Tom Cruise made his now-famous denunciation on national television, telling Today Show host Matt Lauer "I know that psychiatry is - is a pseudo-science."
"What do you say to the millions of people who believe that they are benefiting from these drugs, people who may be watching this broadcast tonight?" Van Sant asks Eastgate.
"You know, they need to get thoroughly informed," she replies. "They're playing a game of Russian Roulette with their lives, and these drugs are very dangerous."
Don Perkins and his daughter Danielle remain devoted to Scientology. After Nuchereno spoke with 48 Hours, Jeremy was paid a visit from a senior church staffer. Nuchereno was then dismissed, and replaced by Richard Griffin, whose firm has worked for the Church of Scientology in the past. No one in the Perkins family agreed to 48 Hours' requests for on-camera interviews.
Don Perkins' attorney explained in a letter that Mr. Perkins was "wary" of our program, because it had a "pre-existing agenda" in favor of psychiatric drugs.
For everyone touched by the murder of Elli, there is a palpable sense of loss and regret.
"It's just an unnecessary, tragic, horrific, violent crime that happened to a very decent woman," says Gabrielle Carlson.
Both Gretchen Clark, who knew Elli and her family back in the 1970s, and Dawn mourn the loss of their friend, and worry what will become of the son she loved so dearly.
"He has to live the rest of his life knowing what he did to a mother that he loved very much," Gretchen says.
"The sad truth is Elli would have done anything for him," Dawn adds. "Elli would have died for him. And she did."
Produced By Miguel Sancho
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