The Tragic, Macabre Death of Ron Corona, Jr.

Rest In Peace
Ronald Joseph Corona, Jr.
November 19, 1972 – August 13, 2012

To all appearances, he was an extraordinary guy – muscular, good-looking, intelligent, with a warm personality and a sense of humor, he loved animals, enjoyed working out, was accomplished at hunting and fishing, and was known for his willingness to help anyone, friend or stranger, with anything at any time.

Ron Corona, Jr. with his nieces and nephew.

Ron Corona, Jr. with his nieces and nephew.

President of his Senior Class, Homecoming King, and voted most likable in his class by his classmates at Berwick High School in Pennsylvania, after graduating from high school in 1991, he attended Bloomsburg University and in 1997, graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, with a degree in Pharmacology. After graduating, he moved to Philadelphia, where he worked as a Pharmacist. We know very little of his life during that time, but it appears to have been without major incident.

In June of 2007, he had a public drunkeness and misconduct incident. Another alcohol-related incident occurred in November, 2009, and yet another in January, 2010. His father, Ronald Joseph Corona, Sr., passed away in January of 2011. Ron, Jr. was devastated, and some say that is when his real struggle with alcohol began.

On November 1, 2011, Ron arrived at Narconon of Georgia. He reportedly completed the program in 3 months. At some time during this period, he would have received the news that his pharmacologist’s license had been suspended until at least December 20, 2014, due to a probation violation. He was asked to stay on as staff at Narconon of Georgia, which he accepted. In April 2012, Ron traveled home to see his family and friends, and to get his car before he started working at Narconon of Georgia. While he was there, his beloved cat Oscar died, another devastating blow for Ron. He posts to his Facebook page:

April 24, 2012
Back home for the week. Really great to see family & friends!

April 24, 2012
Changed my profile pic to this pic of Oscar. The big man died about an hour ago….liver cancer. I at least got to spend the last 2 days with him….I loved him so much…miss him already.

April 25, 2012
Thanks to everyone who wrote about Oscar.

April 25, 2012
As much as I miss him it’s harder to see my other 2 cats walk around the house all day looking for and missing him too.

Ron returned to Narconon of Georgia and was first assigned to be an Intake Specialist, and was training to be a Counselor. On July 4, 2012, he became Facebook friends with David Holtz and Ji Johnson, both employees of Narconon of Georgia at the time. The notations on Facebook about becoming friends with these people are gone now.

On July 12, Ron added photos of Oscar the cat’s grave, with live flowers blooming, and on July 13, he added a link to, with the notation, “Makes me extremely grateful for everything that I have and especially for the things I no longer have.” Was he still grieving for Oscar and comforted by the site? A comment to his post reads, “I hope this means you are on the right path. I think of you often and wonder how you are doing.”

On July 17 and 18, Ron updated his “About me” page, and changed his current city to Duluth, Georgia, where Narconon of Georgia and its unlicensed housing were located. He lists Narconon of Georgia as his employer, and changes “About Ron” to read:

I’m writing a new chapter in my life. I’m in a better place now than I’ve ever been before (and that’s saying a lot). I’m confident and sure of myself again and most of all I believe in myself like never before. In everything I do I choose the right choice or better choice and it keeps me happy.

Clearly becoming more involved with the social scene at Narconon of Georgia, he becomes Facebook friends with more Narconon of Georgia staff members and/or students – Rico Perez and Rachael Schoen.

But before a month would pass, everything would change for Ron Corona, Jr.

It was just a routine night for the cleaning crew at the office park, as they made their way around from building to building. It was early Monday morning, about 2:30 a.m., and the daytime office workers would be arriving in several hours to start their work week. A decade or so ago, it had been a nice office park, with tree-lined streets and manicured flower beds, and buildings in a woodsy setting, somewhere pleasant to go for an evening walk. The office park was still nice and well kept, but the surrounding area had been in decline; drug activity in the neighborhood made an evening walk something that most people wouldn’t do.

