With the popularity of programs within the true crime genre like Psychic Detectives and completely fictional programs like Medium, I became curious on just how often police departments turned to psychics to aid in criminal investigations, most notably unsolved murders, and of those departments that did turn to psychics, how many were able to solve a case based on a psychic’s premonitions?
Like most things I’m curious about, I turned to my good friend Google to assist me in answering these burning questions. My search for the truth began with a woman who claims to be a real life psychic detective. Her name is Noreen Renier.
The first thing I noticed about Ms. Renier’s website is the amount of disclaimers. On both the front page and all of her subsequent pages contained within the site are littered with the warning:
“Psychics don’t solve crimes – the police do!”
She contends that she is simply another tool for law enforcement and families looking for closure to use. And for a mere $650.00, law enforcement or bereaved families are able to purchase an hour of her time. While it is undetermined exactly how many cases Ms. Renier has been credited with solving, some of her press coverage notes that she has been invited to speaking engagements with the FBI Academy and had predicted the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan months prior to the incident, as well as being touted for her phenomenal abilities in publications like The National Enquirer. Additionally, Renier has written several books on her experience as working as a psychic detective.
In spite of this impressive resume, Renier remains skeptical in her own abilities.
“A psychic should be called into an investigation as a last resort, when traditional methods for solving a crime have been exhausted.”
Renier isn’t the only alleged psychic detective. Around the world are thousands of men and women who claim to possess some form of paranormal abilities which allow them to see flashes of imagery or speak with the deceased directly in order to solve cold cases.
For 19 years, the James Randi Educational Foundation has challenged these phenomenal claims, offering one million dollars to anyone who could prove they possessed psychic abilities under controlled scientific conditions. Renier was among those who was challenged by Dr. Randi, but refused to participate in a demonstration before Randi’s panel. Randi’s foundation also critically examined Renier’s predictions. Like many alleged psychic predictions, it would appear that Renier’s may have been retrofitted after the event in order to fit the narrative.
In the 19 years Dr. Randi had been running the challenge, which was officially retired as of September of 2015, no one has been able to prove that they possessed any otherworldly powers. Of course, those are only the men and women who agreed to demonstrate their alleged powers to Dr. Randi.
It would appear that many police departments also remain skeptical of people who claim to be psychic detectives, including those who just call in to report their premonitions in regards to open cases. According to a survey taken by Skeptical Enquirer magazine, of the agencies who responded to the survey, only 35 percent had ever turned to psychics to aid in investigations. This is contrary to what television programs passing themselves off as true crime shows like Psychic Detectives would have many of us believing.
While these shows may be entertaining, when investigators truly believe that the people behind these claims have the ability to speak with the dead or have visions of the crime scene, then the outcome can be a complete waste of investigators’ time and devastating to public resources. One such incident occurred within the state of Texas.
A woman phoned the Liberty County Sheriffs Department in order to report a premonition she had that there were 30 or more bodies buried on the property of an area ranch. Taking the claims seriously, over 100 man hours and more than $1 million of taxpayer’s money was spent on the wild goose chase. No bodies were ever discovered on the ranch.
After the incident, The Daily Mail, also looked into how often psychics were able to offer real assistance in police investigations. The news outlet was able to contact several police agencies, along with the FBI, and were able to determine that no psychic tips have ever helped to solve nor prevent a crime.
Those stark statistics have not deterred some agencies and families seeking answers to reach out to these individuals, who accept their clients with open arms (and open wallets). Many times it is the psychic, themselves, who will make cold calls to investigative agencies and families involved in high-profile cases in order to offer their services, often for a fee.
While it seems that there are those who do not doubt the fact that they possess extrasensory abilities, the mounting evidence shows that many individuals claiming to be psychic detectives are only looking to capitalize on the grief of others and hoping to gain some form of notoriety by attaching their names to high-profile crimes.
Taking all evidence available into account, it would seem that the logical conclusion on psychic detectives is that there is not enough credibility to the profession to accurately lend itself to real investigations. Though some may find that having a palm or tarot card reading can be a fun or exciting form of entertainment, when it comes to real police work, it should be best left to the investigators.