Scientology – A Question of Faith

Did A Mother’s Faith Contribute To Her Murder?

(CBS) Why would a 28-year-old man, described as sweet, kind and gentle, take a knife to his mother one morning in 2003 and stab her over 70 times?

Jeremy Perkins, who had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, came to believe that his mother, Elli, was evil and out to get him. Experts say the brutal murder might never have occurred, had he received proper treatment to control his psychotic delusions. But Jeremy’s parents were devout Scientologists and their religion strongly opposes psychiatric treatment.

Peter Van Sant’s Notebook

Peter Van Sant speaks about the murder case of Elli Perkins. She was stabbed more than 70 times by her own son, who suffers from schizophrenia. Did her belief in Scientology contribute to her death?

Did Elli Perkins’ faith contribute to her death? 48 Hours correspondent Peter Van Sant explores the issue this Saturday, Oct. 28, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

“I tried to slit my wrists…but I wouldn’t die, so I decided to do my mom instead,” Jeremy Perkins told police after the murder.


Jeremy’s chilling words describe his actions on March 13, 2003, while he was in an active psychotic state.

The Perkins family cared deeply for their son and sought treatment within the principles of their faith. A lawyer for Jeremy’s father told 48 Hours that Jeremy was seen by both physicians and mental health practitioners, including a psychiatrist.

Consumer Alert: Scientologists “unqualified”

“Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill… (Scientology is) the world’s largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.”
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted at What judges have to say about Scientology

But court records unsealed by 48 Hours indicate that Jeremy’s treatment was limited to mostly vitamins and other holistic healing methods. The family filled prescriptions for an anti-anxiety drug and a sleeping aid. Medical experts and a doctor who treated Jeremy after the murder dismiss these methods as ineffective for an individual with paranoid schizophrenia.


Today the Church of Scientology claims more than 10 million members worldwide. Its religious opposition to psychiatry is well-known. In June of 2005, the issue was brought to national attention when actor Tom Cruise took a very public stance on NBC’s “Today” show. “I know that psychiatry is a pseudo-science,” he told Matt Lauer. “You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do.”

Van Sant examines the roots of Scientology’s opposition to psychiatry and the tragic death of a caring mother who desperately wanted to help her beloved son.

» Transcript

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Oct. 25, 2006 TV program preview
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This post was last updated: Nov. 8, 2013