Special Report: Denver murder may be linked to Scientology
Not long after the shooting of Thomas Ciancio at a Denver Software Company, the company’s link to Scientology became a key component.
(One of Scientology's symbols) An ATF firearms E-Trace by police showed that the purchase agreement for the gun by the younger Fowler listed his address at the time as 1413 L. Ron Hubbard Way in Los Angeles. This is the address for the Church of Scientology's American Saint Hill Organization, where 'volunteer ministers' receive training.
Fowler has been charged with the murder, which took place on December 30, when Ciancio, a former partner went to Fowler Software Design to pick up his $9,900 severance check.
Fowler was a strong proponent of Scientology. Denver’s KMGH-TV Channel 7 News, on its website "TheDenverChannel.com", cited a 2008 letter to the Rocky Mountain News where Fowler described himself as a Scientology minister. "I am very proud to be a Scientologist," Fowler wrote. (www.thedenverchannel.com)
According to the arrest affidavit from the Adams County Sheriff’s Department, as the former Chief Operating Officer, Ciancio had become upset over large withdrawals that Fowler was making without permission from company funds of between $200,000 and $250,000, giving it to a church or charity.
The affidavit stated that when detectives met with Ciancio's wife, Laura, at their home in the suburb of Castle Rock, she did confirm that her husband and Rex Fowler had been "arguing over company matters for several months. Mrs. Ciancio stated Rex Fowler had sent several e-mails to Thomas Ciancio's laptop computer making financial threats that had to do with the business."
Reportedly, Fowler had countered Ciancio’s charges with an accusation himself that the COO owed the company approximately $62,000 in bad debts. Eventually a resolution was reached, with Ciancio receiving a severance settlement.
Ciancio, frustrated over these and other management actions, resigned in November.
Police first thought that Fowler was the victim in the shooting, as he had staggered out of the office building bleeding with a gunshot wound to the head. After further investigation, however, officials reversed their finding, now believing that the shooting was even premeditated; that is was intended for Ciancio never to leave alive.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit Ciancio was shot three times in the head as he apparently sat at a table near Fowler's personal office. Fowler then received a self-inflicted wound.
Following the shooting, Fowler was taken to a local hospital where, according to the affidavit, Fowler remained in critical condition from a bullet that entered beneath his chin and exited the top of his head.
The affidavit stated that police had traced the semi-automatic handgun used to kill Ciancio to Alexander Hyung Fowler, Fowler's 25-year-old son who purchased the weapon in 2006 from Andrews Sporting Goods store in Pasadena.
An ATF firearms E-Trace by police revealed that the purchase agreement for the gun by the younger Fowler listed his address at the time as 1413 L. Ron Hubbard Way in Los Angeles. This is the address for the Church of Scientology's American Saint Hill Organization, where "volunteer ministers" receive training.
When interviewed by investigators, Alex Fowler told them he gave the Glock pistol to his father as a Christmas gift in 2007.
At the hospital on December 31, an interesting drama unfolded between police and Fowler’s wife, Janet, when they asked to speak with her.
Reportedly, Fowler had left a note dated the day of the shooting that directed anyone who found it to "please give the briefcase to Jan." The affidavit revealed that another note, found on Fowler's work desk along with several keys, explained to "Jan" what each key unlocked.
"Janet Fowler quickly demanded the briefcase," the arrest affidavit stated. She was referring to a briefcase removed from the crime scene by police which contained information about Scientology.
"One thing I need is his briefcase," Janet Fowler stated according to the record. "It was taken out of his office. It is important to me, my church, and it is religious material and I want it now!
"Even if you looked at it and read it, you would not understand anything in it, because it is way above a normal person and you would not know what it meant."
Detective Gene Claps explained to Janet Fowler that investigators needed to review the briefcase contents.
"Janet Fowler then demanded the briefcase be returned again, by saying, 'I want it back now, right now!'"
Several sites on the internet critical of Scientology have been actively following the incident and investigation, calling attention to the large amounts of money that seemingly were diverted to the church. According to those who have left Scientology, members are required to pay large sums of money for Scientology courses and "auditing," which Scientology describes as a "unique form of personal spiritual counseling."
When KMGH contacted the Adam’s County District Attorney’s office asking if the investigation had found whether Scientology directly played a role in the slaying, investigator Krista Flannigan, said she could not discuss details of an on-going investigation.
The Ciancio family is a familiar name in the history and life of Italian Catholics in Denver. Tom is the youngest of ten children of David C and Delores Ciancio, who live right near the Assumption Church in Welby, an historically important Italian-Catholic neighborhood of Denver.
Tom’s wife, Laura, was a Presbyterian. A few years ago he joined her, becoming a member of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Castle Rock.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online. He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in 2006. His reporting on the Church of Scientology has received global attention as the group’s activities come under increasing scrutiny.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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