Tuesday, April 04, 2006

4/4/06 (PMP) Sylvia and Friends, Part III

Amanda Berry was a lovely teenage girl who disappeared from Cleveland, OH in April of 2003. She left her part-time job and was never seen again. Her mother, Louwana Miller, had a very difficult time dealing with Amanda’s disappearance. She suffered from several physical maladies after that, including a bout with cancer of the brain.

Days after we returned from filming a missing adults segment of the Montel Williams Show in NYC in November of 2004, I was informed that Sylvia Browne was going to be filming a show. I wondered who her victim might be, as I was also told that at least one of the guests would be a family member of a missing person.

It wasn’t long before I found out. It was, in fact, one of the cases we worked on, Amanda Berry. I was very concerned because I knew how sick Louwana was. I spoke to her friend and advocate, Terry, who shared with me that Louwana was a big Sylvia fan, and that nothing would dissuade her from making that trip. Cleveland’s WKYC reporter, friend and advocate for Louwana, Bill Safos, went along and was granted a brief interview with Sylvia after the show. He also had tried to convince Louwana not to go, but she would not hear of it. I feared the worst would happen at the show. I was right.

As typical, Browne told the grieving mother that her daughter was dead. Louwana was so overcome with emotion from the revelation that she bolted from her seat, and ran up the aisle where the audience was seated. I’m not sure that she ever recovered from the events of that day.

In his interview with Browne, Bill Safos asked: “Are you ever wrong?” “Only God is right all the time but of course I’m wrong,” Browne responded. “But after 50 years of doing this work, I’d better be more right than wrong. I always say I hope I’m wrong. When it comes to this, I hope I’m wrong.”

Well, Sylvia, just in case you weren’t aware, your track record in missing person’s cases is rather dismal, and in fact, there are no known successes. That would make you 100% wrong.

For fans of Browne, what does this tell you? On her website, she indicates she will not work missing persons’ cases. In the case of a personal friend of mine, missing Ryan Katcher, his mom, Linda, was told by Browne that he was dead. She gave some indicators as to his body’s location. Authorities checked out Browne’s claims, but still no Ryan.

It's much safer for her to pretend to be able to speak to the dead than it is to claim to know the whereabouts of a missing person. After all, we can't verify the claim about a conversation with the dead, can we? We can, however, know that a lead on a missing person did not solve the case.

Louwana’s health continued to deteriorate throughout the year. She was hospitalized at the end of December and passed away in early M arch. She was only 44 years old. It was said she died of heart failure, but I would say, rather, that it was a broken heart.

In a newspaper report in the Beacon Journal, a Cleveland area crime victim advocate named Art McCoy said that Louwana Miller changed after the show. “From that point, Ms. Miller was never the same," McKoy said.

…..And Amanda Berry is still missing.

In yet another meaningless statement coming from her lips, Browne proclaimed on national TV that she would take the James Randi Educational Foundation’s (JREF) One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. Later on, she demanded proof that the money existed. JREF officials sent her the paperwork proving the money exists in the form of immediately negotiable bonds, but she refused to sign for the documents.

This link to JREF houses several links about Browne and her agreement to take the test, including a video. There is also a link to a story that reveals that she incorrectly guessed the Virginia miners as being alive, when it had been announced they were not. More information about the challenge can also be found on this page.


Other links about Browne:

Browne invents information about working with the NJ police:

Transcripts of Browne in regards to the Challenge and another discrepancy:

Various beliefs held by Browne:

Browne in legal trouble:

A Skeptic proves Sylvia wrong time after time:

We understand that many people believe that psychics are effective in solving crimes and finding missing people. Please keep in mind that the goal of this series is to help families understand techniques used by persons making these claims and make better decisions about the use of psychics.

Project Jason and its volunteers cannot act as a clearinghouse for persons claiming success in using paranormal means to locate missing persons. We will be unable to respond to emails or other correspondence sent to us from persons making these claims or persons offering information about or referrals to psychics.

We instead invite those persons to present their evidence to the members of the James Randi Education Foundation. They have a forum available for you to discuss your claims. http://forums.randi.org/forumdisplay.php?f=7

The Missing People Podcast, which features a dramatized audio production of Psychics and Missing People. http://www.lumospub.com/programs.html

Jump to the next story in the series:



Anonymous Carol said...

Kelly......Thank you for having the courage to put the truth out there for all who really need to know it! There are angels and then there are special angels.....and you are one!

12:09 AM  
Blogger jennster said...

i think sylvia browne has stretched herself too thin, and gives herself FAR More credit than she deserves. she acts as if she is this god given gift to the freaking world. she claims to be great at EVERYTHING. and no one is. this story is sad.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the courage of posting the truth - I just found your site upon another look at Ryan Katcher's - this day after he was found... I hope Audrey is found safe & sound.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Amanda has been found alive. Up yours, Sylvia.

4:19 AM  

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