Guest: Psychic detective Noreen Renier discusses the current state of psychic detective work and provides an overview of some of her current cases. Alex also discusses Ben Radford’s appearance on the Skepticality podcast.
Play it:[audio: http://skeptiko.com/podcast/skeptiko-78-noreen-renier.mp3]
Announcer: On this episode of Skeptiko, psychic detective Noreen Renier.
Noreen Renier: “I was lecturing at the FBI Academy and it was after my lecture that it was open to questions and someone had asked me about Reagan and what I saw for the future. So I sort of tuned in and I saw coming from the outside in the upper chest, he was going to have an injury, and I told the month. So of course, when the attempted assassination happened during the month that I had said, they asked the FBI why didn’t you let us know that? It was the Secret Service that was asking them. And they said, ‘Well, we really didn’t believe her.’”
Announcer:And clips from skeptic investigator, Ben Radford.
Ben Radford:“Do you believe the psychic or do you believe the cops?”
Announcer:Stay with us for Skeptiko.
Alex Tsakiris:Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and on today’s episode of Skeptiko, we are going to jump right back into the psychic detective debate. Now for those of you who’ve followed Skeptiko, you know this is a topic that we’ve spent quite a bit of time covering over the last several months.
And, as a matter of fact, it’s a topic we had spent so much time on that I didn’t really anticipate doing another show on it for quite a while. But then a listener sent me an e-mail alerting me to a recent broadcast that Ben Radford had done on a Skeptical show where he had spoken at great length about the case. I felt like he had really misrepresented things. So despite the disparaging things that he had to say about me…
Female:“Skeptiko with a k is a little crazy.”
Male:“We don’t even know what they’re doing.”
Alex Tsakiris: I immediately contacted Derek, the show’s host and producer and invited him on the show. And I also invited Ben back on to continue this dialogue. I’m going to tell you how all that played out a little bit later in this broadcast. As you might have figured out by now, they decided not to join me on today’s show. So just so we’re all on a level playing field, let me get you caught up a little bit.
What we’re going to be speaking about today is one case that we found from the mid-eighties involving a double homicide in New Jersey. There was a psychic detective named Nancy Webber who assisted two police officers, Lieutenant Bill Hughes and Captain Jim Moore, in carrying out an investigation. There was some TV documentaries that were made about their work and that was the case we selected to investigate with Ben Radford, who is an editor at the Skeptical Inquirer Magazine and claims some degree of expertise in skeptically investigating psychic detectives. So that’s a quick background on the case. Again, if you’re not familiar with it, you might want to go back and listen to some previous episodes.
So what we’re going to do today is look at Ben’s appearance on this show, Skepticality, which is the official podcast of Michael Shermer’s Skeptic magazine. We’re going to critically examine some of the things that he had to say on there, because I think there’s some serious inaccuracies there. And also because I think it speaks to this larger issue of how skeptics and believers debate, and how that debate often degrades into this distortion of the facts in order to promote a certain position or reinforce someone’s beliefs. I think that’s what happened, and I think I’m going to make a case for that.
And then the second part of what we’re going to do today is on a more positive note. We’re going to talk to Noreen Renier, an internationally renowned psychic detective. We’re going to take a look at the current state of psychic detective work and we’re going to begin looking at two fresh cases that she is currently investigating with homicide detectives right now as we speak. I think you’ll be fascinated to hear about what’s really going on with this psychic detective, Noreen Renier and the cases she’s working on.
So, all that’s coming up. The first place to start is Ben Radford’s interview on Skepticality. Let me play you the first clip. It comes after Derek and Ben have been chatting for a little bit, giving some background on the case which I just gave to you. Then Ben is talking about how he was drawn into this case and called upon to investigate the best psychic detective case we could come up with. Here’s Ben Radford.
Ben Radford:Uh, but you know, if this is being presented to me as you know, the best case for psychic detectives, hey, I’ll look into it and I’ll – I’ll accept the challenge.
Alex Tsakiris: So this is kind of an interesting point, because it’s just not true. As a matter of fact, if you go back and listen to some of the very first interviews I had with Ben, he keeps insisting that the case I’ve selected is the case we should examine is the best case I could find. And I’ve repeated over and over to him that it’s not the best case – I even gave him the procedure that I went through. That I just called up Nancy and I asked her, “Hey, give me a case.” And this is the first case that she gave me.
