Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Psychic Detectives

What They Did Last Summer

Lois Duncan, author of books for teenagers such as I Know What You Did Last Summer, was drawn into a tragic mystery when her 17-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was murdered one night in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

On July 16, 1989, Kaitlyn Arquette was found slumped over the steering wheel of her car, shot in the head.  Police took the attitude that it was a random accident, a drive-by shooting.  Duncan was immediately drawn into the investigation, which quickly took a turn into the paranormal. There were no clues except the recovered bullets, and no apparent motive, such as robbery or drug transactions.  As the Albuquerque Police Department pursued what Duncan called a "tepid investigation," she contacted Kaitlyn's friends and invited a psychic channeler, Noreen Renier, to get involved.  The psychic held the earrings and necklace that Kaitlyn was wearing when she was shot and received impressions of what the girl had experienced in her last moments.  She also described Kaitlyn's movements that night.

Another psychic Duncan consulted, Betty Muench, used automatic writing on an electric typewriter.  Muench told Duncan that her daughter was angry, and that she had died because she knew something about a dangerous situation.  She had also known the person who shot her, and money had changed hands after the murder.

In an interview with editors of the online newsletter, "Absolute Write," Duncan claims that private investigators "were able to verify that the information I received in that manner was accurate."

She discovered that Kaitlyn's Vietnamese boyfriend, Dung Nguyen, was involved in an insurance-claim scheme, and from the channeler, she learned that Kaitlyn could communicate murder clues from beyond the grave.  Much of Duncan's true account, Who Killed My Daughter? is devoted to what the channelers told her, as well as to her own psychic links to her dead daughter.  Although Duncan patiently instructed the detectives on her many discoveries, such as the boyfriend's apparent link with some organized crime, they remained confused and resistant.  As a side benefit, Duncan's psychic consultations also revealed to her that she once had been a male teacher living in ancient Rome.

Psychic Sleuths by Anita Larsen
Anita Larsen lays out the case in Psychic Sleuths, as a way to support how psychics can help to sort through clues in such a mysterious case.  She indicates that one of Duncan's fictional books, published before Kaitlyn was killed, shows eerie moments of prescience.  She points out that another psychic who came into the case, Nancy Czetli, typically worked with the crime scene, because, she claimed, "somehow it [information leaked by people there] gets stuck in the cells of the environment."  Larsen offers this without explaining what it could mean.

Dorothy Allison (Corbis)
(It should be noted that Larsen does accept information uncritically, as she reports that Dorothy Allison worked with police on the John Wayne Gacy case in Illinois.  That case was solved when detectives put Gacy under surveillance after a boy turned up missing who had gone to talk with him.  Gacy eventually confessed to his lawyer and then to the police.  At no time did they need the help of a psychic.  Larsen also claims that psychics work out of the right side of their brains, a statement with no scientific verification.)

Although a man was eventually brought to trial for the Arquette shooting in 1991, the case against him was dismissed as too weak.  Despite all the psychic intervention, the murder investigation still remains unsolved and the "impressions" received by the various psychic sleuths about the events on the night of Kaitlyn's murder were never corroborated.  Lois Duncan accepts them unquestionably, but those who need more verification will be unsatisfied.

However, the next case, while not solved by psychics, did offer some interesting moments for the police.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'