(born Sylvia Celeste Shoemaker
October 19, 1936) is an American author who describes herself as a psychic and spiritual medium. She has made several appearances on Larry King Live
, was a weekly guest on The Montel Williams Show
, and hosts her own hour-long show on Hay House Radio
, discussing paranormal issues and giving callers advice in her role as a psychic. She has made millions of dollars by manipulating and exploiting thousands of people with her false predictions. Many families of missing or murdered loved ones have contacted Sylvia in a bid to get some closure only to find out that her predictions were nothing more than her own assumptions, theories and guesses.
In 1992, Browne was convicted of investment fraud and grand theft. Her claims and predictions have caused numerous controversies and reports of her failed predictions have appeared in several newspapers. Critics such as James Randi
, with whom she has had a long running feud, say that she is a cold reader whose readings are indistinguishable from those achieved by mentalists using cold and hot reading
techniques. Recent press coverage has asserted that she is inaccurate overall.
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The most extensive study of alleged psychic Sylvia Browne’s predictions about missing persons and murder cases reveals a strange discrepancy: despite her repeated claim to be more than 85 percent correct, it seems that Browne has not even been mostly correct about a single case. To many she is an obvious fraud yet she is allowed to continue and make a fortune over exploiting and defaming emotionally fragile people.
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Browne’s predictions have a history of being wrong or unhelpful. In the course of this research, we examined a variety of sources to study Browne’s involvement with law enforcement. Browne was sometimes paid by families of the victims, charged at least one police department $400, and received money as well as publicity from her appearances on television. She is a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and, as reported in 2004, earned a minimum of $847 for each talk show appearance. Yet in all these cases, Browne has never supplied independent proof that she has ever helped law enforcement. More than that, she is repeatedly wrong. During the Sago Mining Disaster, she claimed the miners were alive when they were actually dead. She also said Richard Kneebone was alive in Canada, but his decomposed body was discovered a few days later in California. More recently, she predicted that a 9/11 firefighter was alive, but his body was found in the World Trade Center rubble two weeks later.
Browne’s tendency to mess with the emotions of family who have missing/murdered loved ones never fails, using their suffering and pain for her personal gain. Read below for more.
Browne is not only wrong in many of her ”guesses,” but also tells suffering families horrible things. In 1999, Browne did a reading for Opal Jo Jennings’ grandmother, who wanted to know what happened to Jennings, a six-year-old abducted from her front yard in Texas. Browne told the grandmother, “She’s . . . not . . . dead. But what bothers me—now I’ve never heard of this before, but for some reason, she was taken and put into some kind of a slavery thing and taken into Japan. The place is Kukouro. Or Kukoura.” Browne was wrong. Child molester Richard Lee Franks was charged with the kidnapping that same year and convicted the following year. Jennings’ remains were discovered in 2003. Medical examiners concluded that “Opal was killed by trauma to the head with[in] several hours of her abduction.”
Photo of Opal Jo Jennings (November 24, 1992 – March 26, 1999) – Victim of child abduction and murder. Opal’s loved ones were a victim of Sylvia Browne’s false ”predictions”
Missing person Holly Krewson was a similar case, one in which Browne needlessly tainted the memories of a family’s loved one on national television. In 2002, Browne told Holly’s mother, “She is in Los Angeles, and when she was calling you, she was on drugs. But she’s still alive.” Browne also said that the girl was a dancer in an “adult entertainment nightclub,” and “you might get a Christmas card postmarked Los Angeles.” Holly’s family made regular visits to the Los Angeles area, scanning the clubs for their missing loved one, but to no avail. Holly’s mother, Gwendolyn Krewson, died of an aneurysm in 2003. Three years later, Holly’s body was identified. As it turned out, Holly was murdered, and her body was discovered in 1996. The remains were only identified as Holly in 2006, after sitting in the medical examiners office for ten years. Needless to say, Browne was completely wrong in every aspect of the case and hurt an already devastated family.
Photo of Holly Krewson – Murder victim who was slandered and defamed by Sylvia Browne’s false ”predictions”
In a 2006 appearance on Montel, Browne did a reading about Robert Hayes, who was serving in the Army National Guard when he was killed at an ATM. Browne told Hayes’s crying fiancée that he met a man at a casino who “took Hayes,” then robbed him to get the casino winnings. The police later found that although Hayes told his fiancée he was going to a casino, he actually went to meet another woman, and there are no reports in the press about him being at a casino. In fact, Hayes was the victim of a conspiracy by four people, including a local beauty queen, who lured Hayes to meet her so they could rob him. Browne said Hayes was shot three times “in the head, chest, and over to the side,” to which the fiancée replied, “I didn’t know he was shot in the head. The police never said that.” The fiancée then added, “The police said he got shot in the hand.” When asked if the case would be solved, Browne said, “Yeah, but it’s gonna take them at least a good two years.” However, the police announced they arrested four people in connection with the murder on April 11, 2006. The first airing of Browne’s predictions occurred on April 26, 2006. Browne was wrong about who did it, the conspiracy, where he was shot, who was involved, and when the case would be solved. By October 2007, three of the suspects pled guilty and were sentenced for Hayes’s murder. The Montel Williams Show and other media outlets have been silent about this and other cases. In fact, a full transcript of this show no longer exists on LexisNexis; instead, there is only a brief summary that excludes the aforementioned details. The authors had to seek the transcript and video by other means to include the details in this article.
Browne’s failures are too extensive to explore in detail here, and more famous ones, such as the Shawn Hornbeck case, have been explored in this magazine before. Below is a list of names of people Browne has performed readings about. Some of the cases marked “unknown” were already de facto solved by law enforcement. They know who most likely committed the crimes, but the suspects were never brought to justice and the cases went “cold,” so they are still officially unsolved and open. In other cases, Browne was consulted to confirm the families’ suspicions, determine how to bring the likely perpetrator to justice, or provide more information. This makes her predictions even less impressive, as she is “solving” exhausted cases that the police have already in large part solved and about which she can say almost anything, since any new developments are highly unlikely. On the other hand, some are official accidents and suicides that the families feared were actually murders.
Among the many harmful things that Browne does is convince the loved ones of victims of untimely deaths that foul play was involved and, conversely, convince the loved ones of murder victims that no foul play was involved. However, if the families are correct in their suspicions and these are actual murders, the last thing they need is a psychic involved in the case.
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If you’re a skeptic of Sylvia Browne then I think you might like James Randi Foundation – James Randi is a very smart man and retired magician who knows all the tricks Sylvia uses to fool victims. He has offered Sylvia ONE MILLION DOLLARS in a ”$1,000,000 challange” and all Sylvia would need to do is prove her abilities. Years later, the one million dollars remains on hold.
If you believe Sylvia Browne should be stopped and/or would like to read other false predictions then you will enjoy stopsylvia.com – a website created by an individual who believes Sylvia should face legal action and her victims should be entitled to a refund for every failed prediction she makes. She of-course will not adhere to this for obvious reasons (psst. she’d be out of a job.)
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