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Sensing Murder

Episode: When the Trail goes Cold — Kaye Stewart

Psychics and the NZ Police

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Ghost It's happened again, Ninox Television, producers of the TV show Sensing Murder that films psychics failing to solve real murders has once again duped a respected professional into believing what they do is real. In the last series of Sensing Murder it was psychologist Nigel Latta who went across to the dark side. In the finale of this series it was police detective Ross Levy who stumbled down the wrong path.


Introduction

The episode that marked the end of the third series of Sensing Murder, and hopefully its final appearnce on our screens ever, was called "When the Trail goes Cold". It featured the disappearance of 62 year old Kaye Stewart, a woman who went missing while on a short walk on June 13th, 2005. She was walking in Rimutaka Forest Park, near Wellington, NZ. The episode screened on TVNZ's TV2, 8:30 pm, 9th Sep 2008.

As per usual, the format was to get psychics — in this episode Deb Webber and Kelvin Cruickshank — to channel the spirit of the victim. The heavily edited psychic readings, coupled with re-enactments that were often emotionally charged and often false and misleading, attempted to reveal hitherto unknown details that would assist the police investigation. True to the spirit of the Sensing Murder franchise, they promised the world but never delivered more than a soggy, used teabag. And a cheap, foul tasting teabag at that. But in spite of their consistent and reliable failures, strangely enough the show still keeps gullible viewers on the edge of their seats.

And for those of you who can't be bothering reading the whole thing and just want to cut to the chase — the psychics failed miserably as usual and the disappearance of Kaye Stewart is still a mystery. Ninox Television and both psychics are considerably richer and a detective has tarnished his reputation and that of the NZ Police.

But this article isn't about the failure of Sensing Murder — it's not about what's the same in every episode — it's about what made this episode different from all the rest.

There were two main deviations from the norm — one important and one revealing.

The important one can be summarised by this Sensing Murder statement:

Narrator: "For the first time the psychics have been invited to work directly with police. The readings will be conducted at the headquarters of 'Operation Stewart', Lower Hutt Police Station."
In this episode the psychic readings weren't monitored by a Ninox Television production team as usual, and then heavily edited by Ninox Television as usual. They were in this case monitored by Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Levy, head of Lower Hutt CIB and head of 'Operation Stewart'. And then they were heavily edited by Ninox Television as usual. And of course one assumes that the Ninox Television production team actually monitored Detective Levy as he monitored the psychics. But still, the crucial difference here is that a member of the NZ Police officially requested two psychics to channel dead people and seriously evaluated their deluded ramblings. And it can be assumed that Police hierarchy approved of this move into the spooky realm, there certainly have been no public statements to the contrary. What's more, even after the dismal failure of these two psychics, Detective Levy has stated that he "wouldn't discount" using the services of psychics again. [1]

This new state of affairs is important because we believe that police endorsing, using or even giving serious consideration to revelations from psychics is an extremely backward and dangerous step.

The other difference in this episode is not important, in that skeptics were already well aware of it, but it should be revealing to the general public. Sensing Murder described it as follows:

Narrator: "For the first time the psychics will investigate a case they have already worked on."
In other words, they will talk about a case they are familiar with and yet will still pretend they are getting their information from the spirits of dead people. Sensing Murder and psychics in general have long been accused of often having prior knowledge of the events they talk about. This is one of several ways that they can appear to "channel" real information. It's called "hot reading", or more simply — cheating. Until now Sensing Murder insisted that they always chose and monitored their psychics to make this accusation of prior knowledge unfounded. This is the first time they have admitted that they have broken their own rules. Yet rather than get other psychics that didn't already know the answers, they went ahead with their two flawed subjects. Obviously they thought it wouldn't matter to their viewers, who would still believe that what the psychics said was coming from dead people and not from their memories. And from the comments we've heard since, they were right. Followers of Sensing Murder ignored the admission of prior knowledge and sided with the spirits.

In this article we'll look at the dangerous practice of police using psychics and whether the psychics having prior knowledge made for a better performance — seemingly it didn't — because we'll also give examples of Sensing Murder still finding the need to cheat to make the psychics seem believable. Finally we will provide another explanation of what might have happened to Kaye Stewart.

Keep in mind that this 'Sensing Murder' episode only went to air around 2 months after it was produced because the psychics had failed to produce any new leads. The episode didn't document how psychics solved the case, it documented how they failed. If the case is solved now it will be because of public input.

The police use of psychics — a dangerous step

Tony Andrews, a fellow skeptic, approached the NZ Police last year and asked them about their policy on psychics, and this is the reply he received from the "Superintendent of Executive and Ministerial Services":

Q - Do the New Zealand Police ever use psychics in investigations?

A - "The New Zealand Police do not actively approach or employ psychics in investigations."

Q - Do the New Zealand Police investigate information provided by psychics?

A - "The New Zealand Police have to remain open minded as to the information provided to them in any investigation; however any information must be able to meet required standards of evidence."

Q - Has any information provided by a psychic ever progressed or solved a case in New Zealand?

A - "Information from a psychic has never been instrumental in the resolution of a case in New Zealand."

It's relevant to note that Tony has also offered the Sensing Murder psychics Kelvin Cruickshank, Sue Nicholson and Deb Webber a psychic challenge. Demonstrate their ability, the same as they are willing to do on Sensing Murder and earn $20,000. They have refused. He then offered them $20,000 just to participate, theirs to keep win or lose. None have responded. They obviously have the same confidence in their abilities as we do.

A media article concerning the recent Sensing Murder episode stated:

"Police have distanced themselves from the show and psychics in general, treating their information as they would that from any other member of the public." [2]
TV1's Close Up program screened an interview with Det. Levy after he had filmed the episode and just prior to it screening. They began with:
Close Up Reporter: "Police have often been skeptical about the value of psychics like Deb Webber and Kelvin Cruickshank, that is, till now." [1]
So there you have it, the NZ Police have been skeptical of psychics up until now. What's changed? Has new evidence come in that we're unaware of? Has a psychic tip finally solved a case? Has the skeptical, rational and scientific view that psychics are bogus been overturned? No, no and no, so why is a police detective cosying up to psychics? Are their resources so stretched that this is what it's come too?

To be fair to Det. Levy he never says that psychic abilities are definitely real, that spirits do exist or that what he saw on Sensing Murder can't be explained by rational means. However he muddies the water and gives unwarranted support to psychics with comments such as:

Det. Levy: "I'm sitting on the fence (regarding psychics)." [2] Det Levy

Det. Levy: "The use of psychics is just another tool that's in the [police] toolbox." [3]

Det. Levy: "To be honest I don't know how [the psychic] came up with that name... I'm very impressed by that."

Det. Levy: "You [the psychic] might become a piece of Lower Hutt policing history."

Close Up Reporter: "Would you ever use psychics again?"
Det. Levy: "I wouldn't discount it. I think when you're in a situation where all conventional means of an investigation are drawing blanks, then why not keep an open mind." [1]

It was also Levy that approached the psychics, not the other way around, and as David Baldock, Sensing Murder's producer stated:
"The reading's actually take place at the Lower Hutt police station and the head of the CIB conducts the readings." [3]
As a police detective, he didn't interview or interrogate them, he got them to perform psychic readings. He also accepted as real evidence a name that psychic Deb Webber produced by simply working her way through the alphabet. We doubt that this meets the police "required standards of evidence." Even "hearsay" is not accepted as evidence so why did he accept what someone thought they heard a ghost say?

