Readers Digest, Lauren Cahn
Just because some so-called psychics are full of hooey, it doesn’t mean no one out there has psychic abilities. In fact, a psychic played an invaluable role in solving each of these mysteries.
You’re about to become a believer
You rarely hear of law enforcement praising a psychic for helping to solve a crime, and psychics are rarely used in police investigations, at least in any official capacity. After all, many so-called “psychics” possess no talent beyond an ability to con those desperate for answers, which tends to call into question the credibility of anyone claiming psychic abilities. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t cases in which psychics have played an important role, either in helping to identify new evidence or in confirming detectives are on the right track. In fact, the CIA maintains a repository of information about the use of paranormal resources for crime investigation, and they make it available to the public.
Of course, news coverage regarding criminal investigations tends to gloss over any psychic involvement. But if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find stories like these, which suggest that legitimate psychics exist and have actually played an important role in solving a select group of crimes and other mysteries.
The disappearance of Andre Daigle
On June 9, 1987, 27-year-old New Orleans resident Andre Daigle met a friend for dinner and a few rounds of pool. It turned into a long night of drinking, after which Daigle was never seen alive again. When the news of Daigle’s disappearance reached his sister, Elise McGinley, in Southern California, she sought the help of psychic Rosemarie Kerr to pick up where New Orleans police—who didn’t suspect foul play—had left off.
Kerr placed a finger on a photo of Daigle and sensed immediately that he was dead, according to her testimony in the murder trial that followed. Kerr also correctly identified where Daigle’s body would be found: a New Orleans swamp. The discovery helped break the case, which resulted in the conviction of two men who ended up testifying that they killed Daigle for sport. Kerr, who died in 2015, was the first psychic ever to be placed on a witness stand in a murder trial.
The murders of Amie Hoffman and Dierdre O’Brien
On November 23, 1982, 18-year-old Amie Hoffman left her part-time job at a shopping mall in Morristown, New Jersey, but she apparently never got farther than the parking lot. The next day, her car was found where she had parked it, the driver door open. Foul play was immediately suspected. When police came up empty-handed, they approached Nancy Weber, a local psychic they’d successfully worked with in the past. Nancy, who had already had visions of Hoffman’s body and the assault she had endured before being killed, led police down an investigative trail that ultimately ended with the murder conviction of James Koedatich, who had struck again in the meantime, killing 25-year-old Dierdre O’Brien.
The murder of Elizabeth Cornish
In 1987, 42-year-old nurse and mother of five Elizabeth Cornish was beaten to death in her New Jersey apartment. The only suspect was Cornish’s boyfriend, who had found the body. However, no one in the Cornish family could fathom the boyfriend was the killer. That’s when Cornish’s sister approached Nancy Weber for assistance.
Weber knew immediately that Cornish’s boyfriend had not committed the crime and alerted local police, who were familiar with Weber and her work. At the scene of the crime, Weber told police the killer lived right upstairs from Cornish. Weber’s description of the killer matched 33-year-old John Reese, who lived in the apartment above Cornish. Reese was able to provide an alibi for the time of death the coroner initially identified. However, Weber was relentless in her belief not only that Reese was the killer but also that the time of death was actually four hours earlier. Upon reexamination, the coroner changed the time of death, rendering Reese’s alibi moot. Reese subsequently confessed and was sentenced to life in prison for Cornish’s murder.
Three abducted children found alive
Debbie Keyes, a mother of three from Harding, New Jersey, had not seen her three children in 13 months, not since the children’s father had abducted them. Keyes brought the idea of seeking the assistance of a psychic to the detective working the case, Sergeant Lou Masterbone. Skeptical of psychics, Masterbone was reluctant. However, as he told CNN’s Nancy Grace in 2005, Weber led them on a three-state chase that ended in Hawaii, with Keyes being reunited with her kids.
The murder of Dora and Jake Cohn
On May 15, 1986, Dora and Jake Cohn, both 72, were shot and killed in their Upstate New York home. Their grandson, James Mariani, became the prime suspect, and it was believed he had two accomplices, Keith Snare and Robert Skinner, with whom Mariani had previously served prison time. Two years after the alibis of these men checked out, psychic Noreen Renier was brought in by law enforcement at the Cohn family’s request.
