Many people have heard about Dorothy Allison. She was a self-proclaimed psychic. In May 1988, she was featured on Unsolved Mysteries. When Dorothy was 14, she predicted her father’s death and he died a few weeks later. Allison used her abilities to help police find missing children and their predators. In her voluntary detecting career, Dorothy claimed she worked on more than 5,000 cases for law enforcement agencies around the globe and was credited by many with helping to solve more than a dozen murders and find at least 50 missing children. It is important to note that Dorothy Allison, like all psychics, has never solved a criminal case. Rather, she has identified clues for police that assisted in their investigations.
Case Number One – Little Boy Drowned
Dorothy first volunteered her services in 1967 when she told the Nutley police she dreamed of a blond, blue-eyed boy in a green snowsuit with his shoes on the wrong feet, (his parents didn’t know this), and a religious pin on his third undershirt, drowned in a pond, his body stuck in a drain pipe. Dorothy contacted police about his drowning a full two hours before the child drowned in the river. A month later a missing boy, whose description had not been publicized, was found in a drain pipe, and his shoes were on the wrong feet. The clues she gave police included:
- In a pipe.
- Hands clasped together.
- Wearing a green snow suit, with a polo shirt with stripes underneath, and an undershirt beneath that with a metal pin on it, and his shoes are on the wrong feet.
- The number 120 is significant.
- The number 8 is significant.
- He will be found behind a school.
- A parking lot behind an ITT Factory being significant.
- Lumber being significant.
- Gold lettering on a window being significant.
- He will be found on February 7th.
- He was found floating in the river (where there had been pipes running up and down it, one which released him as the snow thawed) on February 7th at approximately 1:20 in the afternoon.
- An elementary school PS 8 stands at the riverbank nearby.
- Across the street is a Lumber Yard.
- Next door was an office building with gold letters on the window.
- Directly across the river was the local ITT Factory and its parking lot.
- The boy when found had on all of the exact clothing she had seen him wearing in her vision.
- While his goloshes were on the right feet, his undershoes were indeed on the wrong feet.
- She felt he would eventually be found in one of the many pipes along the river.
- He may have indeed been in one at some point like what she had seen in her initial vision, but the police when they searched the pipes in the river could not find him in them.
- He was later found floating in the river.
This case has special meaning for me. It has a weird echo of an event that happened when I was a little girl. An 8-year-old boy named Eric walked too closely to a creek about 150 yards from our school. It was the end of winter and spring thaw had begun. As a result, the creek was swollen very high and its current was strong. Little Eric, wearing a snowsuit, walked too closely to the creek, slipped and fell in, getting sucked under the ice by the freezing water. A man who saw Eric fall in tried to pull him out and grabbed him, but the current was too strong and it took Eric beneath the ice again, where he drowned. His body was found some time later about a half mile away. A stained glass window was installed in our church with Eric’s picture and name on it, as a memorial to the little boy.
Case Number Two – The Strangled 14-year-old Girl
In 1978, two boys found a girl’s body in an oil drum on New York City’s Staten Island near a rock with the word “MAR” scrawled on it.Dorothy was key in finding the missing body of a murdered 14-year-old girl in 1976. On May 15, 1976, a 14-year-old girl named Susan Jacobson disappeared shortly after leaving her home. Her parents went to the police, who simply wrote her off as a runaway, and told them that they had neither the time nor manpower to search for an obvious runaway. When she didn’t return for dinner, her parents contacted police. They claimed she had run with her boyfriend.The parents heard of psychic Dorothy Allison by reputation, and arranged her to meet them at their home, after the police refused to take their daughter’s disappearance seriously. Here are the highlights of this particular case…
- Dorothy stated the numbers 2562, were essential; these were being the daughter’s birthday, 405 was the time the daughter was born.
- Dorothy named the girl’s boyfriend, Dempsey Hawkins
- Stated the girl had been strangled by her boyfriend of about a year who was distraught about a pending breakup between the two.
- She envisioned the body in a marsh area, near a large rock with the word MAR written in Big Red Letters on it (her exact words) found within 100 yards of the body (in plain visual sight from where her body was dumped),
- Smell of oil (she was found in an oil drum)
- 222 connected with the smell of oil (being numbers on the oil drum that she was found in),
- The corpse was in water but the victim didn’t drown (she was in a water hole in the oil drum)
- Dorothy provided a number of other visual clues found within 100 yards of the body in plain sight (two sets of church steeples, dual smoke stacks, a broken down car, in a marsh area).
- Dorothy and two detectives drove to the woods searching for Susan’s body. They found the rock with the word MAR in red lettering.
