VOL. 24 NO. 2 FALL 2011
location of Caylee Anthony's remains
In a case that riveted the nation, Orlando resident Casey Anthony was found "not guilty" this past July of the June 2008 death and disposal of her two-year-old daughter Caylee. During the time period of the trial, two psychics were credited with apparent advance knowledge of where Caylee's skeletal remains would be found.
Roy Kronk, the meter reader who ultimately did find the remains in December 2008 -- without benefit of any psychic assistance -- had initially called authorities (on three consecutive days) in August, when he first spotted something distant in the woods. From his first call: "I'm not telling you it's Caylee, or anything of that nature. Something round and white underneath of it. I don't know what it is." A cursory search of the snake-infested swamp ensued, but it was four months later, and much drier, when Kronk returned to the scene and definitely identified a skull and had the remains retrieved.
Casey Anthony's attorneys argued that because the August search had turned up nothing, Kronk must have placed the remains in the woods himself in December, while Casey was imprisoned. They also called witnesses regarding another search of the same woods, by private investigator Dominic Casey, that had yielded nothing as well, but which involved a "psychic."
Mr. Casey testified that he was hired by George and Cindy Anthony (the defendant's parents) to search a particular area based upon a psychic tip that they had received. He described how he walked through the woods, cell phone in hand (videotaped by fellow investigator Jim Hoover), as the psychic guided him to a spot where she believed the body would be found.
On June 28, the same day as that testimony was elicited, Nancy Grace, during her evening television program on HLN, spoke by phone with the psychic, Ginette Matacia Lucas from paranormaladvisors.com. From that interview (excerpted):
I gave directions from the Anthony house.
But before you dismiss the psychic angle out of hand, listen to Ms. Lucas' persuasive explanation of her remarkable powers. From the same interview (excerpted):
I use an ability called remote dowsing.
When Cindy Anthony was recalled by the defense regarding this matter, she denied any knowledge whatsoever of the psychic or any involvement in arranging such a search. But her son Lee, who followed her to the stand, offered diametrically opposing testimony, recalling that he had become "quite angry" with his mother about her arranging for the search, on the basis of a "psychic tip," because he had thought that the entire family still believed Caylee to be alive. The video of both interrogations on this matter can be viewed here.
Following the psychic, Nancy Grace's next guest on her June 28 program was former police commander "Woody" Tripp.
Grace: Do police use psychics?
She then immediately turned her attention to defense attorneys Ray Giudice and Chris Amolsch:
Grace: Everybody who has ever prosecuted a murder case [including herself] has likely at some point dealt with psychics. Now, a lot of people don't believe in psychics, but the reality is, somehow, someway, they have cracked cases in the past. Don't ask me how. I'm not psychic. I'm not clairvoyant. But the fact is, they have given information to police that has led to bodies in the past.
Grace had posed the question because the prosecution in this case would "want the jury to come to the conclusion, the practical conclusion, that one of the Anthony family members [as opposed to a psychic] told
A second psychic, not mentioned during the trial, also claims to have discerned the recovery site, though apparently contacting only the media and not the family or authorities. A YouTube video of a January 2009 WOFL-TV 35 (Orlando) news report begins with anchor Amy Kaufeldt explaining that, coincidentally, on August 11 -- the day Roy Kronk first called authorities -- Gale St. John had zeroed in on the same area "on the same day, and has the video to prove it."
Reporter Holly Bristow then narrates a story about St. John, a "psychic detective" known as "The Bodyhunter" (emblazoned across her shirt), which was also the name of her proposed half-hour TV series that was scrubbed in 2008 before it got off the ground.
Per Bristow's narration, we see a videotape, shot by St. John's daughter during their first search for Caylee, in which St. John is behind the wheel of a car during what she calls a "blind drive" of the Anthony's neighborhood, the last area where Caylee was known to have been alive. As the vehicle turns right toward what will turn out to have been the true recovery site, "her reaction, moments later, is just chilling." St. John described it this way: "You get very sick to your stomach, you feel almost as if you've been punched in the stomach, and it knocks the air out of you."
