Friday, March 31, 2006

3/31/06 (PMP) Sylvia and Friends, Part II

Our guest writer today is Marie Parker, friend of and advocate for missing Audrey May Herron. does one feel about them? I can say from experience that it is a rollercoaster ride...they take your hope of finding your loved one and put it thru a series of ups and downs and just like the ride, the "thrill" is over as soon as they are telling you what you "hope" to hear, because you find later that it did not bring them home or find them.

My friend Audrey has been missing almost 4 years now. In our search for her we have gone through the motions of all that possibly can be done through law enforcement and even further by way of contacting psychics in the desperation of keeping the hope alive that one of them might lead us to her.

At first, it was a few dollars here and there for local unknowns then more dollars for better known ones like Kay Rhea...yeah, like taking a match to your hard earned money. Then there was the Montel Show with Sylvia...I must apologize ahead if what I say next offends her fan club but she, my friends, is a joke. We, Audrey's father, stepmother, and another friend and I were guests on the show the same day Molly Bish's Mother was there. (Coincidently the same day they found the start of what led to Molly's remains)

Sylvia went thru her routine with me and told me just what she thought we wanted to hear along with some crazy story that Audrey had been shot...I was horrified that she did this as each question I asked was a play by me to see if she had even the slightest clue...she did not. I was horrified for Molly's mother as you could see that Sylvia was playing on her hopes, yet told her nothing. Meanwhile her daughter's remains were being discovered right at that very moment of the taping. Why didn’t Sylvia know this? (You can view a clip of the show that featured Audrey on our website and judge for yourself.)

You see, my view on psychics before I became engulfed in this nightmare of a friend going missing was probably much like anyone else's not affected by such loss: fun and entertaining. I knew much of it was just what you wanted to hear, but everyone loves to read their horoscopes, right?

When dealing with a tragedy like Audrey going missing, I, like hundreds of others searching for their loved ones fell victim...I am not saying that some do get lucky and might help solve some cases but much of that is also based on law enforcement being willing to pull apart what the psychic claims.

As for Kay Rhea...We had done a taped session with her by phone. She gave us various details in which we all had thought would help Audrey's case. We paid a $300 fee and were waiting desperately for the tapes to arrive....They came, and to my horror they were blank! When I called her to obtain another, she scrambled to even recall our session. She did not know anything she did before, and in fact gave a totally different "vision". She did not refund our money, and from that point on I believe that was the beginning of the end for me as far as psychics go. I no longer was going to "pay" to have my hope of finding Audrey fulfilled with people who make a living by playing with my emotions.

The fact remains that Audrey is still missing as are thousands of others. Remember that when you contemplate using a psychic to find your loved one.

Searching for Audrey...Marie E. Parker

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.

The Missing People Podcast, which features a dramatized audio production of Psychics and Missing People.

Jump to the next story in the series:

Thursday, March 30, 2006

3/30/06 (PMP) Sylvia and Friends, Part I

I have never met nor spoken to world-famous psychic, Sylvia Browne. (SB) I have no desire to speak to her. When I look at her, I see ugliness which has nothing to do with physical appearance. Rather, it has to do with what it inside, and it is indeed ugly to the core.

Thousands upon thousands are taken in by her deceptions. They buy her books, and they pay her for readings. They even pay $250 to join her "Christian church", which is an abomination to real Christianity, claiming that God is a woman who created God the man, reincarnation is real, there is no such thing as sin or hell, and Jesus ran off to France with Mary Magdelene, having never died on the cross.

I believe it was during the 1st year that Jason was missing that we received a large envelope in the mail which contained numerous photocopied papers. The copies were the poorest quality I'd ever seen. Each one contained sales information about various items for purchase, such as books, tapes, and readings. I had no idea why we received this packet until I found the letter that was enclosed.

An older woman who used to go to our church had written a letter to SB, asking for her help in our son's case. The letter was in the package, but there was no letter from SB or any of her minions, not even a form letter. There was no expression of sympathy for our plight, only a request to purchase products.

I'd be rich if I had a dollar for everytime someone said to me: "Why not ask SB for help? She can help you." I say: "The only person she is helping is herself. The only thing she is capable of finding is your money in her bank account."

To date, SB has never solved a single missing person's case. That should tell you something.

Today's guest writer is Dana Ames, co-founder of United Response Search and Rescue Team. Dana, along with her sister, Sheila Holland, assist families of the missing with searches and support through their organization. Sheila and Dana support us in our efforts to educate the public and the families we serve.

To learn more about United Response, please see:

"Fruit Loops, Loony Tunes, Nut Cases, Emotionally Disturbed.

These are just a few words that we have used to describe the unwanted, unwelcome psychics that interject themselves into the lives of victims and their families.

As the Director of United Response Search And Rescue Team I can tell you first hand the absolute destruction, and devastation these individuals cause. URSAR has had well over 60 missing person cases, of which psychics have interjected themselves into.

They always start out the same. They either contact the families themselves, or have someone call the families, and do their bidding for them. They never, or seldom want money. If they normally charge for their services, then they will typically wave their fees, and we are glad for that. After all the families should not have to pay to be revictimized by these sometimes well intending fruit loops. They do this to legitimize their unsolicited involvement in the cases. They always claim that they just want to help, and that the victim is pressuring them into contacting the families.

These individuals don't understand the damage, and devastation they cause, nor do they care. The families of missing loved ones are desperate for answers as to what happened to their loved one, and the psychics count on that. Their claims of seeing the perpetrator, the location of the events, and even talking to the dead themselves, make it more devastating on the families. These families, desperate for any answers they can find to locate their loved one makes them extremely vulnerable to these quacks. The families are afraid not to believe these people; because what if they are right, and they don't listen, they may loose their opportunity to find their loved one. When the impression, or dream, or what ever they want to call it does not pan out, the families are then left feeling hopeless, and devastated. I can tell you that not one of our cases has ever been solved by a psychic. Nor has any psychics ever been even remotely close as to any of the facts relating to any of our solved cases.

Over the course of the past five years I can tell you that our clients have been contacted by Psychics all over the country, including the well known Sylvia Browne. Not ever has any one of them been correct. In speaking with our clients we have been able to determine the estimated number of psychics that have contacted them to be in the upper 200's, and this is a conservative number. Opal Jennings family alone was contacted by at least 60 different psychics, and I will get into some specifics a little later about that, and how wrong the details were that these individuals gave.

Psychic involvement in the cases is not only hard on the families, but it is also a very difficult situation for Law Enforcement, and Search And Rescue Teams to deal with as well. These families are very fragile, and it is very difficult to explain why the involvement of a psychic is not going to help in locating their loved one. At first it gives the family another direction they want to explore, and gives them hope. The problem with this is, they want to try and locate the landmarks, vehicles, suspects, or locations that the psychics have told them about. This would not be a problem if any of what they were ever told was correct or true, but that has just not ever been the case in our experience. While we are chasing these dreams, and visions we are not working on the facts of the case, and it takes us away from the true investigation, and slows down the process. It waste valuable time, and it hinders the search for legitimate answers that we are looking for. If you have been working on a real lead, and you are taken away from the facts that are legitimate to the case, and you choose to chase these visions, you can actually jeopardize your case, and the valuable resources that are needed to get the job done. You can loose focus on the real perpetrator, or have the water so muddy that it could take months to get back on the right track, and that kind of valuable time could truly cost the life of the victim, or forensic evidence to be lost forever. It is just not worth it no matter how you slice it.

It breaks our hearts to look into the tearful eyes of those families, and have to tell them that the new information that they have received from a psychic is not most likely going to turn out to be anything, and we will try to keep an eye out for what ever they have been told. It dashes their hope, and sometimes that is all they have. When we have actually dropped everything that we were doing, and pursued the visions, it has always been extremely devastating when they don't come to fruition. The families can't understand why someone would have told them that this information was the answer to finding their loved one, to only have it be absolute crap. It enrages me to see people that we have grown to love be victimized by these horrible people. We have had many tell us that the psychics are well intending, and they may be, but I could care less about their well intending feelings. I think they should be charged with interfering in the investigation of a missing person. I wish something could be done to stop them from revictimizing these families.

