The evolution of police procedures, including sophisticated DNA-testing that is now standard, has not been limited to quantifiable data and research. As veteran journalist and crime reporter Susan Edmiston discovered in this compellingly reported feature, police have utilized the various talents of psychics for years. From the November 1991 issue of Cosmopolitan, see how real-life psychic Annette Martin used her abilities to help a retiring California detective solve a cold case that had haunted him for decades. —Alex Belth, Hearst historian
Annette Martin takes three deep breaths and enters a trance. Unlike the stereotypical psychic, she’s not weird, moody, or melodramatic. A sunny blonde from San Jose, California, with a down-to-earth practicality, Martin has done psychic consulting for the last fifteen years. Today, wearing a snowflake-patterned sweater and black pants for warmth, she is in Billings, Montana, sitting in the office of Capt. Keith Wolverton, fifty-two, of the Cascade County Sheriff’s Department. A slim, rangy man with a fine-boned nose and a beard flecked with red, Captain Wolverton is about to retire, but before he does, he wants to crack his last unsolved mystery, the Cottonwood Case, a thirty-five-year-old lover’s-lane murder named for the tree where Patti Kalitzke, sixteen, and Lloyd Duane Bogle, eighteen, were shot.
Wolverton has worked with psychics on dozens of cases before and, despite the fact that psychically-generated information is inadmissible in court, he is part of a growing trend on the part of police departments to take psychics seriously. “What the psychic does,” says psychologist Jeffrey Blum, author of Living With Spirit in a Material World, “is put you in touch with your inner voice.” Although Blum believes that some psychics have special powers that enable them to know things we cannot account for in rational ways, his main belief is that “any meaningful system, any story, any practice that leads to an awakening of new perceptions and new energies is supremely valuable. If you want to hear your inner voice, you must find a way to throw off the restraints of your history and the constraints of your ego.”
“You have some evidence?” Martin asks Wolverton.
Wolverton hands her a worn blue coat with blood stains so old they’ve turned a rusty yellow, and places a battered brown wallet and some photos on his desk. “Whew,” she says, stroking the coat, “the energy is very strong. Patricia was her real name?”
The previous August, a former Montanan named Robert Coxe* was arrested for raping and killing a woman in San Diego and is awaiting trial for that crime. The police department there asked Montana’s Cascade country police for a background check. And as the police traced his movements over the years, they placed Coxe in the area at the time of the Cottonwood Case. Wolverton is scheduled to question Coxe the following week in San Diego to see if he can tie him to the Cottonwood case, but before he does, he wants to find out if Martin can give him the sort of “inside information” he needs.
Martin begins to speak: “These two kids were very much in love. There’s a lot of heat coming off her. She feels very guilty. Very sad. It shouldn’t have happened. And she doesn’t understand why. You have a picture of their car? I’m getting a kind of dark color. Dark green or dark blue.”
Wolverton: “A ’52 Dodge.”
Martin, eyes closed, lapses into silence. “I’m in the car,” she says. “They’re both in the car. They’re talking … something about his father … He doesn’t seem to be happy about the two of them seeing one another. She’s crying. He’s holding her. She feels so poor. Her dress feels like cotton, light-colored on top. In summer, she goes around barefoot a lot. She is a free spirit, a child who is open to adventure, getting herself involved in situations she is extremely naïve about. They’re driving down a road now. They had stopped, but they’re now moving. He’s kind of angry, upset, disturbed with her. What’s his name?”
Wolverton: “Duane. Lloyd Duane. What are you feeling?”
Martin: “Anxiety—from him, from her. They’re looking over something, maybe a valley. It feels like daylight still … getting dark.”
Martin takes the wallet into her hands. She holds the picture. “Oh, there’s someone coming. The word that came to me immediately was ‘drifter.’”
“Can you see him?”
“Yes. Oh, she so scared. She saw his shadow, turned her head. Over on the right side there are these bushes. She saw something move. They didn’t hear anything, but there’s a car on the other side. He’s … dark … hair. [Stroking chin] I’m getting some kind of facial hair. Scruffy-looking.”
Martin takes a pencil and begins to sketch. “The face looks kind of long, cheekbones are high, he hasn’t shaved for a while. A mouth straight across, thin lips, with a wide area between lips and the nose.”
“Did he come out of the car? Can you draw the location?”
“What I saw was this.” She continues to sketch. “A little ravine and their car, and then there are the bushes where they’re parked.” She pauses. “He has an odor about him. He has some kind of fungus on his feet. He feels unclean, and he feels … desperate … There’s some kind of hat. [She strokes her head.] There are some straps, almost like the hats pilots used to wear …He’s been around this area for a while.”
