(This article was originally published on Examiner.com on 5/1/14)
Investigation Discovery is known for its hard-hitting true crime documentaries, but they’re trying a true crime series with a twist this season by delving into the topic of cold case psychics. Their new series, “Cell Block Psychic” features Vicki Monroe investigating cold cases and trying to bring closure to families desperately looking for answers. Monroe sat down and chatted about the series in an exclusive interview, which airs May 2 on the channel.
Diana Price: There’s a lot of controversy around the use of psychics in this kind of cold case criminal investigation. I’m the first to admit, I’m kind of a skeptic myself. I want to believe — I want to be a Mulder, but I’m a Scully — so what do you say to people that are skeptics about it, because I’m sure you run into that a lot?
Vicki Monroe: You know, it’s funny. I run into it less than most other things. I don’t know, maybe way back whenever in the very beginning it might have been that way, more skeptical. When I do run into somebody that tends to be skeptical, I actually tell them that that’s a healthy response. You can’t look into and fall for everything you hear. Kind of what I do in order to erase a lot of the skepticism is the way I set up just doing a personal session or a Skype phone session, even a false name. You don’t have to give me your real name, I don’t want your last name, I don’t want to know where you live. I even ask people to give me a close friend’s cell phone in case, on my end, there’s an emergency cancel to an appointment and we have to rebook it. Literally, I go into this knowing nothing about the people. That’s what we did with this show. I get a phone call, I get my airline ticket, it tells me what city I’m going to. I land, I get picked up, I drive to a house where I meet a family and I know nothing about them. That kind of takes the edge off the skepticism a bit because you’re not going in there knowing anything whatsoever, so I think that helps honestly.
DP: You do a lot of work on cold cases and these are police officers — I can see where you probably have a pretty big hurdle to overcome with them. How is it you convinced them to let you get involved with the case?
VM: You know, it’s interesting. I don’t call them. I’ve never called any police officers, they’ve called me. I’m like the last resort. I’m the person that people will call and say, you know what, what the heck let’s just give it a shot. We have nothing to lose at this point. It’s not something we’d use in any case but we need help, this family, we can’t find any answers. We don’t have to tell anybody we’re using her but let’s see what we can find, and if we can find something that can help, let’s use it. If not, they didn’t lose anything. That’s kind of how they look at me.
DP: Would you say that the families are at the same point? Maybe some of them are also skeptical, but they’re like, you know, we gotta try something, anything that could help.
VM: Exactly, anything that at this point, they’re only getting so far, there’s something that’s been found, clues or evidence that they’ve found — it’s just something that follows through. Even families will call me and say “Have you found anything, please have you found anything?” Or “They’re closing the case because it’s been this many years and they can’t find anything. Is there anything that you can see that can help us?” That’s what I do.
DP: Would you say you get involved in more cases through the families or law enforcement, or is it pretty much equal?
VM: I would say it’s pretty much equal at this point.
DP: Now, there was a book about a case that you’d worked on. Is that your most successful case so far? What is the one case that you would say is your most successful insofar as finding someone who was missing, or knew information about an ongoing investigation?
VM: After this show, I probably could tell you more.
DP: No spoilers!
VM: That’s the big perk. I’m hoping that all of these will all go over as well as that case did, but that case actually was the very first one I ever did. I had a radio show for eight years down here, and people would call in from their cars and say, “Who’s around me?” And so I would tell them. I didn’t know that the police department and the detectives department in the area were listening to the show. I got a phone call from the lead investigator who ended up writing this book asking me, “Do you see anything? We have nothing. We can’t find anything.” I gave them the name of the suspect, the location of the body, and the most important thing was the minute he mentioned the case which I wasn’t aware of, she showed up — the victim.
They usually just show up right in front of me, and they look amazing. That was the really good point that I always could give him, they look fantastic. They’re not suffering; they’re not in pain. They look amazing. She just said they have to find me before the first snow fall. Well, long story short, they investigated and I described a home which was the convicted felon’s mother’s house because he had residences, one in the south and one here and it ended up that he had been living with his mother and buried her about a thousand feet away in a shallow grave with a metal covering and it was late fall, early winter here. She popped into my house while I was talking to someone else, and she said “They found me, they found me,!”and I’m like, oh good. A detective called me later in the day and said they found her. He said it gave him chills when it started to snow.
VM: Yeah, that was a good case, it really was. I was just thrilled.
DP: That’s got to be really rewarding when it pays off and you’re able to bring closure to families. I’m glad that they look good, not just because they’re not suffering but I was thinking man, having all these spirits and people coming around would be draining enough without them being in a bad place on top of everything. Even the good side of it is a big burden to carry, to try and bring closure.
VM: It’s a lot and I’m not even going to deny that. It’s a sense of what I get from the families when all is said and done and the case is closed. They’re relieved, even when they know, and the cases I work on for the show are over 10 years old. The family has gone without answers for so very long. To look at them, and think… I can’t even imagine going through years with no answers, no definitive closure, and then being able to give them that. That’s worth anything that I have to go through. Those rewarding moments when things close and I see those families and they hug me, they’re thankful and happy and they’re moving on with their lives, that’s so much rewarding than having to deal with the spirits everywhere I go. But they look fantastic, all of them do. It’s not like I’m looking at the walking dead. They just don’t look like that.
DP: It’d be creepy enough having people pop up in the shower and say, “Hey!”
VM: Yeah, “You got a reading with my aunt today and you gotta let her know I look great! Look at me, look at me.” I’m like yeah, great, you look good. And I’ll let her know, can you get out of the bathroom now? That does happen.
DP: So you don’t have to have a person present to be able to do it — you can get impressions remotely?