Little Opal Jo Jennings was abducted by a repeat sex offender in March of 1999 from her Grandmother's front yard in Saginaw Texas. The family, desperate for answers, went on the Montel Williams show in April of 1999, and had a reading done by the infamous Sylvia Brown. Ms. Brown told the grandmother on national TV that Opal was alive, and that she had been taken, and sold into a sex slave ring in Japan, and very horrible things had been done to her. Montel Williams pledged the support of his finest private investigators, and promised that he would immediately start to work on locating Opal. This was the last time family ever heard from Montel, or Ms. Sylvia Brown. Opal's Tiny remains were finally found in a wooded area approximately 13 miles from where she was abducted in December of 2003. It was determined that Opal was killed by trauma to the head with several hours of her abduction. Montel left the viewing audience believing that they had solved the case, and would go and find Opal in 1999, none of which he did, nor did he correct the facts before his viewers…Pretty Sad. This is the very reason why so many people believe in Psychics today. It is because of shows like the Montel Williams Show, and the only thing that these people care about are ratings, and fat bank accounts. All of that being said, this poor family had at least another 60 psychics contact them.

These so called Psychics come in many forms, and some of the even claim they are not psychics. They claim to have all kinds of abilities, and the truth is they are all emotional, and led by their emotions, or worse they are just liars. Some want money, but most do not. They all want to be involved, and they are all trying to build a name for themselves. None of these people care about the damage they cause.

In June of 2004 we were conducting a search for Marcus Savage, a four-year-old little boy who was reported missing by his father. The father had stated that the child had gone to play with friends a few doors down, and had never returned. While conducting our search for Marcus a psychic named Nola Brown contacted us, and was insistent that we stop looking in the area that we were in, and go to the local Mc Donald's. The psychic stated that two strangers abducted Marcus. One was a white male in his forties, and the other was a very unattractive, over weight white female in her thirties. (Marcus and his father are both black.) She then went on to describe how the abduction took place, and that the license plates on the vehicle were from another state. The psychic then insisted that the Mc Donald's security camera should be checked, because they had taken him to Mc Donald's. The psychic called at least 10 times on the first day we were conducting our search for this child, and each time there was more urgency in her voice. This psychic was incorrect on everything that she had stated. The child's father was arrested days later, and charged with his little boy's murder. Marcus's body was found in the trunk of a car, wrapped in a blanket that had been taken from his bed. Had we listened to what this quack was telling us, she would have sent us in the wrong direction. N ot only that, but Marcus may not have been found if we had checked out the psychic's story. How scary!

In closing I would like to add, that we do not blame the victims or their families in any way for entertaining psychics. We truly understand the desperate position these families are in. Our hope is that by reading this memo, it will arm the victims with information about this very important topic. We believe information is power, and our desire is to empower those who are most vulnerable…the victims, and their families."

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.

The Missing People Podcast, which features a dramatized audio production of Psychics and Missing People.

Jump to the next story:

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

3/29/06 National Candlelight Vigil Speech, Part III

this is an audio post - click to play

3/29/06 National Candlelight Vigil Speech, Part II

this is an audio post - click to play

3/29/06 National Candlelight Vigil Speech, Part I

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, March 24, 2006

3/24/06 Heading out East

The Psychics and Missing People series will be on hiatus for a few days while we travel to Wilmington, NC for a conference of organizations (and family members of the missing) which assist families of the missing, hosted by the Cue Center.

On Saturday night, we'll be at the 12th annual National Candlelight Vigil, which is held at Riverfront Park in Wilmington. I will be speaking, along with my friend Robert Cooke, of the Rachel Alert Network.

We'll return very late Monday night.

The series is scheduled to resume on Wednesday.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

3/23/06 (PMP) But The News Said Psychics Are Real!

Today's guest writer is Luke T., a member of the James Randi Educational Foundation forum.

But The News Said Psychics Are Real!

By Luke T.

Occasionally, a media outlet will report on psychics. You’ve probably seen or read them. Many of these reports are not critical, and are often supportive, of psychics. As a result, these reports give the psychics validity, and the psychics are then free to claim their skills were featured on a news program or in a newspaper, as if this is some kind of bona fide which establishes them as being genuinely psychic. This perception of validity depends on the assumption that the media outlet performed an exhaustive investigation of a psychic’s claims and abilities prior to making their report public.

Media outlets are failing to see they are a part of the problem. They are failing to see they are greasing the skids of despair for grieving families who fall victim to predator psychics.

This article is going to examine one of many such reports which appear regularly on our televisions and in our newspapers. The report which is the focus of this article appeared on a Fox network affiliate in Portland, Oregon, both in print on the internet ( and on television. The internet article once contained a link to the video report, but it does not any longer.

Sometime between Saturday, October 30, 2004 at 10 p.m. and the following morning, a 48 year old Hood River, Oregon woman, Kimberly Forbes, disappeared. Her disappearance has still not been solved as of this writing.

There are a lot of ways a news outlet can redraw attention to a missing person case. For example, they can publish the missing person’s photos, give all the details of the disappearance that are known, and interview the police to see what progress has been made. Stick to the facts. With any luck, such a report might trigger a memory in the mind of a witness in the viewing audience and lead to a break in the case.

A responsible news organization does not aid and abet the criminal responsible for the missing person’s disappearance by tripping the light fantastic through the Twilight Zone, casting suspicion on innocent people and relating events which in all likelihood contradict what actually occurred, thereby discouraging witnesses from coming forward. Not when a crime of such terrible proportions is at stake. Such gross irresponsibility would be beyond the pale.

But that is precisely what one news outlet chose to do. To highlight the anniversary of Kimberly Forbes’ disappearance, Fox affiliate KPTV hired Nancy Myer, who they referred to as a “nationally known psychic.” Myer has appeared on “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Sightings”, has authored the book "Silent Witness: The True Story Of A Psychic Detective", and purportedly has “a long, distinguished history of assisting police and law-enforcement officials on both homicide and missing-person cases -- over 500 of them to date.” ( Not “solving” cases. Assisting.

One can only guess how deeply KPTV investigated to see how much assistance Myer had been in murders and missing persons cases.

Myer claimed to be able to “read” Forbes’ photo and gather magical insight into Kimberly’s disappearance. Myer then proceeded to give KPTV her impressions.

In the report Myer claimed Forbes was kidnapped by a married co-worker and taken into the hills and shot to death.

KPTV is now complicit in the implication of every married man Forbes ever worked with in the matter of her disappearance and possible murder. Without a shred of evidence, KPTV and Myer have cast a shadow on several innocent people. Very nice.

Then, according to the report, despite being from the exotic and remote location of Pennsylvania, Myer was miraculously able to pinpoint the exact location where Forbes’ car was found in Oregon a year prior. Myer then drew a map of where she believes Forbes’ body is located.

So what do the police have to say about this bounty of information provided by a woman who it is claimed has assisted police in over 500 murder and missing person cases?

The police said the map was too vague. So Myers told KPTV that the body won’t be found by the police. She said the body will be found by hunters in the fall. That was last November. It is March now. Fall came and went. No Kimberly Forbes. No body.

If Kimberly Forbes has been murdered, it is certainly not to be expected that the police are still searching the countryside over a year later. If her body is ever found, it will be found by chance, or after her murderer has been caught and led police to the location.

As for Myer pinpointing the exact location where Kimberly’s car was found, according to KPTV the police “were amazed”. In the video report, Detective Sergeant Gary Tiffany said, “You know, you talk about where the car was parked, all the media coverage on that was after the car had already been moved from that spot. So she really keyed in on that for whatever reason. That's kind of an uncanny thing."

Myer pinpointed not just a general area. Not just an address. Myer pinpointed the very spot where the car belonging to Kimberly Forbes was found.

Another victory for psychics? A validation from the police. The police were amazed! Do we have have a genuine “psychic detective” here?

Do you suppose they have the internet in Pennsylvania? Call me psychic, but I sense that they do.

Let’s take a look at the following news item which appeared three weeks after Kimberly’s disappearance:

The article gives a pretty precise location of where the car was found. “Meanwhile, Pedro Sanchez noticed a red car in a vacant lot behind his restaurant Don Pedro in the 18800 block of Southeast Stark Street.”

