Tag Archives: Long Island

My Not-So-Psychic Experience With ‘Long Island Medium’ Theresa Caputo

long island medium 915

by Jaime Franchi via Long Island Press

After my father died suddenly five years ago, I found myself sitting in the upstairs alcove of a high ranch in Kings Park that was decorated in gaudy crucifixes and adorable cherubs. Across from me sat the medium a friend had sworn by. A medium who had told my husband the day before that she’d been visited by my father and that he wanted to talk to me.

She wasn’t the first psychic medium I’d been to. And most certainly wasn’t the last. She described my father as a veteran (he was), who liked to cook (he did). She gave details about how he died, and described how he’d lived. The message she said he wished to relay to me resonated, quite deeply, but it was what she said to me as we were talking about my budding writing career that turned me into a believer.

“She gets it from me,” the medium told me my father had said. As a joke.

A wiseass even in the afterlife? That was what cemented the unbelievable truth to me that my dead father was right there in the room with me.

And so it was with an open mind that I attended Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury on December 17. The packed house was rife with nervous laughter and quiet murmurs as the audience filed in an hour before she came onto Westbury’s iconic round stage, set with a high table draped in white cloth, holding lit white candles and a white floral bouquet.

“For me, this unbelievable experience was simply that: not to be believed. I just don’t think she speaks with the dead.”

Caputo finally walked out in sky-high sparkly Christian Louboutins and a flouncy dress to thunderous applause. She briefed the audience about what to expect, counseling us to please accept anything we could connect to our lives as messages to us from our departed loved ones from “beyond the physical world.” She said she couldn’t stress it enough, and she was true to her word, as she continuously reminded the audience throughout the next two and a half hours to interpret her words as direct messages, especially if she failed to address each of us individually.

“It’s so nice to be home,” the Hicksville mom told the Westbury audience. “Everybody understands my accent!”

The audience laughed in recognition as she enunciated words like “feather’ and “father” as “feath-ah” and “fath-ah.”

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The Real Amityville Horror

America’s most popular true ghost story was a hoax.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via Skeptoid, 2007
Read transcript below or listen here

In the small town of Amityville on New York’s Long Island, on a dark evening in 1974, 23 year old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo burst into a bar and declared that his entire family had just been shot. Police discovered six bodies in the DeFeo home at 112 Ocean Avenue, and what’s more, the subsequent investigation revealed that Butch DeFeo had himself killed them all: both his parents, and his four younger siblings, with a Marlin rifle. Despite DeFeo’s claim that strange voices in his head compelled him to commit the murders, he was convicted of all six murders and remains imprisoned to this day.

Amityville_Horror_1979_300pxJust over a year after the murders, the home was purchased by newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz, who moved in with their three children. The house was sold furnished so all of the DeFeo’s furniture was still there, just as it had been on the night of the murders. George Lutz had heard of the murders, so just to be on the safe side, they called a priest whom Kathy knew, to bless the house. The trouble began when the priest was driven out of the house by an angry disembodied voice, and received stigmatic blisters on his skin. The family daughter reported a friendly pig named Jodie, who later began making appearances to the rest of the family through windows. A sculpted lion came to life and walked around the house, and even bit George Lutz. The apparition of a demonic boy appeared and was photographed, which you can find online. Angry red eyes looked into the house at night, and left cloven footprints in the snow. George Lutz woke up in a sweat every night at the same hour the DeFeos were murdered. Stephen Kaplan, a local parapsychologist, was called in to investigate. Powerful forces caused doors to explode off their hinges. Kathy developed strange red marks on her chest and levitated two feet off her bed, and George saw her transform into a hideous old hag. Green slime oozed from the walls of the house, and a crucifix on the wall constantly rotated itself upside down. And, in one final night of terror that the Lutzes have never even been able to describe, the family was driven out of the house, never to return. Their stay had lasted only 28 days.

The apparition of a demonic boy appeared and was photographed.

The apparition of a demonic boy appeared and was photographed.

The events are not surprising, since a few hundred years before the Defeos were murdered, the local Shinnecock Indians used the same property as a sort of insane asylum for their sick and dying. Negative demonic energy was nothing new to the Amityville Horror house.

So what happened next?

George Lutz, whose business was failing (ostensibly as a result of the distraction of the haunting), hoped to find a silver lining and called up the publisher Prentice-Hall. The Exorcist had come out only two years before and had been wildly successful, putting things like demons and abused priests firmly in the public consciousness, so Prentice-Hall was keen to capitalize on the Lutzes’ experience. The publisher engaged author Jay Anson to write the book The Amityville Horror, and the rest is history. The book and subsequent nine motion pictures were highly successful, though most critics agree that the movies were all stupid.

