Have Psychics Actually Helped Law Enforcement Solve Crimes or Has Hollywood Fooled Us Again?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jan. 25 2024, Published 4:07 p.m. ET

Tyler Henry
Source: Getty Images

Medium Tyler Henry

Growing up in the ‘90s, I spent far too much time trying to develop psychic abilities. I had an embarrassing amount of books about finding one's third eye, learning to astral project, and of course anything on tarot cards. It didn't help that I was a teenager when one of the greatest films ever made was released: The Craft. And while that was about witches and not psychics, there was a ton of overlap.

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I've always believed in the supernatural sight unseen because at the end of the day, I find that world to be far more interesting than a world without mediums and ghosts. As an adult, I've had my tarot cards read countless times and have paid to speak with numerous psychics. So far no one has been right, but I believe anyway. Because of this, I've always been fascinated by the idea of psychics helping with law enforcement investigations. Do the police work with psychics? Here's the scoop.

Do the police work with psychics? Not exactly.

In August 2000, the CIA released a report titled "Use of Psychics in Law Enforcement" which is pretty self-explanatory. Evidently in 1999, there were several articles in local and national newspapers about the use of psychics in investigations. I suppose it got too big to ignore, so the CIA had to step in. Though psychics are "consulted by federal, state, and local law enforcement, psychics are not commonly used in investigations." It's not common, but it happens.

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Faye Dunaway
Source: Getty Images

Faye Dunaway walks to the CIA office in a scene from the movie 'Three Days of the Condor,' circa 1975

The CIA spoke with police at 11 different agencies who claimed to have some sort of success working with a psychic. Of those, eight officers said that the psychic shared information with them they couldn't have known. In three cases, "missing bodies were discovered in areas described by the psychic." Two officers revealed that the information provided by the psychic was too general and one had no success and did not plan on working with a psychic again.

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The report then becomes a how-to guide of sorts in terms of law enforcement working with a psychic. It suggests that police should only contact a psychic when they have exhausted all possible leads. Similar to finding the right therapist, landing on the best psychic to worth with is an important step. In many cases, the family of a victim has already reached out to a psychic. If not, look into getting a referral from an officer who has previously worked with a psychic. Also, make sure they are working for the right reasons.

It's important to make sure psychics have the tools necessary in order to provide assistance. Something like a picture of the victim or an item of clothing might help. If they ask questions, keep the answers brief. Obviously law enforcement doesn't want to inadvertently divulge information. This is a little different nowadays, what with the internet and all, but nearly 25 years ago you sure could hide a lot!

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Why do police use psychic detectives?

In June 2011, NBC News reported on a wild story that involved a "mass grave hoax" in Houston, Texas. Someone calling themselves a psychic told police that a rural farmhouse was the "scene of a grisly mass murder." They found no evidence to support this claim and were able to explain away why this person thought there were bodies buried on the property.

While investigating, law enforcement found blood on the ground and took note of the smell of decomposition. It turns out the "blood was from an unrelated drunken incident that had occurred weeks earlier; and the smell was from rotting meat in a broken freezer." The simplest explanation is usually the answer so police think the "psychic" had visited the area before. Why did police pursue this tip? They had to. Law enforcement "must follow up on all credible tips about crimes, including those from dubious sources

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