A quick search on Mapquest reveals the location of the restaurant.

But Myer was more accurate than an address. According to the news report, she gave a pinpoint location of where the car was parked. So take a look at the photo accompanying the article. It shows a policeman collecting evidence from where her car had been parked.

Folks, I found that article showing the pinpoint location of Kimberly Forbes’ vehicle in less than a minute.

Did Nancy Myer divine the location of Kimberly’s car by supernatural or electronic means? Was she perhaps given clues by the reporter of the story? As Fox News says, “We report, you decide.”

If Nancy Myer was able to give a pinpoint location of an object whose exact location was public knowledge for a year, why was she unable to give a pinpoint location of Kimberly Forbes, whose location is unknown to anyone but the person responsible for her disappearance? Why was Nancy Myer only able to draw a scribble of an excuse for a map which no one could interpret?

What else that Nancy Myer claimed about events surrounding the disappearance of Kimberly Forbes can be verified? Nothing. A psychic can depend on that. What assistance has Nancy Myer actually provided to help find Kimberly Forbes? None.

Not only has Kimberly Forbes’ kidnapper and possible murderer gotten away with his crimes up to now, so has Nancy Myer, with the able assistance of a news program.

Until now.

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.

Jump to the next story:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

3/22/06 (PMP) Not a Psychic, Part II

Continued from yesterday......

A pleasant-sounding woman answered the phone. I identified myself, and she told me that she had seen our story on the Montel Show and that she wanted to help. My mind raced as I tried to determine, based upon those words and her tone, if she wanted to place posters or if she was another psychic.

To the best of my recollection, the conversation went as follows:

LF: "Tell me, did Jason have acne?"
KJ: "Yes, but it wasn't a bad case of it." (I'm wondering where this is going.)
LF: "They doctored up his photos to hide it, didn't they?"
KJ: "No, they never altered those photos at all."
LF: "Well, I know he has acne." (I groan inwardly at this "psychic's"
strange approach."
KJ: "I don't understand what this has to do with helping find him."
LF: "I know where Jason is, and I can find him."
KJ: "Where is he?"
LF: "I need you to give me his Social Security number and his driver's license number."
KJ: "I don't know his DL# and I am not going to give out his SS#."

At this point the conversation took a sharp turn, and I can honestly say that I have never heard a voice in my entire life that was so filled with hate and venom as this woman's.

LF: "You'd better find a way to get it to me, or you will never see your son again!"

I had to pause at this point. She sounded as if she knew where Jason was and she seemed to insinuate he was being held somewhere. If she was a psychic, she was certainly the most cold and callous one in existence.

KJ: "I don't even know you. I am not going to give you that information."
LF: "You want your son back, don't you?"
KJ: "Of course we do, but we're not going to give that type of information to someone we don't even know."
LF: "So, your begging for help on the (Montel) show was all playing, then."
KJ: "No, it was not. We want our son back, but I am not going to give you that information."
LF: "Quit playing around and get down to business then. If you ever want to see your son again, you will give me those numbers, and I don't care how you get them!" (She is now screaming at me.)

I don't remember how I ended this call, because I was in shock that a call like this could have even taken place, and in shock that cruelty knew no boundaries. I'm sure that I told her no again, and hung up.

I went back to my desk and sat down. I tried to play the call over in my mind, but I was numb. My head told me that this woman had no idea where Jason was, and that she just wanted some type of personal gain. My heart wondered if she really did know something. Suddenly, I felt a strong urge to get away from everything. I thought if I went outside and got some fresh air and drove around, I could put the call out of my mind.

That didn't happen. By the time I walked out to the car, I was an emotional wreck. All of the events of the past few months came crashing down upon me at that moment. I unlocked the car, and got in, closing the door behind me. I laid my head on the steering wheel and wept. Good things were supposed to come from our victory of getting Jason's story on the Montel Show, not things like this. Why, why, why, couldn't we find him? Why did we have to deal with horrid people like this, on top of everything else? When would it ever end? When would we get the answers as to Jason's fate? All of these questions were running through my head. I tried to collect myself and go back inside, but I couldn't. This was one of the few times I called in to work because of our situation, but I had to go home.

After I was home for awhile, I felt better. My husband came home, and I shared with him what had happened. We knew that we wouldn't be so easy to find had it not been for Project Jason, but we weren't going to let cruel people stop us from our work. Things quieted down until my cell phone rang. It was that horrid woman again.

I thought about not answering it, but I admit anger swelled up inside of me. It was clear she was not going to stop trying to bullying me into giving her Jason's information. For all we knew, she was an identity thief. How dare she intrude upon our lives with her cruel taunts and threats?

I answered the phone, and she immediately started spewing forth venomous attacks, stating that I didn't care about my son or want to find him. She again repeated her threat that we would never see Jason again. Then the truth came out. She said: "I am a bounty hunter. I don't care about you, and I don't care about Jason. I just want the reward fund."

The only comical thing about the whole situation was that Jason's reward fund is very small. Had she not wanted the SS and DL#'s, and worked to find him, she would have been quite disappointed in the reward amount. She, apparently, didn't research her intended victims well enough. It would have been much smarter to go after someone with an advertised substantial reward. I would guess that her extreme greed had clouded her judgment.

The conversation went no where. I tried to tell her that it wasn’t prudent to give those numbers to strangers, but there were no rational responses coming from the other end. The threats started up again, and I lost my temper. I yelled at her and told her that she’d better never contact us again unless she wanted to be slapped with a lawsuit. I was so angry that I believe I even used the “f-word”, which is not like me at all. Enough was enough, and there was no reason for me to put up with this maniac’s battering. I hung up on her, expecting that it was the end of that story.

I did research on her on the Internet that night. It appeared that someone high up in the police department in that town had the same last name and the street where the police station was located was named after that family. It was most likely an “old boy’s network” and Letitia probably did as she pleased.

I notified our police detective, and he said there really wasn’t anything that could be done. I just wanted these incidents to be recorded. I was also told by a PI that any decent investigator would know how to get the requested information themselves.

The next day, she tried to contact my husband by phone and email. He did not respond to her.

A few days later, I happened to be talking with a woman from our local media, and she told me that the station had received a letter from a strange woman in AL. Apparently, Letitia had made the rounds with our local media, telling them that I had refused her help, and that it meant I did not want to find my son; therefore, I should be investigated, as I must be hiding something. I asked the media woman what the station’s reaction was, and she said they all had a good laugh over the "crazy woman". I wished that I could have laughed along with them.

For someone claiming to have investigative skills, LF did not do her homework at all. It would have only taken her minutes to find 15,000 Google hits on Jason, detailing the ongoing efforts in our search, and what we have done in his name.

While it is clear she isn’t a psychic, she used that as a way to get her foot in the door with me. Perhaps she thought I would play into that, since there are so many people who don’t know and understand what is really happening to them, and she could then get me to give her the information. I wonder how the conversation would have gone if I had played into her psychic act.

There are psychics who are deluded, such as the “Shovel Lady”, and there are the ones who should admit they are frauds.

After this, I decided I’d had enough of these people, and that I would never again give them as much as an inch.

There was, unfortunately, going to be one more to bear.

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 Educational Foundation. They have a forum available for you to discuss your claims.

Jump to the next story:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

3/21/06 (PMP) Not a Psychic, Part I

Welcome to the Project Jason Voice for the Missing blog. We're in the midst of a series called "Psychics and Missing People". (PMP) (story to follow this brief re-introduction for new readers)

The purpose of this series is to demonstrate to families of the missing the methods used by psychics and make better decisions about this. Understanding what goes on behind the scenes should decrease any guilt feelings for not accepting offers of "help" from these persons, whether it is fee-based or not. We want to lessen the pain already present in our every breath, and arm families with the information to defend themselves against these persons.

There is not one proven case in which a psychic, using special powers or abilities not given to the typical person, has located a missing person, whether dead or alive. It may be possible that some persons have an ability that defies science and logic, but there is no known scientific evidence of this. These persons re-victimize families by taking away hope where it should stand, and giving hope where there is none. No person has the right to do this to another.

This series will be presented each day Monday-Friday, until its completion, unless urgent matters or posts pre-empt it. All posts in the series will be noted in the title with “PMP”, which stands for “Psychics and Missing People.” This way, you can easily identify other posts in the series by looking to your right in the “Previous Posts” section.

