The Use Of Psychics In Police Investigations

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Throughout history mankind has been using psychics for many different reasons,recently police agencies have called upon them for their services. Although the use of psychics has varied through history they have shown to have very real and helpful powers.In the future the use of psychics will very likely become more accepted and used even more than they are presently. The assistance of psychics in police investigations has increased dramatically in recent years, to the point where psychics have become almost a routine tool of investigation. A psychic is defined as a person that has any extra sensory perception known as ESP. This power also known as parapsychology by scientists, is characterized as any experience in which an individual is able to sense what is going to happen in the future or about an event that has occurred that they have no mental knowledge about prior to the vision. Stories about supernatural solutions to crime or psychic powers date as far back as biblical times. One instance is the story about Saul and his servant sent to look for some livestock by his father. After three long days of looking the servant suggested that they ask the local "seer" or psychic for help. The psychic told them that if they waited three more days that the sheep would turn up, and like the psychic said on the third day the sheep returned home(Wilson 18). During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it was common for people that were victims of a crime to seek the help of a psychic. These psychics known during this age as "cunning men" or " wise women" worked much like many modern day psychics do when trying to solve a case. The cunning man or wise women would often begin with a list of possible suspects that the victim had made or a piece of evidence left at the crime scene, anything that would help them to be linked to thecrime or victim. The cunning man or wise women might also help the client who had no leads orplace to start. As stated in the book Blue Sense by Arthur Lyons " Even if they had no ideas of their own to offer their clients, their insights legitimized random behavior by enabling men to make a choice between different courses of action when on rational grounds there was nothing to choose between them" (15). Through most of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the word of the local cunning man was often all it took for a person to be arrested on crimes such as theft or even murder in some cases. One of the first well known psychic detectives was Jacques Aymar, who gained public notoriety throughout France by assisting in the solving of many famous cases. On July 5, 1692 in the small city of Lyons, France a wine merchant and his family was brutally murdered and robbed, by an unknown assailant. The local police were completely without a clue, until Aymar came to police and said that he was capable of having visions of occurrences with the aid of a piece of clothing from a person involved in the event. After holding a piece of clothing of one of the victims, Aymar was able to see three men had committed the crime and were now living in a nearby town. The police took Aymar to the neighboring city and had him examine a line up of the cities known criminals. Aymar was able to pick the three men out of the twenty that were presented to him. At first the three men denied having any involvement in the murder, but after a police interrogation one of the three men gave in and confessed also incriminated the other two as well (Wilson 22). Aymar went on to help police solve many other crimes until his death in 1694. During the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century the use of psychics by the police in America was not as frequent as in the past centuries. The reason for this is because psychics had gotten a bad reputation as being scam artists, even though there were many legitimate psychics during this time period. In other countries such as England and Scotland psychics were still being used quite frequently, until one case in which the police were made to look like fools by a psychic. This case was one of the most famous murder cases in British history, that of Jack the Ripper. In August of 1888 six murders of prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of London's east end occurred, all of which were similarly butchered. After the fifth murder Scotland Yard still had no suspects or no leads, so they decided to call in one off the most prolific psychics of this era, Robert James Lee. Scotland Yard told the media that with the aid of Robert James Lee the detective unit had solved over one hundred crimes. Scotland Yard then proceeded to tell the world that they guaranteed that with the help of Lee that they would be capable of catching the Ripper with in a month. Robert James Lee was not the type of person that wished to be a celebrity or have any public notice because of his special talent. After Scotland Yard released to the media about the use of Lee on the case the subject became a media circus and Lee was constantly hounded by reporters from around the world. After being on the case for roughly a week Lee was able to lead the police to a nearby doctors office. The doctor Sir William Gull was unable to tell police where he had been at the times of the murders and had a history of having a split personality and demonstrating violence towards women. After a thorough police investigation into the doctor's background it was learned that he was a cousin of the Queen. This along with the fact that the police had no other evidence to link Gull to the murders, was all it took to make the media turn on Robert James Lee and consider him a fraud. After this event occurred Scotland Yard claimed that they would never use a psychic to aid in an investigation ever again. This case weakened the use of psychics by police around the world and for at least twenty years there is no recorded instants of American police using psychics in their investigations. It was not until 1925 that American police used a psychic in one of their investigations or least that was recorded by the papers. After World War II documents about Nazi testing of psychics were released to the world which triggered a massive growth in psychic research. By 1955 American police were slowly starting to use psychics in there investigations again. The book Criminal Minds by Diane Willensky reports that "by 1965 over half the police departments in America had recorded using a psychic in one of their cases"(69). The majority of psychics use a similar method in going about the task of solving crimes. Most start with a piece of clothing or piece of evidence from the crime scene. This item serves as a link