The owners of a Texas ranch raided by police in 2011 based on false information from a psychic are now suing, along with police and several news organizations.
The case began June 6, when a psychic using the name ‘Angel’ called police and described a horrific scene of mass murder: dozens of dismembered bodies near a ranch house about an hour outside of Houston, Texas. There were rotting limbs, headless corpses and, chillingly, children in a mass grave.
Deputies from the Liberty County Sheriff’s office went to investigate but didn’t see anything amiss. After a second call the following day, dozens of officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the FBI and the Texas Rangers were on the scene—not to mention cadaver dogs, news helicopters and gawkers.
It all turned out to be a false alarm. There were no dead bodies; the psychic was wrong (or lying).
Though the incident became a national embarrassment, the police refused to apologize, saying that procedures were followed and that the severity of the claims warranted an investigation. Whether a tip comes from an ordinary citizen, an anonymous informant or a self-proclaimed psychic, information about mass murders cannot be ignored.
The ranch owners, Joe Bankson and Gena Charlton, were not amused and filed a lawsuit earlier this year. However, according to Anna Merlan of The Dallas Observer
Angel, who’d called in the tip by phone, vanished into the ether, leaving the couple to sue the media outlets for defamation and the sheriff’s office for unreasonable search and seizure. … Now, court records show that the plaintiffs seem to have located and sued the woman they think is an Angel in disguise. Her name is Presley Gridley, she goes by “Rhonda,” and she lives in Stanton, Texas, about 800 miles away from their farmhouse.
According to Merlan, a Liberty County blogger named Allen Youngblood did some detective work and discovered a call Gridley made to a nearby county Sheriff’s Department in which she told police to investigate a rural Texas farmhouse in search of two missing children who were the subject of an Amber Alert.
Gridley told the call-taker that the children were actually “in bad shape” in a farmhouse in Hull, Texas, a small town near Hardin, being hidden in a cellar or a container of some kind, along with another little boy. But first, she explains her credentials. “You’ll think I’m crazy, but have you ever heard of Sylvia Browne?” she says. “She’s actually a psychic. And I’m a reverend and a psychic. … The spirits talk to me. There were 32 of them that told me they were kids and they’re actually there, and they think these kids are there. … These 32 souls are kids, and they said that’s where they were actually killed. They were sacrificed there. … y’all would also find their bones there. They said their bones are like in the walls. Also if you’ll look with some kind of light or whatever, there’s stuff written all over the walls in blood.”
The psychic — whether going by Angel, Rhonda, or Gridley — was wrong. There were no bodies, children’s bones in the walls, or walls scrawled with the blood of child sacrifices. The two missing children were found unharmed and in good health by the side of a road, not hidden in a farmhouse cellar with a young boy. Their older sister was charged with the kidnapping.
Psychic information often wastes police time and resources following up on false leads. Despite popular belief and claims to the contrary, there is not a single documented case of a missing person being found or recovered due to psychic information. Psychics have consistently failed to find missing persons, including high-profile disappearances like Natalee Holloway and
Holly Bobo (the Tennessee woman abducted in April 2011 who remains missing despite efforts by dozens of psychics).
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