The History Behind Be Scofield’s Article
In January of 2006, the body of Carla Jean Shaffer was found in a pond on Orcas Island in Washington State. Shaffer had been released from a mental hospital less than two weeks before. In December of 2005 she had stabbed herself and then claimed that a supernatural “less dense being” had attacked her in a “struggle between light and darkness.” The authorities—the local San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol—who extensively investigated both incidents never considered either Carla’s stabbing or death a crime of any kind. They found there was absolutely no evidence that any other person was involved in either case. After extensive investigation, along with her stated admissions that nobody else was responsible and that she had done it to herself, Carla Shaffer’s 2005 stabbing was determined to be self-inflicted. Because Carla left no suicide note, her following death was ruled to be an accidental drowning.
Months after Carla’s death, in the spring of 2006, posters appeared in the small town of Eastsound on Orcas Island. Several residents who saw them recall that the posters featured a photo of Aaravindha with the words, “Wanted for the Brutal Ritualistic Murder of Carla Shaffer – Aaravindha Himadra.”
Both Shaffer and Himadra were long-time residents of Orcas Island. The posters were quickly taken down and destroyed by local police and shocked and outraged citizens, so there is unfortunately no photographic record of those posters, but many remember the incident.
Clearly, someone on the island did not want to accept the official ruling of accidental drowning as the cause of Carla Shaffer’s death. And clearly, the individual or group who created the posters wanted to accuse Aaravindha Himadra. The police never considered Himadra to be involved in any way, because there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.
It was not until thirteen years later that the issue raised its ugly head again, in the form of a libelous article splashed all over the internet in early 2019 by self-appointed “cult reporter” Be Scofield.
Although certain parties on the island obviously initiated the malicious gossip in 2006 and fed it to Scofield over a decade later, the real crimes described in this report are Be Scofield’s: cyberstalking and harassment, defamation, and a concerted effort to ruin the lives of innocent parties to bolster her own reputation. You’ll soon understand how and why Scofield set out to frame an innocent man.
The Setting: Orcas Island
At fifty-seven-square miles, Orcas Island is the largest island in the San Juan Islands of northwestern Washington State. The island is shaped like an upside-down U—think of a pair of saddlebags—with the largest town of Eastsound right at the center. The island is mostly rural, with rolling hills and winding roads. Orcas is a favorite of vacationers, with 5,252-acre Moran State Park, which encompasses several lakes, miles of trails used by hikers and horseback riders, and Mount Constitution. From the summit of Mount Constitution, visitors have a spectacular view of the surrounding Salish Sea, other islands, and snow-capped Mount Baker to the east. Boaters of all types, including kayakers, explore the San Juan Islands on a regular basis.
Orcas Island is part of San Juan County, the smallest county in Washington State by total landmass. San Juan County includes four large islands: San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw, and hundreds of smaller islands, reefs, and rocks. The county seat is the town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. The last official census, taken in 2010, listed the population of Orcas Island as 5,387. The current population is likely between 5,500 and 6,000.
Law enforcement in the San Juan Islands is carried out by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office (SJCSO), with headquarters in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and regional offices on Orcas and Lopez islands. These larger islands also have fire and rescue services, mostly staffed by volunteers.
In general, the San Juan Islands are very spiritual places. Yoga, meditation, and other practices that some of the more traditional American religions might call “alternative” are commonly practiced in the islands. There’s a Buddhist retreat center on San Juan Island, and many spiritual retreats are held on Orcas. Google “Orcas spiritual retreat” and you’ll get a list.
Any island as small as Orcas has a tight-knit atmosphere. Many residents know each other, and the majority at least know of each other. While most residents are friendly and tolerant of others, in such a small community, it’s possible for only a few malicious-minded actors to poison the whole society with gossip and accusations about innocent citizens.
Who Was Carla Shaffer?
Carla Jean Shaffer, also called Carla Shaffer-Bauck (a hyphenated married name), was a resident of Orcas Island for more than twenty years, living in Eastsound, in the small cluster of houses in a neighborhood known as Opal Commons. She was 53 years old at the time of her tragic death in January of 2006. By all accounts, Carla was a gentle, artistic woman who loved dancing. When speaking to our investigator, many of her friends on the island described Carla as a “seeker” who would attend various spiritual events on the island, but they all insist that she was completely devoted to the Baha’i faith. She was involved in a women’s circle where several friends would get together now and then. While others meditated, Carla prayed.