Where it started to get murky was a meeting that George Lutz had during his 28 days in the house. The man he met with was William Weber, who was none other than Butch DeFeo’s defense attorney. Who initiated the meeting is not clear. According to William Weber’s admission in later years, what transpired in that meeting was an agreement that served both men’s interests. The story of the haunting was concocted, based in part upon elements from The Exorcist. George Lutz stood to gain from the potential commerciality of a ghost story based upon the DeFeo murders, and Weber would have a new defense for his client: Demons, as evidenced by the Lutzes’ experience, caused Butch DeFeo to murder his family, at least in Butch’s own mind.

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The Long Island Medium – Can She Really Communicate with the Dead?

via InsideEdition.com

LongIslandMedium_250pxShe’s one of the most popular reality stars on TV today. For three seasons now, Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, has amazed viewers and brought people to tears by communicating messages from beyond.

“I have a very special gift. I talk to the dead,” Caputo says on her hit series.

[…]

So is the Long Island Medium really communicating with those who have passed on, or is she simply using trickery to fool the living?  INSIDE EDITION decided to see what happens at her popular live readings across the country. What we saw was starkly different from what viewers see on her TV show.

On TV, she’s almost always dead right, but at her live shows, we watched her strike out time and again.

Caputo asked one audience member, “Is your mom also departed?” “My mom? No, she’s with us,” said the audience member.

“Is your mom departed?” she asked another fan. The woman responded, “My mom? No, she’s still with us.”

Caputo asked another audience member, “Did they pass one right after the other?” to which the audience member responded by shaking their head ‘no.’

She asked one person, “Was this on your mother’s side.”  “No, my dad’s,” she replied.

“I know a trick when I see one,” said Mark Edward, after watching the L.I. Medium’s live show.   Edward once made a living as a psychic, but he’s now coming forward to reveal the secrets that he says some psychics use to convince people they really do communicate with the dead.

Edward believes one technique Theresa Caputo uses is a classic trick called “cold reading.”  It’s done by firing-off open-ended questions that someone in a large audience will surely relate to, like a number.

“How do you connect with the number 2? Is it the month of February?  The day?” Caputo asked an audience member.

Inevitably someone raises a hand.

MORE . . .

Is Caputo Kaputo Yet?

I have one question for this Long Island psychic: Did she predict the absolute devastation hurricane Sandy would bring to Long Island? No? Really? But, but, but … she’s psychic!!! Right? 😉

– Mason

by Mark Edward via Skepticblog

Together at Last!

If you didn’t watch the Nov. 8th episode of “Inside Edition,” you missed an expose of “America’s favorite psychic” and star of the popular “Long Island Medium” television “reality” series, Theresa Caputo. A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a “sting” on Caputo with several IE investigative reporters who had been singling out Caputo for a serious takedown for months. We worked hard to reveal her for what she is – a fast talker of the lowest order. There was no question she was doing old cold reading bits, but her other methods were less obvious to the untrained eye.  I was put on the case in New York City for four days. It was a eye-opening experience and great fun watching Caputo going through her histrionics, but I quickly learned that mediums and psychics are getting more and more slippery and hard to catch red-handed than they were only a decade ago.

Like many of the latest crop of bullshit tossers making the rounds, Theresa and her savvy crew have learned from the mistakes of others like Sally Morgan, John Edward and Jimmy VanPraagh. Instead of taking chances with too much guessing, Theresa bumps-up her percentage of hits and avoids bad misses by front-loading her stage shows with a combination of techniques; some time tested like cold reading and planting previous clients they have already read for in specific seats in the audience, (ala Rosemary Altea on the Penn & teller Bullshit!” episode I worked on) but also making use of the latest social media outlets.

In combination with selling seats through Ticketmaster and the use of credit cards, Facebook, Fousquare, Twitter and all the rest of the latest places people post private information, our own egocentric fascination with ourselves makes it easy for the techie-smart-agent or producer to make seeming miracles happen. Like the old days when the gypsy only needed to tell her sitters what they wanted to hear about themselves, we are now in an era when anyone can tell you more about yourself than you might ever want to know.

At the show we saw, at one point Theresa asked a woman, “…Why am I picking up baby clothes?” To which the woman replied, “Oh, that’s weird. I just put up a bunch of pictures of baby clothes on my Facebook page!”

Not weird at all really. With five or six  gathered bits of information like that placed beforehand on a seating chart of the show  it’s easy to be cued by her staff of roving  microphone and camera people. All seats are numbered and the sections are far enough apart so even Theresa can’t screw up: a red shirt is a fireman, down in front under the lights is the missing child, on the left is the suicide’s mother, etc.