Dempsey Hawkins was 16 when he murdered Susan and 18 when he was tried and convicted for her murder. Distraught over their pending breakup, Hawkins lured Ms. Jacobson to a bunker-like room in a secluded part of Staten Island and choked her to death. He dumped her body into an oil drum and buried it in a large hole beside a tree. In April 2010, Hawkins applied for parole with The State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, for the eighth time. Has was denied. Hawkins is now a 52-year-old inmate who killed Susan when he was a teenager on Staten Island 36 years ago. Hawkins has been incarcerated for 34 years.
Case Number Three – The Bow and Arrow Businessman
On December 20, 1974 a businessman got aboard a train to travel, but no one saw him get off at its stop. He simply disappeared. Rumors circulated that he embezzled and vanished, or ran off with a mistress. Police contacted her and wrote down everything she said, a full three months before his body was discovered which included:
- The man had fallen from the train into the water (he thought he was at his stop, walked out, and fell into the water below).
- She stated a bow and arrow had something to do with the death.
- She mentioned a row of tires.
- She saw the number 222.
- The bow and arrow significance was how his body was discovered (a son and father were shooting arrows with a bow over a river. A stray arrow missed its target and landed next to his corpse below on the riverbank.)
- There was a row of tires up on a sleded hill next to the area where the body was found where children played (fully accurate)
- The 2-2-2 clue given by Dorothy as significant in this case was February 22, the exact date the body was found.
Case Number Four - Cold Case of a Murdered Girl – Lorraine Zimmerman
This case was featured on the television program “Unsolved Mysteries” in 1988 to test Dorothy’s psychic ability. She was flown to another state, and took part in the investigation of an obscure murder case in an obscure town she had no way of knowing about. In April of 1984 a 15 year old school girl , Lorraine (Lori) Zimmerman, was murdered. Dorothy was told nothing about the case beforehand. The highlights included:
- A janitor that worked at the victim’s school
- A kidnapping by a suspect with suicidal tendencies
- The numbers 71 or 17 were significant
- The suspect wore glasses and sometimes a wig, possibly a police officer in disguise.
- He drove an old yellow car.
- The name Chuck Goldstein or Bernstein and said he may have information. (This person does exist in this town, but it is unverified as to what became of this clue, and what this person knew.)
- She said the girl was walking along the same street that they were driving on, and that she got as far as the library.
- She met two brothers or two cousins or twin friends of hers from her own neighborhood, who took her away in a real old yellow car.
- She said the girl had been raped and then murdered.
- Eight days later, her partially naked body was discovered in the forest twelve miles away
- She had been hit in the head but it hadn’t killed her.
- She was killed through suffocation, when choking on a foreign object lodged in her throat.
- The Number 17 (or 1 and 7) was significant. ( Number 17 was the cemetery plot number of the murdered girl’s grave.)
- Cleveland was significant (the last street sign before the crime scene was at a turnoff called Clevelandtown Road.)
- An old church is significant (half a mile from where the body was found there is an old church.)
- She gave graphic details of how and why the girl was killed, and even the name of the killer, but it was bleeped out.
Some clues were indirectly related to Dorothy’s visions. For instance, the janitor was not a suspect, but Lori’s stepfather. Goldstein wasn’t a suspect but possibly knew information about the case. The case is still unsolved, so it is unverified.
Case Number Five – Heather Dawn Church
Allison was asked by El Paso police for her assistance in solving the murder case of HDC, a 13-year-old girl. Heather on September 17, 1991. She stated:
- The name Brown was significant, and she stated it would not be spelled in the usual way
- “I keep seeing the man who took her. I keep seeing he had a problem. This much I can reveal to you. I know he had trouble with his hip and leg, and I’d like to kick the other one so he can’t walk at all.”
- Robert Charles Browne was later arrested and convicted for first degree murder in the killing of Heather.
- He admitted killing as many as 49 people across the United States.
Case Number Six – The Killer Clown
Dorothy assisted with the John Wayne Gacy case. Gacy’s home was the focus of a crime scene investigation following eyewitness reports that a missing 15-year-old boy was last seen with him. Lieutenant Kozenczak discovered significant clues relating to other missing persons cases. Despite driving over a thousand miles with Dorothy in a fruitless search for the body, Kozenczak says that the psychic detective’s information on the case led some officers to turn from skeptic to believer in psychic phenomena. Allison predicted the exact date on which the body of the young boy would be found. Despite the Lieutenant’s glowing testimony, however, time and money in the form of manpower and equipment were lost following up on Allison’s impressions of the boy’s whereabouts. Kozenczak, nevertheless, praises Dorothy’s work on the case, stating “Had weather conditions not been prohibitive…it is possible that Dorothy Allison might have found [his] body.”
Dorothy had her very public failures.