between the psychic and victim and some psychics also find it helpful to have a list of all possible suspects in the crime. An article titled "Psychic Sleuths" by Bernedette Doran that appeared in Omni talks about the way psychics often have a field of expertise: As in other fields of professional endeavor, there are specialists in the psychic detective business. Some specialize in finding dead bodies, others search for missing children or lost pets. Some say that they work best recreating crime scenes, describing events, and pinpointing motives. Still others are adept at working with artists, providing police with faces to link with crimes. (87-89) An example of this is Greta Alexander a psychic that says she has a strange connection to finding drowning victims. Alexander is quoted as saying that she acquired this power after nearly drowning when she was twelve (Doran 87). In of the more publicized cases in which Alexander assisted police, Alexander was able to tell a policeman by radio precisely where the body would be located. Doran's article describes what occurred: "She told the seashore he would walk by a tile pipe trickling water, he would then have to step over some fallen trees and lastly he would find the body nearby in some tangled brush. The body was found there" (88). Another psychic Kathlyn Rhea specializes in finding missing children. All Rhea requires in order to locate these children is a recent photograph of them. Rhea has helped Texas police in so many cases that the FBI has also used her services. In ten of the cases in which Rhea was involved in, nine of the children were found. The Houston police chief is quoted as saying the following about Rhea, "She told us right from the git-go whether the children were alive or dead and in five of the cases she gave us a description of where the child could be found" (Doran 89). Locating dead bodies makes-up the majority of the recorded success stories by psychics. The success of finding a living person is considerably less likely. Psychics claim that the reason for this is often because the person is constantly moving so it is difficult for the psychic to get a connection with the person. Finding bodies or locating people are not the only methods in which psychics are used by police. Robert Brier the author of the book Parapsychology Today relates one of these cases "Pat Huff, who operates the Parapsychology Center of Toledo, Ohio, was asked by a distressed cat owner to help find three stolen pedigree Persian show cats. The psychic found one of the purloined Persians, leading police to a storage shed in the woods near a spot where the animal's cage was found" (108). Some psychics specialize in finding items other than those that are stolen or lost by clients. These psychics are employed by oil companies to help them pick out sites to drill oil wells. In Richard Broughton's book Parapsychology the Controversial Science,Broughton tells about a man by the name of Uri Geller a psychic that became rich during the 1980's by selling his services to oil companies around the world. Some psychics explain that they have much lower success rates with finding inanimate objects by saying that their six sense works better in cases that involve strong emotions. In the Handbook of Parapsychology the author Benjamin Wolman talks about this phenomenon, "Emotions such as terror, hate, fear, create lingering vibrations, they say, that they are picked up by the psychic, who acts as an antenna" (327). Wolman goes onto explain that crimes such as theft involve little or no emotion, so the thief or stolen object is extremely difficult to track (328). Some psychics do not even attempt to find things, because they say they have better luck with helping police recreate a crime scene or event surrounding a crime. A similar way psychics help police is by providing descriptions of unidentified suspects. This often occurs with the assistance of a police artist that is able to sketch what the psychic feels the suspect looks like. One psychic has a unique way of creating a likeness of the suspect, he sculpt the person into a clay statue. Frank Bender is also able to reconstruct the faces of decomposed bodies, and once even reconstructed the face of a murdered man exactly by only examining his leg bone. Recently psychic private-eyes have been becoming more and more common place. These psychic private-eyes claim to have major advantage over their competition because of their six sense. The psychic private-eye has an advantage because they can often find leads or evidence that a common investigator might not be able to find. These psychic detectives also are able to sense if a person is lying to them about the case. One psychic private-eye says that the majority of his cases are missing person cases and claims to have a ninety percent success rate in finding these people. Psychics are used in many different ways by police, but many police departments will still not admit they use psychics because they are afraid to admit that they periodically need outside help. In Daniel Cohen's book ESP: The Search Beyond the Senses he discusses the fear that many police agencies have over the use of psychic, "Few police departments would officially admit using psychics for fear of looking incompetent, or because of the worry that such an admission would raise protest from certain fundamentalist religious elements, which see psychics as practitioners of the black arts" (117). There is indications that the use of psychics is gaining acceptance among the majority of police organizations. "The idea that you're offbeat because you believe in the use of psychics is on the way out. The was a time when I first joined the force that I wouldn't have breathed a word of it. Now, it is seen, even by hard-nosed skeptics, as a matter of opinion" (qtd. in Lyons 90). For centuries psychics have been trying to gain acceptance and prove their legitimacy. In present day society psychic ability is often demanded to be proven by scientific means. This is much different than that of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when psychics claimed to get their powers from the supernatural world. This explanation worked well until the Inquisition where a person often ran the risk of being accused of witchcraft. Even today some religious fundamentalists claim that psychic power is evil and must have something to do with Satan. This is very uncommon and there is even some psychics that claim to have received their powers as tools from God to help people. It wasn't until 1934 when Dr. J.B. Rhine introduced the term Extra-Sensory Perception that science began to accept psychic ability as being real. ESP is defined as any means of knowledge outside the normal sensory-motor communication. Rhine divided ESP into three areas: telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition. Rhine later added psychokenisis which refers to the area of mind over matter ( Hines 413). Shortly after Rhines book on ESP was released, the Institute for Parapsychology Research was founded and the study of psychic phenomenon began. Since the foundation of the IPR hundreds of thousands of experiments have been conducted in order to find out if psychic powers truly exist. Although most tests have not confirmed the true existence of psychic power one test did just that. In Dr. Martin Reiser's book Journal of Police Science the Use of Psychic Detectives, he talks about a test which was conducted by the Behavioral Science Department of the Los Angles Police Department. In this test police researchers tested psychic's abilities by asking them to identify suspects, or recreate crime scenes that they knew the results of already. All nine of the police tested psychics were able to identify the correct suspect in the test and seven of the nine psychics were able to accurately recreate the given crime scene (Reiser 128). Reiser argues for the use of psychics by police and discusses this in the following statement from his book: "Propionates of psychic criminology like myself argue that if even one murder might be brought to justice, even if many psychics' guesses fail, it may be good to try using them. Even if the use of psychics for criminology is a long shot, may their use not prove to be socially cost effective?" (130). The future of parapsychology and the use of psychics by police is a very arguable subject by many researchers. Some researchers and even a few police believe that in the future psychics will very likely be regular employees of the police departments. Because of the fact that most media coverage of psychic crime detection is of the positive nature the acceptance of psychics will undoubtedly grow. Some propionates suggest that in the future many more lawyers will employ psychic in the aid of jury selection. This is already occurring with great protest by many people involved in the justice system. There has even been a few lawyers that have claimed that their psychic powers have helped them pick jurors and even cross-examine witnesses. Although psychic testimony is not now admissible as evidence in court, with the growing acceptance of psychics by the public that could change in the future. This is even more likely if scientific testing of psychic powers can prove that psychic ability is real. One opponent of the use of psychics by the judicial system is Michael Carson, he argues that if polygraph tests that are scientifically proven to be accurate are still not allowed into court as definite evidence (Hicks 24). Some researchers believe that a psychics testimony might be considered admissible only if under scientific testing proved to be correct one hundred percent of the time, which is extremely unlikely. There is a few psychics that believe that this scenario could be in the not so distant future. They believe that in the future science will find a way to help a psychic control their powers and maybe even enhance their powers. In Robert Hicks book The Psychic World of Law Enforcement he talks about the very real possibility of psychics being used to help police interrogate suspects by being able to read the suspects emotions and feelings. Hicks quotes the New York State Supreme Court Justice Howard E. Goldfuss as saying the following about the use of psychics in the justice system: "Law enforcement agencies, juries, and judges are finally acknowledging that we don't have the answers to the unexplainable. It really shouldn't shock people that psychic phenomena have found a forum in the courts, requiring us to deal with novel and fascinating ideas" (26). Most researchers agree that until a psychic comes along that is able to be accurate one hundred percent of the time the legal system is not going to accept psychic testimony or even psychic ability whatsoever. With the recent advancements in psychic and parapsychological studies it is not entirely impossible that in the not so distant future a psychic might be able to do just that. The use of psychics in police investigations, and by lawyers is becoming more and more accepted, but by scientific standards has not yet been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the phenomena exists. Not being able to proving that it exist does not disprove its existence. The investigation into crime has and probably always will be more of a art form than a true science. This is precisely why the use of psychics make perfect sense to anyone that is truly out to solve crimes. The use of psychics may only work a small percentage of the time but any assistance that helps police solve crimes should be used regardless of its accuracy. The major factor that is holding psychics back is that there are few psychics that practice very much professionalism. In fact most psychics do not have any knowledge of each other. "If psychics were to form a organization, if only so that they might be able to refer police to another colleague" (Lyons 254). Many critics make the mistake of thinking that all psychics are crooks or frauds. "All professions include some scam artists, but we found most professional psychics sincere and concerned individuals anxious to help others" (Wilson 39). Finally what the police need to do to improve the use of psychics is to become better informed about psychics that they have and have not used. Most police agencies have little knowledge about psychics, and in turn are less likely to use a tool of investigation that they know little about. Education about the subject seems to be the most necessary thing that needs to occur in order for psychic detectives to become more accepted and used more often. Hopefully for the sake of crime prevention and society the use of psychic will become a more refined and legitimate form of criminology. Works Cited Broughton, Richard. Parapsychology the Controversial Science. New York: Ballantine, 1991. Cohen, Daniel. ESP: The Search Beyond the Senses. New York: Harcourt, 1989. Doran, Bernadette. "Psychic Sleuths." Omni January 1992, 87-89. Hicks, Robert. The Psychic World of Law Enforcement. New York: Warner, 1990. Hines, Terence. Psychic Crime Detection. New York: Elsevier, 1992. Lyons, Arthur. The Blue Sense. New York: Warner, 1991. Rieser, Dr. Martin. Journal of Police Science. New York: Random House, 1993. Rhine, J.B.. Parapsychology Today. New York: Citadel, 1988. Willensky, Diane. Criminal Minds. New York: McGraw Hill, 1989. Wilson, Colin. Psychic Detectives. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1985. Wolman, Benjamin. Handbook of Parapsychology, New York: Van Nostrand, 1994.

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