The Skeptical Inquirer

Psychic detectives fail in the real world but succeed on TV.(News And Comment)

Charles Capel was last seen alive May 20, 2004, the night before he wandered away from his home in Oxford Township in rural Butler County, Ohio. The retired university professor, who suffered from Alzheimer's, could not be found despite repeated searches by police and volunteers. In October, frustrated by a lack of leads, Oxford police enlisted self-proclaimed psychic detective Noreen Renier in the search. For a $650 taxpayer-funded fee, she described the area where Capel would be found. Acting on Renier's information, police renewed the search but still found nothing. Weeks and months dragged on without a break in the case until December 1, when Capel's body was discovered less than a mile from his home, in an area the police apparently missed.

According to a news report in the Oxford Press, "The small patch of cornfield-surrounded woodland where Capel was found possessed uncanny similarities to the area psychic detective Noreen Renier described to police.... Though in Virginia, hundreds of miles away from the scene, she was able to envision bits of his journey through contact with his shoes and toothbrush." A local television station was similarly impressed, airing a report titled, "Psychic Clues Accurate in Case. …

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