VM: Oh yeah, yeah. Definitely. Usually, it’s just I hear the voice or for example I’ll see somebody in the family, and then they’ll pop up. There were other times where somebody will just show up and say, in your email today, when you check your email I’m from, and this is somebody that I was talking to last week, I’m from Brazil and my wife wanted to know how I passed because I was killed and put in my car and my car was pushed up in front of my driveway and when she went out to check on him, he was dead. He died of natural causes, but the person who was with him was terrified because he had like an outstanding warrant or something and I can’t name names because this is something that is private, but she was so relieved. She’s thinking, is that person still out there, do they want to harm me? It’s been three years. He was telling me, no, natural causes but because of an outstanding warrant he was afraid that if he was seen around the scene he would be brought in. He was living in fear, and now she was going to actually talk to him and tell him everything’s fine now, you don’t need to worry. I know what happened, and it’s done. Once again, it’s the closure.
DP: Yeah, the closure. That’s the most important thing for anybody.
VM: I could talk forever but it’s just so rewarding and validating, you could bring people to tears. You get these tears of sadness when a spirit first comes through but when they start talking and they’re talking in their own lingo and they’re giving their opinions and they’re saying it the way they say it, the family starts to really understand that nobody said it like that. They say it this way and that way, and oh my god, that’s exactly what he said all the time. That’s just so rewarding.
DP: That’s the kind of thing that you can’t research, look up, or fake. It is what it is.
VM: It is what it is, that’s right.
DP: I saw that your ability first came into light when you were about three years old. I’m presuming that other people noticed it, or were you aware enough at three years old to recognize it? How did that manifest?
VM: I had gone to, honestly, I lived in California at the time and I had three siblings, and I was almost four. I went to church. My parents were getting all four of us baptized — there must have been 150 children that day. It was a brand new church, right down to the red carpet. I walked up the steps and I noticed the red carpet changed into foam and I could hear water dripping and it was cooler because it was so hot in there and the minister that I’d seen before was now this jolly fat man that looked like, I thought Santa but it wasn’t. He had beautiful blue eyes and it’s the same thing, but I could see a well, an old stone well. Water dripping, and I could hear just like doves or pigeons up in the rafters. It was a different environment, and all I could think about was it’s a ride. It’s a ride.
How come everybody else wasn’t so happy — they were crying when they walked back down. He did his thing and he crossed my forehead and … he touched my nose and he said now, “Be good,” and I’ll be in to visit you from time to time. And I said “Okay.” When I walked down the steps and hit the bottom step, it was the red carpet again. I thought all the kids must have had this, I don’t know what the big deal was. I could see babies and infants but I didn’t understand why the older children were freaking out so much.
When I went home that night and I told my mother, she was washing dishes and I said I liked the old man. She said what old man? I told her what I saw and she said the man that baptized you was very young looking like daddy, and I said no. I pursued in that conversation for just a little bit, and I told her what he said and she said, “Let’s just keep this a secret for a while. We’ll just keep this between you and me.” She never discouraged me. She never said it didn’t happen, she just told me that maybe in time we’ll be able to tell this story. Maybe other kids can see it, but she told me it’s probably something we should keep between you and I for a while. If something happens, let her know.
DP: That’s interesting that she believed you right off the bat because people are usually like, “Oh, it’s her imaginary friend.” Is it something that’s in the family? Did she have any kind of ability?
VM: No, but my dad’s grandmother and my mother would have to go stay with her when I was a baby and I had an older brother, and we slept in separate rooms. My mother said she was never so terrified than when she was in that house, and my dad said every night at the same time you would hear somebody walking up the stairs, walk across the hallway, close the door. My mother would hear it every night and it was when my dad was looking for work in another state, and my mother would call him and tell him “We need a hotel! We’re not staying here another day!” He was like, just get over it. My grandmother would tell my mother she’d seen her father’s mother come through the door, she’d seen her husband come through the door. I don’t know who it comes from, whether it’s one of those genetic factors..
DP: That makes sense that she’d kind of seen it before for her to accept it so quickly, which is good instead of denying it. I presume there’s no way to kind of shut it off then?
VM: No, no there’s not.
DP: Sometimes you have to be thinking “All of you leave me alone!”
VM: It’s those times when you’re going to — my husband asked me to go to the mall the other day and we were going to watch our grandson get his picture taken with the Easter bunny which he did not want to do. It was so worth it, but it was packed. There might have been 600 people there, but I’m seeing 2,500. It’s spirits walking around twice, pointing at their people. In my head, I’m saying you can get through to me before I’m going to walk over to them and say this person’s behind you, and this is going to happen. You can get them to me, I’m shut off right now – it’s shut down right now. Respect the privacy, but I told my husband let’s get out of here, I hate this place.
DP: It’s like the spiritual paparazzi stalking you.
VM: Yes, yes it is! That’s a perfect term, and they never leave you alone. The only thing you don’t have to worry is your picture showing up somewhere.
DP: Well, you never know, maybe it shows up somewhere in another dimension. Maybe they have an otherworldly tabloid.
VM: For the Spirit Times, yeah, they’re going to print that.
DP: Sorry, my mind works in weird ways.
VM: That’s okay, no, it’s funny.
DP: I guess it would be fair to say you get kind of bombarded in real life, but you choose forensics because you’re choosing to engage in that situation?
VM: I liked working with the forensics simply because, I do sessions for people that have lost family members and even pets and stuff like that, I do regular sessions as well. This just seemed to be pushing in the direction that I needed to go, and I don’t question that at all anymore. I just follow through with it, and the forensics part of it is equally as rewarding as helping someone who’s grieving the loss of a husband.
Catch Monroe May 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery.