2015 Critique of
Court TV's Psychic Detectives episode
of March 31, 2004

by Gary P. Posner

The Psychic Detectives television series, which originally aired on now-defunct Court TV, is currently enjoying reruns on cable television's Justice Network. I saw that the March 31, 2004, episode involving Noreen Renier, titled "Psychic Sketches," would be airing in the wee hours of June 3, so I recorded it for later viewing.

In a nutshell, a woman is found strangled in her car, the case goes unsolved for months, the family calls in Noreen Renier, and as with all the shows in this series, a persuasive-sounding case is presented in favor of "psychic" ability. But a key element, the "title" element (a "psychic" sketch), actually provides a compelling reason to suspect the contrary!

As Renier had explained earlier in the show, during a trance/reading she sometimes "becomes" the victim and psychically witnesses the crime from that vantage point. And in this case, as she held some of the victim's personal possessions in her hands and obtained "psychic" images of the perpetrator, they resulted in a police-artist sketch that bore a resemblance to the man who co-owned the woman's lucrative business and stood to reap a huge financial gain from her death — and who, it turned out, had written the check in this murder-for-hire scheme — but not the man whose hands were viciously snuffing the life out of the victim and whose initials the woman had managed to scribble on a piece of paper (later found in the car) as she approached death.

Might Renier have had occasion to research the case, see a photograph of the victim's business partner, and decide to describe his face? Even if not, to a skeptical, analytical viewer, the anomaly of Renier "becoming" the victim and yet describing someone other than the actual face-to-face killer, whose initials were left behind by the dying woman, points away from the conclusion that Renier must have "psychically" witnessed the crime.

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