“What’s he doing?”
“He’s pulling on the door handle. She’s screaming. The boy doesn’t know what do to. He’s trying to lock the doors. He’s holding her. He’s trying to get the car started. There’s something wrong with the car. The car won’t start. Somehow or other, the drifter gets the door open. I’m seeing him pulling her out of the car; I’m seeing him knock her down. He’s hitting the boy, beating on him. Was the wallet found away from the boy’s body? It feels like it was flung away. He’s looking for something in the car. He’s trying their hands.”
Wolverton: “How is he tying their hands when he’s all by himself?”
“He’s very strong. They’re both out cold. He knocked them out very hard. I see her lying over here, and the boy is farther over there.”
“The suspect has a motive at this point?”
“He feels trapped, kind of crazy. Like he’s looking for something—it wasn’t particularly them. He’s found them; he’s going to avenge his anger, his anxiety, his craziness. He doesn’t know why he’s doing it. He’s killed before. He’s seeing someone else. He may have seen them, but he doesn’t know them. He’s tying the boy. He’s unconscious. She’s waking up. She’s so scared.” Martin’s voice breaks, and she starts to cry.
Wolverton speaks soothingly. “See it as if you were watching it on TV,” he says.
“He’s moved her. There’s a tree. He drags her by the feet. He sees a different person in her. He’s shouting and screaming profanities and wants to mutilate her and rape her and get her out of his mind forever. Erase her.”
“Does he have a weapon?”
“Yes. It looks black, brown on the handle.”
“Does he strike her?”
Martin makes a bludgeoning movement. “She’s awake and she’s telling him, ‘I haven’t hurt you. What have I done to you? Please don’t kill me.’
“I see him rushing up to her like an animal and hanging her head on the tree and raping her, clawing into her back and wanting to destroy her. The target was the female, and she’s so confused and she knows she’s not supposed to be out there. [Martin’s face is red, and a tear rolls down the side of her face to her chin.] ‘Daddy is going to be so upset.’”
Wolverton: “Annette, take a deep breath. Relax. Don’t hold on to the pain. Let it go. Just watch it as if you’re watching a movie. What’s happening now? You’re doing very well.”
Still sniffling, Martin cradles the coat. “He’s holding her … carefully, so carefully. He lays her down, leaves her. ‘Jane, Jane, Jane. I’m sorry, Jane …’”
“Who are we hearing?”
“He thinks she’s Jane. ‘I told you not to do it. I told you not to do it. I told you, Jane … Jane …’ He’s wiping her face. He picks her up. He’s going to take her somewhere. He’s carrying her … ‘I told you. It’s all over with. It’s all over with … ’”
Martin continues her reenactment of the crime, with the killer shooting Duane and Patti, putting the girl’s body in his car, driving north, and dumping her out. She describes the murderer: “He goes from town to town, a gas-station attendant. He’s mechanical, can’t hold a job very long. He also does farming, knows about horses. He’s been drifting.”
Wolverton takes out an atlas and opens it to the state of Washington.
Martin sweeps her hands back and forth over the map. “We have some other murders over here … Seattle, Portland, the next five, six, seven years. He’s going to kill again. The anxiety, tension. His mind is warped. He comes across as being mild-mannered. He cannot be rehabilitated.”
That afternoon, joined by Det. Ken Anderson, who has been investigating Coxe in connection with the rape and murder of the San Diego woman, for which he is now under arrest. Martin and Wolverton drive north to the fringes of town and takes a side road along the bank of the Sun River. The road ends in a small grove of cottonwoods. At the time of the killing a psychic had told Wolverton, “The answer you want is in that tree.” But when Wolverton announced he was going to cut it down to find out what evidence it held, local citizens protested. Then a man who offered to X-ray the tree saw six bullets inside. A block of wood containing the bullets was cut out and sent to the FBI laboratory. The tree, a fat, gnarled specimen with a rectangular hole a foot high and a foot-deep cut in it, is not particularly impressive. Martin walks around the site, repeating what she has seen.
On the way back, Detective Anderson fills Martin in on what he knows about Coxe. Passing an empty lot between two small frame houses, Anderson says, “Our suspect was living here with his parents in a trailer. They picked up and moved shortly after the Cottonwood murder. He resurfaced in Portland, Oregon in ’86, in Bremerton, Washington, in ’86 and ’87, and in Walla, Walla, Washington, in ’88. He picked fruit in the Willamette Valley area and worked with his father on a ranch in Cheyenne, Wyoming. On two occasions, he took his children along on rapes.”
