Psychic Tip About Mass Grave Turns Out to Be False

And another television news report, this one from NBC.

Note that in this earlier report the word “may” is left out and Fox News reports that bodies were found.

(Fox News should not be singled out in this case, however. Sky News, NBC, CNN, the BBC and other news outlets reported basically the same thing)


Numerous media reports indicated that a mass grave containing children “may have been found” (just like cell phones may cause cancer.) It has since been confirmed that no bodies were found. No grave was found. There was no evidence that a violent crime had been committed on the property

Here’s basically what happened:

Police in Texas were contacted by a self-proclaimed psychic who indicated that they had information, presumably from a psychic vision, which indicated that a mass grave containing thirty or more dismembered bodies could be found at a home in Hardin, Texas, about 70 miles from Houston.  The caller never gave their name but called at least twice.   It’s worth noting that there are no reports of 30 missing persons in the area or of ongoing kidnappings or anything else which might lead authorities to believe they were looking for a mass murderer.   None the less, the tip was apparently taken seriously.   It has been reported that the called seemed to know details of the property and the interior of the house.

The local sheriff’s office investigated and found that nobody was home at the house and the occupants had not been seen in about two or three days.  This is by no means sinister.  The couple who owned the home are long haul truckers and are often away for several days.  Their 16 year old daughter had also lived in the home until recently.   Background checks of the home owners came up clean and neighbors said that they never saw anything suspicious.   The owner was eventually tracked down – he was in Georgia on a trucking route and expected to be back in a few more days.

Police checked out the property and noticed an unpleasant smell in the back yard.   As it turns out, this was just uncollected garbage.   They also noted what appeared to be blood on the back porch.  The blood apparently was left from an incident that occurred about two weeks prior.   The ex-fiance of the couple’s daughter had apparently had some kind of domestic dispute in which he got drunk and slit his wrist in a suicide attempt (or possibly not a real suicide attempt so much as a dramatic act).  He didn’t die, but left quite a bit of blood which the home owners had tried to clean up, although it seems traces were left.   Of course, police were able to verify this as the incident had been reported and an ambulance called.

None the less, police were able to get a search warrant for the property.   At least 15 police vehicles were on the scene.  They searched it, brought in cadaver dogs and found…. nothing.   Surprise?   No, not really.

Thankfully, the daughter of the owners was located and able to get to the scene with the keys to allow investigators in, thus avoiding a broken down door.

And to make matters worse:

Despite the fact that no bodies were found, it seems that there was some confusion over whether there was a tip about bodies or whether they were actually found.  A number of news outlets jumped the gun and reported that 30 bodies had been found in a mass grave.

Such as this press outlet, which is a fairly typical example of how this was reported in the US and around the world today:

Mass Grave Full Of Childrens bodies

There’s been a gruesome discovery in the United States.

A possible mass grave has been uncovered in Texas with up to 30 bodies reportedly found at the rural property east of Houston.

Many of the bodies are reportedly those of children who have been dismembered.

It’s believed US federal agents received a tip off from the public.

They want to search the home on the property but so far , the FBI says the residents have been “unco-operative’.

CNN Initially reported (before retracting the story):

At least 20 bodies, including those of children, have been found at a home in Hardin, Texas, a federal official told CNN. Officers are securing the scene, the official said.

Now, why this really really really bothers me:

I understand that the police need to investigate even the most non-credible claims from a self-proclaimed psychic.   While psychics are complete hogwash, it’s always possible that a person who has genuine knowledge of a crime might use the claim of being psychic to report it.   So the police were justified in at least doing a basic check into the owners of the property and asking neighbors.

However, in the United States (and many other places for that matter) police are not supposed to be allowed to just invade your property and conduct an invasive search on a whim.   They need a warrant, a document signed by a judge certifying that the police had probable cause to search the property.   What that means is that they had solid evidence that would lead them to the reasonable conclusion that the property contained evidence of a crime.  There are some exceptions to this, such as if in hot pursuit of a known criminal who is seen fleeing onto private property, but in general the police can’t just walk into your place and demand to search it.

And not only that, it was totally inappropriate for the police to be telling the news media that there was suspicion of a mass grave on the property when there was no evidence of it.   This is all the more horrifying considering the false reports that bodies actually were found!

I’d love to know who the police officer who told news outlets they had found dozens of bodies was.   Somebody is badly in need of being fired.

If an anonymous psychic tip constitutes probable cause, what the hell doesn’t?   Could an officer have a dream that you had a body hidden at your place and submit that as evidence?

At this point the police are trying to find the anonymous psychic hoaxer.   Reports are that it was a female.   However, I would not be surprised if the mentally unstable ex-boyfriend who cut his wrist weeks ago was behind this.   After all, it’s a great way to make the life of the property owners a living hell.

So be careful you don’t ever piss me off, or I just might call the police and tell them I had a magical vision that Jimmy Hoffa is hidden in the walls of your house and that they need to tear down the place to find him.

Read more at Depleted Cranium

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