After watching this crew with their equipment  move over to a person who was next called upon by Theresa, it became apparent that only one of two things could be happening.  The only two logical reasons for the roving crew to move  BEFORE Theresa points out the person in the audience they are standing near are:

1.  Theresa has already planned with her crew what people she is going to be talking to before the show.
2.  The crew is psychic and knows who Theresa is going to be calling on.

I leave it to the reader to decide which option is more likely.

On the heavily edited segments for Caputo’s so-called “reality” program, everyone who happens to apparently casually “bump into” Theresa on the street or in supermarkets or beauty parlors, each is a carefully choreographed set-up.  In classic mentalist style, everyone must sign a pre-show waiver or agreement to have their image used on television. It’s only a standard form to those folks. Why would they suspect anything? They should. All the staff needs is a laptop, a name, an address and a willing victim.

The slippery part is this perfect storm of information availability seems to make no sense when you watch Theresa live doing nothing but asking a non-stop machine gun scatter shot of questions, one after the other. It would be so much easier for her to just stick to a list of sure-fire pre-show information. That’s what I would do… So why doesn’t she stick to that strategy?

I’ll tell you why: She’s not a professional mentalist for one, and also because if she did use all the information available all the time, she would be far too accurate and her audience of adoring believers would begin to smell a rat.  She has to play that “odds” part down to a believable minimum. It’s the “less is more” angle mediums have been using for centuries.

It was amazing to see her act “surprised” by her hits, as if she had no idea how she did it. Maybe  a few times she was genuinely surprised

MORE . . .

An excerpt from The Jeff Probst Show. With the help of Mark Edward, Jeff Probst goes undercover as a fake psychic:

The Long Island Medium – Can She Really Communicate with the Dead?

via InsideEdition.com

She’s one of the most popular reality stars on TV today. For three seasons now, Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, has amazed viewers and brought people to tears by communicating messages from beyond.

“I have a very special gift. I talk to the dead,” Caputo says on her hit series.

[…]

So is the Long Island Medium really communicating with those who have passed on, or is she simply using trickery to fool the living? INSIDE EDITION decided to see what happens at her popular live readings across the country. What we saw was starkly different from what viewers see on her TV show.

On TV, she’s almost always dead right, but at her live shows, we watched her strike out time and again.

Caputo asked one audience member, “Is your mom also departed?” “My mom? No, she’s with us,” said the audience member.

“Is your mom departed?” she asked another fan. The woman responded, “My mom? No, she’s still with us.”

Caputo asked another audience member, “Did they pass one right after the other?” to which the audience member responded by shaking their head ‘no.’

She asked one person, “Was this on your mother’s side.” “No, my dad’s,” she replied.

“I know a trick when I see one,” said Mark Edward, after watching the L.I. Medium’s live show. Edward once made a living as a psychic, but he’s now coming forward to reveal the secrets that he says some psychics use to convince people they really do communicate with the dead.

Edward believes one technique Theresa Caputo uses is a classic trick called “cold reading.” It’s done by firing-off open-ended questions that someone in a large audience will surely relate to, like a number.

“How do you connect with the number 2? Is it the month of February? The day?” Caputo asked an audience member.

Inevitably someone raises a hand.

MORE . . .

Psychic Devastates Dead Student’s Family

By Benjamin Radford via LiveScience

Harsha Maddula, a Northwestern University pre-medical student from Long Island, N.Y., went missing Sept. 22, last seen leaving an off-campus party in Illinois. Police and volunteer searchers were unable to find him, but Maddula’s family said reassuring words from psychics had raised their spirits.

Apparently, psychics contacted by the Maddula family’s relatives in India said Harsha was okay and would be found: “He’s still alive. Don’t worry.'”

The next day, however, Maddula’s body was found in Wilmette Harbor near his dormitory. He’d been dead for nearly a week, hidden from searchers in the water between two boats. There was no sign of struggle, robbery, or assault; though toxicology tests are still underway, police believe he was likely the victim of an accidental drowning.

This is only the latest of many cases where grieving families of missing persons have been given false hope by psychics. Despite the failure of psychic detectives to locate missing people, desperate families often turn to psychic and soothsayers.

It happens regularly: grieving families hoping psychics will recover their missing loved ones are always disappointed. Still, even if they don’t believe in psychics, they conclude that nothing else has worked, so there’s no harm in trying.

Indeed, as a news article on Michigan Live.com noted, the mother of a missing woman will be seeking advice from a nationally-known psychic next week: “The mother of Venus Stewart, who has been missing since April 2010 and is presumed to have been killed by her estranged husband, has been invited to appear on the syndicated talk show ‘Dr. Phil,'” according to Live.com. The news article went on to say the mother Therese McComb of Colon, Mich., would fly to Los Angeles next week to tape the show, which will air in November. On the show, famed psychic John Edward will try to contact Stewart’s spirit to possibly get information about the whereabouts of her body.

