Lying for Death Ray Part 2 — Cover up of Colleen Conaway’s death continues

April 24, 2016

In the previous post, I got about half way through Lizzie Crocker’s atrocious parroting of the deadly spiritual teacher James Ray’s lies.

Here’s a tip for anyone — journalist, fake journalist, customer — about listening to James Ray: He is not someone who tells the truth. Not a word. It just doesn’t happen. Ray only has two modes:

(1) Advance grinning and spouting lies (teachings, manipulative statements);

(2) retreat, protesting innocence and claiming to the be the victim, while lying and covering tracks.

It is truly difficult for people to believe he is so dangerous, so deceitful, and above all, so utterly and shockingly stupid that he was prepared to risk killing his own customers. But that is exactly what the jury found him guilty of — and they didn’t know the half of it! (Because Ray’s $5 million law team prevented them from hearing the rest… If the facts are really the way Lizzie Crocker presents them, then why did Ray’s lawyers try so hard to keep all mention of such details out of court?)

James Ray is a walking demonstration of the complete lack of standards and ethics in the self-help industry, the total lack of consumer protection, and the reflexive habit of many to hold “spiritual teachers” to far lower standards than they hold anyone else to. Skepticism and deliberate inquiry can be some protection against this, if people are lucky enough to have discovered that it’s necessary. But anyone can be conned — con artists trigger responses in people, that are safe and normal nearly all the time. They exploit loopholes in social customs and weak points in normal social interactions. A skilled con artist can make otherwise secure people feel helpless and insecure. And in that state, people naturally tend to be more trusting and to take risks they normally would not take.

People who were lucky enough to recognize the red flags around James Ray usually make one of two choices. Either:

(a) Get out and warn others; or

(b) Say “Oh well, that’s business, and I might get rich if I kinda sidle up to him nicely.”

Crocker may have chosen some version option (b), but doesn’t seem to have woken up to how extreme and unusual Ray’s behavior has been, or how easily his lies can be exposed today simply by spending 5 seconds on google. We have seen her support Ray through phase 1 (“he still wants to help people”), and 2 (“tragic accident”). In this post, we get some new lies from Ray about his involvement in the horribly sad death of Ray’s first victim, Colleen Conaway, all dutifully reported as fact by his new journalistic chump. (By “lies” I mean, demonstrably false statements that contradict well known and easily confirmed facts, both from direct evidence, and police records.)

Crocker’s train wreck of an article continues:

In Enlighten Us, [the fake documentary by Jenny Carchman] Ray’s former followers—including one older couple who didn’t renounce him entirely after the sweat lodge deaths—describe how he empowered his devotees by pushing them to uncomfortable limits.

Video footage from his keynote speeches and seminars shows how Ray orchestrated “breakthroughs,” from coaxing a woman to sing “O, Canada” in front of hundreds of people to encouraging people to break plywood with their fists and bend rebar on their necks.

While he sometimes rewarded followers with hugs, his confrontational leadership style was often more aggressive and bullying, particularly as devotees climbed his personal growth pyramid. (“Spiritual Warrior” was at the top.)

This last detail is factually wrong.

The “Spiritual Warrior” event was previously “at the top”, meaning participants had already done numerous Ray events before getting to the most “challenging” (i.e. deliberately life threatening), but Ray had dropped that proviso due to falling attendance. Ray’s first victim, Colleen Conaway, had in fact already booked and paid for “Spiritual Warrior”. Had she not died during her first Ray event, the deadly “Spiritual Warrior” event two months later would have been her second.

Now follows a brief excursion into normal mundane journalism.

The more prominent he became in the self-help world, the more he listed toward the extreme. At one point in the film, Ray says the sweat lodge experience at his annual “Spiritual Warrior” retreats was, in his mind, “no different than a marathon.”

Enlighten Us hints that Ray had become increasingly reckless in the years leading up to the 2009 sweat lodge disaster, but doesn’t dive into specific incidents previously reported in the media.

In a 2014 investigative feature, The Verge reported that, in 2005, one man became “irrational and violent” after spending nearly four hours in the lodge. Ray “refused to call 911, and argued loudly” with the owner of the ranch when she called an ambulance to take the man to the hospital.

According to court documents, two people hired to manage Ray’s sweat lodge ceremonies testified in trial that participants had previously passed out and exhibited other symptoms of heat stroke, like vomiting.

The Verge also noted that a woman committed suicide during one of Ray’s programs in 2009, jumping to her death from the fourth story of a San Diego shopping mall.

…And that is where this brief attempt at journalism terminates.

When I asked about the incident, Ray said he had assigned a “resourcefulness exercise” to a group of followers that involved dressing up like homeless people and trying to get a meal at a shopping mall without paying for it.

“The intention was to give them some rapport with people who are in that state all the time,” he said. He had not met the woman personally before the event and was “shattered” when he received a call that she was dead. (Emphasis added)

I’ve heard plenty of lies from Ray about Colleen’s death, and catalogued them here, but that is a new one.

Ray did not “receive a call that she was dead”. That is a straight up lie, and Crocker believed him and simply reported it as fact. The whole sickening sequence of events is shown in a detailed timeline here. It was pieced together slowly over several years, mostly by the great activist blogger “Salty Droid” from a multitude of verified sources.

This video put together by “Salty Droid” mixes Ray’s promotional video for his “Creating Absolute Wealth” event, and news interviews with Colleen’s parents, a former employee, and the participant mentioned above who saw Colleen die. 

Why does Lizzie Crocker think Ray concealed Colleen’s death from participants?

