Self-proclaimed psychic and medium Sylvia Browne falsely predicted the death of Amanda Berry, who was kidnapped in 2003 and escaped from her captors earlier this week, reminding the world of the damages that can be caused by high-profile psychics who pretend to have a supernatural gift.
Browne made the prediction in 2004 on Montel Williams’ syndicated television show, where she was a weekly guest for many years. Browne reportedly told Louwana Miller, Berry’s mother, that she could “see” Berry’s jacket in a dumpster with “DNA on it.”
“She’s not alive, honey,” Browne told Miller on The Montel Williams Show. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”
Miller, who died in March 2006, said she believed Browne “98 percent.” Miller never saw her daughter again, and would never know that she was still alive. Berry escaped the home where she had been held captive for nearly nine years and called the police, who rescued her and two other victims.
But this isn’t the first time one of Browne’s lies has caught up to her. In fact, in 2003, also on Montel Williams’ show, Browne told Pam and Craig Akers that their son Shawn Hornbeck, who had been missing since October 2002, was dead.
Browne told the Akers that their son was dead, near two jagged rocks, within a 20-mile radius of where he was taken. Hornbeck, by then 15 years old, was found alive in January 2007.
In yet another instance, in 1999, Browne told the grandmother of an abducted girl that she had been taken into slavery in Japan. The grandmother of Opal Jo Jennings was tortured with the idea that the girl could be suffering in that way, but it was eventually discovered that the girl was already dead – and all of Browne’s predictions about her were made up.
Browne isn’t the only alleged psychic peddling faulty information. Tens of thousands of people who claim they can predict the future, read others’ minds, or know otherwise inaccessible information, charge money to tell people their ideas. The problem, of course, is that no psychic has ever scientifically proven his or her ability.
Many people have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in schemes perpetuated by psychic con artists, some even losing their homes and families. Some, as in the cases referenced here, were tormented with faulty information about their missing loved ones. But, in each instance, so-called seers have caused immeasurable harm to their victims.