Psychic mediums are sometimes called upon to help the police crack difficult criminal investigations. One such case involved the murderer known also as the Killer Clown.
With popular shows such as Medium in the US and Psychic Detectives in the UK, people are presented with psychic mediums successfully helping with homicide investigations. One of the most famous cases of apparent successful psychic detection involved the serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
The 1978 police investigation of a missing 15-year-old boy in the Chicago area led to the arrest of John Wayne Gacy as a suspect in a number of other missing person cases. The serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, also known as the ‘Killer Clown’, was tried and executed, two years later, for the murder of thirty-three boys and young men. During the criminal investigation the missing boy’s family requested the police consult nationally known psychic detective and psychic medium Dorothy Allison.
Psychic Detection and Skepticism
It is rare to find such cases in the psychic criminology literature (taken here to mean any association between any aspect of crime and the paranormal). Normally successful claims are made by self-proclaimed psychic detectives often in high profile homicide or missing person cases (e.g. the case of the young British girl Madeleine McCann in which police claim they received daily information from psychics as to her whereabouts and/or descriptions of the kidnapper). Frequently any detailed follow-up on the majority of these cases reveals that the information is given to police even though help hasn’t been requested. According to Joe Nickell in the book “Psychic Sleuths: ESP and sensational cases” (Prometheus, 1994) such claims are often grossly exaggerated or the information provided is often vague and ambiguous. There are also instances where a person claims to have provided psychic impressions in a homicide and it turns out to be completely inaccurate or the impressions do little to aid a crime scene investigation. Worse still, the claim of being involved is actually a lie itself and merely put forward as a way of seeking publicity. With the Gacy serial killer investigation, testimony from one of the lead officers shows Dorothy Allison’s involvement to be fact. The question is: did she help solve the case?
Psychic Detective solves homicide?
John Wayne Gacy’s home had become the focus of a crime scene investigation following eyewitness reports that the boy was last seen with him. It was during this crime scene investigation that Lieutenant Kozenczak discovered significant clues relating to other missing person cases. Despite driving over a thousand miles with Dorothy Allison in a fruitless search for the body, Kozenczak says that the psychic detective’s information on the case led some officers to turn from skeptic to believer in psychic phenomena. Supposedly Allison predicted the exact date on which the body of the young boy would be found. Despite the Lieutenant’s glowing testimony, however, considerable time and money in the form of manpower and equipment (including helicopters, boats, divers etc.) were lost following up on Allison’s impressions of the boy’s whereabouts. Kozenczak, nevertheless, praises Dorothy Allison’s work on the case, stating “Had weather conditions not been prohibitive…it is possible that Dorothy Allison might have found [his] body,” (The Blue Sense, 1991, p140).
Many psychics claim to have assisted the police in solving serious crimes when, in fact, they have merely volunteered information. The Lieutenant’s account, however, leaves no doubt of Allison’s involvement in the ‘Killer Clown’ investigation. But given that she didn’t solve the missing person case or indeed help capture John Wayne Gacy, was her involvement assistance or a hindrance?
Psychic Criminology: A guide for using psychics in investigations, Whitney Hibbard, Raymond Worring & Richard Brennan (Charles C. Thomas Publisher Ltd, 2002)
Psychic Sleuths: ESP and sensational cases, Joe Nickell, (Prometheus Books, 1994)
The Blue Sense: Psychic detectives and crime, Arthur Lyons & Marcello Truzzi, (Mysterious Press Books, 1991)
© Ciaran O’Keeffe 2012