In further defence of Det. Levy, he does say that "the benefits that police see in using the psychics was that they were going to be part of a widely viewed TV show. We wanted to give that investigation as much exposure as possible in the hope of getting information in return." This view is expressed several times and in several different media. And we agree that Sensing Murder, while completely bogus in the way the show is portrayed, does give wide coverage of an unsolved crime or mystery, and potentially this may tweak someone's memory or encourage someone to come forward with new information. But while happily acknowledging this, at no time will we give any credit or credence to the psychics. Remember that they told all they knew to the family, then later to the police and still the mystery remains. The psychics failed to provide new evidence to break the case. All they did was put on a show to publicise the case, in the same way that a fictional Ronald McDonald publicises McDonalds.

If Det. Levy had left it at that, simply using the show as a vehicle to remind people that the case was still unsolved, we wouldn't have a problem, but no, he had to get involved with the psychics. He even went so far as conducting the psychic readings himself in police headquarters, no doubt believing that he had some control, but he fell into the same trap as Nigel Latta before him. And Det. Levy should never play poker since his animated reactions to positive statements from the psychics were the most blatant the production team has ever shown us. We guess they showed us these reactions to demonstrate how shocked and amazed Levy — a police detective — was to what the psychics were producing. But from a skeptical perspective, they also demonstrated how easy it was for the psychics to know when they had got a positive answer by simply watching Det. Levy's reactions. And to support this contention that the police were reacting to what the psychics said and the psychics definitely noticed, note this statement from Kelvin:

Kelvin: "[The police] were quite shocked some of the time [during filming] with what we came up with." [11]
And what about Det. Levy's statement "The use of psychics is just another tool that's in the Police Ghost toolbox." Are astrologers also in the police toolbox? What about numerologists and tarot card readers? If my car is stolen are they going to get in some tealeaf reading granny to locate it? We are extremely annoyed and dismayed that a 21st Century police detective is consulting psychics and adding them to his "toolbox" along side fingerprinting and DNA profiling. It's scary to think that someone who can't evaluate whether there is any evidence or science supporting psychics will go on to construct a case for the courts.

Another police detective who makes an appearance on Sensing Murder is Det. Sgt. Mike Sears, 2.I.C. of Operation Stewart. Det. Sears makes a few comments on case details during the show but nothing really on the validity of the psychics, although he does make the show's one important, rational statement in a sea of delusion and gullibility:

Det.Sears: "We will keep an open mind but we must bear in mind that any evidence or information that we get must have some sort of evidential substance to it."
But regardless of what Det. Levy's intention was, like psychologist Nigel Latta before him Det. Levy has simply been used by Ninox Television to promote their show. Like Latta, Det. Levy may have entered into it as a lukewarm skeptic, but left a lukewarm believer, thoroughly duped by the psychics and Ninox Television who trumpeted the claim that it was "the first time police have been part of the show's psychic investigation." Det. Levy may have thought that his experience as a detective would allow him to detect any trickery, just as Latta thought his experience as a psychologist would help him. They were both wrong. Neither were in a position to control what the psychics did, what they already knew, how they interacted with their surroundings, how they manipulated those around them, how the film crew influenced their actions and how the final show was edited to produce a show that pretends psychics are real.

Det. Levy has already appeared on a previous episode of Sensing Murder, that of the murder of George Engelbrech. It goes without saying that, even with the psychic input, that murder still hasn't been solved. Nevertheless, he was impressed with their performance on that occasion as well. It seems it's just a coincidence that he's the head of the Stewart investigation, but no doubt his experience on the previous show caused or reinforced his "sitting on the fence" attitude to psychics and gave him the confidence to play a more active role in the latest episode. It should also be noted that the head of the CIB when Kaye Stewart disappearred was Detective Senior Sergeant Soni Malaulau, not Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Levy. [7]

But how might this ambivalence to the paranormal affect Det. Levy's view of different investigations? Let's remember that Det. Levy is also in charge of the investigation into the drowning death of Wainuiomata woman Janet Moses, who was killed when her family was evidently trying to perform an exorcism to a remove a makutu, a Maori curse. Det. Levy is on record as saying, "'I guess at the end of the day it's a question of whether the cultural practices are acceptable or unacceptable or whether they have crossed boundaries which negate them from being a traditional practice'... Mr Levy said establishing culpability would take expert legal and cultural opinion and that advice was being sought by police." [4] What's he saying, that killing someone might be acceptable as long as you truly believe some evil spirit possesses them? Whose advice is he seeking on this matter — a Maori priest, a witch, another psychic medium? Has he already consulted Kelvin or Deb to see if there really was a spirit in Janet Moses?

Once Det. Levy admits that there could be something to these paranormal claims, then he's got to take them all seriously. He can't allow that there might be a spirit involved with Kaye Stewart but then laugh at the suggestion that a spirit might have been involved with Janet Moses. And this is the frightening bit, that a member of the NZ Police might seriously investigate and judge the credibility of witnesses and evidence based on their belief that otherworldly influences are involved. Remember Det. Levy has said "I'm sitting on the fence (regarding psychics)." By this he doesn't mean that he's unsure whether psychics exist — we both agree Kelvin exists — but that he's unsure whether spirits exist and interact with us. Thus he must also be "sitting on the fence" regarding whether spirits were involved in the Moses case as well. Surely he's not unsure about Pakeha spirits but nevertheless convinced Maori spirits are bogus?

But there are only two ways a psychic (who isn't cheating) can provide information that can be supported by evidence. One, they truly are psychic, or two, they were actually involved in the crime themselves. For example, knowing where the body is buried. Since Det. Levy doesn't believe they were involved in the disappearance, then he must believe that they really are talking to dead people. He obviously doesn't think that they are just offering their personal opinions about the case, otherwise he might as well ask me or his next door neighbour. He's consulting with them solely because they are claiming to be psychic, and therefore he must believe there is a good chance that they really are talking to dead people, that there really is something to all this paranormal, supernatural stuff.

Sensing Murder told us that Det. Levy was curious as to whether psychics can learn something about the world that other mere mortals can't:

Narrator: "The psychics initial findings about Kaye's disappearance intrigued police who were keen to see if the psychics could delve deeper."
As an aside, that statement confuses us a little. We are mystified as to why Det. Levy approached Sensing Murder and requested psychic readings from Cruickshank and Webber. Remember that the family first went to Det. Levy with the "information" that both Cruickshank and Webber had given them about the case. So he already had their revelations. Why would he think that they could tell him more than they told the family? Why would the psychics have held back when the Steward family was PAYING them to find Kaye's body? Why would they be prepared to provide information to the police — for free — that they wouldn't give to the family for payment? Using their psychic abilities, did they know that they should hold out for a few years and then they would get to perform their parlour tricks on nationwide TV?

But moving on, Det. Levy obviously believes psychics may have a power that you and I don't have. But is Det. Levy really willing to look at other options? Let's imagine I go to him and say that by looking into a bucket of chicken entrails I also can tell him details of a crime. Do you think he'll treat my claim with the "open mind" that he claims to have, or will I be shown the door? But if he wants to approach the paranormal with his "open mind", then he must give everyone a chance to demonstrate their paranormal skills, not just one type of psychic. He may attempt to argue that psychic mediums do have good evidence behind them whereas my chicken entrails don't, but this would just be demonstrating his ignorance. I suspect Det. Levy is not as "open minded" as he thinks, in fact I don't think he even understands what it truly means to be "open minded". People simply use this phrase to belittle those who don't follow their particular belief.

