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Psychic detectives


When someone is missing and there are public appeals to help find them, you can almost guarantee that psychic detectives will come out of the woodwork claiming that little Mary is missing near some water and beside a large tree with unusual branches. They might give the police an area to search, or highlight the type of person they should be interviewing, and occasionally their information corresponds to reality and the person is found or the murderer identified. Unfortunately, when this happens it is no more than either coincidence or reasonable guesswork based on the publicly known facts and the police were already searching there anyway.

When 14 yo Elizabeth Smart disappeared from her home in Utah, the police had over 9,000 tips from various psychics, dream interpreters and the like, which according the Police Chief: "took many hours" to check and eliminate. Elizabeth was found nearly a year later, 18 miles away by an observant neighbour of the abductors. Famously, celebrity psychic Sylvia Browne told the mother of kidnapping victim Amanda Berry, who had disappeared 19 months earlier: "She's not alive, honey." and claimed to have had a vision of Berry's jacket in the garbage with "DNA on it" and seeing her daughter's body floating in water. Berry's mother had appeared on Browne's show in desperation and she died two years later, firmly believing her daughter was now dead. Elizabeth, along with 2 other women, was actually chained up inside a house not far away from her mother and had seen that same TV interview. They were finally found and rescued 9 years later along with the children they had had whilst being held captive and enslaved inside the suburban home of their abductor.

During the Yorkshire Ripper investigations in the 1970's, the police received tip-offs that the killer was "called Johnny or Ronnie, his surname began with an M, he came from Wearside or Tyneside and he was clean-shaven with a slight bald spot" at least according the UK's most popular psychic Doris Stokes; and a Dutch clairvoyant informed them that "the killer was probably a washing-machine mechanic aged 27 and living in Aberdeen". Police forces around the world are plagued by, often well-meaning, people who think they have the answer to the puzzle and the more notorious the crime the more people there are. But they don't. If they did direct police to the body and gave them precise and useful information, it is far more likely that they actually had something to do with the murder! Their information is never precise nor is it useful. Their actions are a distraction at best, and at worst are a waste of resources, time and effort that would be much better spent on doing proper, evidence based investigations.

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