I’d also like to warn our readers that some of the stories presented, including my own, contain graphic descriptions of violent acts which may be disturbing to you.

The series begins with this post:

For your convenience, each post contains a link to the next one at the bottom of the post. If you are joining us for the first time, click on the link above to begin, otherwise, please read on.

Not a Psychic, Part I

We had many leads coming in about Jason from each airing of the Montel Williams Show. Unfortunately, none of them panned out. Several leads were given anonymously, which breaks my heart because the police can never go back to those people and ask them more questions. All they can do is to make sure law enforcement (LE) in that area is sent his photo and information.

There were a couple of leads from kind-hearted persons whom I remember.
One woman was from WI, and she was quite sure that she had seen Jason watching a kid's hockey game. I spoke to her on the phone since she called me directly, and I ended up sharing additional photos and information with her to help with the identification process. A few weeks later, he came back to the place where the game was played, and she saw it was clearly not Jason.

Then there was one which made my heart leap with hope. I knew I had to contain myself, because if it turned out not to be him, the plummet to the bottom of the emotional floor would be a long and painful one. A woman from NJ claimed to have met "Jason" in a local gym. She said that he told her he was a D.J. and that he worked with kids on the side. He also called himself "J.J", which was Jason's DJ nickname. I spent the entire afternoon looking up radio stations in NJ, looking for this "J.J".

While I didn't find him, I did find something that I thought was just too much of a coincidence, and that was a popular DJ duo that used to work at the same radio station where Jason did his internship in radio broadcasting. They were in NJ, too. It was too good to be true. There were too many coincidences, but as with the woman from WI, upon seeing more photos and taking another look, we knew it was not our Jason. We went back to square one and day one, which meant we knew no more than we did on June 13th, 2001.

The story of the "Shovel Lady" (see my last post) took place in between these leads coming in. Her story did not bother me. She seemed like a harmless quack, and it was clear to me that she was deluded. Even so, in between dealing with her and the failed leads, emotions were at low ebb. I had fought for three years to get Jason some type of national media exposure, which is incredibly difficult in a missing adult male case. That episode aired three different times, but nothing came of it. I felt like I had failed my son again.

These were the predominate emotions coming into the day in which a simple voicemail message caused much grief.

I was at work and I called home to check for messages on the Project Jason line. There was one from a woman. She did not indicate what she wanted to talk about, but just left her name and phone number. Her name was Letitia F, from Alabama. I decided to call her on my cell phone because it was a long distance call, and I didn't want to do that on work phone lines. I much preferred not to call on my cell phone for privacy reasons, but if she was someone calling about a missing person, I didn't want her to wait. Time is so critical in these cases, especially in the beginning. I waited until my lunch break, and then I dialed the number.

To be continued.........

The disclaimer you see below will be included at the bottom of each new post. We must make it clear what we are not in the business of proving or disproving claims made by psychics or those who are convinced that it is ALL real and true. We exist to assist families of the missing.

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 Educational Foundation. They have a forum available for you to discuss your claims.

I would like to thank the members of the James Randi Educational Foundation forum. Even though our beliefs differ, they welcomed me with open arms, treated me with respect and dignity, and went out of their way to help me with my research. The assistance and support they provided to me has been of great value and was also instrumental in bringing this series to you.

They invite you to come to the forum, register, and post. They will be happy to work with any persons making paranormal claims, and to answer any and all questions posed to them. Please note that if you are making a claim, you will be asked to show evidence that your success came about via paranormal means.

You may also be interested to know that the foundation offers a verifiable prize of one million dollars to anyone who is able to prove their claim. If interested, the members will guide you to the proper area to learn how you may apply for the challenge.

Jump to the next story:

Monday, March 20, 2006

3/20/06 (PMP) The Shovel Lady

I’ve never met her, but when I picture her in my mind, she is an older woman, slightly hunched over, holding a shovel in her hands. I call her the “Shovel Lady”.

One day, I received a letter in the mail from her. She is a local woman who claims that spirits contact her and write messages through her. Her name is Terri, and she is from Papillion, which is a small community just south of Omaha. She says there is one spirit in particular, who speaks to her often. He was her son’s friend who had killed himself. Her claim is that he talked to her about Jason.

This “spirit” said that Jason is "on the other side", and that the spirits gave her clues about where his body is located. Terri told me the location, and said she had been going there looking for it, trying to get enough information from the spirits to determine the exact burial place. She told me that she is older and not physically able to dig for him, or look under piles of rubbish, but yet she took a shovel with her every time she went there. She said that she was tempted on several occasions to ask someone nearby to dig for her, but she never did as, in her words, “They would think I was crazy.”

Crazy is the key word for me in this case. It was clear to me after reading that first letter that Terri was living under the delusion that spirits were talking to her. Her words and the supposed words of the spirits, did not bother me like some of the others did. I would have never even called her, but I felt some pull to attempt to sway her from what she was doing, or thought she was doing.

In her letter, she explained that she is a Catholic, and that somehow God gave her these new-found abilities to communicate with the dead. I wanted to try to set her straight by reminding her of the Catholic position on pursuing these types of activities. I figured that while I was at it, I would see what else she had to say about Jason so I could help her realize what nonsense she had come to believe.

If a person were really communicating with spirits from beyond, and spirits who were in Heaven with God, surely they would not provide incorrect information. That would be lying. IF indeed she were communicating with Jason, or the spirit of the dead friend were, then they should most definitely be able to answer questions from me about him.

Terri emphasized Jason’s desire to be found and for justice to be served. If it were all true, then surely it would be logical for her to do anything and everything possible to convince me that she really was talking to Jason or at least to other spirits who were with him.

In my mind, there were two possibilities, with the first one having the highest likelihood.

1) She was under delusions, and either imagined or dreamed the presence of the spirits.
2) She really does communicate with spirits, but these spirits are not of God, nor in communion with Him.

Terri said that these communications had been going on since before we were on the Montel Williams Show, (11/04) but that watching it prompted her to finally write to me. She said she could see the pain in my eyes, and felt it was not right to not tell me. Frankly, I could have done without.

I called her one day, and after allowing her to talk about her story, I told her in no uncertain terms that Catholics were not to engage in such practices. Sadly, she was closed to this, so convinced her “gifts” were from God. She also told me that she’d been reading Sylvia Browne’s books and trying to learn from her. I had many things to say about Sylvia and her self-made religion and other deceptions, but it fell upon deaf ears. The only thing I had left was to place doubt in her mind about the source of these revelations.

In relaying what the spirits told her, Terri said that three men took Jason and killed him. She said they were just driving around, looking for someone to hurt, and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They offered him a ride, and he took it. (Why he would take a ride from strangers is beyond me, not to mention the fact that he had a ride waiting for him only blocks away.) She said she had the impression that the three men suffocated Jason, and that his body was placed either in a plastic bag, or in plastic, and hidden under rubbish near a ravine behind a car wash, which is about 15 miles from our home. The area behind the car wash is close to some railroad tracks, and no one generally walks back behind it.

She said that she had asked the spirits for other information about the place where they (the spirits) are, but they told her she must find Jason's body first. She said that she did "talk" to Jason once just briefly, and that he told her that he also wanted her to find him for his mom. I asked her questions that she states she posed to the spirits and to Jason.

It turned out that everything she told me about Jason was something that could be found on the Internet, so there was no mystery there. The only thing she said that wasn’t available to the public was dead wrong. She said that when Jason was alive, he looked forward to the times when I served him ice cream the way he liked it, with everything on it. What Terri wrongly assumed, was that I was a typical mom, comfortable in the kitchen and with related domestic duties. She didn’t seem to be put off by that error, so I asked her the question we asked of these so-called psychics about Jason.

If it really was he they were talking to, and as they said, he wants to be found so badly, then surely he would answer the question correctly, so that we would believe and look for him where suggested. While I won’t reveal the question or answer, I will say that there is no trick to it, nor is it a question with the possibility of having unlimited answers. When I posed it to Terri during a period of spirit contact, she answered immediately, and with confidence, but her answer was dead wrong.