We wonder what the staff working in the likes of police forensic labs think when one of their colleagues starts consulting psychics and starts taking what they say seriously. And let's remember that paranormal abilities aren't just limited to talking to dead people, there are many different psychic powers that police can "put in their toolbox" if they so choose. For example:

  • If police personnel can't lift a fingerprint from a gun do they call in a person skilled in psychometry — the psychic scam of picking up impressions from inanimate objects — to see if they can sense the vibes of the suspect?
  • If a suspect is uncommunicative in an interrogation do they bring in a telepath or mind-reader?
  • On police stakeouts or if they don't have the time to visit a remote crime scene do they call in someone that can use remote viewing?
  • If they're wondering whether a criminal will re-offend, do they consult someone that has precognitive visions, that sees the future?

All these are related psychic or paranormal abilities and they are no more ridiculous than the psychic abilities that Kelvin and Deb claim to possess. In fact they are actually slightly more plausible since they don't need to involve the existence of souls or spirits.

Would you be happy if the police were to make use of these deluded screwballs and their bogus services to investigate crimes? Would you be happy to discover that you were being investigated for a serious criminal offence based solely on the testimony of a psychic? Would you be comfortable with the fact that the police suspected you of murder or rape or child abuse simply because some touched in the head loon talking to imaginary spirits thought up your name? That you're undergoing an interrogation simply because a psychic told them that someone with your first name, hair colouring and ownership of a small car could be "a person of interest" to them?

In ancient times people were sometimes imprisoned, banished, tortured or executed simply because someone accused them of a crime. Often an accusation was all that was needed to ruin or end an innocent person's life. Sometimes no evidence was offered except that the accuser "saw" the crime being committed in a dream or a vision or perhaps a religious ceremony. People even died for crimes that we now know are impossible, such as fornicating with the devil or placing evil spells on people. Others died for crimes that hadn't even been committed, simply because someone skilled in the occult, in sorcery, in magic or the local religion foretold that a crime would be committed. No one was safe, because the authorities and those that dished out justice were generally as superstitious and as ignorant as the peasants. Even if evidence was offered to support the accusation, this "evidence" would often be considered laughable in today's enlightened age. For example centuries ago in France humans and animals had similar legal rights. Animals could be dragged in front of a court and charged with a crime, or their testimony could sway the outcome of a trial involving a human. Of course we hear you retort: "Don't be stupid. How could anyone question a pig and somehow glean reliable answers?" And we agree entirely. But we would counter with "How could anyone question a dead person and somehow glean reliable answers?"

For modern police to employ psychics is to go back to those primitive, superstitious and dangerous times. To invite deluded people who hear voices into our police stations to comment on criminal investigations is foolhardy in the extreme. To allow them to make serious accusations against innocent people that they name at random is itself criminal. To think that police detectives might be building cases based on the demented raving of a psychic is frightening.

The combination of Enlightenment principles and the scientific revolution have freed us from superstition and ignorance. Science's sceptical and rational methods have given us a verifiable way of understanding how the world really works and it doesn't include animals able to understand court proceedings or corpses that talk. We can not allow individuals in positions of authority and influence to return society to the dark side.

Trust in the police has suffered in recent times, and learning that some are now dabbling in the occult by employing psychics as consultants won't boost their rating. Police hierarchy need to make a stand on psychics and any other paranormal, pseudoscientific or supernatural "tool" that their staff may have stashed in their "toolbox". They need to instruct their entire Fortune Teller workforce, from constables on the beat to detectives to commissioners that all their "tools" are to be evidence based and that they are to leave the crystal ball reading to little old ladies. They must convince us that they are not sitting on the fence as regards the validity of psychics. They need to resolutely assure us that they do not and will never use psychics or their ilk in their work. They need to pledge that we will not be investigated or charged based solely on gossip pulled from the psychic realm.

If the police wish to take advantage of the publicity of shows like Sensing Murder, it must solely be to provide factual case information. They must not participate and so appear to endorse their methods. It must be clearly stated that the police do not use the services of psychics or listen to their revelations.

We sincerely hope that Detective Ross Levy takes another look at the reality of psychics, this time from a skeptical, rational and scientific perspective and pulls back from the abyss.

Unfortunately considerable harm has already occurred. Wellington's Dominion Post ran a front-page article describing Sensing Murder and the police use of psychics [2], and Auckland's NZ Herald ran a similar article [12]. TV1's Close Up program interviewed Det. Levy [1]. This police use of psychics will be championed far and wide by supporters of psychics. When skeptics claim police don't use psychics, people will refer us to Det. Levy and the Lower Hutt CIB. Of course they won't highlight that they achieved nothing, but merely that the police took them seriously and believed in their charades.

And of course there is the bigger picture that people often miss when supporting psychics. If people believe psychics might actually be talking to the spirits of dead people, why don't they miss out the middleman and go straight to the one that controls all these spirits, these souls? That is, God. I mean spirits are pretty unreliable, they love the small talk but refuse to get serious about the important stuff. Believers should go straight to God for otherworldly help with their questions. If they believe in spirits, in souls, then they must surely believe in some sort of god running the show, a god that provides accommodation for all these souls. Will we next see detectives on their knees at crime scenes praying for guidance, or if that doesn't work, will we see them consulting priests to determine what value they can offer to their investigation?

The psychics already knew the answers

At the beginning of each previous episode of 'Sensing Murder' we are clearly told — with both words and text — that the psychics "have not been given any details of the case or the people involved and that they have been kept under constant supervision to prevent them from researching the case". They imply that the psychics have no knowledge of the case, and thus any revelations that they make must have come from the psychic realm. This is what makes 'Sensing Murder' different from other real crime TV shows like Crimewatch and Police Ten 7. And yet near the beginning of Kelvin's reading and well into Deb's reading both psychics admit on camera that they are in fact aware of this case, that they have met the Stewart family and discussed Kaye's disappearance with them. Kelvin has even travelled to the site of her disappearance with them. Though the viewer sees when each psychic finally admits to knowing of the case, we do not know exactly when they actually realised — only when they told us. Kelvin was still pleading ignorance when he confidently proclaimed the woman's name — "Kaye... Margaret... Stewart". He said it almost as quickly as you're reading it. The psychics seldom ever get the victim's first name and we don't believe they have EVER got the surname, or very rarely, let alone a third name as well. Thus it's perfectly obvious that Kelvin remembered this name from his previous dealings with the family and that at this stage, even though he hadn't yet admitted it, he knew who the case was about. It should also be noted that the woman's real name was evidently Margaret, but everyone knew her as Kaye. So Margaret was not her middle name as Kelvin suggested and her spirit would not have identified herself as 'Kaye Margaret Stewart'. Kelvin was wrong and was obviously throwing together facts he could remember from his previous investigation. Deb came up with the name Margaret, but never got the name Kaye or Stewart. Why could the spirit communicate her name so clearly with Kelvin but not with Deb? Through most of the show Deb only calls her Margaret and even Kelvin often calls her Margaret, yet she called herself Kaye. Why has she changed her name in the afterlife?