Ray did not “receive a phone call”. His staff called the shopping mall’s security firm 8 hours after Colleen’s death. How did they know to call the mall security? Because a staff member, Greg Hartle, saw Colleen die at the mall. He even took the bizarre step of tweeting about it, probably to make it look like he didn’t know it was a participant. Colleen had traveled to the mall on the same bus as Ray, and Ray knew he didn’t need to wait for her when they were leaving. They went back to the seminar house and lied to participants that they “knew where Colleen is, she is safe and will not be returning to the group”. They had a big party, with participants celebrating their “breakthroughs”, unaware that one of their colleagues was lying dead in the morgue, identified only as Jane Doe, because Ray’s staff had collected her ID.

Then staff member Michelle Goulet left the party, first to leave a message on Colleen’s cell phone — even though she knew Ray’s staff had collected it. (All the other participants had got their possessions back, except Colleen. Listen to the message here.) And then she left the party again to call mall security. Throughout the night she and other staff members were partying and ducking out to fax Colleen’s ID to the hospital so they could identify her and eventually call her family in the middle of the night.

“I don’t want to talk about all the details because I don’t know them for sure, but she was obviously an unhappy individual,” he told me. “It’s heartbreaking. I don’t believe those things happen in an instant. They build up over time.”

Colleen is dead, so she can’t tell Crocker that Ray is lying about her. But Colleen’s family are still alive and have talked extensively with the media. Lizzie Crocker didn’t bother to talk to them.

Colleen was not suicidal when she went to the group. She had gone to Ray because she wanted to live a better life. As noted earlier, she had also booked and paid for the infamous “Spiritual Warrior” event two months later, at which Ray cooked three people to death. Had she survived her first Ray event, would she have survived her second?

When Colleen’s family collected her car from the airport, they found that she had packed a snack for the drive home. That is not suicidal behavior.

Disgracefully, Ray’s staff lied to the San Diego Police about the circumstances of Colleen’s death, and it was swiftly declared a suicide, and the case was closed. Many campaigned to have the case re-opened, including Senator Amy Klobuchar (from Colleen’s home state), but despite new evidence indicating Ray’s culpability, they refused. Ray’s $5 million attorneys managed to prevent it from being mentioned in Ray’s later trial, but it was investigated by the trial prosecutors and is on the record. Ray himself has given numerous contradictory accounts of the events privately to his customers.

And now he’s given Lizzie Crocker yet another version. And fake journalist Lizzie Crocker is making it part of her career to help him spread it even further to new customers. Anyone who was wondering how Ray got so much authority and could fool so many smart and decent people and lead them to their deaths, well this is exactly how it happens — built up by credulous, lazy, self interested journalists who lack even the simplest concept of ethics, don’t know how to fact-check, can’t tell when they are being lied to and don’t care to correct it when it is pointed out to them.

Part three will be up soon.



  1. Has fake journalist Lizzie Crocker had her errors pointed out to her? Did you do that? That correspondence would make interesting reading.

    It really is time states tightened up the law to protect people from these psychopaths and charlatans.

    One could be forgiven, watching this excerpt from the “Pierce” Morgan interview, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5uJ4w43dJs for thinking that James is a normal human being, fated to carry the burden of knowing that he made a dreadful mistake and caused terrible, inexpressible suffering and death…

    And yet he’s still advertising his services, and here’s the reference on his About Me page to the events:

    “In 2009, after rising to the top of my industry,” (ever so humbly, obviously) “I was involved in a terrible accident that claimed the lives of three people I cared about deeply.”

    A terrible accident. It claimed their lives? People he cared about deeply? If you didn’t know better, you’d think his house had burned down and killed members of his family, rather than having deliberately cooked his bullied clients in a tent.

    He goes on,

    “The anguish of that event would have been enough… but it didn’t end there.

    “I subsequently lost my business that took 20 years to build, my entire life savings, my home, my reputation and many so-called friends and colleagues deserted me. Simultaneously, my Mother was diagnosed with cancer, my Father with Alzheimer’s…and I eventually lost my liberty.”

    All this victim mentality from a spiritual guru! Poor guy, after that terrible house fire and all…

    Seriously, is this how someone deeply humbled by three counts of homicide acts? If it were me, I would certainly never dare try to help anyone again beyond maybe holding a door open or bump starting a car. I’d either hide away completely and get a job as a street cleaner, or, if I had a website, it would be very very different indeed. Just imagine if James Ray had the foggiest notion about personal growth – he could analyse what led him to make such a big fuck up of his sick life, agonize over the consequences of his greed and arrogance, beg forgiveness, urge potential customers of spiritual gurus never to go near them…

    But no, it’s business as usual. You can book his coaching, 12 group sessions over a year, for a mere $9k. It’s massively reduced. And it doesn’t say so, but I believe you can get about 50% off if you die.

    For just $247, however, you can upgrade this offer to his personal coaching programme. How’s that so cheap? Well, he doesn’t say, but I’m guessing it involves initiation into the industry, the real secret, so you can work together cynically fucking everybody over, dressed up as helping.

  2. I’ve twitterized it to her, so she’s been notified. And I just informed her more specifically that he’s been lying to her, as well.

    Regarding that victim mentality you note–
    From “The Sociopath Next Door”:

    when I am asked, “How can I tell whom not to trust?” the answer I give usually surprises people. The natural expectation is that I will describe some sinister-sounding detail of behavior or snippet of body language or threatening use of language that is the subtle giveaway. Instead, I take people aback by assuring them that the tip-off is none of these things, for none of these things is reliably present. Rather, the best clue is, of all things, the pity play…


    And of course, The Secret was selling a pretty good version of a psychopathic worldview — “The universe is a mail order catalogue”, you just stroll through it and take what you want.

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