As a matter of fact, the reason that she gave me the case was not because she thought it was the best case. And that’s backed up by the fact that when Ben talked to Nancy, he asked Nancy if she thought this was her best case. And she says, “No, this is not my best case.” The reason this case was selected was because the way this case is resolved is very, very intriguing and interesting and that Nancy goes into prayer and after she goes into prayer, immediately after, Koedatich turns himself in to the cops. That was really the fascinating part of this case. It’s a part that we never really examine too much because we agreed it would be a little bit hard to really tease that out in terms of interviews with Lieutenant Hughes and Captain Moore.
But back to this point about best case, because, hey, I did select this case. This is the case that I put forward as the case that I wanted to examine. In that way, Ben’s correct. But his insistence to repeatedly try and push this forward as some kind of best case representative of psychic detective work, I really think is disingenuous. I think that all these little slights that you’re going to see in this interview add up to a larger picture. And that’s the one that I really want to address, but I’m going to hold up a little bit on that analysis until the end. Let’s go on to the next clip.
Ben Radford:And uh, I kept waiting for uh, Alex and Nancy Webber for that matter, to give me some more information about it. I mean, more than just a DVD. And, I was actually kind of surprised that – that Alex felt the DVD of the TV show basically proved his case.
Alex Tsakiris: Well this is just outrageous. You know, I’ve always been very complimentary to Ben about this investigation. I’ve always seen it as a partnership. In reality, I really was the one who was feeding Ben most of the information. I fed Ben all the initial interviews that I did, I fed Ben all the articles that I had discovered from going to the library and searching online for The New York Times. So for him to put forward the idea that I was sitting back and had merely watched a TV show and that was the sum total of my investigation, it’s just – again, it’s just outrageous.
Go back and look at the record. I’m the first one to interview Nancy Webber. I’m the first one to interview Captain Moore, Lieutenant Hughes. And if I was to show you the e-mail record, you’d see that Ben at this point, I had to keep pushing him to even have an initial interview with Hughes and Moore. Now, he did do those interviews, which is great, but only after my insistence. His initial approach to the investigation is that I alone would interview these folks. So it’s just hard to hear stuff like this, because it just isn’t true.
Ben Radford:So I – I immediately, you know, started looking into it, began researching uh, the case. All I could find out about Koedatich, Amie Hoffman, Nancy Webber, things like that. One – one thing that jumped out at me immediately was that in this – in this case, nobody claims that – that Nancy Webber actually solved the case.
They – they claim – they can’t claim that. I mean, it’s impossible, because the case was solved as pretty much everybody admits, by detective work. By you know, good old-fashioned uh, police work. And even Nancy Webber admits that. Even Alex – Alex admits that. So in a way, it was kind of surprising to me that the case is being presented to me as the best air – air-tight case. Everybody admits that the information didn’t lead to the killer’s arrest.
Alex Tsakiris:Once again here, Ben’s playing a little bit fast and loose with the facts. First of all, this whole issue of whether psychic detectives solve cases is one that we’ve tackled many times in this show. Psychic detectives provide police information that allows them to further their investigation period. Police gather evidence. Prosecutors put people in jail. That’s the way our system works. So to somehow claim that again, back to this best case thing, that this is somehow not the best case because Nancy Webber didn’t the slap the handcuffs on Koedatich is just a ridiculous point.
And particularly in this case, because the circumstances I just mentioned around his surrender to the police coincide exactly with Nancy holding a prayer group the night before. So it’s kind of interesting that he would even bring this up as a point. It’s a complete non-issue. And that’s why we went to great lengths to specify exactly what we were going to look at in this case. I think that’s going to come up in the next clip.
Ben Radford:We basically focused on about five different criterion specifically about the information that Nancy Webber gave regarding Amie Hoffman’s killer, James Koedatich.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay, so now we’re going to get into the meat of the debate that Ben and I had and here’s where the silliness really begins.
Ben Radford: Ah, for example, Nancy Webber said that she specified that Hoffman’s killer had served prison time in Florida. She said, “He came up from Florida where he’d been in prison for murder.” Well now, this is interesting because that’s not the same story that you hear when you interview the police officers. For example, Sergeant Hughes told me that Webber only stated the killer “had served time in the South.”
Alex Tsakiris: This, of course, is Ben’s famous “he didn’t come from the South” claim that any of you who’ve listened to this show and the exhausting detail that we’ve gone into it, probably are familiar with this point. So Nancy, in her work with the detectives, provided a bunch of information but there are really these four or five pieces that we focused on. First, that the killer was from New Jersey, was from the area, was from The Hollow. That was point number one.