A major part of Sensing Murder's claimed credibility rests on the condition that their psychics have no prior knowledge of the case. Yet Sensing Murder claims that they had long known that both psychics had previously investigated the Kaye Stewart case. They claim they had even turned down a request from the family to feature the case on Sensing Murder simply because the psychics were already aware of it. They only changed their stance when Det. Levy approached them. So even though Sensing Murder and the police detective both knew that both psychics knew of the Steward case, they still agreed to go ahead with the charade. Sensing Murder even going so far as eventually claiming that their pet psychics had actually been more successful, more accurate in this episode than ever before in the history of the show. If they realised that this move would severely compromise their credibility, they seemed not to care.

Sensing Murder seem to believe that simply by having the show's narrator, actor Rebecca Gibney, advise viewers that both psychics have previously discussed this case with the family, then all is well with the world. At no time does Sensing Murder explain or even hint that this prior knowledge could, and most likely does, mean that EVERYTHING they say about the case could well be coming from their memories, not some invisible spirit. Sensing Murder fails to acknowledge that the most likely reason that Kelvin and Deb both came up with names, locations and vague descriptions was simply because they had gone over these things before with the family. If they were slightly more accurate than normal then it was because they already knew some of the answers. They were cheating, again.

But let's remember here that on Kelvin's first personal attempt to solve Kaye's disappearance, some years previously, he failed miserably. Deb also failed miserably on her first personal attempt to find Kaye. Jump forward a few years and Kelvin and Deb again both attempt to independently solve Kaye's disappearance in conjunction with the Sensing Murder team and the Lower Hutt police. Again both Kelvin and Deb fail to locate a body or bring a killer to justice. Kaye's death is still a mystery. Jump forward yet again to the screening of the Sensing Murder episode. Between the time of the police interviews and the screening, there have been no police breakthroughs, no breaking news.

Let's look at some comments from the episode that indicate that the psychics would have gained real world knowledge of the case and are just working from memory. No wispy spirits need be involved.

At the beginning of the show both the family and the police make comments on an unknown quad bike rider that was seen in the park:

Det. Levy: "This person has never come forward and has also been the subject of many media appeals."

[Daughter] Jane: "It makes you think that either they are involved or they know who's involved."

[Daughter] Tanya: "He actually gave a smile as he went past us."

After saying this Tanya shakes her head, as if she can't believe he could have done this.

We don't find it strange that a bike rider would smile as he passed the van. We suspect Tanya comments on the smile because she now believes that this "friendly" person had just killed her mother and this naturally upsets her. Also the fact that she saw him smile means that he was not trying to hide his identity as he "fled" the park. This is in direct contrast to the Sensing Murder re-enactment of this scene, where the rider has his head completely covered by his green Swanndri hood. He is hiding his identity and so transmits suspicion to the viewer.

Note that police documents spell the daughter's name as Tanya whereas Sensing Murder spell it Tania. We have adopted the police spelling as we hope their research is more reliable than Sensing Murder's.

Both these comments from the daughters indicate that they, like the police, suspect this quad bike rider. They never directly call him the killer, but then neither does Kelvin, even though his graphic descriptions of Kaye's death leaves little doubt. But when pressed Kelvin backs off and says things like:

Kelvin: "The person who was chopping the wood knows more about this case than all of us put together."

Kelvin: "What I'm saying is that that person driving that quad bike has had connections with Kaye on that day."

What the hell are "connections"? These are very wimpish, noncommittal assertions. Did some Sensing Murder lawyer advise Kelvin not to directly accuse potentially innocent people on nationwide TV?

We're not suggesting that the family shouldn't or won't have their own theories on what happened and who might be to blame. We're simply saying that the family seems to believe that the quad bike rider could well be the killer or is at least crucial to the investigation. And since Kelvin has spent time with the family it should come as no surprise that he presents this scenario in his reading. Who else was he going to blame — aliens?

So how much did the family tell Kelvin about the investigation?

Narrator: "All Jane told Kelvin was that her mother was missing."

Narrator: "Ross Levy asks Kelvin whether Kaye's family told him any background about the case."

Kelvin: "Jane said my mum's missing, can you help us and I said yeah sure... Jane never talked to me about anything..."

We'd be very nave and gullible if we believed either Kelvin or the daughter Jane when they insist that the only thing that Kelvin was told about the disappearance was, 'My mother is missing'. Kelvin spent time with the family at the Stewart house and at the park, also on the journey to and from the park from their Wellington suburb. Also Kelvin doesn't live in Wellington, so it's quite possible that the family picked him up at the airport and dropped him off again. With all this time that Kelvin spent with the family are we expected to believe that all the family said to him about their mother was "She's missing"? What did they discuss on their lengthy road journeys — recent movies and gardening tips? Remember also that the Stewart family was paying Cruickshank for his services — he wasn't doing it out of the goodness of his heart. They weren't trying to test a psychic or make a TV show. They wouldn't have been interested in 'rules' on how to act during a psychic reading, they just wanted a result and so they would have been giving Cruickshank every assistance possible. They wouldn't have wanted him to waste time on telling them that she had two daughters or that she sometimes worn pants and sometimes dresses as Deb helpfully informed us. And it was the same with Deb Webber, they paid her and if they had any sense would have said, "Look, here's what we know about our mother's disappearance. Tell us something we don't know and that can help us find her." Deb had less contact with the family than Kelvin and claims never to have been to the park, so would have had less prior knowledge. This actually stacks up, as her statements were far more vague than Kelvin's and she fair stumbled around the park. She never even got Kaye's name, or her husband's and wasn't even sure she was married. She did say she kept a tidy house, although she didn't know where that house was. In hindsight, obviously the family didn't get value for money from either psychic.

After admitting he knows of Kaye, Kelvin then tries to convince the detective that even though he has met the family and previously investigated the case, his memories of it are now gone:

Kelvin: "I've done hundreds of readings previously to now, prior to now, and the indication of trying to remember everything is really hard for me to do, so Kaye will have to show me the way again."
In other words, everything that I've learnt about the case from the family and the media, I'm now going to pretend that I've forgotten it all, and that things that you might think are coming from my memory are actually coming from a spirit. But let's remember that Kelvin had immediately said 'Kaye Margaret Stewart'. He hadn't forgotten that. He then said that someone called him about the case, it was Kaye's daughter, the daughter's name was Jane, and Jane said "My mum's missing, can you help us." He hadn't forgotten any of that. He said that he replied "Yeah sure." He hadn't forgotten that either. But everything else, he'd forgotten all that. Yeah right, and pigs might fly.

In another part of the reading Kelvin says that Kaye keep's showing him a quad bike and trailer. Det. Levy interrupts and asks:

Det. Levy: "How do you know that? Was that something you were told?"

Kelvin: Kaye told me that."

Det. Levy: "Right... so the family didn't mention that to you?"

Kelvin: "No... no not at all."

Asking about the family Det. Levy seems to suggest that knowledge of the bike was confidential information that Kelvin shouldn't know. Yet everyone knew the police were looking for a quad bike. Det. Levy even says at least twice that the bike was never found "despite a number of public appeals". It's also on the police website and the reward poster which Kelvin may have seen at some stage. [6][5] Why does Det. Levy imply that Kelvin could only know this through one of two ways — the family or the spirit? I got it from the media, so why wouldn't someone like Cruickshank who probably follows these ghoulish items also have watched the news? More prior knowledge or "hot reading".

