Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Carla Baron: An Old Source of Comedy

` Ah, Carla Baron. I’d nearly forgotten about her – as much of her as I’d written long ago in an old Word Document. Basically, this woman says that she’s psychic and that she helps police, even though there is no real evidence that she does.
` In fact, recently she seems to have taken back one of her stories, as it has turned out to be too obviously false for her website. Here are the basics:

` Fact: A man named Manuel Gehring shot his two children in his van after the fireworks display of July 4 2003. He told police he’d buried their bodies in what he thought was Ohio somewhere along I-80.

` Fact: Carla Baron said in a press release on Oct 9, 2003, that the bodies were likely to be found near New Hampshire.
` Er... wait a sec. Bodies are likely to be found? Either they will be or they won't. And near New Hampshire? How close is near?
` Anyway, that the claim that the bodies were to be found in Ohio, Baron said, was actually a ruse.

` Fact: On December 1, 2005, after much hard work, a woman found the children’s bodies in Hudson, Ohio, about 630 miles from Concord.

` Fact: This case is no longer mentioned on Baron’s website – though it had been prior to its conclusion.

` So, what other cluttersome claims has she put forth? A long time ago – I’m not sure when – I made a Word Document, partly concerning the findings of the meticulous and fun-loving Independent Investigations Group.
` It says of Carla Baron:

` She claims to have helped police solve cases, and has hosted a national syndicated radio program called The Crystal Palace for several years. It seems to me that she has plenty of fans. But why? She’s not important in solving cases.
` She even says so herself on her website; “[P]sychics are not meant to solve cases. They’re meant to ‘help connect the dots.’” “Psychics don’t solve cases. They assist in providing the unknown, the missing piece of the puzzle.” Uh, doesn’t connecting dots and providing ‘the missing piece of the puzzle’ usually solve cases?
` (In fact, as far as IIG has been able to find, most cases she says she’s worked on have either not been solved, or have been solved without her being involved!)
` She also says that “psychic flashbacks don’t solve the cases, but they certainly add new layers of insight and information.”
` Why don’t they solve cases, then? Apparently because: “I don’t think it’s about the accuracy. I think it’s about the assistance that I give.”
` …Uh, don’t you think that if you’re going to try to help bring a child home or find a killer that accuracy is more important than anything else? If she’s not meant to give accurate information, why would anyone want her to help?
` The truth is, not many investigators are interested in her ‘readings.’ At least, not the police or F.B.I.! The Independent Investigations Group, on the other hand, was very interested in her supposed assistance. They went to a couple of her seminars, and after the first one, on Dec 6, 2003, it became clear from readings she had given their members that she was simply guessing things.
` When they investigated all of the cases they know of that she has made public, they found that she is not much different than any other so-called psychic investigator.

` For example, she claims to have worked with the Brown family on the famed ‘OJ trial’. As you may know, Nicole Brown Simpson was found murdered, and her ex-husband O.J. Simpson was tried for several years and eventually acquitted, thanks to his very ‘tricksy’ lawyer, Johnny Cockroach – I mean, Cochrane.
` So, IIG contacted the primary family spokesperson – and Nicole’s sister – Denise Brown. She e-mailed them back saying that; “I have never heard of this person,” and nor had anyone in her family.

` Baron also apparently said that she worked on the famous JonBenet Ramsey case. Who could forget that little fashion show girl who was brutally murdered?
` Strangely, Carla told a student newspaper interviewer, Adam Smeltz, that she worked on a case like it, but that she couldn’t say she had worked on the Ramsey case specifically because it ‘remains open.’ Smeltz tried to get her to clarify, but she refused to comment any further.
` So, IIG contacted Detective Tom Benett, one of the investigating officials, who said that; “No psychic has provided any useful information.” and that he hadn’t heard of Carla Baron.