The second was that he had served time in Florida where he had committed murder and he had come up from there. And third, was regarding his name, and then the fourth was that he was known to police in the area. So those are really the four main points that we focused on. Now, if you go back and listen to Ben’s interview on Skepticality, he never talks about the first point, that everyone agrees that Nancy said, “Hey, this guy is from around here. He’s from The Hollow. That’s where he’s from.” And that turns out to be true, but that’s never mentioned.
So then Ben goes on to talk about the second point. Again, we’ve talked about this at great, great length, but it deserves to be brought up again because Ben brought it up again on Skepticality. And that’s this issue of whether the killer came from Florida. Ben finds this inconsistency because Lieutenant Hughes at some point says, “I seem to recall the South.” So what I find so fascinating about this is that Ben and I, when we had our final smack-down, decided that we would get on the phone and call Lieutenant Hughes.
I said, “Hey, this guy has said repeatedly that he remembers Florida.” And Ben said, “No, I got him to say that he recalls the South.” So we called up Hughes and asked him which is it, is it the South or Florida? And he says two things. He says one, “I may have used the generic term, the South.” And then the second thing he says is, “But I do remember Florida.” Now this should really be case closed on this little, minor point. You have Nancy Webber saying, “I said he came up from Florida.” You have Captain Moore saying, “I specifically remember Florida.”
Now if you want to go back, let’s drill into Moore’s testimony, right? Because initially when I talked to Ben on our interview, he goes, “No, Moore told me it wasn’t Florida.” But then we called up Moore and Moore was insistent, and he got in Ben’s face a little bit and said, “No, now come on Ben, I told you Florida. I always said Florida.” Now later on, Ben goes back and reviews his notes and he makes just a little comment in the forum and says, “Oh yeah, I went back and reviewed the notes and Moore did say Florida all along.” Okay? So that’s Moore’s testimony.
Now let’s go back to Hughes. So Hughes, as I was just saying, we get him back on the phone and he says this. He says, “No, it was Florida, and I may have used the general term.”That Ben wants to drive this point home and he keeps bringing it up again and again and again. He brought it up on the forums and he brought it up in this interview with Derek on Skepticality. And it’s a complete non-issue.
If you go and you talk to the guy like we did and you follow-up and you ask, what about this inconsistency, he says, “Hey, I may have used the general term, but I specifically remember Florida.” And for Ben to keep pushing this point forward, is just – well, I’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s go on to the next clip.
Ben Radford:And it’s important to, you know, to remember that the way that psychic detectives appear to be accurate and appear to have amazing information is by – is by giving information that seems very specific at the time, but is in fact very general. For example, the psychic detective will say, “Well, the body will be found near water.” So that’s a good example of how something that can seem very specific is in fact, very general, and that’s – that’s exactly the technique that Nancy Webber used in this case.
Alex Tsakiris:Well this is just another ridiculous statement. To make this broad statement that he somehow understands how psychic detectives work is just not supported by any kind of body of evidence other than his personal accounts. It’s also interesting to note that the specific example he’s giving here of a psychic just providing general information — the body will be found by water – is exactly the opposite of the issue we were just debating. Remember, in this case, Nancy gives very specific information that the killer was in Florida in prison for murder and was wrongfully paroled. Details matter here. You can’t continually get this stuff wrong. Okay, but let’s move on to the next point, of course, which is the name.
Ben Radford:Nancy Webber claims that she specified that Hoffman’s killer, “His last name begins with a K.” Well, unfortunately for Webber, both Moore and Hughes dispute that. Her two eyewitnesses say that’s not true.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay, until now I’ve been dancing around using the term “intellectually dishonest.” But here I have to finally bring it out and lay it out there. This is intellectually dishonest on Ben’s part. But first, before I go any further, let me read for you the definition I’ve found for intellectually dishonest.I think it’s an interesting definition. “An argument that’s misused to advance an agenda or reinforce one’s deeply-held beliefs in face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”Well, this is exactly what Ben is doing here.
For Ben to claim that Hughes and Moore dispute Nancy’s testimony is intellectually dishonest. For Ben to say, “Her two eyewitnesses say that’s not true,” is intellectually dishonest. See, what Ben does, is use a truth which is, that Captain Moore and Lieutenant Hughes don’t recall Nancy Webber saying that the last name ended in “-ich.” That’s a truth. He uses that to bridge to a non-truth. That is that Moore and Hughes dispute what Nancy says and that Moore and Hughes say that what Nancy says is not true.