In the entire 90 minute show Kelvin and Deb told us nothing specific and useful that you and I and my cat doesn't already know. 99.9% of the show covered irrelevant family information and well publicised case details. The only potentially useful information provided by the psychics was the "name" of a "person of interest" to police. Yet even here Deb and Kelvin gave different names. They both seemingly gave the same first name but a different surname, although we were told they were similar. In fact, this occurrence is so special, so unique in the psychic world that even Sensing Murder felt the need to inform the viewer:

Narrator: "For the first time on Sensing Murder both psychics have spelt out the same first name and a remarkably similar surname."
It's surprising that Sensing Murder chose to reveal this fact since their supporters often claim that the show's psychics nearly always get the names right. How wrong they are. But this is a perfect example of two people simply trying to recall a name that they had heard some years previously and one not getting it 100% correct. The viewer was not allowed to hear either name. If the name did come from Kaye's spirit, why could she clearly say "Kaye Margaret Stewart" to Kelvin earlier but refused to say the killer's name outright? We see and hear little of Kelvin's attempt to get the name, but Kaye appears to be providing him with visuals of various letters which he is hobbling together to form the name. At one stage he says something like:
Kelvin: "The last [letter?] she's drawn a big capital."
Why doesn't she just tell him? Why are the spirits of murder victims so reluctant to reveal the name of their killers? Remember she said her own name in one clear, concise burst. And she is quite talkative at other times, for example at one stage in the reading Kelvin tells us that Kaye is conversing with him regarding the killer as follows:
Kelvin: "She uses the word 'weathered'... she just said 'rough around the edges'."
And yet another:
Kelvin: "And she is telling me, and has told me previously, and she's telling me again that there's foul play involved with this. Are you sure this is foul play sweetheart?... she goes "YES"... very clearly."
So she has no problem speaking clearly to Kelvin, except when it matters. Why do spirits always clam up when asked about something important, something vital that will solve the case? The answer is simple really, there is no spirit, Kelvin is just making things up, vague, useless things that we can never check. And look again at the last statement — "There's foul play involved" — is it likely that Kaye would actually say that? This isn't something a victim would say, but it is something that a victim's family or the police would say. Imagine you are a murdered spirit and are talking with the one person that can hear you and you want to pass on what happened. Would you say only that "There's foul play involved with this", or would you say something like "I was murdered by Joe Bloggs"?

Even more revealing is the fact that the Police reward poster of the time, and still available on the police web site [5], states "It is strongly believed that she has been the victim of foul play." We think it's pretty obvious where Kelvin got this phrase from, and it wasn't a dead person.

Deb was just the opposite to Kelvin, she couldn't get Kaye's first name or surname, but supposedly got the killer's first and second name correct. And how did Deb do this? She didn't just repeat the full name as Kaye's spirit relayed it to her either, she got it by writing down individual letters on a pad. On screen this name finding exercise took less than 4 minutes, yet on TV1's Close Up program Det. Levy was asked about Deb producing the name:

Close Up Reporter: "How did she do that?"

Det. Levy: "To be honest I don't know how she came up with that name. She went through an exercise or a process... where she sat down with a pad and a piece of paper and systematically worked through the alphabet in front of us, without any prompting and... maybe in about 20 or 30 minutes she came up with a name written on the piece of paper." [1]

The little bit that we saw of Webber divining the name involved her repeatedly looking at Det. Levy as she scribbled different letters. For example Deb says the following as she looks towards Det. Levy:
Deb: "It could start with...? [her voice is bleeped out]"
Most of it was censored so we couldn't see what she wrote or hear what she said. At one stage Deb is addressing the spirit and asks:
Deb: "Can you give me a surname please. [To Det. Levy] I'm asking Margaret. She has to find out you know. Ha ha."
Where is Margaret [Kaye] going to go to find out the name of her killer? Does Heaven have a database she can consult or is she going to waft over to his house and go through his mail? And are we to believe that in the years since she has been dead she was never curious about what her killer's name was? What about when Deb and Kelvin, plus other psychics, contacted her years ago, why didn't her spirit find out the name then and attempt to give it to the psychics? These psychics really do say a lot of stupid things, and even police detectives don't notice.

When she offers a letter she looks up and stares intensely at Det. Levy. Why is she looking at his reactions rather than concentrating on what the spirit is communicating to her? Det. Levy knew the name, so was he unknowingly reacting when she picked the right letters? Judging by some of his animated facial reactions when she got other snippets correct in her reading, it would have been obvious to her when to stop. But the most likely explanation as to how Webber and Chruickshank got the name was that they had already discovered from the family or their previous investigation who the family, police or local community thought was the likely suspect. It is nave on the part of the police to assume that only they would know whom they had under suspicion. They would have interviewed this person. His family, friends, associates, neighbours etc would all have known that the Police were interested in him. It wouldn't have been a secret within the community and the Stewart family no doubt heard of every possible scenario and every piece of gossip that was going around. Also recall that earlier Det. Levy asked Kelvin whether the family had told him certain details, so this indicates that the police told the family certain things that they didn't tell the general public. And remember both Kelvin and Deb had discussed the case with the family long before there was any connection with Sensing Murder. The family would not have held back information that might have assisted the psychics find Kaye, just on the possibility that a silly psychic TV show might want to investigate the case a few years later.

Eventually Deb does produce the same name as that of a "person of interest" to the police, and Det. Levy says:

Det. Levy: "What you've done there in the last few minutes is just correctly spelt the Christian name and the surname of a person known to this investigation."
Webber breaks out in silly smile suggesting that she is absolutely thrilled to get this high praise from a police detective. Note that Det. Levy also states that the task only took a "few minutes", but he later admitted on TV1's Close Up program that this was not quite true and that it actually took "maybe... 20 or 30 minutes". Det. Levy sums up the exercise with:
Det. Levy: "I'm very impressed by that."
Det. Levy also breaks out in a smile that also suggests he is equally thrilled that Deb has (finally) provided a known fact that he can verify. He then gets Deb to sign her scribbling and the names she penned, stating:
Det. Levy: "You might become a piece of Lower Hutt policing history."
By this we assume he means that his and Webber's effort will mark the first official time that the NZ Police has accepted the imagined testimony of a psychic as real evidence. The first time since the medieval witch trials that authorities have acted on a name that someone simply thinks up. In a later commentary he states:
Det. Levy: "... based on the assumption that that name has never been made public to the best of my knowledge, it's quite a fantastic thing I guess, in many respects, for a person to sit down and just come up with that name out of the blue."
Oh dear, oh dear. We've already stated that police are nave if they believe that local communities have no idea who they have under investigation. People get so sucked into the psychic performance that they forget the real purpose of the exercise. If Deb had told him something — anything — that solved the case then he might have been able to describe it as "fantastic". Failing to provide any leads, failing to locate the body and failing to implicate the guilty party is not a fantastic result in our view, but then maybe we're setting our expectations a little high?

