July 25 marks the ten-year anniversary of the day that 46-year-old Colleen Conaway died during a San Diego event held by New-Wage/McSpirituality guru James Arthur "Death" Ray, of whom Conaway was a devoted follower. She plummeted to her death from an upper-level balcony of a San Diego mall during one of Ray's weekend "wealth creation" seminars, and when Ray and his top people discovered she was missing, and later learned of her death, they kept it under wraps and partied on. Ray was later convicted of negligent homicide, not for Colleen's death but for the deaths of three other people in Sedona, Arizona, in October 2009. He served less than two years in an Arizona state prison, and has been spending the time since he got out of prison trying desperately to make a comeback in Scamworld.
Every year at about this time, there is a gathering, in a desirable location undisclosed publicly until after the fact, of an elite-ish group of self-appointed "thought leaders" known as the TLC, which stands for Trained Liars Cartel... I mean, Transformational Leadership Council (aka the Transformational Leadership Council...of Death). They hold semi-annual meetings; the other one always takes place in late January. Founded in 2004 by Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul (aka "Soup for the Hole" in Salty Droid parlance) franchise, the TLC made Scamworld history at its 2005 event in Aspen, Colorado. It was there that Aussie TV and film producer Rhonda Byrne, desperately scrabbling for a new money grab, filmed some of the TLC members for what was to become the mother(f---er) of all New-Wage moviemercials, The Secret. This year's summer meeting of the TLC began yesterday (July 24) and continues through July 28.
Though he is no longer listed as a member, or even mentioned, on their web site, convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray was a founding member of the TLC and was, as a consequence, one of the most flaming pants-on-fire "stars" of The Secret (he was the guy with the Genie). So you might say that it is bitterly ironic that the summer meetings of the TLC always fall around July 25, which was the day in 2009 that one of Ray's most faithful followers, Minnesota native Colleen Conaway, jumped to her death from an upper-level balcony of a San Diego shopping mall during one of Ray's "wealth creation" manipulation weekends. (If you follow the link in the previous sentence, you'll find some posts I've written on past anniversaries. And if the graphic on today's post looks overly familiar, it is because it is a repeat of the one I used for last year's anniversary post and which was originally created for the post I wrote the year before that.)
In a 2013 Verge article about Ray called "The Death Dealer," Matt Stroud explained:
As part of a two-day seminar... Ray had instructed his participants to pretend they were homeless. Soon after, one attendee, 46-year-old Colleen Conaway, jumped to her death from the fourth floor of a shopping mall. A yet-unsettled lawsuit in San Diego claims that Ray knew Conaway had gone missing, but ordered the group to leave the mall without her. He and his employees did not contact police until six hours after Conaway’s death — and after leaving concerned-sounding messages on her cellphone, which she’d turned over to Ray’s staff before the homelessness exercise. She’d also given up her driver’s license, which led authorities to label her a Jane Doe until Ray’s people eventually faxed over a copy of her ID.Salty Droid had some cynical words for Ray and his peeps; here's one of numerous posts he wrote about the tragedy.
Colleen's family was bewildered by her death and said she didn't have a history of depression or suicidal tendencies. To them it was pretty clear that she had been unduly influenced by her idol, Ray.
Though James Ray was arguably a rising star in the motivational racket before The Secret, it was his participation in that craven franchise that propelled him to the A-list. He only grew more arrogant and ruthless as his star rose, and at numerous live events he recklessly subjected his followers to emotional abuse and physical danger. It isn't much of a stretch to say that The Secret -- and the TLC -- are at least partially responsible for the deaths of Colleen Conaway in July of 2009, as well as the deaths of the three people who died in Ray's Sedona "sweat lodge" the following October. It's very likely that Colleen's story wouldn't have gotten the traction it did had it not been for the Sedona deaths.
As I noted in last year's post and on numerous others, I've only covered Colleen's story superficially; some of my fellow bloggers, including the aforementioned Salty Droid, have written in much more depth about Colleen. (And for the next few paragraphs I'm just going to copy and paste a bit from last year's post.)
For instance, here's my friend in Germany, Yakaru, writing on the third anniversary of Colleen's death.
Also cited in Yak's blog post is another excellent post by Salty Droid, written in 2009.Not every “self help” teacher shares Ray’s dangerous combination of stupidity and sadism, but it’s a slick and ruthless system that has been constructed and refined over decades. Every possible devious sales technique has been worked into these routines.
Colleen walked into this trap, hoping to learn how to fulfill her dreams and get the best out of herself. Once she had committed herself to Ray’s program and handed over her money to him, he had immense power over her: she would have felt he held the key to her dreams and hopes.
In essence, James Ray stole her dreams and then set about selling them back to her at the highest possible price.
After Colleen’s death Lynn [Colleen's sister] found that she had been filling out 3x5 cards with what looked like James Ray’s sayings or directives. They were all over Colleen’s house :: Hundreds of them :: Along with spiral notebooks full of similar gibberish. Colleen had been directed to keep a list of her ‘old limiting views’ and her new ‘harmonic views.’ Lynn sounded anguished recalling her feelings at seeing that Colleen had lined though many of the values that 2008 Colleen would have treasured. Scratching off pieces of herself :: one at time :: replaced with empty lies.
And now, ten years later, Death Ray is still struggling to make a Scamworld comeback, as recently mentioned again on this Whirled. Recently he has been peddling "Crisis Coaching ®, a flopportunity by which he helps other presumably disgraced people with their own "comebacks." Trouble is, he hasn't exactly mastered the comeback feat himself, which is bad for him (yay!), but good for the world.
Not that Ray doesn't have his small but loyal fan base; he does. But if there's any justice in the world, his evil little monkey wings have been clipped enough that he'll never get the opportunity to kill someone again. As he continues to find new ways to make himself relevant again -- and as his former club-mates in the Trained Liars Cartel party it up wherever it is they're convening -- my heart goes out to the family and friends who loved Colleen Conaway.
PS ~ As I have often mentioned here on my posts about Death Ray, if you're at all tempted to give money to Ray or to any other Scamworld scammer for any reason, give it instead to a worthwhile organization, such as Seek Safely, which was founded by death lodge victim Kirby Brown's family to guide consumers and make self-help practitioners more accountable for their actions through legislation. (Here is the link to donation info.) So far, as I've also mentioned numerous times, more than 160 leaders in the industry have been invited to sign the "Seek Safely" promise, and not one of the A-list crew has yet done so. While some of them are now dead, such as Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer, the invitation has been open for years, but nobody who's really anybody in the industry seems very interested. That should tell you something.
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