“I’m desperate’ to find Stewart’s body and have closure,” McComb said. ‘This is about a desperate mother. That’s what it is,” she added.

If Edward can lead police and the McComb family to where Venus Stewart is, dead or alive, it would be the first time it’s happened.

MORE . . .

Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of six books including Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His Web site is www.BenjaminRadford.com.

Also see: Top 10 Unexplained Phenomena

Looking Back at TWA Flight 800

by Steven Novella via Skepticblog

On July 17, 1996 TWA flight 800 took off from JFK airport on its way to Paris. Fifteen minutes into its flight, shortly after climbing to about 13,000 feet, the jet exploded in mid air. The nose of the jet fell off into the Atlantic while the rest continued to fly, erratically while on fire and spewing smoke, until 42 seconds later when there was a second explosion. The right wing and the rest of the fuselage separated and descended as two separate streams of burning debris until they hit the surface of the water 7 seconds later. All 230 people aboard lost their lives.

Sixteen years later there are still those who believe that TWA flight 800 was shot down by a missile. This is despite the fact that the largest and most expensive investigation in history into the crash of a commercial airliner came to a very different conclusion. I had the opportunity this past week to speak to six different eyewitnesses of this tragedy, some of whom firmly believe a missile took down the jet, while others are unsure. The incident remains a classic historical case demonstrating the fallibility of perception and eyewitness accounts.

Read More: Skepticblog » Looking Back at TWA Flight 800.

Priceline.com: Will You Prove Your Spokesperson Worthy for a Million Dollars?

D.J. GrotheBy
President, James Randi Educational Foundation, via huffingtonpost.com

In my line of work, I hear horror stories every day. Some involve ghosts and goblins or psychics with premonitions, but not in the way you might expect. The James Randi Educational Foundation exists to bring light to claims of the paranormal, and often to the ways people fake paranormal abilities to take advantage of others: from false hope to reconnect grieving families with dead relatives to offering hollow promises of miraculous cures. So when I heard that priceline.com was featuring “Long Island medium” Theresa Caputo in their commercials, I knew I had to fire off a letter to Priceline’s CEO and ask them to prove that Ms. Caputo is what she claims to be. And I even put a million dollars on the line.

Read our letter for yourself, and consider giving priceline.com your own thoughts on the Long Island Medium here.

To: Jeff Boyd, Chief Executive Officer, Priceline.com

Dear Mr. Boyd,

On behalf of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) and the countless Americans who have been exploited by fake psychics and mediums, I am writing to address your recently debuted commercial campaign featuring “medium” Theresa Caputo, performing her usual gimmick of claiming to communicate with dead people, and to make you an offer of one million dollars if she can prove her talents are real. As you know, in your ad, she speaks to the fictional “Priceline Negotiator” from beyond the grave, but sadly, she claims to speak to the dead in real life as well, and the results are not so funny.

Since 2011, Ms. Caputo has starred in her own reality series, Long Island Medium on TLC, wherein she purports to speak to her often grieving clients’ dead relatives. I have seen the show myself, and as a magician and a skeptic, I couldn’t help but notice that her “readings” looked suspiciously like a well-known manipulative collection of psychological techniques by which self-proclaimed psychics and mediums make it seem like they are receiving otherwise-impossible messages from the deceased. It is difficult to watch the show and not feel heartbroken for those who are desperate to hear from the departed… and even more so if they are being manipulated by a charlatan.

I respectfully invite you to have your new representative, Ms. Caputo, apply for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge. Since 1996, the JREF has offered a prize of $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal ability under mutually agreed-upon scientific conditions and without cheating. So far, no one has claimed the prize. Should Ms. Caputo win, we would be happy to award the prize to the charity of your and her choosing. Perhaps the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, of which your company is fond?

If Ms. Caputo can do what she claims to do, she ought to be thrilled to have the opportunity to prove to the world that her talents are real, and to give the prize money to a worthy cause (or to keep the million dollars for herself). If she is unwilling to take the challenge, I suspect her talents may be as manipulative as her motivations are selfish. In fact, the JREF recently awarded Ms. Caputo this year’s tongue-in-cheek Pigasus Award for paranormal performers, to highlight the harm of her untested claims. Please consider salvaging priceline.com‘s good name by putting your new spokesperson to the test. After all, you wouldn’t hire a doctor to represent your company without asking for her credentials, would you? Let’s make certain that this medium’s astounding claims are legitimate, as opposed to greedy manipulations of those who are mourning.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

D.J. Grothe, President

James Randi Educational Foundation

via D.J. Grothe: Priceline.com: Will You Prove Your Spokesperson Worthy for a Million Dollars?.

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