And what importance can we even place on this name provided by the psychics? Prior to the screening of the episode media reported Det. Levy as stating that the police "had already discounted that person and... the pair had failed to produce any fresh leads" [4] However another media article published after the screening stated the following: "Mr Levy would not comment about the full name of a "person of interest" - given to police by a psychic - but said the person had not been discounted from the investigation." [11] Why has Det. Levy changed his mind about this person? Is he now going to hound this guy based solely on unfounded accusations from two deluded psychics? Hopefully not, and probably not as Det. Levy goes on to say, "No further interviews or scene examinations had been conducted since the show was filmed about seven weeks ago... It remains a mystery." [11] This police statement is crucial. It clearly indicates that nothing the psychics told them has benefited the investigation. Everything said by the psychics that had relevance was already known by the police, and probably by the family and local community as well. Much of it I knew as well.

The fact is that since even Sensing Murder admits that both psychics have never before come up with a suspect's name, it is highly probable that the psychics' prior knowledge provided this apparent success. Strangely enough, even with this admitted prior knowledge, this episode was no more successful and the psychics no more impressive than any other. No murder was solved or even shown to have happened. No missing body was located. No murder weapon was found. No killer was arrested. This consistent failure is the elephant in the room that psychics, their supporters, Ninox Television and TVNZ refuse to acknowledge. Even when they admit to cheating they still fail.

Misleading the viewer

Even though it was admitted by Sensing Murder that both psychics had prior knowledge of the case, this episode doesn't stand out from any other. Yet it should. Forearmed with this insider knowledge the psychics should have wowed us with revelations. Normally Ninox Television — a production company — must script, film, edit and produce a fabricated story that the psychics are totally incapable of producing themselves. But because they already knew most of the answers in this case then there should have been no need for Sensing Murder to signal the psychics, to mislead the viewer or to heavily edit the readings. But they still did, since even with prior knowledge, the psychics still had immense problems trying to convince us that they were talking to ghosts.

We will describe just a few examples of their slick editing.

One trick Sensing Murder employs is to never identify when we are looking at genuine video footage and when we are looking at their recreated footage, since often their recreated video is pure fantasy, designed to support the psychics and not reality.

Let's start with this: After Kelvin mentions a quad bike and trailer, we're told by Sensing Murder:

Narrator: "Tanya and her friends did see a quad bike and trailer leaving the park."
However this is not strictly true. At the start of the program the police tell us:
Det. Sears: "The three observed a red quad bike, possibly towing a trailer..."
The official Police reward poster says "The quad bike is possibly red and may have been towing a trailer." [5]

Because Kelvin mentions a trailer and because it features in his murder scenario, Sensing Murder now talks about the trailer as if it's an established fact. It is not. They want viewers to think that because Kelvin had a vision of a trailer and since they're saying a trailer really existed, then Kelvin's vision must be true. Going by the police statement, the witnesses were either not positive that there was a trailer or if some were, there was no consensus. Also it was very manipulative the way Sensing Murder filmed re-enactments of the killer and shots of the man on this quad bike — always with a trailer. Both were dressed identically suggesting that they were one and the same, that the quad bike rider was the killer. Both had on a green Swanndri which Kelvin said the killer wore. The police don't tell us if the witnesses of the quad bike rider noticed what he was wearing, and if they did, we weren't told what it was. And neither were Sensing Murder, since they continually insist that the police don't reveal case details to them. So Sensing Murder dressing the quad bike rider identical to the killer was staged solely to fool the viewer into accepting the psychic's vision. We must also remember that one of the people that saw the quad bike rider was the daughter Tanya, so probably she has an opinion on what he was wearing. Was it a green Swanndri — a very common garment — and since Kelvin has discussed the case with the family, is this where the green Swanndri comes from?

When the psychics try to determine which track Kaye took, Deb says,

Deb: "Is there a bridge there... or a platform? A walkway bridge it looks like...

Narrator: "The track... now has a long walk bridge, but this wasn't there in 2005."

During this part of the reading about the walk bridge eleven different shots of the now existing bridge are displayed. Eleven images of a bridge that never existed make it appear, contrary to the narrator's statement, that Deb is seeing a correct vision of the track and Kaye's disappearance. These images produced by the 'Sensing Murder' team cause the viewer to focus on Deb's statement and ignore the facts. The narrator should have said "Deb is wrong. There was no bridge on this track." Later we see Deb reaching the [new] walk bridge on the track and stating:
Deb: "This is like... sort of the one I saw."
Several times as the show progresses Deb makes reference to this bridge being on the track, but never again does the narrator make even a half-hearted attempt to explain she is quite wrong. Deb's false vision is simply reinforced over and over again.

A similar example of viewer manipulation is when both psychics are describing Kaye meeting with her killer:

Kelvin: "[I] walked along, met this person... said Hello..."

Deb: "I keep getting 'Hi love'... 'Hi love'... in a deep tone."

In between these statements is another 'Sensing Murder' re-enactment of the scene where the "killer" says "Hello love" to Kaye. Note how 'Sensing Murder' has cunningly taken elements from both psychics and created a greeting that never happened — "Hello love". Kelvin said that Kaye, not the killer, said Hello, and Deb was adamant that the killer said 'Hi love', but by combining hello from Kelvin and love from Deb, 'Sensing Murder' makes it appears that both psychics are viewing the same meeting. 'Sensing Murder' will just plead ignorance of course, saying it was a simple scripting mistake. We don't think they're that stupid though, we think they're that devious.

As Kelvin wanders the park he points to a gate and gets excited:

Kelvin: "See that thing, that fire sign that I was trying to describe."
Kelvin had mentioned a fire sign in his earlier reading, and now suggests that this it and it is pointing to a valley where he reckons the body is, and where he tells us that "you are not allowed to go". But let's remember yet again that Kelvin has been to the park before, searching for the body with the family. He will have already seen this sign in the past, in real life. There was nothing psychic about his vision. Also it is rather silly to suggest that the police are "not allowed to go" into the other valley that is controlled by DOC. Especially since Kelvin unambiguously indicates this area as where Kaye's body can be found:
Kelvin: "I'm going to be really blunt with you Ross, she's in that area. She's not where everybody thinks she is in that park, she could be just one valley over where nobody's bothered to look."
This is also a perfect example of an old psychic trick. Kelvin says "she's in that area". Kelvin is insisting that she is definitely there, to the point of being "blunt". Yet in the very next sentence he now says "she could be" there. If her body is found there then Kelvin will say that I had told you that "she's in that area". If it's found elsewhere, Kelvin will maintain that he only said that "she could be" there. No matter what happens the psychic can't be wrong. Blatant cheating that is missed by most everyone.

In fact Kelvin makes several references to this valley and later again makes the claim that it was not searched:

Kelvin: "I wanted to come up into this area, just to go for a little drive up here where it wasn't searched..."
The 'Sensing Murder' narrator makes no comment. Only at the very end of the show does Det. Levy mention that the valley was in fact searched. Kelvin was wrong, although no doubt most viewers will now believe this is where the body is buried and that police were silly not to search it. And Sensing Murder suggest that the only reason that Kelvin can't locate the body is that someone is preventing him from entering that valley by deliberating locking an access gate. When the van arrives and they notice the locked gate, someone says "They must have seen us coming." Believing the body to be in this area Kelvin tells us "that's why we wanted to come up and have a look." The narrator then jumps in:
Narrator: "But access is barred, and so Kelvin can't continue his search... someone has locked the gate."
But we must remember that Kelvin's "we" includes a police detective. Is Sensing Murder suggesting that even the police can't get access to a possible crime scene? Is there some sort of major DOC conspiracy going on? Did DOC workers kill her? Did she discover their plan to clone the moa from ancient DNA and release them into the park? Did they hide her body in the next valley and are now preventing police from searching there by their wickedly sophisticated "locked gate"?