Those two statements, the disputing of it, are completely false and Ben knows better. This isn’t just a little misunderstanding or mistake that he made. In fact, in the interviews that we did, and you can go back and look at these transcripts, Moore and Hughes go to great lengths to differentiate between their lack of recollection and disputing what Nancy says. So what they’re saying, and they’re really careful about it, they say, “I don’t recall the specifics on the “-ich” thing or not, but overall, I agree with her testimony.”
And Ben has tried to distort that into saying that they dispute what Nancy says. This is just – well, it’s intellectually dishonest. But let’s get back to the nuts and bolts of the name thing, because it’s really the one part of this investigation where Ben makes a really valuable contribution, and that is this – in understanding all the elements of the name information that were given by Nancy and were not accurately picked up by Hughes and Moore, we then understand the answer to Ben’s other question is, why didn’t these guys just take the phone book and look this guy up?
Well, by Ben’s own interviews, we realize that the cops, for whatever reason, either because Nancy didn’t give the information clearly or because they weren’t listening to it at that particular time, they didn’t get exactly that the first name was James, exactly that the last name began with a K, or that it ended in an –ich. They got some very intriguing, anyone would say, information about the name, both first and last. But they didn’t get enough of the pieces to go and look it up in the phone book the way that Ben did in Ben’s little demonstration that he did.
So this again, the idea of Nancy giving information about the name, is one of only four or five points that we looked at. I think Ben’s work reveals that the name didn’t really come through as clearly as Nancy thought, but it also points out just how this kind of debate can really go off the rails when people start saying stuff that – well, just isn’t true but that sounds kind of true. And that’s what Ben did here. Let’s play the next clip.
Ben Radford:Do you believe the psychic or do you believe the cops?
Alex Tsakiris: I’ve got to say, of all the misrepresentations and distortions that I heard during this Skepticality broadcast, this last one is probably the one that really got to me the most.I mean, I just about jumped out of my seat when I heard this. Again, this is blatantly intellectually dishonest to suggest that you either have to believe the psychic or believe the cops and that there’s somehow some discrepancy there and that Ben is on the side of the cops is just absurd.
The overall conclusion that the police reach at the end of this case, and this is borne out again in the interviews that Ben did with these folks while I was on the line, is that overall they believe that Nancy gave an incredible reading, provided remarkable information that was useful to the investigation. That is their conclusion. So to somehow twist that into you can either believe the cops or believe the psychic – it’s just a complete misrepresentation. It would be more accurate to say you can either believe the cops or believe the skeptic.
Now the last comment I really want to make about the whole Skepticality, Ben Radford incident is the way that this episode actually played out. You know, after I heard the episode, I immediately contacted Derek. And I was really nice, had an e-mail exchange with him and said, “Hey, look, why don’t you come on, we’ll clear up some things. Clearly I think some things have been misrepresented and I know you want to get to the bottom of it, at least that’s what you stated. So why don’t we do this?” I was stonewalled. First, Derek said, “Hey, I am just so busy until, well, September, that I don’t really think we can talk.” Well, I followed up this e-mail by telling him I have spoken with many, many folks, both skeptics and non-skeptics, and everyone’s real busy, but yet we have to find time to talk about things that matter. This is what we do.”
Well, Derek proceeded to follow this up with several 500 to 1,000 word e-mails, again, this is the guy who doesn’t have 30 minutes to talk on the phone, about how fair he is and about he’s really open to skeptic versus believer debate. All the while, he won’t agree to an interview. Then finally, after bending over backwards, I really did – I mean, I have to really sweet-talk some people into coming on Skeptiko, but this is about as far as I ever had to go with Derek. So finally he agreed to come on and then at the last minute, changed his mind when Ben Radford decided not to come on. [laughs] I don’t know.
Again, I don’t know if Derek was afraid to come on without Ben there for moral support or just what the issue was. And I also cannot understand for the life of me why Ben wouldn’t come back on the show. You know, he keeps holding this line that there’s really nothing more to talk about and yet, he goes on these shows and talks for an hour. And I’m sure he’s going to go to conferences and talk, and I’m sure he’s going to write books and articles and all this. But yet, to come back and continue the dialogue and kind of confront these issues, he doesn’t want to do that.
As a matter of fact, you know, the final misrepresentation for Ben really came up just a couple of days ago on the Skeptiko forum, and you can all go read this if you want. It’s clearly right there, publicly posted. But Ben goes on a little bit of a rant about how he wasn’t really ducking an interview with me and he only decided not to come on because there wasn’t anything more to talk about.
