Mind Games

When 19-year-old UNT student Kelli Cox vanished, her desperate parents turned to a Florida "psychic" as their last hope. Hope was all he gave them.

That night, Monti took Sessions on what was called one of Monti's "wild rides."

"He's in my car and he goes racing through neighborhoods and saying, 'Look at that! Look at that! Oh, yeah, that's good.' And then he turns out the lights and then he turns on the lights and then he's running around and he's driving down these roads. I mean it's like 60 and 70 miles an hour, slams on the brakes, makes a sharp left-hand turn, a sharp right-hand turn. By midnight, you know, I'm sitting there going what the heck have I gotten myself into?"

They searched all day Saturday, and by Sunday, when Monti had still found nothing, he left without explanation, Sessions says. She firmly believes in psychic powers but doubts whether Monti possesses any.

Kelli Cox and her daughter, Alexis Raulston: The child was 11 months old when this photograph was taken and is now 5 years old. One reason Cox’s disappearance was immediately considered suspicious is because she would have never abandoned the baby, Cox’s mother says.
Mark Graham
Kelli Cox and her daughter, Alexis Raulston: The child was 11 months old when this photograph was taken and is now 5 years old. One reason Cox’s disappearance was immediately considered suspicious is because she would have never abandoned the baby, Cox’s mother says.

When Monti heard what Sessions had to say about him, he said, "Oh my goodness. She got tons of information...I worked around the clock. There was nothing crazy about it."

Sessions paid Monti's expenses, and he gave Sessions valuable information about a jail inmate on a work-release program who he thought was connected to the disappearance and about a remote area of the college campus that needed to be searched.

"The sad part is what I did get and find out, nobody followed up on," he says. "I don't know why Mrs. Sessions is saying that...They were very happy at the time we left."

Just as in the other missing persons cases, Monti was attractive to Cox's family because he seemed to know something when nobody else did. Bynum says Monti only had Cox's photograph when they first talked, over the telephone. From his Florida home, Monti described the layout of Bynum's Farmers Branch house. There is no way, Bynum says, that Monti could have known about the house in such detail without some sort of unexplained ability.

"He talked about Kelli's bedroom and kind of walked it through, all the way through, I mean pretty much in detail. By detail, I mean not furniture and stuff but the layout of the house," she says.

Posner, the skeptic, says psychics such as Monti actually get their information from their source during the course of a "reading" or a conversation. In Bynum's case, he says, she probably unwittingly gave him enough information during their conversation so that he could eliminate everything but what was fact.

But Bynum says she knows she didn't tell Monti anything he could use, and when Monti told her about Cox's shoulder tattoo, she was spooked enough to take note. "He pointed out a tattoo of a scorpion on her left shoulder two inches in diameter, and you kind of go, wow, she does," Bynum says. "Unless she wore a real short-sleeved shirt you wouldn't have seen it."

The tattoo had not been made known to anyone but police, and Monti described it perfectly from hundreds of miles away. Monti's uncanny knowledge was convincing. The Bynums decided to pay to get Monti to Denton and possibly help find their daughter. They would spend a total of about $2,000 for airfare and expenses on Monti's trips.

"He went with police. He went on his own quite a bit...Some of the things there again that John was able to describe to me without seeing...His style was not to ask questions. He'd tell me right up front," she says. "I mean for heaven sakes we had prophets...So, I mean it is not as if it's an unreal thing...Whether it's John or someone else, people can see."

In Denton, Monti was attracted to a feeling he was getting from the local garbage dump, and he took police there often. He also had a "strong feeling" about a Denton apartment complex. He felt so strongly about the apartments that he and Leverton returned to them three times to talk to tenants. On the third visit, Monti wanted to look inside. With Leverton acting as go-between and with the permission of 30 or so tenants, Monti went into each apartment. He didn't find any sign of Cox.

Leverton wasn't as sold on the technique as Bynum was. Though he took Monti everywhere he wanted to go, Leverton never became convinced Monti had special "powers." In describing Monti, Leverton talks in a halting and cautious way, seemingly in recognition of the emotions involved.

"Well, I guess he is somewhat...He's had articles in the paper for something he did years ago. I think he found a body and...ah...he was a likable person...you know," Leverton says. "What I mean is it just wasn't the normal police work, but I mean that it would be too lengthy to go into everything we did, but we did quite a bit of stuff."

Monti took Leverton all over Denton. Leverton, whose primary job is with family violence investigations, comes across as a man who smiles easily and could get along with just about anybody. He seems both patient and accommodating, skills that he needed to work with Monti, apparently.

Leverton says Monti would say, "'You know I want to check over here. I want to check over here.' He wouldn't tell you, 'I'm having this vision. I want to check over here.'

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