NEW YORK — Amid the clamor
one might expect in the presence of 100 psychics offering free
readings in a New York City mall, clairvoyant Noreen Renier
seemed removed from the hullabaloo.
The self-proclaimed psychic detective was obviously
perplexed by the endless rows of psychics and the winding
lines of people queuing up in search of a little peace of
"I could never do my work in an environment like this," she
said, stepping outside for a break and lighting up a Capri
125. "Too much noise, too much energy flying around."
Renier was a headliner of sorts at the aptly named
"Psych-Out," a gathering of the nation's foremost, or perhaps
most infamous, psychic investigators, clairvoyants, seers,
holistic healers and channelers.
The massive event, organized by Court TV, took up two
levels of the luminous Time Warner Center mall, where blocks
of psychics were arranged in neat rows of tiny, circular
tables, which are normally used for dining in the
business-casual mall food court.
Renier's fame comes from her experience working with Scott
Peterson's family in the months before Laci Peterson's body
was found on the shores of the San Francisco Bay.
At the behest of Jackie Peterson, Scott's mother, Renier
conducted two remote viewing sessions using articles of
clothing that belonged to the pregnant woman.
By touching the items, she says her mind was transported to
Laci Peterson's body. She was then able to divine that the
27-year-old was weighted down in a watery grave before
investigators found the corpse.
While some law enforcement agencies say they do not employ
the use of psychics — the FBI forbids it — others across the
country seek out their help as a last resort.
For that reason alone, psychic investigator Barbara Mackey
says she has never turned down a criminal case.
"When the police come around, it means they're desperate,"
said Mackey, a New Jersey-based psychic investigator, who most
recently was consulted by police in Brick Township, N.J., in
their 2001 search for a missing woman named Jennifer
Mackey said she told police she envisioned the woman
trapped in an enclosed space in a wooded area. A few weeks
later, Pammer's body was discovered in the trunk of her
lover's car, hidden in the woods.
As is usually the case, police wouldn't comment on the
extent of their conversation with her except to say that they
had consulted her.
Like Renier, Mackey also believes Scott Peterson will be
found guilty, although she feels it will be a difficult
decision for the jury to reach.
"It's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but in the end,
they will convict," she said.
She is certain, however, that Peterson killed his wife.
"He didn't mean to kill her. Words were exchanged and there
was a struggle in the kitchen, and he hit her over the head.
He's definitely a no-good scoundrel, but he didn't mean to do
it," Mackey said. "On some level, he wanted it to happen, and
when it did, he figured he had to get rid of the body."
Many talents, many methods
While Renier and Mackey use remote viewing techniques to do
their work, healer Salim Faruqi uses a crystal to channel
energy and answer the questions people ask him.
Seated at a table in front of Barnes and Noble, Faruqi
demonstrated how it works.
He held a crystal dangling from a chain in a neutral
position, shut his eyes and slightly furrowed his brow in
"Scott Peterson will be found guilty of killing his
pregnant wife," he declared as he opened his eyes.
Regardless of whether authorities put much credence in the
insights psychics offer, the event's success made it evident
that a large portion of the public still does.
Some visitors came with questions about their love lives,
health and careers, while others searched for answers to
questions they didn't know of yet.
"I feel fine, but you never know what's in the future,"
Luba Tolk, 26, said. "I just want to see what they have to
Dawn Shepherd, on the other hand, traveled to the event
from New Jersey
with questions about what the future holds.
"I just relocated and I'm just settling in, so I have a lot
questions," she said. "My life is going through a lot of
changes and I want to know what to expect."
Tolk and Shepherd were among 1,000 people who waited
patiently, sometimes four, five, or six times, to consult with
one of the psychics while on a lunch break.
In a manner befitting the immigration section of an
airport, a psychic would raise his or her hands to notify a
line guard that his or her table was empty. The guard then
pointed the person waiting behind the velvet rope to the
Cynics step up
Even skeptics showed up, just for the fun of it.
"I'm very suspicious of it all, but I live just around the
corner and my husband told me I should come," said a woman who
identified herself by her initials, D.C. "How can I really
judge it until I try it out?"
Most psychics say they've had their gift since childhood,
although they're quick to acknowledge they didn't realize it
until they were older.
"I just thought I was a very observant, smart kid who was
good at reading people," Jill Patterson said. "When I was a
teen, I began experimenting with tarot cards, until I realized
I didn't need them."
Faruqi believes everyone has a bit of a psychic touch, but
that only a few connect with it.
"It's like building a muscle of intuition or knowledge, a
way of clearing your mind to come to the realization that
everything is one — to come to that realization is very
freeing," he said. "Our heads get filled with monkey chatter;
we have to quiet the chatter in our minds."