Regardless, she would not admit to the possibility that she was wrong. I asked her, if she felt so confident in her abilities, and what the spirits told her, to go to the Omaha police and tell them. She was very hesitant about doing this. I told her that I knew that Omaha PD followed up on all leads, including psychic ones. It took some convincing, but she finally agreed to call them. Weeks later, I asked my OPD detective if he’d heard from her, and as he had not, I called Terri and asked her about it.

She still expressed the same hesitancy. She said the cops didn’t listen to her in the case of *Janelle Hornickel and her boyfriend, Michael Wamsley. (They were a young couple who froze to death after wandering away from their vehicle in a deadly snowstorm. They were high on meth, and could not tell dispatchers an accurate location in time to find them before they froze to death.) Terri claimed to have assisted with the search and that she continually tried to tell search officials where Janelle and Michael could be found. I told her that she was dealing with a different jurisdiction, and that the case of the two young people, and the law enforcement reaction to her, had nothing to do with Jason’s case. She bought into that, and again agreed to call OPD.

So, on a spring day, the Shovel Lady and several members of the Omaha Police Department went to the location specified. They took their shovels and dug where she told them. They dug fairly deep, but the only thing they uncovered was junk. There was no body. There was no Jason.

I never heard from her again, nor did I attempt to contact her. I had hoped that she came to the conclusion that she was wrong, and that there were no spirits, only voices in her head.

Recently, I found out that she had sent a letter to the family of a local case of ours. The mother described the contents of the letter to me. I knew it was from Terri, only this time, she had expressed a desire to remain anonymous. I guess she’s no longer as confident in her abilities, and I find it sad that she’s still living in her world of delusions.

You can watch the clip of our appearance on the Montel Williams Show here:

The story of our trip to NYC and the Montel Williams Show is here:

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 Educational Foundation. They have a forum available for you to discuss your claims.

Jump to the next story:

Friday, March 17, 2006

3/17/06 (PMP) The Business of Preying

Today's guest post is written by Janice Smolinski, the mother of Billy Smolinski, who has been missing from Waterbury, CT, since 8/24/04.

"Are Psychics to be Believed?

Prior to August 29, 2004, the psychic world was a paranormal phenomenon I was very open-minded about. I figured there was indeed a possibility certain people possess an ability to know facts/characteristics of individuals and deal in the supernatural world. This I thought was a God given quality most people do not have. However since the disappearance of my son William Smolinski Jr. I am now thoroughly convinced this is a shameful act.

Our first encounter was almost immediate. Two psychics had shown up within the first two days. We were misled to the point of exhaustion. One psychic told us Billy was bleeding and lying on the banks of a river near railroad tracks. He only had hours to live if he were not found immediately. Her exact words were,” someone had hit Billy over the head and he was bleeding, lying on the banks of the river too weak to speak." As you would imagine we were in frenzy from sun up till sundown, with no time to eat. Saving Billy was our primary focus; time was of the essence so we thought.

From Watertown to Beacon Falls the river was searched, some in the water, while others scoured the banks along the river. We encountered homeless who had set up housekeeping under bridges, bruises and cuts had by many.

When evening came another call from a psychic. This time we were told Billy was being held against his will drugged in a hotel room near the river in Waterbury. Tired and hungry we took Harley, Billy's German Shepherd, and proceeded to the hotel. After searching room 202, the room number given to us by the psychic, she had the gall to tell us no, not that hotel,the one across town. By this time it was midnight. We did in fact have 2 police officers with us so we could gain access to the buildings. Nothing was found.

A few days later we received another call this time from New Haven, a person claiming again to be a psychic said "Billy was in a red van wrapped in a carpet bleeding heavily and pushed out the door of the van in the Waterbury area." Of course we dropped everything and searched. Our emotions were erratic and we were just focused on finding Billy alive.

Along that same time frame there was also a pet psychic who supposedly could read Harley's mind but immediately started focusing on what she thought happened to Billy. A few days later the same psychic came with us in our car. She seemed to think Billy was indeed held against his will in the basement of possible buildings we drove by, the pychic giving us the indication Billy was there at one time. We felt powerless and our emotions ran wild.

Billy had been missing about two weeks when one of the psychics approached us and said, "Someone murdered Billy and threw him in his septic system." At the top of Billy's system is a good size hole in the ground, large enough to fit a man Billy's size. There is a large metal plate covering it so no one will fall through, but could easily be removed by someone with strength. Stricken with a sense of horror is it possible, could she be right?

We made the call to the person who cleans our systems and also a good family friend. He was NOT told about the possibility because Billy and Bill (is his name) were also very good friends. We did not want to burden Bill, so Billy's dad stood over the hole with his brother (Billy's uncle) in complete silence as it was being cleaned. The system did not contain Billy at the bottom and Bill was never told by us what may have been at the bottom of the system. Another cruel and senseless act our family and countless other families endure during a time of grief-stricken emotions, willing to do anything to find their loved one, perpetrated by a psychic.

In all of our experiences we have NEVER had one apology or any type of emotion expressed by the psychic who had put us through the painful heartbreaking tasks. We thought just like anyone looking for a missing loved one, "WHAT IF THIS PSYCHIC IS RIGHT? There was no question, WE HAD TO DO IT!!

Two months later a medium called our house, paid for by a concerned well meaning friend. We were told Billy was trucked out west, he even told us the approximate area. According to the medium, he said "Billy was disposed of in a canyon and in a coma, if not found he would be crossing over soon." You can imagine, what if this were true? We contacted hospitals, clinics and the police within a certain miles radius notifying them there may be a man needing medical attention, assistance, or if in fact a John Doe had been admitted already into a medical facility. We never heard anything from them.

Some friends and well wishers with good intentions would tell us from time to time to contact certain psychics, but we chose not to, knowing all the rollercoaster emotions and false hopes others put us through.

On one occasion a psychic contacted Paula, Billy’s sister, and said “For $225.00, I will find your brother." Paula's answer was very commendable; she replied" there is a $15,000 reward out for the return or recovery of my brother, find him and the money is yours." Her reply was "I don't do business like that." I just cannot fathom how people prey on families, victimize them over and over again during these hard times and take advantage. This should certainly be against the law.

There was another instance where a psychic called us and said "Billy was hit over the head and dumped into the Connecticut River; he was hung up in the weeds somewhere under the bridge." We certainly had our fill of these predators and we are living proof of the hell these so-called psychics put us through. However, it is always in the back of our minds when someone approaches us, could this be the real thing? I guess it is only human nature, thinking maybe we will have some sort of closure.

If this is a God given gift it should be utilized wisely, but from our point of view they try and gain media attention just for possible notoriety. I would love for someone to come forward and prove that a person has been truly found by a psychic. According to FBI and police reports there has NEVER been anyone found by a person who identifies themselves as a psychic! Until we learn otherwise we will stick by our beliefs that they are just that, full of hogwash. Don't be taken in!!"

For additional information about Billy, please see:

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 Educational Foundation. They have a forum available for you to discuss your claims.

Jump to the next story in the series:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

3/16/06 (PMP) A Personal Journey from Mysticism to Clarity

Today's post in our series is written by a James Randi Educational Foundation forum member.
( Username: chillzero)

Catherine writes from the perspective of scepticism, with an established background of belief in the paranormal. Having examined how psychics arrive at their predictions - from both sides of the fence - Catherine reveals here how they perform. It may be worth highlighting here that any psychic who appears on the media is granted permission to do so only under the laws that govern entertainment, and so the word perform is most appropriate.

"I used to believe I had psychic abilities. I gave tarot readings, I consulted my spirit guide, and believed in the spirit of nature as being a force in all things. I would not consider the old me to be a con artist - I was not intentionally deceiving people. I honestly believed I was given the ability to interpret signs, and that I was using it for good. So I believed I was genuine, as did plenty of other people. I could read the traffic around me uncannily well, knowing when a driver was about to turn suddenly, or not turn where they signalled to. I was good at reading tarot cards and at helping people come to decisions about events in their lives. I would spook people by telling them who was calling when the phone rang, or that someone we were waiting for had just come into the bar although my back was turned to the door – that sort of thing.

