Refusing a request from the disinherited son of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the San Luis Obispo County coroner said Tuesday he will not conduct an inquest into the death of the reclusive science fiction writer.
Sheriff-Coroner George S. Whiting said Hubbard’s death by stroke Jan. 24 “isn’t a coroner’s case,” because he was attended by a licensed physician, Dr. Eugene Denk of Los Angeles, who signed the death certificate.
“It is our belief that the physician of record has sufficient knowledge to reasonably state the cause of death,” Whiting said. “There is no information obtained during the inquiry to suggest death resulted from other than the cause stated by the physician.”
Two days after Hubbard’s death was announced publicly on Jan. 27 by the Church of Scientology, Boston attorney Michael Flynn sent a letter to Whiting saying an inquest was needed to determine whether Hubbard’s vast wealth “would provide a motive for individuals close to Hubbard to engage in potential wrongdoing.”
Flynn made his request on behalf of Hubbard’s eldest son, Ronald DeWolf, who had been estranged from his father for years. Flynn later said he was also representing a woman he identified as Hubbard’s illegitimate daughter.
The attorney said he plans to contest Hubbard’s will, signed one day before his death at age 74.
Flynn, who has been locked in bitter litigation with the church for years, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Hubbard, who had not been seen publicly since 1980, died on a 160-acre ranch in a rugged area about 30 miles northeast of San Luis Obispo.
Four days before his death, Hubbard signed a document requesting that no autopsy be conducted because of his religious beliefs. His body was cremated.