18. "Psychic Says Missing Men Dead."

The following has been transcribed from an original 1975 Lakeland Ledger digital newspaper archive. This article has been re-typed and organized from existing digital Lakeland Ledger archives; I've transcribed them for informational and readability purposes. I do not claim any ownership/authorship of these particular articles.

The Lakeland Ledger

Saturday, August 24, 1975


Psychic Says Missing Men Dead


About Polk with Jim DeGennaro


A Polk County man who claims he can speak with spirits contacted The Ledger this week and said ex-Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, Mark "Duane" Woodard, and Jimmy Wagner are dead.


The spiritualist also said he "receives a strong reaction from the spirit world" when he tried to contact newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and billionaire-recluse Howard Hughes.


Woodard and Wagner are two 19-year-old Lakeland men who have disappeared and are being searched for by the sheriff's department.


The psychic, who was the subject of an earlier Ledger story and who has won much acclaim in his field, said he formulated these conclusions as to the fates of the above-mentioned missing persons after seeking out their spirits in the hereafter:


• Jimmy Wagner - "Dead."


"This young man was not taken to a swamp the but the night he was murdered but to an orange grove. The people who killed Jimmy Wagner still go to the bar he visited the night he died," the spiritualist said.


Wagner is believed to be either a suspect or a victim in the death of John M. Arnsdorff, whose charred body was found in the trunk of his smoldering car north of Lakeland during the early morning hours of July 29.


The unemployed construction worker, who has not been seen or heard from since then, was seen in the company of Arnsdorff and Dennis Wayne Smith in the Green Parrot Bar the night of July 28.


Smith is inside the Polk County jail on a first-degree murder charge in connection with Arnsdorff's death.


• Duane Woodard - "Dead."


"Woodard told me he had planned to take a trip somewhere in the South but did not make it out of Lakeland. He met a man - a blond man - and that man killed him before he was to have left."


(It must be noted here that the psychic made this statement on Wednesday, three days before Woodard's disappearance was made public through this newspaper. This psychic was given Woodard's name by The Ledger at the time he made the other assessments, but was not told any details in the case.)


Woodard vanished April 14, the day he was supposed to begin a week-long trip to Texas with a friend. The former Seaboard Coast Line trackman reportedly was carrying between $2,500 and $3,000 in cash the day he disappeared. He has not come home since then or contacted his anxious family or friends.


• Jimmy Hoffa - "Dead."


"Jimmy told me he was executed by the Mafia. He was bound, gagged, and taken to a place he had never been before. When I asked him about the million dollars he might have taken out of the Teamster's pension fund, he became very angry with me and said he didn't like me prying into his money affairs. He shut me off."


• Patty Hearst - "She might be dead."


"I get a pretty strong reaction when I try and reach Patty Hearst, but I feel there may be more than one Patty Hearst trying to answer me. I would have to say she is dead."


Miss Hearst, who has been the subject of a massive FBI search, was kidnapped by an underground terrorist group more than a year ago and has allegedly joined forces with her captors since then.


• Howard Hughes - "Hughes is most likely dead."


"I get an awfully strong reaction from Howard Hughes in the spirit world. There might be a couple hundred Howard Hughes' and not knowing his middle initial, I asked to speak with the billionaire. He answers readily."


Last week, two New York stockholders filed suit contending Howard Hughes is dead. If the billionaire doesn't surface to answer their suit, they intend to ask the courts to appoint an administrator for his huge estate.


The psychic does not want to reveal his identity because he is self-employed and said he did not want his business hurt by skeptics who do not believe in spiritualism.


"I know how the rational mind reacts to such matters," he said. "Up until five years ago, I too, thought spiritualism was a bunch of hogwash."


There's another reason for his anonymity. Two years ago, he offered a story on spiritualism to a publication in another state and his mailbox was beleaguered with letters from people who called him a liar, a nut, or who wanted him to contact a departed friend or relative.


"I never want to go through that again," the psychic said. "I can handle the letters and the telephone calls from people who call me crazy, but there's no way I can keep up with the response from people who want me to contact some dearly departed Aunt Hattie."


Other than his claimed ability to talk to spirits, a little background material about the psychic reveals he is almost your Average Joe. He is 55-years-old and graduated from college with an engineering degree. He raised two sons who are now adults and who both disagree with his beliefs. His wife does too.


Spiritualism came to him quite surprisingly and strangely one day in 1970 as he was sitting in his office preparing his monthly budget. "All of a sudden, my pencil was automatically placed on the paper and began to write. Someone, a spirit, was coming through me," the spiritualist said.


Since that day, he claims he has conversed with more than 300 spirits of the dead including: John F. Kennedy, Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald, Admiral Byrd, King Tut, Mark Anthony, Cleopatra, Nero, George Washington, John Wilkes Booth, and Saint Peter.


One of his biggest thrills in spiritualism came three years ago after studying a list of war dead from Vietnam which totaled 178 names.


"There was one name on the list I couldn't contact in the spirit world and I assumed that the soldier was alive," the psychic said. "I called military advisors and they laughed at me. Six months later the presumed dead man was rescued in Cambodia and I came out a winner. I knew I would all along."


The psychic said all of the spirits he has talked with say they are happy and contented where they are, and only one of the saints and sinners he has contacted, President Kennedy, has ever expressed a wish to return to earth. It is for this reason, the spiritualist does not believe in reincarnation.


"President Kennedy wants to return because he thinks he can help us, but he can't come back," he said. "Spirits cannot leave the areas they are in. And you'll notice as I refer to John Kennedy as President Kennedy. Spirits demand that when you talk to them you use the title they held on earth. They are very picky about this, especially President Kennedy."


The psychic said some spirits will converse freely while some will rebuke the caller for treading where they have no business, such as Jimmy Hoffa did when the spiritualist asked him about money matters.


Priests I have talked to about spiritualism seem to be afraid of me," he said. "They don't know whether my powers are divine or from the devil. In any event, they believe me 100 percent when I contact spirits after they test me."


The spiritualist has been tested quite frequently through lists. The person or persons testing his powers will write the names of several people he knows nothing about and the psychic will tell them whether they are dead or alive.


He is well-known in the Central Florida area as a business and a psychic.


Read the digital archive here - The Ledger, August 24, 1975.

One point of interest in the publication above is that it is written by one of the reporters who will cover the Ralph Miller/Witch of Lakeland series: Jim DeGennaro.



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