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Psychic Discovers Missing Girl PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE TABITHA HORN DISCOVERY ------------------------------------------------ I want to emphasize that this report is preliminary, as I have not finished following up on some sources. I am writing a brief summary for the net to solicit opinions on mistakes I may have made on my research or to discover areas which I may have missed. Those with any pertinent information are asked to e-mail directly to me, noting the TRUE address. General comments should be placed on the net for all to see. CHRONOLOGY On Monday, July 5 of this year, Kenneth Norton a resident of Winn, Michigan (located next to Mount Pleasant and Central Michigan Univeristy) was driving to Ann Arbor with his live in girl friend's daughter Tabatha Horn, 3. Norton called the police and reported Tabatha missing at a convenience store near Ann Arbor about noon Monday. A search was conducted by the state police along Norton's driving route for Tabatha. At the store, nor anywhere along the path did anyone questioned by the police report even seeing Tabatha with Norton. Police were especially suspicious that no one at the convenience store had seen anything. Sgt Barry Trombly of the Michigan State Police also reported that Norton's attitude was extremely suspicious. He was seemingly impassive about losing a girl that was like a daughter to him and he had refused to take a lie detector test (1). The local paper, _The Morning Sun_ (MS) of Mt. Pleasant, reported all these details, including the suspicion that Norton may have not been telling the whole truth. The mother of Tabatha Horn, Wendy Gokee, was in care in a hospital in Ann Arbor at the time. Wednesday the police used a helicopter, dogs and members of the Isabella County dive team in a "cursory" sweep of Gokee's residence, but nothing was turned up. Thursday, July 8, a resident of Winn, Elizabeth Mahan, called a Janet Flowers, cook at the Isabella county jail, and gave her information to relay to the police about the location of Horn's body. The information she had was received in a "trance." The information was dictated to Flowers who later turned the information over to deputy Matt Eckerman of the Sheriff's department. Friday, acting on the 'tip' deputy Eckerman returned to the Gokee residence and conducted a more thorough search of the surrounding area and came across a fresh grave containing 3-year old Tabitha's body. Ken Norton was arrested later that night. Sunday, July 11 the _Morning Sun_ and the combined _Detroit News and Free Press_ (DNFP) both contained front page headlines detailing the body's discovery. MS: "Norton arrested in Tabitha's death: Caller claiming to be psychic leads police to grave site." DNFP: "Police follow tip from 'psychic' to missing girl's body."(2) Tuesday, July 13 the _Morning Sun_ contained another front page headline: "'Psychic' heard Tabatha call for help'. On Thursday July 22, the _Detroit Free Press_ gave over the "Way We Live" section to report Elizabeth Mahan's and other psychic's sleuthing feats. MAHAN'S VISIONS Reports about Mahan's visions have undergone a metamorphosis since they were originally reported. The original 'tip sheet' she dictated was 'probably thrown away' according to Lt. Frank Hughes, commander of the State Police post. Calls to the Sheriff's office are refered to the State Police, who had jurisdiction in the case. The officer in charge of the case, Detective Clare Fox was on vacation and was unavailable for comment at the time I interviewed the State Police (3). At the original press conference and in the newspaper reports that came out immediatley following the discovery of the body, Mahan's visions were reported as saying that the body "was buried in a grave near a well with a green duffle bag ...". Deputy Eckerman indeed found the well (located in prominent view from the road in the neighboor's front yard---a large decorative well). It was reported that Eckerman "spotted the well and started looking around and went up a two track about 100 to 120 yards off the road and saw a green car seat". The car seat had been one of two in Norton's car. Under the car seat was and old box spring mattress and a newly dug grave. The body was "packaged" in two garbage bags, blue towels and an blanket accoring to police. None of this was foretold by Mahan. The press jumped on the fact that Mahan had 'seen' a well which is indeed near their house and that the duffel bag had been green, just like the car seat. Winn is a very small communtiy: I believe three stores and two roads. When I drove by Mahan's residence I counted two decorative wishing wells in people's lawns in addition to the one in front of Gokee's property. Ken Norton was known to Elizabeth Mahan as she used to serve him frequently at "Ric's" Party Store in Winn. She is reported as saying "I didn't even want to wait on him. I'd get feelings--bad vibes--from this guy." and "that guy gives me the creeps." Norton was ex-military, a Security Policeman, and was currently working as a security guard at a prision. It was well known to adjancent neighboors and to Gokee's other children that Norton was very militaristic in his disciplining of Tabatha (4). Many of these details were already, or could have been, known by Mahan in advance of the Horn disappearance. MY DOUBTS DEVELOP Mahan is reported to earn a "meager" living as a psychic in Winn, giving Tarot readings to fellow residents. One of her friends was Janet Flowers who conciled Mahan in going to the