There was a time when I worked as a cops and courts reporter for an old fashioned, ink-on-paper, daily newspaper. Most of the time it was a depressing gig that forced me to read police reports of nearly every crime reported in our coverage area filling my head with images of humanity at its worst, but sometimes it was interesting. During one very high-profile abduction case, which had connections to at least one other abduction and murder, I occasionally received calls from a psychic claiming to know not only where police could find the dead body of the missing person, but also who was responsible for the crime. Was this psychic legit? Would this case turn out to be one of those that would turn a psychic into a crime-solving superstar? It has happened before. The idea of psychics offering their special gifts to assist with a police investigation is nothing new. In fact, some psychic tips seem to have included valuable information.
I talked to investigators about the calls, and they already knew all about it. The same psychic had already called them too. They dismissed the psychic claims as being fanciful at best, and didn’t give the information much credibility. Honestly, I didn’t either. They just filed it away with the hundreds of other tips that poured in from a public anxious to help.
The psychic claimed the body was buried behind a building near a junkyard, perhaps near a well. She said it was a reoccurring vision she could not ignore and still maintain a clear conscience. What bothered me about the calls was the psychic’s refusal to give me her name and contact information so I could follow up with her as more information came out regarding the case.
“I’ll be in touch,” she always said.
I never reported on the psychic’s claims because one of the major revelations the psychic claimed implicated one of the missing person’s family members as being involved in the crime, and the physical evidence available at the time put the finger squarely on two escaped convicts known to have passed through the area on a multi-state crime spree. Releasing that kind of information was just too risky at the time because it had the potential to result in me and the newspaper getting sued for libel. It probably wouldn’t have been a winnable case for the plaintiff, but the hassle and expense of defending oneself in court is best avoided in most situations.
The escapees did eventually admit they committed the crime. They even gave police information about their disposal of the body, and their story couldn’t have been further from the one proposed by the secretive telephone psychic. The body of the missing person, however, has never been found despite more than a decade of speculation and searching.
If you go by the official court records, the psychic’s vision was absolutely off-base, but when you consider the body has never been found, it does make one curious whether the vision might have had some truth in it. As far as I know no one has found a location fitting the psychic’s description to search for the body. In that regard, there isn’t enough evidence to prove the psychic was absolutely wrong in her story. It’s still a mystery.
This essentially sums up the involvement of psychics in a number of investigations throughout history. In many cases, the information given is proven to fit into the details of the crime, but many times, the information simply does not pan out.
It’s a hit or miss proposition.
Famous Examples of Psychics Offering Insight to Investigators
John Wayne Gacy is among the most notorious serial killers in United States history. He killed at least 33 young men and boys during his rampage. The high-profile investigation to catch Gacy involved police interaction with several psychics. While psychics didn’t necessarily lead to the case being solved, the information provided was somewhat accurate and might have been a help to detectives.
A psychic named Carol Broman was among those contributing her talents to the investigation. The story begins when the idea of consulting Broman was suggested to the lead investigator by an officer whose wife was taking a parapsychology course with her. The first meeting between Broman and a detective reportedly took place at the odd hour of 3 a.m., at Broman’s home. During this meeting she touched objects belonging to the victim, who was believed to just be missing at the time, and she then offered her insight.
The result was a declaration the missing young man, 15-year-old Rob Piest, was dead. She also told the detective he died a horrible death, and was buried with at least six or seven other young men. She also equated the situation to a case in Texas involving a homosexual predator. Broman also described the location of the body as being a place with construction equipment nearby.
Much of this information was not known by police at the time, but as the investigation neared resolution, many of Broman’s details fell into place. Gacy was a contractor who mostly disposed of bodies by burying them in the crawlspace of his house, and his crimes were driven by his sexual desire for young men and boys.
Another psychic, Dorothy Allison, was also brought into the investigation at the request of a victim’s family. Allison attempted to help police find Piest’s body, and led them to a location that was unable to be searched immediately because of severe weather. Allison then recommended police search the area on April 9, 1979, a date several weeks away.
On that date, Piest’s body was found floating in the Des Plaines River, near the location pinpointed by Allison.
In another well-documented case, British psychic Robert Cracknell assisted in the investigation of a missing teenage daughter of an Italian industrialist. Cracknell was brought into the case by the missing girl’s father after police failed to make adequate progress after months of digging for clues. Cracknell told police to check, once again, a specific rural district where they would find a run-down building where the girl was held. Police searched the area again and did find clues in a building matching Cracknell’s description, but that’s not the most impressive aspect of Cracknell’s involvement. After the clues were found, he told a newspaper reporter the girl would be found by “next Friday.” The girl was located and returned to her family… the next Friday.
A current case in which psychics have weighed in is the case of Madeleine McCann, of Leicester, England, disappeared May 3, 2007, from a resort in Portugal. In addition to Gordon Smith the Psychic Barber, who has offered to help the family and allegedly exchanged emails with them, psychics from the US TV show Haunted Evidence went to Portugal hoping to shed light on the case. The McCann family refused to cooperate with the TV psychics claiming it was little more than a sick stunt.
McCann remains missing despite input from numerous psychic sources offering their services to investigators.
Police Deny Psychic Value, But Involvement Persists
Will the leads from these psychics pan out for the McCann family, or will this case go on for more than a decade like the one I encountered during my journalism days?
It might take a psychic to answer that question.
When it comes to psychics and police investigations, very few police agencies are willing to admit to consulting psychics, or even giving any more credibility to their claims than those of any other tipster. Some surveys indicate fewer than a one-third of police agencies have consulted with a psychic, and most surveys of investigators result in a resounding, “No,” when they are asked whether a psychic has ever actually led to a case being solved.
Despite the denial of police departments concerning the use of psychics, stories of psychic assistance are abundant. This is evidence of one of two things, psychics have provided valuable assistance in the solving of crimes, or psychics do a damn good job of spinning grungy strands of public-relations straw into pure public-relations gold.
It’s never easy to tell what the truth is when the confirmation of it has the power to boost an unknown psychic, living paycheck to paycheck, into a position to cash in big from the reputation boost. The solid psychic work by the likes of Allison and Broman indicate there might be reason to believe in psychics with legitimate abilities of clairvoyance. Maybe one day a consistently correct, psychic superstar will arise and put the questions of legitimacy to rest, and establish psychics as a common tool used by investigators. It certainly didn’t happen with my only psychic experience involving a police investigation, at least not yet. If, and when, a body is found, that could change.