As the night wore on, the crew approached Building 25, and came upon a disturbing sight. A man either sleeping or dead, wet and muddy, as if he’d been in the nearby lake, with scrapes and abrasions covering his entire body as if he’d been running through the woods. He was not wearing shoes. They hurriedly called 911, and when the police arrived, they found a man who they described as “a large frame white male, between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6-foot-2 tall, weighing about 200 pounds.” The man had no identification, no wallet, cell phone, keys, or any possessions that would give a clue as to his identity. The only possible method to identify him were two tattoos.

The cleaning crew dutifully returned to their work, which was suddenly not so routine any more, and found that the man had tried to dig under the building’s foundation in two places, and had left muddy prints on the glass doors and windows of the suites. One of the cleaning people cleaned up the blood left by the man’s injuries. Another worker in the building confirmed the description of the scene, and added that it looked like he had tried to get into the office.

Police released a photo of one of the tattoos, a tribal graphic, as well as a description of the circumstances, seeking someone who could identify the man, or provide some clues. Local papers, both online and print, carried the story, as did at least one local radio station and one television station. Three days later, a photo of the second tattoo was released – it was a tattoo of Mickey Mouse. Ten days later, the police had an identification. The man was Ron Corona, Jr.

Piecing together the incidents that led up to Ron’s bizarre and upsetting death from comments made here and there, it seems that after Ron became employed at Narconon of Georgia, surrounded by other students and staff partaking of vices they were presumably in rehab to rid themselves of, in an environment where substance use was allowed and not discouraged (as is the case at so many Narconon centers), Ron had relapsed. On August 11, he was sent to live at a nearby hotel, the Guest Inn. The bill was paid through the following Wednesday, August 15. Ron called his mother and told her he was on vacation.

A former Narconon “student” who had finished the program a couple of weeks before Ron’s death said:

They moved him from the Berkley Landing housing to ‘the hotel’ which is somewhere near the center. At some other point they took his keys or his car. When people move to the hotel you don’t hear too much about them anymore. Ron was a supervisor. He started having more and more problems when he became staff.

It really shook the center up when Ron died. Like I said, he was star student/staff… Those Scienos loved him.

After he went to live at the Guest Inn, Mary Rieser, Executive Director of Narconon of Georgia at the time, and another woman by the name of Laurie (possibly Lori) Daniels paid him a visit, reportedly to try to convince him to re-enroll in the Narconon program.

According to a friend who spoke to him just the day before he died, he mentioned that counselors and students were “hanging out and partying together.” Ron confessed that he had fallen off the wagon and had started drinking again. The friend, having done some reading about Narconon, tried to convince him to go to another facility for help this time.

He was caught between a rock and a hard place. He had left his family in PA to come here and get better. He thought he had done that and was on his road to recovery but was hit with temptation and stress and without the proper tools and guidance he slipped up and needed help. When Narconon took him on as a staff member he was not paid much but in return they did provide him with housing. The same housing he was staying in as a patient. If he left Narconon he would be out of a home and a job. I could not convince him to leave Narconon. He really thought that they had his best interest in mind. When we last spoke on August 11, 2012 he said he was going to talk to one of the counselors and they would know what to do.

When he suddenly ended contact with his friends and family, his mother filed a missing person report. After finding out about Ron’s demise, his mother told the papers:

He was doing very well, and I don’t know what happened to him. We’ll probably never know what really happened to him.

Ron’s body was cremated, his ashes returned to Pennsylvania and buried on September 1, 2012.

A friends left these words in an online guestbook:

Your light and laughter will be profoundly missed. Rest in peace my dear friend, you now have wings.

An autopsy found that Ron had died due to “Toxic Effects of Acute Cocaine Use.” With that, the police lost any interest in an investigation of the death, if there ever was any real interest.

Ron’s death was investigated more thoroughly by people on Tipping Point and others behind the scenes than by the police themselves. Some of us did try to give them information about what we knew and offer help with their investigation.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the death of Ron Corona, Jr. We don’t know what might have happened during the meeting with Mary Rieser and the woman named Laurie or Lori Daniels. We don’t know why Ron went to Technology Park in Norcross, Georgia in the middle of the night, apparently on foot because no abandoned car was found at the scene. We don’t know why he would have been running through the woods, with no shoes, no ID, no other possessions on him. We don’t know if he was running from someone, something, or if he was running from demons in his mind.

