(In)famous German psychic Michael Schneider made the news this week when he claimed to know the exact coordinates of Madeleine McCann’s body. Madeleine’s case hit headlines many years ago when her parents in Spain left her in their resort apartment for the evening, returning from over the road to find that she had gone missing. Despite several leads (and many psychics making predictions) over the years, there’s been no definitive answer so far as to what happened to Madeleine (although there is one likely suspect).
In response to Michael’s recent claim to know exactly where Madeleine’s body is, the German federal police (BKA) replied with a non-committal "Your information will be appropriately incorporated into our work", to which I’m hoping that the "appropriately" they are talking about is "not at all".
All the news articles I read (and there are many of them, published around the world) made claims about two recent cases that Michael has supposedly helped the police with.
In January Peter Neumair and Laura Perselli disappeared in Italy, and the standard claim I’ve read is that Michael supplied the exact coordinates that police would find their remains, which they did. From what I can tell he actually just gave the police a general area, and this area was already of interest because of blood stains found on a nearby bridge, so the police didn’t do anything they weren’t already planning to do.
In May he apparently helped find a woman, Nikola, who had hung herself, although I can find no details of this case in the news.
I also found an Italian news article (opens new window) where Michael claimed to have solved many other murders, including Yam Levy, Iushra Gazi, Larissa Biber and Gloria Albrecht. In it he talks about how his predictions aren’t infallible - so he can’t win the lottery - but he can tell if a person is dead or alive from a photo, and his clairvoyance and clairaudience (seeing and hearing from the dead) allow him to figure out where a body is from a name, home town and details of their last sighting.
Michael’s website (opens new window) (findingthemissing.org) seems to be where most of these claims come from. He has a page where he details his supposed successful cases, as well as a page where he’s found missing animals - Ella the dog, Cleo the cat, etc. His human predictions, even in his own words, are often quite vague. For one missing couple the location he gave was "Spain". For a missing man, apparently the body was "in the water". Another was "in a forest, but not in water".
He includes many of his "inspirations" (as he calls them) in his success list even though he says that he didn’t tell anyone before the police solved the cases - we just have to trust him that he knew their whereabouts. For the claims where he did supposedly tell authorities, he offers no evidence that he actually told anyone - not even a copy of the emails he supposedly sent. We just have to trust him.
Of course, he doesn’t mention any of the cases where he’s been wrong - although I’ve read comments elsewhere on the internet that describe Michael as a pest who inundates police (opens new window) with his psychic predictions, and he himself admits that he sends multiple predictions to the police for each case he focuses on. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day - if you flood the police with enough educated guesses for enough cases, some of them will be close enough to call them a hit. And Michael’s background as a crime reporter probably helps him to make these guesses fairly educated.
Elsewhere on his website Michael claims that God has given him this gift. He states that, although in Germany a lot of people look down on his "ability", the "fact" that Russian and US military and secret services use psychics proves that they’re real. Of course, he offers no evidence that this is the case. The reality is that the US ran a project called Stargate (opens new window) to investigate the usefulness of psychic powers like remote viewing (because they thought the Russians were doing it), but closed it down when they realised they had absolutely no reliable evidence that anyone they tested had psychic abilities.
Several years ago I sent an OIA request to NZ Police after hearing TV psychic Sue Nicholson claim that she had helped police with murder cases in the past. The police told me that they have not paid for psychic services, they do not treat psychic information as credible, and no psychic information has ever helped in solving a crime in New Zealand.
I feel sorry for Germany having to put up with this "grief vampire" (as skeptic Susan Gerbic, famous for her psychic sting operations, calls them) feeding on people’s misfortune. Here in New Zealand we know what it’s like, with several prominent psychics (Sue Nicholson, Kelvin Cruickshank, Jeanette Wilson, etc) making claims about their abilities. A few years ago I talked to the family of one murder victim in New Zealand after a psychic had made a claim that they had helped solve the case. They let me know in no uncertain terms that the psychic was lying, and said they were disgusted by the psychic’s claims.