History: Cases of 7 Psychic Detectives

Mozelle Martin

Today when someone is suspiciously missing, many law enforcement agencies call the Find Me Group. However, historically, when the corpse couldn't be found, the villain was on the loose, the weapon was stashed, or criminal investigations hit a wall, many agencies tapped into a secret weapon called "psychics". Some outcomes may be phenomenal while others unremarkable.

Here are 7 such cases:

Robert James Lees: when the psychotic murderer known as Jack the Ripper terrorized London in the 1880s, the detectives of Scotland Yard consulted a psychic named Robert James Lee, who claimed he saw the killer's face in several visions. He also claimed to have correctly forecasted at least three of the well-publicized murders of women. The Ripper wrote a sarcastic note to the police stating they would never catch him. Indeed the killer was right in this prediction.

Florence Sternfels: as a psychometrist (a psychic who gathers information when touching objects), she was successful enough to charge $1 for readings in New Jersey in the early 20th century. Born in 1891, Sternfels believed that her gift was a natural ability rather than a supernatural one, so she never charged the police for her help in solving crimes. Some of her best work included preventing a man from blowing up an army base with dynamite, finding two missing boys alive in Philadelphia, and leading police to the body of a murder victim. She worked with police as far as Europe to solve tough cases but quietly lived in New Jersey until she died in 1965.

Gerard Croiset: born in the Netherlands in 1909, he nurtured a growing psychic ability starting at age six. In 1935, he joined a Spiritualist group, began to hone his skills, and within two years, set up shop as a psychic. After a touring lecturer discovered his abilities in 1945, Croiset began assisting law enforcement agencies worldwide, including in Australia and Japan. He specialized in finding missing children but also assisted with locating lost paperwork and artifacts. At the same time, Croiset ran a popular clinic for healing that treated both humans and animals. His son, Gerard Croiset Jr., was also a professional psychic and parapsychologist.

Peter Hurkos: was one of the most famous psychic detectives of the 20th century. He did his best work by picking up vibes from the victim's clothing. Born in the Netherlands in 1911, he lived an ordinary life and worked as a house painter until a bad fall required brain surgery. He was only 30 years old at the time and the operation triggered his dormant psychic powers. Upon recovery, he was immediately able to mentally retrieve information about people and "read' the history of objects by touching them. He assisted in the Boston Strangler case in the early 1960s. In 1969, he helped solve the Charles Manson murders. He gave police many accurate details including the killer's names, and descriptions, and even told the police that the Manson murders were ritualistic in nature.

Dorothy Allison: this simple New Jersey housewife broke into the clairvoyant crime-solving career by dreaming about a boy who was missing. In her dream, the local 5-year-old was stuck in a pipe. When she called the police, she also described his clothing and stated his shoes were on the opposite feet. When Allison underwent hypnosis to learn more details, she stated the boy's surroundings involved a fence, a school, and a factory. After the boy was found two months later, he was floating by a pipe in a pond next to a fenced school and factory. His little shoes were also tied on the wrong feet. She was proven correct on each detail. Allison had begun having psychic experiences as a child and considered her gift a blessing. She never asked for payment. One of her more famous cases was that of the missing heiress Patty Hearst in 1974. Although Allison was unable to find Patty, every projection she made about the young woman came true, including the fact that Patty dyed her hair red.

John Catchings: while at a Texas barbeque on July 4, 1969, a bolt of lightning hit him. At just 22 years old, he survived but the electric blast opened him up to "life's calling as a psychic". He then followed in the footsteps of his mother, Bertie, who earned her living giving readings. Catchings often helped police solve puzzling cases but became famous after helping them locate a missing 32-year-old Houston nurse named Gail Lorke who vanished in late October 1982. Steven, her husband, claimed she had stayed home from work because she was ill. However, since Catchings worked by holding objects that belonged to the victims, Lorke's sister, who was suspicious of Steven, went to Catchings with a photo of Gail and with Gail's belt. Allegedly, Catchings saw that Lorke had been murdered by her husband and left under a heap of refuse that included parts of an old wooden fence. He also gave police several other key details. Detectives were able to use the information and ultimately Steven confessed to the crime. Among other successes, Catchings also helped police find the body of Mike Dickens in 1980 after telling them the young man would be found buried in a creek bed near a shoe and other rubbish including old tires and boards. Police discovered the body there just as Catchings had stated.

Irene Hughes: this is more current because it occurred in 2008. Irene was a famed investigative psychic and her career tallied more than 2,000 police cases. Born in 1920 in rural Tennessee, Hughes shocked her church congregation at age four when she shouted that the minister would be leaving them. She was right. After World War II, Hughes moved to Chicago to work as a newspaper reporter. She financed her trip by betting on a few horse races using her psychic skills. She gained fame in 1967 when she correctly prophesized Chicago's terrible blizzard and that the Cardinals would win the World Series. By 1968, she was advising Howard Hughes and correctly predicted his death in 1976. Hughes's more famous predictions included the death of North Vietnamese premier Ho Chi Minh in 1969, the circumstances of Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiccick fiasco, and that Jacqueline Kennedy would marry someone with the characteristics of her eventual second husband, Aristotle Onassis. Hughes operated out of a luxurious office on Chicago's Michigan Avenue and commanded as much as $500 per hour from her many clients. She hosted radio and TV shows, wrote three books, and in the 1980s and 1990s, she wrote a popular column of New Year's predictions for the National Enquirer. As of 2011, well into her 80s, she was still working out of her home and was the author of a popular astrology column.

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