The XX Factor

Texas Cops Snowballed by Tipster Claiming To Be Psychic

There are now not one , but two TV shows that slyly send up the history of police being duped by self-proclaimed psychics, wasting their time and following false leads because the aforementioned “psychics” had visions, usually of hitting the sort of evidence-payload that detectives can only dream about. You would think that level of mockery would cause police to rethink listening to any charlatan claiming the spirits are talking to them, but the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office outside of Houston, Texas followed a tip from a psychic who said there were 30 dismembered bodies, some of children, buried around in and around a house. Naturally, there were no bodies on the premises.

After CNN and Reuters dutifully reported the existence of this new serial killer (prompting me to read the headline and say to my boyfriend, “Poor Texas can’t catch a break in the serial killer department”), the sheriff’s office quickly corrected the record, noting that the only real evidence for this spate of gruesome killings was some blood on a porch, which would hardly be cause for concern under normal circumstances in rural East Texas. In fact, it turns out that the blood was there for a sad reason, a suicide attempt by the homeowner’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend.

The lesson in all this should be clear. The police don’t usually listen to “tips” from raving maniacs who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. And they shouldn’t even when those raving maniacs claim to have information from the spirit world. They should regard the spirit world as a concoction created by raving maniacs precisely to snowball people who would otherwise disregard them for being raving maniacs.

Photograph courtesty of iStockphoto / Thinkstock.