At the spot of that intense feeling, she pulls the car over, and she and her crew, along with two cadaver dogs, exit and head into the woods. But although, according to St. John, "the dogs did show heavy interest in going back in the area," they couldn't go far because of standing water. And according to Bristow, "St. John could not get permission from the property owner to go into the woods where Caylee's remains would be found, so she did not return," though Bristow later adds, "St. John came back to do another search for Caylee in mid-November. She tells me she drove back to that same area again and got that same feeling
And St. John apparently returned a third time. A November 20, 2008, story on the WOFL Website begins:
Another big name you may recognize is back in town searching for Caylee Anthony, psychic detective Gale St. John from the show The Body Hunters. This is St. John's third trip to Orlando looking for the missing three year old. Their first stop of the day, Greenwood Urban Wetland outside of downtown Orlando. Dozens of tips led St. John to this location. "We don't just do the psychic thing
So we can't help but wonder how "blind" St. John's "blind drive" really was. And the YouTubed news report, containing video clips of what was ostensibly her first search for Caylee, aired in January 2009. Can we really be sure that the video given to Ch. 35 was actually shot on August 11, 2008, before Caylee's remains were recovered, rather than having been created after the fact? It would seem so, as there are contemporaneous Internet posts from people commenting upon St. John's search being conducted that day. The unedited, 20-minute video (with occasional profanity) can be viewed in its entirety here.
During the course of my own research, two people previously associated with St. John have alluded to issues causing them to divorce themselves from her "Bodyhunter" activities. Neither will speak on the record, but at least one of them seems to have grown skeptical of her "psychic" abilities, and I inferred that another issue revolved around the appropriateness of St. John's use of the donations she received that were intended to fund her group's official missing-person investigations.
Loses one appeal in $30,000 quest, files another
As we reported in our last issue, former Floridian and renowned "psychic detective" Noreen Renier's hopes for a $30,000 payday from skeptic John Merrell were dampened this past March, pending appeal. In June of last year, Judge William E. Anderson, who presided over Renier's bankruptcy trial, issued a ruling that included a $30,000 penalty to be paid to the aggrieved party should either she, or skeptic John Merrell (her perennial nemesis and principal creditor), again publicly disparage the other, as Renier contends Merrell continues to do. However, on March 21 of this year, Anderson vacated that 2010 order after concluding that he had exceeded his authority.
Renier promptly filed a 40-page appeal alleging that Anderson's analysis erred "factually and legally," and that Merrell's continued Internet postings about her entitled her to be awarded the $30,000. On July 22, United Stated District Judge Norman K. Moon issued an eight-page Memorandum Opinion in which he agreed with Anderson that "the bankruptcy court lacked jurisdiction" in this matter. However, in this never-ending saga, Renier has subsequently filed an appeal of that decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On another front -- two fronts and a back to be precise -- our litigious medium has landed in hot water over the covers of her three new book releases. Two of the books are foreign-language editions of her memoir, A Mind for Murder, about which we have written extensively in past issues. The third is a new tome entitled The Practical Psychic: A No-Nonsense Guide to Developing Your Natural Intuitive Abilities.
As I wrote in my chapter about Renier in Psychic Sleuths (Prometheus Books, 1994), Robert Ressler, a now-retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent who had invited Renier to lecture at the FBI Academy (and has since befriended her and endorsed her "psychic" powers), acknowledged in a 1986 deposition that "we don't
Nothing has changed in that regard in the ensuing years, so it was quite a shock to see the cover (right) of the new French edition of Renier's memoir. The title translates to Medium: Investigator for the FBI, and 20/20 vision is not required in order to appreciate the cover's most prominent feature. But good vision is useful when reading the federal statutes. Per Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 701, with regard to "any
Whoever, except with the written permission of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, knowingly uses the words "Federal Bureau of Investigation" or the initials "F.B.I." or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, in connection with any
Though we have no detailed information to report at this time, we do understand that the FBI is actively investigating this matter.