Case Number One – The Atlanta Child Murders
When she was called to Atlanta in 1980 to assist police in investigating the murders of several black children, an Atlanta police detective branded her “that wacko broad . . . [who] rode around in a big limousine, ate real well for three days and then went home.” He said she gave police 42 possible names for the murderer, none of them of the man arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced. Williams was convicted of the murders of two men. Later, police found him guilty of 23 of the 29 murdered children. One mother complained that the clairvoyant failed to return her only photo of her missing son.
Case Number Two – Little Boy Drowned
A year earlier, a Paterson, N.J., detective called Allison “a fraud” and said she wrongly claimed credit for leading police to the body of a strangled 8-year-old boy. He said Allison led dozens of policemen and bloodhounds on a wild goose chase in the case.. He also claimed that a witness saw the suspect and the boy together and this led to the discovery of the body and the arrest and conviction of the killer.
April 27, 1998 - Dorothy described Jonbenet’s killer on the Leeza Gibbons Show.
- probably 5’7″ to 5’9″
- thin, brown hair that he wears over to the side, perhaps a little bit balding underneath
- very wide cranium on top and a real small chin, very thin lips and a pointed nose, very light eyes
- very slender build throughout the body, a little
bit wide through the hips
- Germanic descent
- a former handyman in the Ramsay home
- high-pitched voice and soft-spoken
- the numbers 2-8-9
- the names “Martin” and “Irving” the latter, she said, being “the one I think that did this”
Dorothy didn’t identify Jonbenet’s killer. Critics stated that Dorothy followed the formula utilized by other psychic sleuths and make numerous pronouncements so that they can be interpreted accordingly. For example, if the psychic “sees” a body near “water,” that can later be identified with a nearby stream, lake, water tower, etc. This technique of after-the-fact matching is called retrofitting, and it has fooled seasoned detectives. Dorothy’s sketch of the killer revealed profound differences between her picture and that of John Mark Karr, a suspect arrested for the murder.:
- Hair was styled differently
- Shape of the head and face were at odds with each other
- Karr had a much fuller lower lip than Dorothy’s sketch
Joe Nickell, a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer, magazine of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal claimed he recently created a new forensic field known as “forensic caricaturing.” This so-called unproven and untested”method” enhances differences between sketches and photographs.
Dorothy claimed she assisted law enforcement in thousands of cases, she led police to the place where Patty Hearst was held captive, she predicted Son of Sam would be caught by a parking ticket, she named the Atlanta child killer as Williams, and she cracked the John Wayne Gacy case. However none of these claims are true. Dorothy appeared to identify cities where Hearst had been taken, namely New York and L.A., but she only provided the names after the abductors had moved on with their victim (retrofitting?)Dorothy claimed she saw the deaths of Paul and Karla Bernardo’s victims before they occurred. Police in Niagara Falls, Ontario consulted her concerning the March, 1991 disappearance of a teenage girl named Melanie Hall. If it occurred in March, this was before Leslie Mahaffey was abducted. Dorothy described Melanie’s body as being encased in cement. Melanie Hall’s body was not found, but in June Leslie’s body was discovered (encased in cement) in Lake Gibson. Dorothy predicted that a second girl’s body would be found soon. The girl would be strangled and left in some bushes. In April 1992, the body of Kristen French (the Bernardos’ second victim) was found in a culvert. She had been strangled.
Dorothy did not predict the death of either girl, did not identify the body of Leslie Mahaffey, and gave only partially correct details about the second body. She also didn’t locate the girl she was originally enlisted to find. Nonetheless, Leslie Mahaffey’s mother was impressed enough to recommend her to another Ontario woman one year later. Rose Lax wanted to know who killed her father, a Holocaust survivor named Morris Lax. Dorothy said his death was a revenge killing staged as a robbery, but her description of the killer was too vague to be of any use. His murder has never been solved.
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known for his challenges to paranormal claims and pseudoscience. In 1980, Randi awarded Dorothy the Pigasus Award for psychic frauds. “The awards are announced via telepathy, the winners are allowed to predict their winning, and the Flying Pig trophies are sent via psychokinesis. We send; if they don’t receive, that’s probably due to their lack of paranormal talent.”
Nickell said that psychic detectives use a trick called ”retrofitting,” which involves tossing out several clues, like a number or a mention of water, that are interpreted to fit the facts after they become known. Police departments waste valuable time digging in specific spots and draining ponds on the erroneous advice of a psychic. ”Certainly Dorothy Allison caused a great deal of — I’m sure unintended — mischief,” he said.
Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, said that psychic detectives commonly make logical predictions; for example, they suggest that a corpse will be found in a remote area. ‘If you have a body, are you going to dump it in a crowded city?” he asked. As an unimpressed Georgia police chief summed up a case in which Allison had made pronouncements: “She said a whole lot of things, a whole lot of opinions, partial information and descriptions. She said a lot. If you say enough, there’s got to be something that fits.”