Somewhere during her life, Carla had contracted hepatitis C, and she was continually on a quest to find methods to heal herself. As time went on, she became increasingly sensitive to fumes and pollutants and was concerned about electrical frequencies, especially from the cell tower that was to be erected on the island. She slept in a tent for a while, even in the coldest weather, until neighbors helped her build a very basic, clean “sleeping cottage” behind her house to escape electronics and chemicals found in the common building materials in her main house. Police reports reveal that multiple acquaintances stated that as her physical condition worsened, Carla grew increasingly paranoid about many things. Several friends and neighbors who knew her well said Carla had believed for years that extraterrestrial beings could slip through portals onto Earth and inhabit the bodies of humans.
Carla purchased a Rife machine, a device that first appeared in the 1930s and was named after its inventor. The concept behind the original Rife machine was that the device could be tuned to different electromagnetic frequencies that some believe assists in healing a variety of diseases. There are no standards for Rife-type machines, and multiple types of these devices are readily available today on the internet under a variety of names. Some Rife-type machines claim to send electromagnetic waves through a person sitting in front of them. Others are designed to attach to the skin or be held by the user.
Various friends of Carla’s told our investigator that Carla believed her Rife machine was helpful and that she increasingly used it more often and for longer periods of time. One friend and neighbor of Carla’s told our investigator that he had seen notes in Carla’s house that described how to tune into the frequencies of multiple planets. Several Orcas residents stated that Carla hoped that using the Rife machine could be a source of income as she learned to heal others with it.
In 2005, Carla had been long divorced from her husband, Jim Shaffer-Bauck, although several residents told our investigator that Jim wanted to revive the relationship. They had two daughters, Lyria and Karina, who grew up on the island. Carla had dated another Orcas resident, Reed Goodrich, but had broken off that relationship. Some of the people we spoke to said that Carla was afraid of Goodrich because he was believed to be abusive, although our investigator found no police reports to document that claim.
In spite of her efforts to find ways to cure herself, Carla’s hepatitis C was clearly affecting her health and her mental state. In a handwritten statement by friend Jennie Joplin found in the police records, Joplin stated, “I was with her on several occasions when she was overcome by fumes from synthetics, petroleum, etc., and witnessed her going totally blank, unable to think or move but always aware of what was happening.”
Carla’s neighbor Molly Roberts told an investigator that as time went on, “Carla became more and more scared, of everything.” It’s not uncommon for people with liver disease to experience psychosis as toxins accumulate in their bodies. In the time period in which Carla experienced her worst symptoms and died (Dec 2005-Jan 2006), several studies were ongoing that linked drugs used to treat hepatitis C and psychosis, especially hallucinations. Our investigator was not permitted access to all of Carla’s medical records, so we could not verify whether Carla was taking any of those medications.
Who is Aaravindha Himadra?
Aaravindha Himadra, a resident of Orcas Island at the time of Carla’s death, is a published author as well as an internationally renowned spiritual teacher. Aaravindha is his spiritual name; his birth name is Janis (also written as Yanis) Briedis. He’s married to Jil Peterson-Briedis, who is known by the spiritual name of Ashayrah.
Aaravindha wrote Immortal Self, a book in which he describes his journey deep into the Himalayan Mountains to a remote valley where he lived among the Amartya Masters, the reclusive keepers of an ancient lineage of spiritual mysticism.
Based on some of what he learned there, Aaravindha now leads a number of seminars in the US and in Europe. These seminars are aimed at helping people reach deep down and find their inner peace. Born in the Pacific Northwest, Aaravindha has a background in psychology, Eastern philosophy, and Eastern Comparative Religion. In 2007, one year after Carla Shaffer’s death, Janis and Jil Briedis (Aaravindha and Ashayrah) founded Sambodha Inc., an international organization dedicated to raising consciousness worldwide.
Aaravindha offers seminars for both the newly interested and those who want to become spiritual teachers, covering topics such as spiritual studies, meditation, culturing the art of compassion, ongoing spiritual support, and guiding individuals on their path of spiritual awakening. He told our investigator that he endorses those individuals with pure intentions who want to teach the concepts he promotes, but neither he nor his organization receives any financial benefit from the teachers who have learned from him.