` ABC’s Primetime Thurdsday for April 15, 2004 had a segment about Baron supposedly finding the skeletons of Ruth and Alexis Tello. She was shown saying to an unidentified man in a police uniform, his face blurred out, “I’m going to a factory – because I am seeing these tall like pillars, smoky things, smokestacks… They’re probably a 40-mile drive from where they were first dumped.” Also, she said the remains were incinerated.
` Primetime said that partial skeletal remains were found 38 miles south of the Edom Hill dump site where the torsos were found (supposedly the Chiriaco Summit area) and implies that Baron led investigators there.
` The investigating officer of the crime, Nick Chapman, said that as far as he knew, Baron had not helped with the case and that ABC was trying to get a quote from him about Baron’s claims. He added that Primetime had aired the segment despite the fact that Ruth and Alexis’ relatives had told them not to.
` The truth was that hikers had found the missing skeletal remains, rather than anyone on the lookout for them – much less Carla! So how exactly could Carla have been involved like she claims?
` A skeptic from Dallas named Curtis Cameron wrote to ABC mentioning this and other things that were obvious in the show; “[Y]ou tried to make it appear that Ms. Baron got a “hit” be describing the smokestacks and saying that the body parts were incinerated. In the pictures you showed, the building didn’t appear to have incinerator smokestacks, but things on the roof that looked like they could be ventilation, or possibly chimneys. And you glossed over the fact that the body parts weren’t incinerated. So in light of this, how does this case support her abilities?”
` It doesn’t. It’s just that shows like Primetime - because they are popular and because the producers know what the audience wants to see - are prone to making things up.

` Another case which got a lot of press was the Hyunjung “Cindy” Song case. Detective Brian Sprinkle actually asked for her help – and this is a big deal, being that no one had ever asked for her help in a case before! This case was also on Primetime Thursday as well as as Court TV’s Psychic Detectives.
` …Yet they differ in content!
` In the Court TV show, she wandered along railroad tracks, and then goes to a park and said she was impressed about how many details matched her ‘psychic impression’ of it. However, on ABC, she leads Sprinkle to a different spot, underneath some railroad tracks and says that there was where the body was dumped.
` At the end of the ABC segment, there is a narration saying that an informant possibly has linked the areas to where Cindy was abducted. Detective Sprinkle said that this statement probably had to do with the State Police having an informant who believed that Cindy was abducted by two men.
` Yes, Baron had stated this as well, though the police had already told her the names of two persons of interest!

` Another overwhelmingly unimpressive case is the one where a fourteen-year-old girl named Elizabeth Smart suddenly disappeared. About 9,000 people either claiming to be, or talking like, psychics gave tips, which did nothing but clutter everything up, to say the least. After she was found alive nearly a year later, many of them called back to say; ‘I told you she was alive!’ However, Carla Baron claimed she was the only person who said the girl would be found alive.
` Elizabeth’s sister said that she had been kidnapped at knifepoint from her own bed. Luckily, the sister had the sense to pretend she was asleep, therefore not attracting the intruder’s attention.
` Without Carla's help, the perpetrator was found; a very scary-looking cult leader, Brian David Mitchell, who Elizabeth’s family found begging on the corner and hired to work on the roof and rake leaves years before. He and his equally disconcerted alleged wife, Wanda Barzee, were arrested.

` Let’s see. What else? Oh, you’re going to like this one – the ‘mystery’ of Katie and Jayden Keny’s disappearance.
` Baron said she consoled Katie’s mother (and Jayden’s grandmother) Kathy by saying they were alive. Uh… no one ever thought they weren’t. Katie was merely out of touch with her family, and the police got them back in contact with one another.
` Pretty simple.

` And then, when Trevor Israel of Indiana went missing, Lloyd Israel, his father, actually asked Carla about what had happened. She said he committed suicide and his body could be found ‘up a slight incline in a cornfield, with a wire fence and a telephone pole nearby.’
` Okay. Indiana is 3,600 square miles of chiefly exactly what she had described. Also, the very field the body was in was unfortunately grown up high and no one could get into it with their dogs. After that, there was snow covering it, so that made it tricky to get into.
` Irritatingly, ABC showed a picture of the cornfield after the stalks had been razed and the snow melted, commenting on how hard it was to understand how police could not have found the body. Also, the detective, Dave Tilford, didn’t even know about Baron’s vision until March 18, eight days after he found Trevor’s body.
` It was too late, however; this and other claims about Carla helping to find bodies was plastered all over various media sources.

` Easy as it is to see through Carla Baron’s claims, I think I know why she hasn’t given the ruse up: Too many people believe her. This is a result of too much gullibility and certainly a deficit of critical thinking ability in America.

` What can I say? It must be stopped! I will do what I can, with the time that I have. I will write. I will combat ignorance of critical thinking!
` ...Just, how do I do that most effectively? I dunno.


Galtron said...

It may be an old source of comedy, but I'd say it's more of a sad source of comedy!

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