The Portuguese edition bears an equally misleading (translated) title, Criminal Minds: In the Secret Files of the FBI. The front cover is free of unlawful artwork, but a tiny, blurry Web ad photo showed what may have been a smaller FBI seal on the back. Per the seller, all orders are on hold while the book is being "revised."
So where did it come from? Renier had been the guest for an interactive online "chat" session a decade ago hosted by CourtTV.com (the transcript is undated but is first archived on Feb. 8, 2001). As the session's moderator typed out his introduction to the chat, he opined, "I'm not a big believer in psychic stuff
So, the quote on the cover is an out-of-context partial statement of opinion from the skeptical chat moderator. As for the quote's attribution to "Psychic Detectives, Court TV," though I have no doubt that the producers of the Psychic Detectives TV series -- which later aired on Court TV from 2004-2007 and featured Renier in 11 episodes (as listed on her website) -- would have agreed to so endorse her had she chosen instead to use a quote from them, the book's "About the Author" page specifies that it did actually come from "Court TV online," i.e., the chat moderator.
And in a late-July missive to subscribers of her e-mail newsletter, Renier announced that she has moved once again, from rural Charlottesville, VA, to Wilmington, NC. "It's quite a change from a log cabin in the mountains," she says, "but beautiful just the same. The ocean is a great place to reconnect and rejuvenate."
There may not be much time, however, for Renier to rest her weary bones. She added, "The best news is that [my memoir] is being considered for a ‘made-for-television' movie!" John Merrell tells TBS Report that within days of her e-mail, five reporters had contacted him about it.
But the editions of her memoir that remain in print have been purged (due to litigation) of the two chapters devoted to her quarter century of legal battles with Merrell (as well as her mention of TBS and yours truly). So if her story does make it to the screen, viewers may be deprived of its two most credible characters -- and Affleck and Damon will have to be content to find other work.
As all educated Americans are aware, September 19, 1961, is a date which will live in infamy. On that historic night, Barney and Betty Hill experienced what could be called the "Pearl Harbor" of UFO abductions, suffering an interrupted journey while driving through the White Mountains of New Hampshire on their way home from a vacation in Canada. Taken aboard a craft originating from the Zeta Reticuli binary star system, they were subjected, so the story goes, to indignities that one hopes the American POWs in Japan were spared. To commemorate this probing event in the anals (no typo) of history, the N.H. Division of Historical Resources has created a roadside marker, which was unveiled on July 20 at the site of the alleged incident and reads in part: "On the night of September 19-20, 1961
Mark Fowler sold lighting fixtures from his teens until a decade ago, when he became a prophet in a Masonic organization in St. Petersburg that helps children with cerebral palsy. He now runs the nonprofit Chamber of Hope Hyperbaric Center for Children. In addition to cerebral palsy (with which his 10-year-old grandson is afflicted), Fowler claims that his one-hour treatments involving breathing concentrated oxygen are effective in ameliorating such debilitating conditions as diabetic neuropathy, Lyme disease and autism. "We've had people with strokes nine or ten years out unable to move an arm and a leg and they got up and walked," he says. But Tom Workman of the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society has his doubts: "In my opinion, the therapeutic value of those devices is more psychological than physiological."
In Fort Lauderdale, an extended family of "psychics" has been charged with ripping off their clients to the tune of $40-million over the past two decades. The alleged perps include Rose Marks and eight of her relatives: a sister, three children, two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter. Dubbed by the Feds as "Operation Crystal Ball," their investigation has yielded indictments that include 61 counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering (a local business owner was also charged with assisting in the latter). Each count carries a maximum 20-year prison term.
(Miami Herald, August 16)
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