One of his long-time associates sent this description in email of what Aaravindha teaches:
Aaravindha’s teachings are about finding your own power, which rests beyond all of the illusions that each individual has acquired through trauma and dogmatisms. You learn to walk through the fog and accumulated static that is not you, to find your true nature. The end goal is to bring this authentic self into expression for the benefit of the world as a whole. His teachings are all about self-empowerment, not the self-empowerment of your own limited mental idea of yourself, but the true, unconditional self that rests behind all that. Aaravindha teaches techniques and knowledge that can help you to come back to the original purity of who you are, and to recognize your unique purpose and the gifts you are intended to and able to bring forth for the benefit of all. Many of us have lost sight of that, and unintentionally created a barrier to it through our life experiences, our pains and wounds, and our indoctrinations. The things we experience through life can create emotional scars and false beliefs about ourselves. As a result, we limit ourselves and react to what we encounter in life with automatic defense mechanisms that prevent us from bringing forth our truly authentic nature.
In the early years, before Sambodha was formed as the business structure for Aaravindha’s seminars, Aaravindha taught these meditations and principles with a main focus on meditation and learning to listen to the intuitive wisdom of the heart and develop virtuous traits such as compassion, gratefulness, patience, and generosity. The core understanding was that these qualities are already inherent in every human being and will naturally come forth when each individual learns to listen and feel beyond her or his learned emotional defense mechanisms. Sambodha means “The wisdom that comes forth on the path to enlightenment.”
Over the years Aaravindha’s teachings around these core principles expanded greatly and included other areas such as earth healing (knowledge of the natural elements and chi currents of the earth), advanced meditation techniques, emotional healing, healing techniques that could be described as an advancement of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, knowledge about the nature of consciousness, and about the experience of reality in conjunction with quantum physics, as well as many more areas of knowledge.
The core concept of self-empowerment, finding your authentic expression, and the return to one’s inherent divine-human virtues remains central to all of Aaravindha’s teachings.
What sets Aaravindha’s teachings apart from other groups is that these teachings are intended to guide each individual just long enough to find and connect to his or her own inner voice and inner power. In a sense, you could say that the goal of the Sambodha teacher is that the student is supposed to outgrow the teacher.
Many articles by Aaravindha have been published in the US and in Europe, on topics as broad as methods for promoting free thinking in a healthy society, how to begin the practice of meditation, the ability to culture healthier brain plasticity, relationship issues, and much more. He is especially well known in Germany. You can find information about his writings, his seminars and other offerings, and comments from those who have attended his teaching sessions on https://Aaravindha.com.
When our investigator asked about the “spiritual names,” Aaravindha explained that he knew Sanskrit, which is often called “the mother of all languages,” and is considered a “language of the stars” in India.
He explained that choosing Sanskrit names for himself and friends is akin to following the Native American tradition of naming individuals for their virtues or personality traits. Adopting a Sanskrit name has never been a requirement to attend any Sambodha seminar or gathering, but many who attended his teachings requested that Aaravindha give them a spiritual name. His assistant confirmed that he routinely received so many requests from seminar attendees for individual spiritual names that at times it was almost overwhelming.
As mentioned before, Orcas Island is typically a welcoming community to all types of spiritual seekers, as well as a stunning natural setting in which to live, and Aaravindha was originally from the Pacific Northwest, so it should not be surprising that Aaravindha and Ashayrah chose to live on Orcas. They moved to the island in 1994 and hand-built their first home, then designed and built their dream home in 1998 on acreage with a beautiful view of the Salish Sea. The couple typically spends several months a year traveling and hosting seminars in Europe. When Aaravindha was not teaching, the couple enjoyed a tranquil pastoral respite at their Orcas home.
Aaravindha and Ashayrah are avid kayakers and environmental advocates, as well as artists and sculptors. They believed they’d found an idyllic home on Orcas.
According to Orcas residents, Carla Shaffer respected and admired Aaravindha and especially his wife, Ashayrah. A handful of residents remembered Carla attending only a few gatherings in the couple’s home and mentioned that she once helped to cater there for a two-day workshop on “The Intuitive Heart.” But official records indicate that everyone interviewed by the authorities said that Carla was never an avid follower of Aaravindha’s teachings; her devotion never wavered from the Baha’i faith.
Ashayrah (Jil Briedis) remembers first meeting Carla at the island grocery store. On a few occasions before Carla’s death, the couple opened their home to everyone who wanted to come, and it’s possible that Carla attended some of those events and that Aaravindha met her in passing, along with many others. But he remembers only one conversation of any significance with Carla, when she brought a gift of a loaf of bread to their home. At that time, he asked her if she wanted to learn meditation, and Carla responded that she did Baha’i prayers instead.
When questioned about their relationship with Carla, Aaravindha and Ashayrah said that they knew Carla and appreciated her and were on open-hearted and friendly terms, but not very close. They did not consider her a close friend.