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.

"We tried to do the regular police work, and we would follow through with whatever he was wanting to do," he says. "I'm not saying I agree with those things he wanted to do, but we did it. It didn't turn up anything. I wish it had. I really wish it had."

Monti was just being paid expenses, which included his flights from Florida and car and hotel rentals, Bynum says. And, even though he wasn't finding anything, she was happy with him. Monti was talking to everyone the police ignored, and he was giving the family hope, even if it was in the form of information about Kelli's life, she says.

"I almost felt like we had a private investigator, which was nice. Someone to at least go over things with us. I don't know, maybe the police don't have the time to visit with people," she says. "You could take the psychic piece completely out of it; he did more from an investigation standpoint than any of the detectives."

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.

Most of the time the psychics who get involved in the high-profile missing persons cases aren't paid, but they often get publicity in local newspapers and on television. In the Cox case, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in a news story three months after she disappeared that Monti believed Cox to be alive and in Denton somewhere. Media attention like that is a big draw for psychics like Monti, says Posner, the Tampa Bay skeptic.

"I think a lot of them just get off on just becoming celebrities, even modest celebrities, so they can have an archive of videotapes of their television appearances," he says. "That alone and the minimal amount of income that they can generate may be enough to sustain them."

Neither Monti nor any of his kind has ever proven to be useful to police, at least not in terms of "powers," and typically, Posner says, when the media goes away usually so do the psychics.

"I've never seen any convincing evidence nor have any of my hundreds or thousands of colleagues around the world. Having spent decades searching, none of us has found any convincing evidence that any psychic, whether a psychic detective or someone claiming psychokinesis or clairvoyance...or whatever kind of psychic powers alleged, none of us have ever found any convincing evidence that any sort of psychic power exists," Posner says. "So, it's not like we're singling out John Monti, whereas there are dozens of other successful psychic detectives and Monti just doesn't happen to be one of them. His record is probably as fine as any, which is absolute zero."

Monti says police were at a dead end in the Cox investigation, and they didn't want it to appear that they allowed something to happen to a young woman right next door to the police station. His arrival to the investigation gave police someone else to blame for failure.

"It ends up as I become their forensic ace detective, and if anything goes wrong, they can blame the psychic for it," he says. "If you don't go in the woods and come out with the bones on your back, you're not accurate anyway. That's how it works. I'm telling you."


The FBI and Texas Rangers don't talk about "pending investigations" or their techniques because, it is assumed, abductors would figure out how to avoid being caught, an FBI spokesman says. Bynum doesn't talk much to the police or the media anymore. There isn't really anything new to talk about.

Monti speaks to the family occasionally. He still believes Cox is all right, and he continues to volunteer the kind of words that would make Bynum take note but would make a police detective cringe.

"What I feel is that there will be a breakthrough in the case within the next six to eight months," he says. "And I feel that she will be able to go home."

Now that Cox's daughter, Alexis, is more aware of her surroundings, Bynum has tried to be more honest about Cox. Instead of saying she is lost, Bynum now tells Alexis that her mother got locked out of her car and was gone when help arrived. Until the day Cox is found, Bynum says, she will not give up hoping that "Kelli walks in that front door" and thanks her for doing a good job raising Alexis in her absence.

The Bynums will keep Cox's room as much the same as they can. But recently, something went wrong with an attic component of the Bynums' air conditioner. Water leaked through the ceiling and onto Cox's bed, and the double mattress was ruined. They will probably replace the bed with a day bed, Bynum says. Other than that, they will keep Cox's room ready for her return, just like they have been doing.

"I've never gotten that sense, clear-cut, that she's gone," Bynum says. "I believe in my heart I'll see Kelli again."

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