Psychic Screw-ups

Recall, if you will, two weeks ago. This will be more difficult for some than others, but do please try because it will make this article more interesting. If such a thing is possible.

Two weeks ago, police extradited a man they believed responsible for the death of little JonBenet Ramsey, murdered and found in her family’s basement ten years ago. The suspect, John Karr, claimed he did it, causing the media to jump all over the case. One of the big stories at the time was the discovery that Karr bore more than a passing similarity to a sketch drawn by a psychic for the Ramsey family.

If you look at the two images to the right, you might agree that there’s a remarkable similarity.  A thin face, pointy nose, high forehead, and, well, eyes and ears. There are a few discrepencies, like a different kind of shape to the jaw and a different hairstyle, but overall one could describe it as a hit. The mainstream media ran with the story, ever so condemning of the Boulder Police for not listening to Dorothy Allison, the now deceased psychic. Here’s one article:

Comparing the sketch side-by-side with that of a picture of suspect John Karr appears to show remarkable resemblance.

Bob said authorities would come to Allison asking for help in many cases. But, he said, in the Ramsey case, Boulder police didn’t contact her.

I bet they’re really kicking themselves now. If only they had sought her help, perhaps they could’ve caught this monster sooner.

And then let him go. See, because apparently Karr didn’t actually commit the crime in question. As of right now, police have released him and ruled him out as a suspect after a DNA test showed he was in all probability not involved.

So where are all the news reports about Dorothy Allison’s big hit? Did the Boulder police check to see if Karr had an identical twin brother who doesn’t actually share any of the same DNA? Perhaps there’s a new lead — the criminal committed the murder while wearing a John Karr mask! Or maybe there are millions of people in the world who look like Allison’s sketch, and she just made a good generic guess that could’ve applied to any of them.

Nah, that’s just insane.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Well, perhaps the psychic did actually see the killer, but maybe then she couldn't draw him accurately.

    Just because you're a psychic doesn't mean you can draw.

    But perhaps the big question should be why the hell do people like Karr confess to crimes they didn't do?

    Maybe he couldn't afford an airline ticket home.

  2. Hmm, with the triangular shape of the head he looks like one of Whitley Schreiber's Greys in disguise. Alien conspiracy anyone?

  3. You can’t blame Allison for missing this one. You see, after the killing the real killer was feeling guilty for what he did and was suppressing his psychic energy. Meanwhile, Karr was pushing his psychic energy out for everyone to see (at lease those who are capable of seeing energies, auras and all those other cool things we mere morals are unable to see). There is no way Allison, or for that matter Browne, DuBois or Psychic Willie, could have not gotten confused by Karr’s pushy energy. Just ask Edwards to contact her from the other side and she’ll tell us all about “psychic confusion”.

  4. That looks like a pretty well technically-executed drawing to me, modhran. No, this is a very clear-cut case of a psychic being full of crap.

  5. Am I the only one who can see this? It’s so obvious! The psychic was prescient! She foresaw this very media frenzy when she drew the picture!

  6. Let me just say in advance that *I* didn’t do it. You know, before admitting to the fact that this sketch probably resembles me as closely as it does Karr.
    Actually, I think it’s likely that Karr resembles me more than the picture does …

  7. RE: why the hell do people like Karr confess to crimes they didn’t do?

    He was arrested in Thailand for IIRC sex crimes (unrelated to the JonBenet case). From all the stories and movies I’ve seen about Thai prisons, I would confess to any and all American crimes just to get extradited to America and live in an American prison rather than a Thai prison.

  8. Wow, how could you all have missed the obvious. He doesn't look like the photo, so that means that the REAL KILL IS STILL OUT THERE!!! AND HE HAS A *MUCH* POINTIER CHIN THAN KARR!!!

  9. RE: why the hell do people like Karr confess to crimes they didn’t do?

    On a serious note, it does seem from Karr's profile (big on the child porn, was married to a 13-year-old when he was 19) points to someone who is a big pedophile (why do you think he moved to Thailand, for the food?). While he may not have actually commited any acts such as the rape and killing of JonBenet Ramsey, he may very well have fantasised extensively about such acts. It's not a long jump from wanting to commit such an act to wanting to believe that you did, in fact, commit such an act, especially a famous one. He apparently has been obsessed with the JonBenet case for quite some time, and may even have convinced himself that he did do it.

    The scary thing is, this guy is an elementary school teacher.

  10. Moonflake, you're right that this is more serious than we are making of it. I think most everyone thinks of Karr as a horrid, dangerous, evil creep regardless of his guilt or innocence with regard to the Ramsey case. The problem we identify by making these jokes is that a stupid psychic is just getting in the way of any real kind of answer. We just don't need that kind of idiocy clouding up an already murky picture.

    And really, I'd worry about you if you did think you knew why Karr might or might not do anything. In any event, this may be the best thing that could have happened, because if the FBI didn't have a big red star on his folder a month ago, they sure do now.

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