There is one thing, however, that we do know. If Ron Corona, Jr. had gone to a real rehab, a rehab that cared enough to keep the staff and patients from using drugs and alcohol, with a program that taught him how to deal with and overcome his addiction – instead of Narconon, which taught him nothing but re-branded Scientology – he might be alive today. At the very least, he would have had a fighting chance.

Narconon Reviews expresses its sincere condolences to all who knew Ron. Family or friends who find this, or anyone who has more information, please feel free to contact us privately or leave info in the comments section below.

M e m o s

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  1. From the Desk of...
    Tony Williams

    Sometimes you really need to say something, but you have no clue what to say. Thank you for saying it so well, and for reminding us that there are things that need saying. L. Ron Hubbard knew nothing about medicine or physiology, and apparently only enough psychology to convince some people that his medical fantasies were a science, and then a religion. It is no surprise that the failure rate of his methods is so high, since Narconon is built and operated totally according .to Hubbard’s anti-scientific teaching. Stories like this are the most serious indications of the inability of Narconon to address the roots of addictive behavior, but there are many more. Work like yours is a wonderful counter to the fraudulent stepchild of Scientology called (amongst other names) Narconon.

    ’til next time;
    tony williams

  2. Mary McConnell From the Desk of...
    Mary McConnell

    Terrific article, Ann. Many more now know about Ron Corona and the sad fact that Narconon had a hand in his death. Lets hope more information comes about so that the facts are made known.

  3. From the Desk of...
    S. Higgins

    What is really tragic here (aside from his death and getting mixed up with Narconon to begin with) is that Ron, as a pharmacist, should have entered a rehab program for impaired professionals at a licensed rehabilitation center (i.e. Talbott in Georgia), where he would have received top quality care (impaired professional programs have an 85% success rate for individuals staying sober on the first try). What’s more, he would have received advocacy and assistance from the center and they would have worked with his state licensing board to keep his license from being suspended if he successfully completed the IPP program and stayed sober via meetings, drug screens and other conditions set forth by the state and program). I am not affiliated with Talbott in any way.. I am just an impaired professional myself who went to a different rehab and have been in recovery for almost 12 years. While i do not know the whole story, I am so saddened that colleagues or employers did not guide him to an IPP program, which is pretty much the norm in these types of cases, and if he had been, I think it is probably safe to say that he would most likely be alive today.

    • Ann From the Desk of...

      Thank you for your comment and the additional information about the IPPs. We don’t know how Narconon ended up being the place Ron went to, and it could be that an IPP might have been suggested and rejected for some reason – we just don’t know. Certainly, that option would have been a much better choice.

      Congratulations on your 12 years of sobriety, by the way.

  4. From the Desk of...

    with all the information out there about this ridiculous dangerous cult, I have a hard time being sympathetic. People who still insist on alining themselves with these snake oil salesmen with everything that we know are doing it for the ego strokes they receive from the inside. They do it because they want to believe they are privileged and special and “DIFFERENT” …… that is what they live for…..the delusion that they are above and better than everyone else in the world. The ego KILLS!

    • Ann From the Desk of...

      Thank you for your comment, eljeran. I can’t tell if you mean you have a hard time being sympathetic to the people who go there for help, or the people who work for Narconon. If you’re referring to the clients, unfortunately, the idea that they deserve little or no sympathy is all too common. Indeed there is a lot of information about Narconon, but the people who need the information are not always in a position to look for it when desperate to find a rehab. Often, the rehab is found for the substance abuser by a family member or other loved one, and they have little say in the matter. We will do a blog post in the future to address this.

      You can subscribe to be notified when a new blog article comes out:

  5. From the Desk of...

    try good old fashioned AA/12 Steps REALLY works!

  6. From the Desk of...

    It is time to hold those that may have had a hand directly or indirectly accountable for this young mans death. The State of Georgia,s Department of Community Health in this posters opinion should shoulder some of the blame.

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