A 12-year-old Florida girl leaps off a tower to her death. Two of her classmates are arrested, accused of a modern rite of middle school: sending cruel, harassing texts.
Katelyn, now 13, stands outside the chain-link fence at the cement plant where Rebecca jumped to her death. It’s a cloudy January afternoon, some four months after the tragedy, and Katelyn is here with two good friends and her mother. The girls stand together in a silent row, gazing up at the pair of silos, several stories high. It’s a lonely scene, a forgotten lot in a rundown area on the fringe of town. Weathered tributes to Rebecca line the fence — purple plastic poinsettias, a lineup of teddy bears, a Snoopy card. A handwritten note reads, “You were amazing.”
Astra Woodcraft was seven when she indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology via an arm of the church known as Sea Org. What she endured, and how she escaped:
“One of my first jobs as an official member of the Sea Org was in the security department, meaning I had to make sure people obeyed church rules and ethics. It seemed that people were always in some kind of trouble—the place felt ruled by fear. You could get in trouble for random things; for instance, someone might question why there were so many loose papers on your desk. Another thing you could get in trouble for: masturbation. Early on in my new job, I had to sit down with a man in his 40s who had admitted to masturbating, and tell him to cut it out. I was 15 years old.”