Who’s crazier, the cops or the psychic?
by Robert A. Waters
So this psychic calls the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office in Texas. She tells a detective that 25 to 30 corpses are buried on a remote farm. Seems a serial killer has been using the place as a body dump.
She calls herself “Angel the Psychic” and informs cops she’s a “reverend” who gets her information from 32 angels. Some of the remains at the farm are children, she says. It’s a mass grave, and bodies there are dismembered.
Instead of having a good laugh and hanging up, someone at the sheriff’s department actually believes Angel. They contact the FBI and television networks and arrange a dig.
The cops and their media entourage descend on the home of Joe Bankson and Gena Charlton, both long haul truckers. With CNN and ABC News filming the spectacle, and the New York Times, Reuters, and other media reps following every move, investigators bring in backhoes, bulldozers, shovels, and screens for sifting.
Crowds line the road as cops begin tearing up the farm. Helicopters circle above for hours on end. By now, the formerly peaceful place looks like, well, a crime scene
The media treadmill powers into high gear. CNN twitters: “Dozens of bodies found buried in Texas…” Their source, they claim, is a Houston television station.
The news goes international. Agence France reports “Texas police, acting on a tip-off, found a mass grave containing ‘a lot of bodies,’ including the corpses of children.”
Sweltering in the Texas heat, camera crews wait impatiently to film the dozens of body bags that will soon bring off-the-chart ratings. And they wait. And they wait.
Turns out the whole thing is a bust.
Nothing is found.
Bankson and Charlton have filed a lawsuit against the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, CNN, ABC News, the New York Times, Reuters, and other media outlets. They’ve also included Angel the Psychic in their suit, listed only as “Jane Doe” because the couple hasn’t been able to determine her real name.
Their attorney, Andrew B. Sommerman, informed the Dayton News that “not a single body was found buried in the backyard. This all started with a psychic who gave [the sheriff's office] a tip, a bad psychic who had given the sheriff's office tips in the past that were wrong."
In their lawsuit, Bankson and Charlton claim the search caused “mental anguish” and “substantial damages” to their reputations, and was “unreasonable.” The backhoes and bulldozers left extensive damage to the property. According to the lawsuit, "everyone looks at [Bankson and Charlton] askance because of the accusations made against them."
Now the cops are threatening to charge Angel the Psychic with filing a false police report.
Angel called a local television channel and denied that she told anyone in the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office that there were bodies on the farm.
So it goes.
Crazies ain’t all serial killers.