And I pointed out that that’s completely false and that I told him I did have some new information relevant to the case, and in particular is quite an important piece of information. It’s an e-mail exchange I had with Tommy Costanza, who’s now the Chief of Police in this town in New Jersey, and he’s the guy who wrote a traffic ticket for James Koedatich. And if you remember, this is something that Nancy unbelievably said.
She picked out of nowhere – she’s in the car with Bill Hughes, and she’s getting so frustrated that they’re not going forward in the case she goes, “Look, you guys wrote a ticket for this guy.” And she drives to the Mendham, New Jersey Police Department, said, “You’ve got a guy in your department, last name begins with C.” And the guy at the desk says, “I have two of them.” And she says, “The hard C.” And he goes, “Costanza?” And she goes, “That’s the name. Tommy Costanza wrote a ticket to this guy.” So this is the testimony of both Bill Hughes and Nancy Webber. This is what they say happened. Then I followed up just recently after our whole conversation with Ben. I followed up with now Chief Costanza, and he e-mailed me back and confirmed that yes, in fact, that was correct, and he had issued a ticket to this guy. So this was the new information I had for Ben. I told Ben about this information and yet he posts on our forum that I didn’t have anything new. Well, I did, and I can even show him the e-mail exchange where I did. So maybe that’s an honest mistake on Ben’s part, I don’t know.
But when you add together all these other misrepresentations in the Skepticality broadcast, there’s no room to slough it all off as just misremembering, honest mistakes. It really is intellectual dishonesty. But is it fair to characterize all skeptic/believer debates as being this, intellectually dishonest? Well, of course you can’t characterize them all that way, but if you really look back at the ones that we’ve looked into, Richard Wiseman, Rupert Sheldrake, clearly Richard Wiseman being intellectually dishonest in his representation for the data and he only clears it up ten years later.
If you look at Dean Radin and Ray Hyman, clearly intellectually dishonest to say that someone hasn’t replicated the work when clearly they have. To say that Radin’s fiddled with the data when clearly he hasn’t and published in a peer-reviewed article an explanation of how that wasn’t the case.
Dr. Roger Nelson and Brian Dunning in a broadcast we just did earlier, where Mr. Dunning made all these claims about the Global Consciousness Project. They were all refuted directly by Roger Nelson, and yet Brian refused to back down, refused to come back on and continue the dialogue. So I do have to say from my experience, this pattern of intellectual dishonesty is quite prominent in the skeptic/believer debate. And it’s not hard to understand why. These are deeply-held beliefs on the part of skeptics. It’s really hard when you’re deeply-held beliefs are challenged.
Well, now I’d like to switch gears and rather than talk about intellectual dishonesty, I’m going to talk about honesty. About honest cops and honest psychic detectives that are, despite the environment that’s been created for this work, trying to go forward and trying to help society by solving cases. I think the strongest evidence we can give against what Ben Radford claims, is to just expose how psychic detective work is going on today. How real, live detectives, seasoned, experienced, knowledgeable homicide detectives continue to rely on the information that they get from psychic detectives.
That continued support of the method, I think, is the strongest and loudest claim that can be made in favor of the fact that there is merit to what’s being done here. When we juxtapose that against the research that’s currently being done to find out how psychic detectives work, how and when and under what conditions they’re efficacious, there’s really no rational explanation for why this topic isn’t more researched. But from a practical, in-the-field standpoint, we have to return to what’s really going on. And there’s no better way of doing that than to look at current cases that are happening.
So that’s what we’re going to do next. I have coming up, a very interesting interview with one of the most well-known and successful psychic detectives, Noreen Renier. So stay with me. Coming up, my interview with psychic detective, Noreen Renier.
Alex Tsakiris:I’d like to welcome back to Skeptiko, psychic detective Noreen Renier, who has been on this show before and as most of you know, is an internationally recognized psychic detective with really outstanding credentials, having worked with the FBI, numerous police forces around the country. Noreen, it’s so good to have you back and welcome back to Skeptiko.
Noreen Renier:Well, thank you for having me.
Alex Tsakiris:Noreen, as you know, and you’ve been very nice enough to correspond with me by e-mail and keep up with what we’re doing here with our psychic detective investigation, but we published a show and did a verily exhaustive review of a psychic detective case. One of the bits of feedback that we got, and I’m not sure that it’s really justified, is that the case that we’re looking at is old, and that some of the memories may be degraded over time.
