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Historian Mark Nesbitt organized the Ghosts of Gettysburg Walking Tours and has penned quite a few books about his paranormal investigations. I met him over a decade ago when I was writing Ghost. In 2011, we decided to co-write some books that combine forensic science and psychology with paranormal techniques, in order to develop the fullest possible investigations.
In Blood and Ghosts and Haunted Crime Scenes we explore apparition sightings at murder scenes, for example, reconsider forensic evidence in unsolved crimes, and analyze supposed ghostly messages from the missing and dead. We debunk some paranormal claims, but we also accept those that worked. Our main agenda is to explore how these seemingly antithetical disciplines might actually complement each other.
In the process, we coined a “mash-up” term to describe the procedure of analyzing crime scenes for behavioral evidence with remote viewing: “remote profiling.” In other words, to devise a solid profile, one needs a crime scene, police report, and other forensic data. If you add a talented remote viewer, you can “visit” the crime scene – or even pinpoint an unknown crime scene – without actually going there. But we emphasize the word, ‘talented.’
Although remote viewing has a long history among shamans as a form of real-time clairvoyance, more people know about the CIA program developed during the 1970s – 1990s, as “psi research” for spying capabilities. This began at the Stanford Research Institute, a California-based think tank.
SRI researchers had experimented with various forms of paranormal skills and had settled on clairvoyance. They sought to develop real-time sight at a distance as the most practical skill, but they did venture into looking into the past and future as well. They expected to be able to send their mental vision through all barriers, no matter how thick or strong.
Science writer Jim Schnable documented some of the military’s experiments in Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies. He makes the technique sound strikingly impressive, as if the viewers were all wildly accurate when, in fact, only a couple of them became the regular go-to guys. Still, those who could achieve it demonstrated the viability of remote viewing.
The test for psychic giftedness was simple: set up a remote target, such as a specific building or a garden, and send a person out to it. Then find out which subject could accurately reproduce it by seeing only through the eyes of the person who was at the target. The subject would enter a deep trance and sketch or write a description of what he or she saw. Those who were accurate received further training.
Outside the government, remote viewing goes on in other arenas today. One of the most impressive crime-related stories we heard occurred in 2006. Steven B. Williams, a Denver-based DJ, was missing. A friend of his, photographer Robert Knight, had not heard from him in a month, so he was concerned. He couldn’t find anyone who knew where Williams was.
Knight asked Angela Thompson Smith for assistance. She’d worked with a Princeton-based group, Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (P.E.A.R.S.), and in 2002, she’d founded the Nevada Remote Viewing Group. To work on the Williams case, she gathered her team: a retired airline captain, a civil engineer, a former Air Force nurse, a civilian Air Force contractor, a librarian, and a photographer.
Each was given a coordinate on which to focus. Each member undertook one to three hour-long sessions. They had an initial viewing of an image of the missing man, but received no other information. Collectively, they got images of a body in water off Catalina Island on the California coast. They thought it was caught in some netting.
On the same day that they gave Knight this report, a body was found off Catalina Island. Knight heard about it and called the morgue. He offered several specific identifiers, which matched the John Doe (which had been in water for at least two weeks), and Williams officially became a murder victim. The remote viewing session had assisted with a quick identification and the detective in charge publicly admitted that Knight’s information had helped.
The group also did a viewing to discover the whereabouts of the chief suspect. Knight was aware of an investment advisor named Harvey Morrow, who’d befriended Williams. He’d invested money for Williams, but then had disappeared. So had the money.
One of viewers sketched a boat with Morrow on board, and they thought it was somewhere in the British Virgin Islands. It turned out that Morrow was in the Caribbean. When he went to Montana for a job, his boss learned that he was wanted in connection with a homicide. He was arrested and eventually convicted.
This use of a paranormal tool is a good demonstration of the convergence of efforts for a paranormal forensics team. For remote profiling, we’d add a full victimology, to ensure that there was good reason for making such an effort. We’d also include some techniques from behavioral profiling or we’d consult with profilers we know.
We’re aware that psychics can and do waste police time and resources, but we also know that there have been some hits. Our approach would be to carefully screen and corroborate any “psi” information we receive before taking it to a law enforcement team.
Author: Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., expert on murder and forensic psychology
Source: Psychology Today