However, even as I did all this, I constantly came up with questions about what I was doing, and how I managed to do it. Why could I only get instinctive flashes about things? Why could I not use this 'power' when I concentrated hard on something important? What about the times I was wrong (although they were freakishly few - even looking back as a hardened sceptic) - what happened then?The new-age people I was involved with had no tolerance for such curiosity. They felt I should just accept my gift unquestioningly, and use it to the best extent I could. But I was never satisfied with this. Finally, guided by some sceptics, I tested myself on what external information I could possibly have noticed, and realised that I am more of an expert on body language, or verbal subtleties than most. I soon realised that I was very good at picking up subliminal signals from people, or noticing things in the distance. In traffic I could see reflections in streetside windows, or a change in the lights on the ground of the road where a car was approaching unseen. Phone calls were often a matter of logical assumption and deduction – it was all a matter of fast critical/ logical thinking. With doing readings I realised I was getting a lot more information about a person’s situation from them or their friends – often before we even met to read. I wasn’t asking for it or actively seeking it out, but I picked up on things that were said, or more – the way they were said. I filed information away and didn’t even fully realize that this mental library was where I was drawing information from when I spoke to them later. As I read tarot I could discern from the other person’s reactions whether I was on track or completely wrong, and was horrified to realize during one reading that I had adjusted what I told them accordingly. This realization rocked my self perception completely, and I felt unable to continue the deception. Continuing on this path would have made me a con-artist, without question.

The more I investigated, the less paranormal my abilities seemed to become. I revisited old acquaintances from the new-age shops and conventions I used to frequent and was disappointed to find that I could apply the same reasoning to what they did. I could reasonably determine what they would tell others, and where they had identified that information. Some of my associates were of the sincere belief that they had genuine powers, and that they worked for the powers of good. Some others, however, became obvious to me as frauds, who knew that they were able to read and manipulate people and situations to their own benefit or profit. This benefit is not necessarily monetary; it could come in the form of barter, time, advertising (even just by word of mouth) or gifts. One woman in particular was very good at convincing people that she wished to have no reward, no publicity, and so on, and yet the way she did this gained their further confidence and admiration, and ensured that they raved about her to just about everyone they knew. From conversations I had with her, I know this was a deliberate and very effective ploy.

Consider this: if a psychic contacts you about your missing family member, then they are obviously aware of your story, and therefore your control over this situation is non-existent. They may have heard radio appeals for information, or seen the news bulletins. They may have read the newspapers that covered your plight. They may even have actively researched all of these. They may contact you via a family member or friend. The point is that they already know something, and even if they tell you that they have only been made aware of the smallest bit of information about you – why would you believe a stranger? How can you know how much they have actually managed to learn, or whether they have contacts within the police? If they come to you through a close associate, then no matter how well intentioned your friend/relative may be, you can’t know how much information they may have passed on – even unintentionally and unwittingly. Even if this psychic genuinely believes in their ability, you can never be certain that they haven’t been exposed to more information than perhaps even they realize.

Then there is the information they provide. There is no documented evidence that any psychic has ever provided information that led directly and accurately to a missing person. There are plenty of stories of psychics leading police to the general areas where bodies have been found, stories of psychics determining the final fates of people, or identifying a vague description of a perpetrator. These stories are not substantiated by evidence that could confirm that psychics are any more accurate than a non-psychic making an educated guess. And much of this information cannot be verified because of the incredibly high percentage of unsolved cases.

Finally, there is the approach that psychics take. At first, most psychics will be incredibly friendly and open. They need to do this to build a semblance of trust between themselves and you – they need you to relax, and to feel that you can open up to them. That way you will give out more information and signals than you realize. I know this from experience, although I never realized at the time how manipulative the reading situation could be. I believed I was merely trying to set the other person at ease, but there is definitely a little more to it. Next, psychics tend to be unshakably confident that they are right, or must at least be deferred to. I have never yet seen a self proclaimed psychic defer to anyone else’s knowledge on any subject, or admit they were wrong. This was where my problems with my abilities began to shake a little; I knew I wasn’t an expert in everything, and was reluctant to insist upon my answers in the face of someone who could possibly know better. A person’s confidence in a statement they put forward can make it very difficult for you to consider it critically. It can be frustrating to attempt to discuss it, and that kind of discussion is less likely to happen between you and a psychic when you are already in an altered state of reality; whether from grief, confusion, lack of sleep, or even years later, lack of closure; and desperate for information.

You may like to believe that people in general are not that manipulative, and ask why should psychics be singled out for such criticism? My answer is this: find your local area’s most successful salesperson – an estate agent, a car salesman, or even a higher priced clothes retailer for example. Go and observe them selling items. Listen to what they say about their products. Watch how they read signals from their clients, and how they adjust their approach to match different types of client, determined by the client’s dress, speech, confidence, or the car they arrived in. See for yourself how much information can be gleaned about a person and their current situation – without the benefit of press coverage. Now think, why should psychics be any different?

You will be approached with an offer of help. The insinuation will be that you cannot possibly turn this away, because it is the closest thing to walking away from your loved one when you see them wave a hand for you to find them. This is nothing more than manipulation of your emotions. You should feel no guilt for ignoring these ‘leads’ that do not arise from any established evidential route. They may claim that they cannot rest, that they cannot quiet the voices, until they give you the information. This makes a direct connection to your own sleepless nights and lack of closure. It is a play on your grief that should not be tolerated.

I never lost a family member, but I had several continuous years of incredible misfortune, and I can personally vouch for the negative side of believing in psychic ability. I got plenty of help initially, but this waned as my misfortunes just continued and increased. I suffered for years as my new-age associates explained karma to me: everything happens for a reason/ everything you do comes back to you/ things only happen to you that you deserve to experience. In other words, when bad things happen to you, you personally did something to deserve it – maybe not even in this lifetime. All events are lessons to learn, and if things don’t get better, then you are clearly failing to learn the correct lesson. I consider this attitude highly abusive, and it cost me many years of personal growth and comfort when I was made to believe that basically I deserved everything I got and that I wasn’t doing the right things to make things go right again. My mental health suffered dramatically as a result, because it was frustrating and depressing in the extreme to experience what I was going through, let alone to be made to feel that it was all my own fault anyway. I am here now to tell you that this is wrong. It is not your fault that this terrible thing has happened. You are not being punished for past life sins, and nor is your loved one. You have no cause for guilt if you turn a psychic’s offer of ‘help’ away.

If a psychic contacts you to offer their help, hand them a load of posters to distribute, or bring them on a land search if you are still at that stage. Make their help be productive to you, and consider why they would not join in this kind of effort if they really ‘felt’ your plight as they claim to. They may ask you to weigh up what they have to gain against what you have to lose, for a simple conversation. Well, just think about this for a moment. They usually gain publicity, even if they do not perform well. They will always have apologizers to justify whatever they may get wrong. Even if they are completely wrong they can still gain sympathy with believers because at least they did their duty to try to help. They also step into your life for a while. They gain involvement in your personal trauma, and become involved in a drama outside their own lives. What do you lose? You lose time. You spend energy that you need for yourself and those who are still around you. You get distracted from your control of your situation; having to incorporate new opinions and ideas into the steep learning curve that you are already having to cope with. You may get ideas for new areas to pursue – this may even lead the police in new directions. Those directions could, unfortunately distract effort away from the correct areas for concern.

There are no genuine mediums. There are people with genuine intentions, but not psychic powers. There are people who could be helpful if you were discussing difficult choices you needed to make, but often your friends can do that for you without the mumbo jumbo. It's a matter of reading, yes, but not reading cards, or signs, or what spirits show you - it's a matter of reading the environment and the person before them. And then there are the con artists who read the newspapers, audience listings, area information, web sites, etc to glean what they need - as well as reading the people around them. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to distinguish between them. Your focus should remain on your loved ones, and not on placating a snubbed psychic, or inviting more strangers into your very personal situation."

Project Jason thanks Catherine for her willingness to share her personal story. Knowing it increases our understanding and ability to make rational decisions based upon what may be real and what is definitely imagined.

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 Educational Foundation. They have a forum available for you to discuss your claims.

Jump to the next story:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

3/15/06 (PMP) The Guarantee?

Sometimes you wonder if these people involved in the paranormal are just plain nuts. I try to find the humor in some of the things that have happened. After the very intense beginning of this series, today’s post may be a needed change for both of us.