A suggestion that was made is, ‘Why don’t you work on any new cases?’ Little did those folks who made that criticism know, but that you and I have been talking about working on some cases, and you actually have contacted me with some of the very fresh cases that you’re working on right now with some detectives. I know one is in Florida and the other one I think you were just talking with me about earlier today is in – where’s the other case you’re working on?
Noreen Renier:North Carolina.
Alex Tsakiris: Right. In North Carolina. So I just wanted to let people know that Skeptiko is trying to stay on top of recent cases, new cases that you’re working on, and that the police continue to call you, which I think really is – let’s stop the presses right there. That’s the big story. Police continue to call you because they’re happy with the kind of results that they get from your readings and from your work. Would you comment on that?
Noreen Renier:Right. And when you say a fresh case, I mean it’s like I’m doing it tomorrow or did it last week, but [interference] it’s a new case for me because it was last week or two weeks ago. But the cases I and Page work on are sometimes three, four, and I’ve done 20 years and plus cases for the police.
Alex Tsakiris:Right, and let’s talk a little bit about that, Noreen, cause that gets into the second point, and really the most important point that I want to talk about. And that’s the current state of psychic detective work. I know from talking to several police detectives and also from speaking with you and other psychic detectives, that really the climate for this work has changed. I think the skeptical community is partially responsible. I know they probably feel good about being partially responsible for that, but I think the results of it are not at all positive for law enforcement. What is the state of psychic detective work among law enforcement professionals?
Noreen Renier:Well, it’s still there but we’re sort of underground. We’ve gone underground a little bit. We’re not publicizing that I’m working on the case, or even when it’s solved that I have worked on it or other psychics that worked on it. They get a barrage of phone calls and e-mails from the skeptics if we make the headlines, telling them, ‘Oh, no, she couldn’t have done that. You must be mistaken.’ And putting a lot of pressure on them for using me, so we are more, as I might say, more underground.
Alex Tsakiris: And some of the feedback we got on the last case is, ‘Gee, if they have all this information, why didn’t they solve the case?’ And I think having clues and having tidbits of information is a long way from convicting someone of a crime.
Noreen Renier:Absolutely. Absolutely. Lots of times we do know who did it but we don’t have enough evidence to make – or they don’t have enough evidence to make the arrest.
Alex Tsakiris: Right. And that’s something else that I’ve heard, both from…
Noreen Renier:Yeah, but that’s not my job. My job is just to give them information and what they do with it or how they use it, it’s out of my control.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, right. Okay, so let’s talk real briefly about a couple of the cases that you’ve invited us in on, which I think is great, and it’s going to be a great opportunity for folks who are listening to Skeptiko to kind of see how a case unfolds. So you have one homicide, it’s a cold case homicide in Florida, and a detective there contacted you and you’re working on that. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that case? Is it a murder case? How old is it?
Noreen Renier:It’s a multi-murder case and I believe it’s an old case. I mean, somebody’s going through the cold case file. I believe it was a 1969 case, all the way back then. I never know how old it is, cause I don’t ask any questions. Until they call, sometimes I don’t even know if it’s a homicide or missing person. That’s an old one. The other one is going to be very new for me. It’s going to be a four-year old case.
Alex Tsakiris: Hey, Noreen, can I stop you for a minute? I need to ask you a couple more questions about that first case, because I want to show folks. You sent me a photo of the couple of items that you received on that case as part of your reading.
Noreen Renier: Right.
Alex Tsakiris: Can you describe to us a little bit what you received and then the process that you went through with the detective? And I want to tell everyone, we don’t want to say — it’s an ongoing investigation, Noreen is not going to disclose the city or the name of the detective or any details about the case, but maybe you can fill people in a little bit about your process.
Noreen Renier:All right. I usually like items that have some connection with the crime, like if they send me something that wasn’t on the victim that doesn’t help me, because I have to see through the victim’s eyes. So they sent me something that was in the victim’s hair, some sort of thing that was in the female victim’s hair. They also sent me some handles that they must have touched — the bad guys or the bad person touched. And then some brackets which I don’t quite understand why they sent me the brackets, but the little handles and the thing that was in the woman that was killed, her hair.