police. By Tuesday, the vision originally reported in the press had begun to subtly change. It was first reported that Mahan had said that Tabatha would be found near a green duffel bag (aren't they all? and, remember Mahan knew that Norton was ex-military) by a wishing well. Tuesday Mahan reported she began having headaches after Tabatha's disappearance. She pyschically chatted with Tabatha "I went inside myself and I just kept saying 'OK baby, tell me where you are.' I said 'I can help you' and I kept hearing 'Bad man...bad man...'" And that she formed the impression of **something** green **possibly** a duffel bag and an image of a well. This was enough for the press as the MS says "Those two elements of the crime scene--the wishing well and the green seat-- may make Mahan's tip seem nearly accurate..." This was the view of the Free Press and News as well. Mahan then also reported "I really feel that there was an altercation with a female at least two or three days before he committed this. He was very, very angry and unfortunately poor little Tabatha is the one who got it.(5)" This altercation was not known to police at the time I interviewed them on 26 July. But how had she known Norton was very angry? It sounds more like she had seen Norton, not at all unlikely becasue of his visits to the party store. By Thursday the 22nd the reports only mentioned "something green and near a well." Nothing was ever mentioned by Mahan about the mattress, *blue* blankets, or plastic Tabatha was found in. Yet Mahan's vision was judged to be a success. Nothing was ever mentioned that the well is plainly visible from the road in front of Norton's house and nothing was ever mentioned about Mahan's relation to Norton previous to Tabatha's murder. Yet the body was *not* found anywhere near a green duffel bag. The body was *not* found near a wishing well. The body *was* found in the woods behind Norton's property. The police told me the area was going to be a "marshalling site (6)" the very next day (Saturday, July 10). The press did not seem to imagine that this huble "soft-spoken" psychic could have pieced together the same suspicions that the police and the press reported *before* the body was found (like the driving time discrepancies reoprted in the paper, complete with maps! the police admitted they suspected Norton immediately, hence the marshalling site.). And more importantly no other details of Mahan's vision are available. Did she mention a tree? An old car? Candy wrapper, satan's evil influence? Were the only things she saw the duffel bag and the well? We'll never know as the originally tip sheet is long gone.(7) It may be easy to search through a list of possible and be able to 'pick and choose' in order to make a good case, but it does not prove psychic powers. When I pointed these thoughts out to the police they understandably demurred. "I don't care if the tip comes in on a flaming arrow, " says Sgt Trombly, "Investigate the tip first and the arrow second." Also, it is always possible he said that the so-clled 'psychics' may be related personally to the case. To discourage any kind of tips would be unwise. I wrote the Free Press and the writer of the psychic follow up stories a letter detailing my suspicions but I have not, as yet, received a response. (8) The case attracted great state wide attention, more so in the small community of Winn, where everyone knows everyone. That a local resident and 'psychic' helped solve the case was a good angle that helped sell papers. But in depth analysis of the case casts great suspicions on the efficacy of the visions. It is reasonabel to conclude that psychic powers were not involved and that Mahan's and the rest of the communties wishes for Tabatha's safety and subsequent horror at the discovery of her death played a very large role in the confirmation of Mahan's psychic abilities. _____________________________________________________ NOTES (1) Don't write me about lie detectors: I've taken them and do not believe in their *scientific premise. The police do have faith in them and use willingness to take it as a measure of honesty. (2) This paper has state wide distribution. (3) I'm still waiting to hear from Det. Fox; and he seemed to me (from newspaper accounts) to be the most skeptical of Mahan's powers. (4) Reoprts indicate that police found blood stained pillows belonging to Tabatha in the house (from past incidents). Norton also had forced Tabatha to wear a blind fold and sit in a chair alone in her room after she had a toilet training accident. (5) MS: "The reason Mahan said she was able to communicate with Tabatha is because the girl's spirit was 'earthbound' and had not gone on to heaven yet, as some spirits do when justice is not done. 'The spirit will sometimes stay until they are vindicated...but it's not because the spirit wants to hurt anybody. They just want somebody to listen to them and that's what I did in Tabatha's case (said Mahan)'" This reported uncritically. (6) A marshalling site is the starting point for a "massive" man-hunt. Sgt Trombly told me 40-50 people would have been involved in the search. (7) What is left is a copy of the tip sheet Det. Fox made while interviewing Mahan, after the body was found. The note contained "highlights" from Mahan's original report plus follow up questions to see if Mahan was personally invlolved. (8) I also included copies of relevant _Skeptical Inquirer_ articles. (9) Sorry, I have no spell checker on this VMS beast. matt briggs TRUE e-mail:


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