But as we've said, the valley was searched. Of course the body may still be in there, but Kelvin's claim that the valley wasn't searched is false, so why should we have confidence in his other claim that the body is in there?

At the police station Kelvin describes the attack on Kaye to Det. Levy:

Kelvin: "You know how people can snap eh? He's one of those ones that are really nice and placid and then when he snaps..."

Det. Levy: "Bang."

Kelvin: "Yeah... It has not been premeditated, it has just been this spontaneous situation."

Kelvin: "Why is it so random? [We assume he is asking Kaye who replies]... He's a sicko... Ok."

Yet later in the park Kelvin again describes the attack on Kaye to Det. Levy:
Kelvin: "At the end of the day I don't understand the motive. Maybe there isn't one, maybe it's just a random, temperamental thing, you know."
Supposedly communicating with Kaye's spirit, Kelvin first declares that the attack was not premeditated. It was spontaneous, random. But later in the park he's forgotten he knows why Kaye was killed — and obviously Kaye doesn't remind him — because he's now struggling to come up with a motive for the attack. He finally accepts that "maybe it's just a random, temperamental thing." Contrary to his first vision, he is now admitting that he really has no idea why Kaye was attacked. This is another example of psychics throwing out statements that contradict each other, but as long as they separated by time, their listeners — and this includes police detectives and TV crews — never notice. It's proof that psychics just make things up hoping that something will eventually connect with the listener. And those statements that are detected as being obviously bogus or contradictory are edited out and lost on the cutting room floor.

When Deb visits the park Det. Levy challenges Deb to find the area where Kaye parked her car. Deb tells them to go right up to the "square bit" [the car park]. The van races through the car park and the narrator tells us that "Deb is confused." [A truer statement was never uttered] She asks to drive back down the access road as she is still looking for the track, and the van races off, but we soon see the van crawling along. It is not made obvious to the viewer but if you look closely you can see that as soon as the van passes the track entrance it slows noticeably. Deb is chatting away and looking the wrong way so completely misses the sign. It is partially obscured by bushes when driving out of the park but she should have easily noticed it when she was looking for it on the way in. In addition, having a spirit telling her when to stop should have made it child's play. Deb obviously takes the hint of the vehicle slowing and looking confused, looks back and asks:

Deb: "Is that the track?"
The van almost stops. Det. Levy is sitting to the rear of Deb and makes a gesture to the driver and silently voices an instruction. He is possibly telling him to keep driving and not stop, so as not to signal Deb. Or maybe not, it's hard to tell whether he's saying "Keep going" or "Pull over". Deb continues:
Deb: "I reckon it's here somewhere."
The van slows even more and naturally Deb becomes more confident.
Deb: "It has to be here."
The van stops, signalling to Deb that this is indeed the spot.
Deb: "It's here."
Note that at no time did Deb tell the van to stop.
Det. Levy: "Yep, you're bang on Deb."
However Deb's next question indicates that she is not "bang on", that it's not "here" at all. She asks Det. Levy:
Deb: "Was it here though... or just up there?"
Det. Levy indicates "just up there" with a head movement and taking the hint, Deb quickly follows with:
Deb: "Just up there isn't it... on that grassy bit?"

Det. Levy: "Yep."

Where would Deb have gone if the van hadn't slowed and stopped, and if Det. Levy hadn't told her which one of her guesses to select? Did the driver, no doubt part of the Sensing Murder team, deliberately stop to signal to Deb that this is the right spot, or did Det. Levy instruct him to stop? Either way, whoever stopped the van signalled to Deb that you can stop guessing now. The van then turns around, obviously to take them to the correct spot. But if they were so close, why not just get out? Were they not as close as they made out?

As for Kelvin and Deb's view on what happened to the body, Kelvin claims it was put on the quad bike trailer and taken out of the park to the killer's house. At one stage he implies it was hidden behind a log pile at the house:

Kelvin: "Let's say he's taken her out of the trailer, put her behind a big pile of logs."
At another he implies it was left on the trailer:
Kelvin: "Puts her on the trailer, covers her up, drives her out, leaves the trailer where it is."
At yet another point he doesn't say exactly where the body was left, but that there were plenty of places to hide the body at the house:
Kelvin: "At his place, plenty of places to hide it down there."
So Kelvin gives us at least three different versions of where the killer first hid the body. Then late at night he evidently takes the body from one of these hiding places, places it on his ute and takes it through "gates" he has access to, implying the road into the valley Kelvin couldn't access.

Deb on the other hand, while she does mention a bike (not specifically a quad bike though), never mentions a bike trailer. She never mentions that the body was taken to the killer's home or later transported on a ute. She never clearly states that the body was even removed from the actual park. She says things like "if I drive out of that carpark area I can go up and around... up the hills more". Does this simply mean that she thinks you can drive deeper into the park rather than leaving the park and entering another valley like Kelvin believes? Deb's descriptions are so vague that they are meaningless, and could be anywhere.

The program says that both psychics agreed on the site where the murder occurred, but Sensing Murder heavily edited the backgrounds and said "for legal reasons we are unable to identify where Deb is in relation to Kelvin". A more likely reason they obscured the backgrounds was because they were unwilling to show that the psychics were in completely different places!!

Finally, many of the psychic's statements took the following form:

Deb: "I don't think she's here [in the park]. If she was you would have found her."
This is just simple logic that you and I, the police and Kaye's family would employ. You don't have to be psychic to reach this realisation. It's really amazing that people pay Deb, Kelvin and other psychics to tell them things that they could easily determine themselves if they only used their lethargic brain cells.

What really happened to Kaye — a skeptical perspective

Rather than solve the mystery by consulting our chicken entrails, or by paying Deb or Kelvin to do yet another futile psychic reading, we thought we might just try a different and novel approach — apply some critical thinking to the case. Based on the show and media reports, could we come up with some realistic, rational scenarios that might better explain Kaye's disappearance? Theories that the psychics never raised nor ones that the police seem to have entertained, or at least haven't made public.

Rimutaka map We are told Kaye entered the Rimutaka Forest Park at around 10:45 — although police releases say 10:30am [6][7][10] — and inquires at the DOC visitor centre. She is next seen at the suggested track entrance at around 11:00. This is where she parks her car to partake of a forest walk. She has promised to pick up her daughter at 12:30 in nearby Wainuiomata. She is next seen at a DOC compound at 13:00. This is not the DOC visitor centre she visited earlier but a DOC workshop. After receiving instructions from a DOC worker she leaves to return to her car. She is never seen again.

The Sensing Murder narrator tells us that this last sighting of Kaye at the DOC compound occurred at 13:00. They reinforce this time by having a large digital clock fill the screen and tick over to exactly 13:00. At a different time Det. Levy tell us it happened at 13:05, and the current Police website — "Operation Stewart: $50,000 reward" — also states 1.05pm [6]. We mention this minor difference — Sensing Murder changing the time when they had no need to — because in two Police News Releases at the time of the disappearance, both say the sighting was "about 12.30pm" or "around 12.30pm". [7] [10] Why have the Police changed the time of this crucial sighting? But this discrepancy doesn't alter what follows.