Working with a police hypnotist, Renier revealed that the couple knew their killer and that there were three people involved. Law enforcement then arranged a photo lineup that included Mariani, Snare, and Skinner, along with men who could not possibly have been connected with the shooting, which Noreen conducted with her eyes closed. Placing her hands on the photos, she identified Mariani, Snare, and Skinner. This led to a re-examination of their alibis, which, it turned out, did not hold up. All three were convicted of murder and are serving prison sentences. Psychics aside, catching a killer involves a lot of legwork.
What happened to John DeMars
John DeMars was a happily married, 30-year-old New York City banker with two young children when he boarded his evening commuter train to Nutley, New Jersey, on December 20, 1974. But when the train stopped in Nutley, DeMars was not aboard. The police investigation, which addressed both foul play committed against DeMars and the possibility that DeMars had voluntarily run away, eventually called upon the assistance of psychic Dorothy Allison. Allison told detectives she saw John falling off the train and drowning. While Allison couldn’t say exactly where this had happened, she did say she saw a bow and arrow and the numbers 2, 2, 2.
Although law enforcement couldn’t make sense of the clues Allison offered, the body of John DeMars turned up two months later—on February 22 (2/22). A father and son had been practicing archery by the shore of the Passaic River, which runs along DeMars’ train route, when one of their arrows landed beside DeMars’ body in shallow water. Police later pieced together that DeMars had fallen asleep on the train, and when the conductor made an unscheduled stop along the Passaic River Bridge, DeMars, still half asleep, stepped off the train—falling off the bridge and drowning.
The disappearance of Susan Jacobson
On May 15, 1976, 14-year-old Susan Jacobson left her Staten Island home for an after-school job at a local ice cream parlor and never returned home. Law enforcement dismissed the parents’ concerns, claiming the girl had simply run away with her boyfriend. In desperation, the Jacobsons contacted psychic Dorothy Allison. Upon meeting the Jacobsons, Allison experienced a disturbing vision in which Susan was strangled by her boyfriend, and she offered several clues as to where the body would be found. The clues, themselves, were mysterious: an abandoned car, the smell of fuel oil, two smokestacks, and the letters “MAR” in red spray paint.
Law enforcement declined to investigate the clues further, but incredibly enough, Jacobson’s father was able to use them to locate a rock spray-painted with the letters “MAR” at an abandoned World War I shipyard from which two smokestacks and an abandoned car could be seen. That’s where Susan’s body was found two years later, concealed in two oil drums. Crime scene evidence pointed to none other than the boyfriend, Dempsey Hawkins, a U.K. national who was deported back to England and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
The persistence of Ashley Howley
In 2004, 20-year-old Ashley Howley disappeared from the town of Columbus, Ohio. While the case went cold, Ashley, or rather, her spirit, was diligently trying to communicate with Kristy Robinett, a Michigan spiritual medium who spoke extensively with Reader’s Digest about helping law enforcement solve crimes like this one. Ashley’s spirit, which, according to Robinett, needed time to figure out how to get her message across, eventually told Robinett she’d been murdered by her boyfriend and where her body could be found. In 2008, her body was found in the very spot she said it would be, marked by a stick, and her boyfriend was brought to justice.
A map to the body of Julie Popovich
Robinett was visited by another young woman from Ohio in August of 2005. It was the spirit of 20-year-old Julie Popovich, a student at Ohio State University, who had disappeared earlier that month. Julie’s body was discovered three weeks later, but not before “Julie pushed her way through [the other spirits waiting to speak with me] and asked me to draw a map, the map of where her body would be found,” as Robinett explains it.
The whereabouts of “Katie”
Katie was a troubled child living in a group home when she ran away. That’s when Robinett got a call from Katie’s parents. “Hearing the panic of Katie’s mom on the phone, I knew I had to help, and so I first tuned in to see if I sensed her spirit alive or gone,” Robinett recounts. Happily, she felt Katie was alive. She was. With Robinett’s help, law enforcement was able to locate Katie—before something terrible happened to her. (Because Katie was only 15 when she disappeared, Robinett asked that Reader’s Digest keep her last name and other identifying details confidential.)