Once Project Jason began, psychics started to come out of the woodwork again, often wanting me to put them in touch with our families. There was no chance of that.

When I received the first email from the scammer in today's story, I wondered if there was something legally I could do about it. I thought that since he was from a foreign country, that perhaps he could be sent back for doing this sort of thing. I would think that the University would not want someone like him working for them. Surely they would be unhappy that he was using their email and computers to run a scam. So, I tried to get as much information out of him as I could, pretending to be an emotional wreck, thus gullible. I was hoping that something he would reveal would get him in hot water. I did not want him to find a truly gullible person and waste their money.

I spoke to the FBI about this man. They said they only became involved in larger dollar amounts. The University police said that unless money passed hands, no crime had been committed. The only action they took, (at my request) was to let him know there was a complaint and they also warned him not to use the computers for his business. I did send an email to all of our families, warning them of this scammer.

What follows is the dialog between the scammer and me. My words are in blue. He starts out with a clear guarantee to locate a missing person, but that gets watered down towards the end.

Dear Kelly (and your family).

My name is Diego XXXXXXXX. I am a researcher at the University of XXXXXXX, in XXXXXXXX, KY. I have a wife and a 9 month-old baby girl. I am from Colombia, South America and I came to U.S. under a Fulbright scholarship (I will be glad to verify all of the above mentioned information). You can search my name at the University's web page.

I decided to contact you because after thinking this for along time, I have decided to use the abilities that I and one of my best friends have to find missing people. I will briefly tell you what do we do so you can have an idea:

I have a partner in Colombia (South America) and working together, in more or less a month since the moment we are authorized to proceed by the families, we can help to find missing people (this work is guaranteed). In my country this method has been used to find kidnapped people among other uses. This method also allows to detect if the missing person is alive or death.

I want to be totally honest and transparent with you, we do not do this work for free. I want to use our abilities (mine and my friend's capabilities) as an additional source of income. The money that we expect to obtain from this type of work will be used for helping people in need in our country (and I will be happy to verify this information for you).

I would be more than happy to meet with you and explain you the option that I am offering.

I hope that you can find in my message the transparency and honesty that I want to show you. My life is dedicated to science, but exploiting these extra abilities will help me to get the resurces for helping more people in my country and my community as well as helping families victims of violence.

Please make this message/invitation extensive to your family


University of XXXXXXXX

Hello Diego,

Thank you for writing to me with your offer of help. That is very kind of you to think of our family, especially at this time of year when families are supposed to be together, and ours is not. I cry myself to sleep nearly every night and wonder where our Jason is, and if he is ok or not.

Maybe you don't know anyone personally with a missing loved one, but it is really horrible. If you really can help people, then I think that is great.

The problem is, we really don't have much money at all. No one else has ever been able to find Jason. I just don't know how you can say that you can find him for sure. Is this like a money back guarantee sort of thing?

Do you have some kind of psychic power like that Sylvia Browne woman? How do you do this? I don't know how we would meet anyway because I cannot afford plane tickets to Kentucky.

Thank you.


Thanks for replying to my message.

The work that I can offer is based on a psychic and mental use of energy, but different from what some people are using (and I have met several psychic people here at U.S.), we (my friend and I) can work in coordination with the families to track down what happened to the missing person and to get the clues to find the person's location.

I know the pain you are going through. I did experience soemthing similar when my father died victim of violence and that is something that words will never be able to depict clearly. That is why I am offering these method as an option. Moreover, I used the method to perform part of my experiments during my Ph.D. program and I won an award at the Cancer center here at U of XXXXXXXX in 2002 (I can also provide you with proof of this).

I can really assure you that our method is totally reliable, but I also insist on asking for a reward for this type of work. I found your website and I realized that some of the posted ads include rewards.

What I really think is that by helping to solve one of the cases that are offering a reward you can see how the method work, convinve yourself of the accuracy of the methodology, and connect us with more cases.

If you visited the web page at the university you must have realized that my main interest in life is cancer research, and I hope to keep my energy focused on that area. Nonetheless, I expect to use these abilities to obtain fundings for helping people in my country that I know are in great need right now and I hope to channel most of that money toward them. (as I mentioned I would be happy to meet you and show you that everything that i am telling you is true and that I am being as clear and honest as I possible can).

In summary,

1. This method works based on pure mental energy and involves the creation of an energetic link between you, I, and my friend in Colombia (therefore I must meet with the person(s) that will be involved in the case so that we can create the conection).
2. Because the efficacy of the work is guaranteed, I decided not to do the work for free. Moreover, the money coming from this work will not be used for my own benefit, rather it will help many people in need in my country.
3. If you know of any person in a similar situation like yoursm who could be willing to offer a reward, I would be happy to work with them and I would invite you to follow up on our results so that you to can have an idea of how the cases can be solved. In this way you will not to create false expectations for you and your loved ones.

I hope that you can find some relief and hope on my words. I know that the ALmighty is with you and He is talking through me. I wish you the very best and I hope we can keep in touch


cHello Kelly!!
I am sorry that it took me so long to get back in touch with you. The end of the year at the lab and christmas all the snow that fell on this area kept me very busy and stranded at home.
I hope you had a nice christmas and I hope you enjoy the rest of the holidays with your family!

Thanks for your words regarding my father. I appreciatte what you said, he will be always with me and everyday I love him more and more.
I will answer your questions as clearly as I possible can:

You asked:
Just to make sure I understand you, are you saying that the posted reward fund for a missing person is your payment, rather than some separate payment direct from the family that would come before the person is found?

My answer is:
First, The minimum that we will charge for our work (my friend and I will work together) is 25,000 US dollars. The main reason for setting that price is that; as i understand, half of that monery will have to be used for taxes and therefore the real amount that we would en up collecting would be very little if we just take what the reward funds offer (I do not know about your case in particular, but most of the times the posted rewards vary between 1,000 up to 10,000). If the funds are higher we would expect to get the full amount of the money. I am pretty confident that we can finsih our work without failure.

Second, The way that we expect the payment to be done is in two
payments. Half at the beginning and half at the end.We want also to
be sure that the money is put in a fund or something that ensure to us that we will obtain the payment for our work (I tried to do this work before with total generosity and I was left wthout anything and therefore I want to make sure that the money for the payment exists and will be dedicated for this purpose).

Third, There will be extra expenses, mostly for making phone calls and trips and I expect these costs to be aforded by the person(s) interested in solving the cases. I mean, we will have to make a few phonecalls to Colombia, back and forth while solving the case and these phone calls may cost around 150 to 200 dollars (I do not really expect them to be more expensive than that). I would require to go to the area where the missing person used to live, take some pictures, meet with the people interested in solving the case and get as much information as possible from that meeting. I anticipate that at least two trips would have to be made in order to complete the work.

Fourth, We expect that regardless the outcome of our work the payment be made in full. I mean, whether the person is alive or not, we expect the payment to be made in full.

You asked:
Is this method mentioned online anywhere? Have you used it yet on any specific cases?

The closest report that I have seen using similar methodologies was on a CNN report. They interviewed some psychic people that helped solving some cases. Nonetheless, what i saw was that most of them have not fully developed skills and they can not solve most of the cases. The closest "logical" explanation that i have seen so far is a strategyu called remote viewing, a technique used by the army and now shown on the internet. Still, that technique fails in many ways and has not been effective in many cases where it was employed.

I interviewed with a psychic who has been trying to solve a high profile case. She knows that we have the ability to solve this type of cases. I would be happy to ask her for a reference in case it is required.

My most recent example was my own mentor here at the University of XXXXXXXX. While I was doing my Doctorate research I employed this method to solve some scientifc questions. In fact, I won an award in Sept 2002 when I presented some of my preliminary results here at the University. So, my old mentor (I mentioned ot you that I already
graduated) might confirm to you that my words are honest.

If you think of this method in perspective of what i have mentioned so far, it can be used for many applications: to forecast future events, to solve unknown enigmas in science, as well as to track events in the past (like what happened to missing people), and to help finding the missing person.

You asked:
How do you make a connection to your friend if he is in Columbia? Would a family have to come to where you are to do this?