How did she get to the DOC compound that is evidently only accessed from the main Coast Road and not from the park? We don't believe there are any sign posted tracks that lead from her parked car to this compound. Had she moved off a track and through native forest? Yet the DOC worker that spoke to her never mentioned that she was wet, dirty or exhausted as if she had been struggling through bush. She could have simply walked down the park road, out the entrance and along the main road to the compound, but this doesn't make any sense. She knew her car was in the park, so you don't leave the park looking for it. If she had emerged from a track — possibly the "Nature Trail" — and started walking the wrong way on the park's entrance road — Catchpool Road — then as soon as she reached the park entrance, having to walk past the visitor centre, she would have realised where she was and could have easily have got back to her car by simply turning around and retracing her steps. But when she turned up at the DOC compound she was lost, as she asked the worker for directions back to her car. Two hours(?) had passed between leaving her car and turning up at the compound. Did the police work out how long it would take to reach the compound from her car, either by road — approximately 2 km, or most likely, through the bush, maybe by some unmarked track used only by DOC workers?

We might also note that neither psychic puts Kaye at the DOC compound, or seemingly anywhere near it, even though it was established that she somehow got lost and turned up there and spoke to a DOC worker. Neither psychic mentioned this crucial encounter. Both psychics have her going in the opposite direction — east — towards the car park, both insisting that she took the "Nga Taonga Trail". Det. Levy also discounts a media suggestion that she possibly got disorientated and lost due to medication, but the fact that she turned up at the compound and asked for directions back to her car convincingly shows that she did indeed get lost. If it happened once, why couldn't it happen again?

The two maps shown by 'Sensing Murder' of the park avoided showing — deliberately perhaps — the vast difference between where the psychics suggested Kaye had walked — east to the car park — and where we know she walked — west to the DOC compound. We know Kaye was obviously alive and well between leaving her car and reaching the DOC compound, and ignoring this period is silly, since explaining it could throw valuable light on where Kaye was for two hours. Neither psychic mentioned that Kaye got lost. Neither psychic mentioned that she was running late to meet her daughter and probably rushing back to her car on the main access road when she went missing. Kaye's journey to the compound and her final disappearance are equally mysterious but both psychics seemed oblivious to this initial mystery.

It doesn't matter what track psychics claim Kaye took after leaving her car since we know for a fact that she wasn't killed there. Because we know for a fact that after leaving her car she safely arrived at the DOC compound. Thus no wood chopping, quad bike riding madman could have killed her because she would then be dead, and dead people can't wander into DOC compounds and speak with DOC workers. Unless of course she was a ghost? Hmmmm...? But seriously, her disappearance must have happened between leaving the DOC compound and before she reached her car. Thus the area and route to examine is the main tar-sealed Coast Road from the DOC compound back to the entrance of the Rimutaka Forest Park and then the 1.8 kms of Catchpool Road back up to where her car was parked. According to Det. Levy this was the route given to her by the DOC worker. She would have taken this route because it was the only route she knew of back to her car, and it was also the easiest and fastest. Wearing a watch she would be aware that she was running late and would be concerned about her daughter, so she wouldn't have deviated from this route to sightsee or take another casual bush walk. Since she was walking the main, public route between the DOC compound and her car it's highly unlikely that she would encounter someone illegally cutting firewood. No sensible person would enter a large, expansive park equipped with a noisy chainsaw and riding an off-road bike and, intent on cutting and stealing firewood, stop and do this at the very park entrance. Likewise, if Kaye had reached her car she would have simply hopped in and left the park, she would not have gone back onto one of the tracks for a fateful meeting with a mad woodcutter.

Her designated route would have been extremely unlikely to have her stumbling across poachers, vandals, drug growers or woodcutters. Although Sensing Murder refused to divulge where the psychics said the attack on Kaye happened, both seemed to be in a secluded area, not the main entrance road. Another option of course is one we hinted at earlier — alien abduction. If the police are going to entertain psychics, we think they need to seriously consider this option as well. You know, "open mind" and all that.

So what could have happened to Kaye on this relatively short and public walk? Running late, perhaps she attempted to hitch a ride into the park with an "unsavoury character" or perhaps some "helpful" citizen stopped and offered her a ride. Was she possibly a victim of a hit and run on the Coast Road, accidentally struck in her haste to get back to the park, bundled into a vehicle and driven away? Maybe her body was never found in the park because she never even returned to the park? In our view these scenarios — minus the aliens — make far more sense than the one promoted by the Sensing Murder psychics and half-heartedly supported by the police.

We think the police are seriously limiting their range of suspects by only suggesting that the public look at locals that wear a green Swanndri, own a red quad bike with trailer, a ute, a chain saw and woolly socks.

If it was a hit and run or roadside abduction then the culprit is sitting pretty, as nobody is looking for them, thanks to Sensing Murder. Rather than solve a crime, they may well be covering one up.

Conclusion

Let's wrap up with comments from Kelvin Cruickshank, concerning what appears to be his annoyance that people expect him to solve murders. Trying to defend the ongoing failure of Sensing Murder and his performance in it, he states that:

"His main goal was to help people who had gone through tragedy deal with the situation - and in Mrs Stewart's case, to bring her home to her family. "The show's called Sensing Murder, not 'solving murder' - and that's what we did, we sensed murder."
As regards Kaye Steward, her family is still dealing with the tragedy since — and this seems to have escaped his attention — he did not bring her home. The families of murder victims don't want Kelvin and his despicable cohorts to "sense" the murder of their loved ones. They know they've been murdered. The police know they've been murdered. I know they've been murdered. The families want the murder to be solved. They want closure.

We suggest that Cruickshank, Webber et al. look for other work. Honest, respectable work that does not take advantage of desperate, grieving people. Maybe reading fantasy stories to children. They seem to be good at that sort of thing. We also wish that the leeches at Ninox Television would stop exploiting human tragedy as entertainment for the masses. But as history has shown, there is always money to made from the misery of others.

To recap. No body. No killer. No resolution. No idea. Situation normal.

Return to 'Episode Transcripts'


Authors:   John L. Ateo,   Rachel C.
Copyright 2008, by the 'SILLY BELIEFS' website. All rights reserved.


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References

[1] 'Close Up' interview with Det. Ross Levy, Lower Hutt CIB. Screened on TV1, 7:00pm, Tuesday, Sept 9th, 2008
[2] 'Police interview Sensing Murder psychics' The Dominion Post, 5th Sep 2008
[3] 'Police question psychics about Stewart' TVNZ website/ONE News, 5th Sep 2008
[4] 'Exorcism death inquiry complicated by cultural issues' The NZ Herald, 13th Nov 2007
[5] Police reward poster New Zealand Police website
[6] 'Kaye Stewart disappearance' New Zealand Police website
[7] 'Mounting concern for missing woman' New Zealand Police website
[8] 'Park closes for new search for missing woman' New Zealand Police website
[9] 'Forest Park car park examined' New Zealand Police website
[10] 'Police suspend bush search for missing' New Zealand Police website
[11] 'Tips pour in after psychic show' The Dominion Post, 11th Sep 2008
[12] 'Police interview psychics in Stewart murder inquiry' The NZ Herald, 5th Sep 2008

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