So I touch those items and try to see through the victim’s eyes what she or he saw. And then I can sort of – the other people I can become the murderer and in the Florida case, I’m hiding a weapon because that would help the police so much if I can find the weapon that killed these people. So this is where my focus has been on in that case, is in finding the weapon. I don’t see everything in chronological order. It’s bits and pieces and again, the police have to put it together like a puzzle. It’s not all chronologically laid out for them and they go, ‘A-ha!’ Again, they have to work very hard after their session with me.
Alex Tsakiris:Right, right. Okay, so we’re going to post that photograph. It’s really kind of intriguing to look at that and then to hear what you said. And I understand that the early feedback that you’ve received after doing a couple of readings with the detective, was that she was extremely excited about the information that you gave, and felt that it was highly useful and evidential to this case.
So we’re going to leave it at that for everybody because the detective has asked that we don’t report on the case and that she really thinks the case can be resolved with the information that she’s given and she hopes to get some kind of closure by the end of the year. We just wanted to bring people up to date that that’s something that’s ongoing and we’ll be updating folks on. Tell me, am I getting that right in terms of her feedback that she’s given you so far about what you’ve been able to provide?
Noreen Renier:She was really impressed. Gave me no information whatsoever. The first session I didn’t even, of course, didn’t get any feedback. It wasn’t until our second session that she told me about all the things that I said that were correct. I wouldn’t have known anything that – logically known these things. And of course, looking for the weapon now, she’s very excited. But no, she was very pleased with our sessions.
Alex Tsakiris: Great. And I think when we talk about proving this stuff, and I think that’s just a whole rat’s nest of when we talk about what’s proof and is this really real, and does this really happen? For anyone who’s skeptical, but more importantly, to anyone who’s serious about researching this topic, either because they’re in some law enforcement administration department, in a university or just have some kind of psi or parapsychology interest, you have to step back and say, here are all of these professionally trained, highly skilled detectives who work on cases like this every day. They are not getting fooled. So the fact that they’re coming back to you again and again and again, and the fact that she can say, “Hey, this information is useful.” That’s a lot of evidence. That’s a lot of evidence that this stuff needs to be investigated, and this stuff needs to be taken seriously.
Noreen Renier:And again, they must realize that again, I’m the last resort. They’ve tried all their police procedures, the fingerprinting and all the other technologies they know, and they’ve come to a dead end. So they’re not quickly picking up the phone and calling me the first thing when they can’t solve it. They’re doing all their police work, as much as they can, and then when they get to the dead end, and this is again, two, three, four, five years or more, that’s when I’m called. I’m the last resort.
Alex Tsakiris: I hear you…
Noreen Renier:They’ve got nothing to lose using me. They have absolutely nothing to lose and if I can help them, which hopefully the majority of the time I can.
Alex Tsakiris: On one hand that’s great. On the other hand, that’s horrible. I mean, that’s the sad state of affairs. As a citizen, I’m interested in law enforcement using every tool possible at the earliest stage possible to apprehend serial killers. So the fact that we have a situation where we have something that might be useful, might be helpful, and A – we’re not researching it, and B – because we’re not researching it, we’re not utilizing it to its fullest extent. That doesn’t necessarily make me happy that they only call you as a last resort.
Noreen Renier:But this is my goal for in the future because they hate using outsiders — they absolutely hate using outsiders — that we can train a few of their own to do what I can do. It doesn’t have to be hundreds. It doesn’t have to be every cop out there that can do this, but if we just had a few that could do this, they could have their own inside force. No one would know what’s going on except cases are being solved and missing children are being found immediately, not months, weeks, or bodies.
Alex Tsakiris: So that’s your real vision for the future where you’d like to see things go, Noreen, is to have…
Noreen Renier:Oh, absolutely. I hate being the last resort. I know realistically I have to be at this time, but in the future if we do enough research on this and how the mind can get this information and how valuable it is to the police departments, then they…the remote viewers. I want to go back into the remote viewers. The military trained them. They believed enough. And they were psychics, they’re just calling themselves something different. They’re traveling into the future, they’re traveling into the past. It’s the same thing I do.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, let’s talk real briefly then about the other case that we may or may not introduce to this investigation that we’re doing. That’s the case you’re working on in North Carolina. Do you want to say anything real briefly about that?
Noreen Renier:Well, you know, the skeptics think that they’re skeptical. I think my police are more skeptical. This department has never worked with me before, so what they sent me was – I wanted a ring, a watch, something off the victim, something metal. I got a handkerchief that might have been in the individual’s pocket or purse, we don’t know. And my job, by holding this cloth, I have to describe the murderer and the victim.