The little girls lost
When two 10-year-old girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, disappeared from a family barbecue in Soham, England, in August 2002, the family sought the help of psychic Dennis McKenzie. McKenzie set his powers to work, but the news was bad. He saw that the girls were dead and that a man and a woman, whom he was able to describe to law enforcement in great detail, were involved. McKenzie’s vision proved accurate, and the family has praised him, referring to him as the real deal.
The bridge to Richard Kelley
McKenzie also solved the mystery of what happened to Richard Kelley, a 17-year-old from Limerick, Ireland, when Richard’s mother sought his assistance in 2006. Unfortunately, the images McKenzie saw were of Richard’s body, a concrete slab as the murder weapon, a bridge nearby, and the words Brigid and Bodyke. In fact, Richard’s body was found in a lake named Lough Brigid, near Bodyke, County Clare. A concrete slab had been tied to each of his legs.
What really happened to Melanie Uribe
One might wonder how psychics who see these vivid visions of grisly crimes don’t end up as suspects, themselves. Well, sometimes they do. That’s what happened in 1981 when clairvoyant Etta Smith had a vision involving a woman, Melanie Uribe, who had recently gone missing. Her vision was so strong, she went looking for the body herself…and found it. Smith was arrested and charged with murder but was released after the real killer confessed.
The body of Mary Coussett
In 1983, Illinois law enforcement went so far as to publicly thank the psychic who had helped them find the body of 27-year-old Mary Cousset. Local psychic Greta Alexander had provided 22 clues that police used to find Mary’s skeletal remains (including the condition of the body and which police officer would find the body), which led to the arrest of Mary’s boyfriend. Sometimes, of course, criminals are not quite so elusive.
The deaths of Maria Scott and her murderer
The stabbing murder of Maria Scott, 27, was also solved with help from a psychic, Debbie Malone, who was contacted by an investigator four years after the Scott case went cold. Leading police to a remote cabin where she had “seen” the murder, Malone also found the murder weapon, a knife, lodged in a drainpipe. Malone reported having felt the murderer pass through her body as if he, too, had died. In fact, the murderer had committed suicide four years earlier.
Finding Edith Kiecorius
Back in 1961, a famous Dutch psychic, Gerard Croiset, was enlisted by Brooklyn detectives to help locate a missing four-year-old girl, Edith Kiecorius. Croiset used his psychic powers to find Edith’s body, despite the fact that he remained in the Netherlands the entire time. He was even able to provide a description of her kidnapper.
The location of murderer John List
When 16-year-old Patricia List didn’t show up for school in November 1971, her teacher reported her missing. Police went to List’s New Jersey house and found the entire family dead, except for the patriarch, John, who’d vanished and left behind a note of confession. List somehow eluded law enforcement for nearly two decades before Detective Jeffrey Hummel, who worked the case, sought the assistance of psychic Elizabeth Lerner. Lerner saw a vision of List with a woman in Virginia, which is where List was eventually found and brought to justice.
The fate of Paula Brown
In 1996, the fiancé of Paula Brown, a missing woman from Sydney, Australia, contacted Sydney-based psychic Philippe Durant. Using hair belonging to Paula, Durant was able to locate her body in Port Botany, New South Wales. Although Paula’s body was actually discovered by a truck driver, a police spokesperson remarked that Durant has been “uncannily accurate,”
The disappearance of Nell Cropsey
Way back in 1901, when 19-year-old Nell Cropsey disappeared somewhere near her home in North Carolina, it took the intervention of a psychic, Snell Newman, to crack the case. Newman had a vision of Nell’s boyfriend killing Nell by sedating her with chloroform and then drowning her in a well. Her body was recovered in a river connected to that very well. The boyfriend was brought to justice.
The case that took 30 years to solve
A woman named Penny Serra disappeared from Connecticut in 1971. Stymied by a lack of clues, the police brought in psychic Pascarella Downey. Downey had a vision of Serra’s murder by a mechanic who smelled like oil and was wearing a name tag with the letter “E,” but she told the police that the murderer would not be found anytime soon. It took 30 years, but eventually, a mechanic named Edward Grant was connected to the crime and brought to justice.
Originally Published: October 19, 2020