Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Melvin Rees -- The Sex Beast

Psychic Detective

Peter Hurkos
Peter Hurkos
Peter Hurkos had gained international fame during that era as a seer, which inevitably got him involved in murder cases. Norma Browning, his biographer, recounts the episode in The Psychic World of Peter Hurkos. Having fallen from a ladder in 1941, he claimed that he survived the accident with two minds - one of them psychic. He said he could see the future, travel mentally into the past, and learn about people from touching objects they had owned or going to where they had been. Leaving the Netherlands, he came to the United States, developed a successful nightclub act, and hobnobbed with celebrities and politicians. Many people wanted him to use his powers to assist them, from finding missing children to organizing their lives to solving crimes. One such person was Dr. F. Regis Riesenman, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C., who invited Hurkos to visit at his own expense in June 1960. He wanted Hurkos to help with the Carroll case.

The Psychic World of Peter Hurkos
The Psychic World of Peter Hurkos
Browning says police had already questioned some 1,500 suspects and were focusing on more than 100 as good candidates. They accepted Hurkoss services, via Riesenman, but were dismayed by the publicity that accompanied his arrival in Falls Church. He predicted a resolution to the case within two weeks and said the man the police would arrest would be indicted for nine murders, not just the Jackson family. He went to the cemetery where the Jacksons were buried to get a psychic sense of them and also handled their possessions, accurately describing the position of their bodies when found. He knew how each had been killed and described the murderer as just over six feet tall, left-handed, with a tattoo on one arm. His arms were longer than normal and he walked like a duck. All of this was consistent with witness reports.

When Hurkos was taken to that area where Margaret Harold was killed and assaulted, Browning says he found a piece of the victims skirt still caught on a bush. He confirmed psychically that she was killed by the same man who murdered the Jacksons.

He also drew a picture of a house where he believed the killer lived and led the police to it. They were amazed that it was the home of one of their primary suspects, a trash collector. Browning says that upon the mans arrest (she doesnt name him), he confessed to the crimes. The newspapers quickly printed the fact that Hurkos had solved the crime, but within 10 days (within the framework that Hurkos had offered), the FBI had located Rees. The Washington Post then ridiculed what Hurkos had said, calling his assistance a failure, but his biographer defended him against these charges.

She believed (and Wilson confirms) that in retrospect, it was clear that Hurkos was highly accurate about certain significant details. If Browning can be trusted, Hurkos accurately described the killers appearance and posture, and had picked out the house that had once been Rees home. Rees just had not lived there when Hurkos arrived. Hurkos also indicated that Mildred Jackson had only 31 teeth (she was missing one), which was confirmed by the autopsy report. And there was one more salient detail, but well get to that later.

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