And I always describe the victim first so the police understand that I’m real and that I can see things. And then I switch a little switch in my brain and try to see the murderer and whatever else that they will be needing from me. But it’s not easy. I mean, I’m always rolling the dice with only one, you know, rolling sevens with one dice. It’s tough, my job is. I think it’s very difficult.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, I think it is, too. The last thing I want to touch on, when you say your job is tough, I was reading through – you were nice enough to share with me some depositions that were done in a very nasty court case involving you and this really disreputable skeptic. One little tidbit that I pulled out of it, I thought was just fascinating, and I don’t know if it has really gotten enough media attention.
In the course of this transcript – now, this is an FBI detective who is being deposed for part of a trial, right? So this is a court proceeding. This guy isn’t lying. And he’s recounting your visit to the FBI Training Center and what you told them. Do you remember the vision that you had about Ronald Reagan, and what you told them about that?
Noreen Renier:Oh, yes, oh, yes. Yes.
Alex Tsakiris: I thought that was just an incredible piece of history and this is just a footnote. I mean, this guy isn’t even punching it up. He’s just making this little footnote of something that happened. Can you recount that?
Noreen Renier:Yes, I was what I consider a new psychic and I was lecturing at the FBI Academy and it was after my lecture that it was open to questions. And someone had asked me about Reagan and what I saw for the future. So I sort of tuned in and I saw coming from the outside in the upper chest, he was going to have an injury, and I told the month. And I forgot what else.
And then someone else in the audience wanted to ask a different question, but they had videotapes me. So of course, when the attempted assassination happened during the month that I had said, I think I said four months or whatever month was correct, they asked the FBI why didn’t you let us know that? It was the Secret Service that was asking them. And they said, “Well, we really didn’t believe her.”
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah.
Noreen Renier:At that time.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, it’s incredible. I’ll post some of the transcripts but it is…
Noreen Renier:I’d love it, yes.
Alex Tsakiris:…undeniable evidence of you saying Ronald Reagan is going to be shot. The other thing, and I’m recalling this off the top of my head and I’ll correct it if I didn’t – but you said, “He will survive.” You said the area that he will be shot. And then, here’s the twist that is just quirky and fascinating and screams out for how we need research in this area. Then you got the second part of it wrong, but you got it right, too. And that’s that somebody asked about the President and what about the future and into the future…
Noreen Renier:Oh, oh, oh, yes, yes.
Alex Tsakiris:Do you remember that? The Anwar Sadat thing?
Noreen Renier:Yes. They came to my house and they asked me if I could tune in to the future for the President. They gave me something very insignificant, again, no ring, no watch, no hair, just something and so my job was – the words I heard in my mind were, “Future President.”
So my mind took off, and all of a sudden I remember being in the air and I’m looking down and there’s a military parade. But as I get closer, the uniforms are foreign to me. They’re not American uniforms. All of a sudden I hear all this gunfire and I felt like the President had been shot. Well, then I gave the month time, I gave the period of time. And it turned out that it was Sadat. The military parade, and he was shot during that time.
Alex Tsakiris: Right. And that image is so burned in so many people’s memory, including mine, because it was a huge international news event. So isn’t that interesting? So you tuned into the President getting shot, and you didn’t exactly connect with Ronald Reagan, because it’s not like…
Noreen Renier:Well he didn’t say Reagan. If he had said President Reagan, go into the future. But he just said go into the future and see if there was any danger for the President’s future, President danger. So the only danger I guess my mind picked up was for that other President. So again, how does my mind work? And how to I catch on to these little words that they give me or leave out?
Alex Tsakiris:Fascinating. Fascinating stuff. Well, Noreen, we’re going to cut this short because we will be checking back in with you as this case rolls forward, as a couple of these cases roll forward. Hopefully, we can turn this all into some serious research. There’s a lot of law enforcement administration departments out there that really need to get onboard with kind of cracking the code and helping law enforcement have another tool in their arsenal for solving crime.
Noreen Renier:I agree 100 percent. Thank you so much, Alex.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, I’d like to thank Noreen Renier again for joining me today on Skeptiko. If you’d like more information about this show or any of our previous shows, be sure to check out the Skeptiko Web site. That’s at skeptiko.com. You’ll also find a link to our forums and an e-mail link to me. Well, that’s going to do it for this episode. I have several new episodes, exciting, interesting episodes coming up. I also have a number of projects that are kind of percolating in the background, so a lot going on here. A very busy summer here in Skeptiko-land. Stay with us. Much more to come. Take care, and bye for now.
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