My answer is:
This method is based merely on mental energy, the same energy used for the brain for generating ideas or sending impulses and messages throughout the neuronal networks. Therefore you will not see any "crazy" elemnts on this work, we do not use the Tarot, the ouija, or the magic cristal ball. This work is based on energy, pure and simple energy.

the connection with my friend in Columbia will be established in two
ways: I need to meet with you to establish an energetic link between you (meaning all the people involved in solving the case), I, and the place where the person was last seen. Second, we will call to my friend and then you will talk on the phone so that your energy (sounds are one of the manifestations of energy) to establish a link that will use your energy and mine to begin tracking the missing person and getting the information.

We also need to send to my friend a copy of the pictures that we will take so that the energy captured on these pictures could be used for getting a clearer image of the answers as they start to appear.

This type of work is able to solve cases in ore or less one month since the starting day when we meet, take the pictures, and talk to my friend.

Please let me know if you know of anyone that could be interested on this type of work. I wish you the best and I hope to hear form you soon.


Nice to hear from you again!!

OK, I will try to answer to your questions:

That's an awful lot for taxes. Who is taxing this service and why would it be taxed?

My answer:
As I understand from a conversation with a friend who is an american citizen, this money does not come from a job, this is similar to winning the lottery, you must pay almost 50% in taxes when you win the lottery because that is an extra source of income. I have not double checked this info. Rather I am believing on what my friend told me (even though I will call this week to double check this info).

I am so confused now, because you say you are "pretty confident" where as before I thought you said you guaranteed results. Did I misunderstand something? You don't mess around when a person is talking about this kind of money, of course.

My answer:
More important for me, I do not mess around whith someone when things regard issues as important as finding loved ones; and yes, I do not mess around when there is this type of money involved. I honestly do not think that our price is a huge price, for example, in Laci Peterson's case the lawyers were charging tens of thousands on both sides.

I ackowledge that nothing si perfect but I guarantee you with 99% confidence that we can find the person that is missing. I could ensure you that we can find the missing person totally confident, but I will leave a margin of error of 1% just in case you feel that still there is a possibility of not finding them (I think that you meant that in your question).

What kind of fund would it be placed in?

My answer:
Any fund that ensures that the money really exists and that it will be used for the purpose it should be used. You can choose it if you would like, I really do not mind any as long as the money is secured for the work that will be done.

If you did it before, then you would have references of other cases where you found people, right? What references of actual cases do you have?

So far the work has been done in Colombia. I could give you the references to works done overthere. I have been in U.S. since 1999 and honestly I never thought of applying this psychic ability to solve this type of issues. Nonetheless, several circumstances made me change my mind.

Maybe you should get one of those special calling plans to save money. I know International calls are expensive. Are these really long calls, then?

My answer:
I use prepaid phonecards for calling long distance within the US and for international calls to Colombia. They are the cheapest way to call. So far I have found that the phonecards from blackstone and masterbell work the best ( or
Unfortunately the connection to cell phones is more expensive but offers better quality. Moreover, I can not tell you how many minutes we will spent on the phone, or how many times we will have to talk on the phone.

It will come as we perform the research. I believe that I will have to spend as much time calling to Colombia as calling you and/or the detectives in charge of the cases and these are also long distance calls.

Don't you think you could get it done in one trip? Do you want to meet with the police as they have all those details logged in a very large book. I can't remember all of those things, and I doubt most people could.

My answer:
Yes, the ideal situation for me would also be to have everything set in a single trip. If that is possible to achieve I would be happy to do so, but it can also depend on the case and how things develop. I have been planning on two trips, but if one is enough I do not need to keep on traveling, plus it would be much more desirable for me so I do not need to take leaves from my laboratory.

What do you do when you find them anyway? You can't make adults go home if they don't want to. Many of these cases are adults.

My answer:
Kelly, I believe certain things that have been written in the Bible, and the best gift we were given is freedom. In the same way as I am offering you this way to help you find missing people, with total honesty and freedom for you to shoose it or reject it; we must offer people freedom to choose their lives. We can not force anyone to do what they do not want to do.

Having said that I must mention that we can try to re-orient some elements of the person's psychology to see if they react and reorder their lives. Nonetheless, people involved in drug abuse, and advanced alcoho-realted states are the most difficult people to treat. We can not force anyone to do what they do not want to.

Kelly, what you should keep in mind also is that many times when someone dissapears with no trace, relatives are also involved. That is even harder to realize, but it happens a lot.

Did they solve any at all using this method? I can't be for sure from what you said. Is there a link to a CNN story online about this?

My answer:
I believe that the program that showed the psychics was "The World with Cavutto" and he presented two or three psychic that have been involved in solving several cases. So, they have been able to solve some cases but I know that very well known psychics have failed and that is beacuse they are not fully developed in their abilities. I will see if I can find this info for you.

That would be good to know who that is. Why don't you help her solve it?

My answer:
I interviewed with her and she does know that we can solve the case. I offered my help and she contacted the family. They have several investigators hired for solving the case and as I mentioned to you, this work that I am offering must be done in total freedom and also with the absolute acceptance from the family, I will not force anyone to accept this alternative. What I believe is that some of the psychics working in the case want to solve the case in their own way and that is OK with me.

Congratulations on the award. Does your mentor still work there? I think people would want to know who that is, too.

My answer:
Thanks a lot for your words (I still have a picture of that day!!).
Yes, my mentor is still a member of the University. I would have to ask him if he does want me to release his name and information for this issues. I think for him it would be a difficult decission to make (I had a really hard time trying to show him that psychic ways are also a way to approach science; but if he agrees to serve as a reference I would be happy to release his information). A scientist aknowledging extra-sensorial alternatives is seen as a crazy scientist!! And my mentor does not want to be seen like that, that I can guarantee you 100%!!! But I will try to convince him!!

If it can do all that, why don't you pick the winning Powerball numbers?
I would if it was me. Why don't we hear more about it in the news?

My answer:
Well, winning the Powerball has several things into consideration, the most important is that when you try to win the lottery you are not only managing your own energetic vibration with numbers but also the vibration and anxiety of every person playing the lottery too, and that is a real challenge. Winning the lottery becomes a long term goal.

What I can tell you is that each person has some vibrational numbers and their energy can be focused for such purposes but it does not mean that it has to happen as soon as they get the energy focused on that direction.

I have seen psychic people that are able to bend spoons, or eastern yogui masters that set paper on fire with their bare hands. My friend and I would not bend a spoon unless we use brute force and the spoon is made of soft material. What I mean is that each person has some abilites more developed than others and that is imprinted in the energy in the same way the color of eyes is determined by the genes that both parents give to their sons and daughters.

That's good because alot of people don't believe in those sorts of things.

My answer:
Tarot, ouija, and many other things are part of many tols developed through human history. I know that there is certain degree of truth in some of these elements and I do not critizice positively or negatively any of those methods, but as I mentioned to you we do not use them.

Kelly, I am happy that you have all of these questions to ask. We could spend many time on the mail talking about this. If you agree I would prefer to talk to you on the phone so I can solve all of your questions and make a list of the thigs that you expect as references.
If you doubt of this work (and I do not really feel bad if you do); I would be hapy to invite you to meet me and visit the place where I work and live.

I truly beieve that I came to this planet to do research, specifically in the field of cancer research, that is my main interest. I am not on the news nor I have tried to use this method before for that same
reason: my life is science and I have not tried to interfere/modify anything that happens around me. Still, after analyzing this issue, I realized that my friend and I could work on this without changing the main goal of our lives.

Finally, If I show up on TV my personal life would change, in fact I would not have private life and I want to be known by my merits in science but still have privacy. Moreover, some cases involve some type of danger so privacy is an important factor.

Kelly, finally I would like to ask you something: are you really interested? do you know of any person really interested in having cases solved?

As I mentioned I would be happy to talk to you on the phone and solve your questions quickly.

I wish you the best and I hope you can talk to me soon.

Best regards

After this communication, I did not write back. He wrote back after a time, and I told him I had been too busy to take a look at it again. After that, he received his visit from the University police.

Funny thing, I’ve never since then heard of his successful career as a psychic. So much for guarantees. I hope that no one was taken in by this nonsense.

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.

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