Anderson also tells Martin that Coxe married a woman named Jane when he was nineteen. She left him for another man, and then he married again, this time a woman named Agnes, who “claims he divorced her because he found her parked with an ex-boyfriend.”
Back at the office, Wolverton lays three photographs out on his desk, and Martin picks out the picture of Coxe. “This is the one,” she says. “Oh yes. He’s going to talk to you, fill in all the facts. His health is very, very poor, and he has little desire to stay alive. It’s going to take a while for him to remember. There’s a pattern, like a piece of lace; he’s weaving in and out, but he keeps following the same pattern.”
“When I take three deep breaths, I go into an altered state,” Martin says. “My blood pressure drops. I’m totally focused on what I’m doing. If you ask me to spell something—forget it. I cannot spell or write a word out. I can draw and I can verbalize. It used to be emotionally wearing, but not it’s exhilarating. I go on and on and on. I used to need sugar; now I drink lots of orange juice. I believe that in the next ten or twenty years, what I do is going to be commonplace as we make big strides in understanding how the mind works.”
Martin first experienced her psychic powers at the age of seven. She was playing kick-the-can with the other children who lived on her dead-end street in downtown San Francisco when she saw, “with my eyes wide open, my friends throwing rocks and chasing me as if they were trying to kill me.” Martin became frightened and started to run, and the other children did indeed run after her throwing rocks and sticks. When she made it to her grandparents’ house and ran up the steps, she heard a voice say, “Pick up that stick.”
“I knew my life would be changed if I obeyed the voice,” she says. “I picked up the stick and threw it, and the children ran away. I told my mom and dad, and they said, ‘It’s all right.’
“About a week later, my mother and I were walking down the street, and I said, ‘See that lady over there? Something terrible is going on inside.’ From that time on, something happened to me. I began to see inside people’s bodies and what they thought and what they felt.”
From the beginning, family support allowed Martin to develop her gift. Both her parents had psychics in their families. “My hypothesis is that it’s genetic,” she says. Her grandmother was a card reader and her father, at seventy-nine, still uses his psychic abilities in business and the stock market. “Unlike most psychics,” says Martin, “I have never been told, ‘No, you’re crazy,’ or ‘No, you couldn’t possibly believe that.’”
In her twenties and thirties, while married to an executive and raising two sons, Martin pursued a career as a singer and actress, but in 1970, her husband was transferred to Hong Kong. As she stepped off the plane, Martin heard the voice say, “Now is the time.” In China, she began reading palms and giving psychic readings.
On returning to California in 1975, Martin set up an office in Marin County doing psychic counseling and consulting for Gerald Jampolsky, a psychiatrist working on visualization techniques with cancer patients. Then, one day, while meditating in yoga class, she saw—suspended in her mind—a dead body and a street sign.
She drove to the Marin Sheriff’s Department in San Rafael, where she met Sgt. Richard Keaton. In sessions lasting several hours each, Martin applied her psychic skills to the case. She held the suspect’s key, identifying six out of seven. Using a map, she traced the suspect’s flight, predicting that he would perform additional crimes and that ultimately he would be arrested, wearing white and working in an institutional setting.
When the man was arrested a year later, so many details matched Martin’s predictions—from the way the suspect escaped to the fact that he was wearing white pants and a white coat for his job at a local hospital—that Sergeant Keaton was totally amazed. From then on, he consulted with Martin on different cases and acted as a liaison to other police agencies when they wanted the help of a psychic.
A week later, I call Wolverton in Great Falls, Montana. While he and Detective Anderson went to California to question Coxe, they found that he wore a pacemaker, had tuberculosis, and had been placed in a prison-affiliated hospital so that his heart could be monitored, and is awaiting trial for the 1989 San Diego rape and murder. Although Coxe had refused to confess, he had placed himself in the vicinity of Montana’s Cottonwood killings “He said he used to go out there,” explains Wolverton, “and he admitted that he followed Patti Kalitzke and Lloyd Duane Bogle out to the cottonwood tree, thinking they were his wife and her boyfriend, then left and went to a bar where he downed six Canadian Clubs and six beers. I feel pretty strongly that he did it.”
In recent months, two witnesses have come forward independently to support Wolverton’s belief. A man who had known Coxe said he had seen him have a confrontation with Patti Kalitzke on the afternoon of the homicide and had asked him about it. “She thinks I’m not good enough for her,” Coxe allegedly replied. “If she don’t want to be with me, she’s not going to be with anybody, especially that propeller head.”
The same man witnessed Robert Coxe drive toward the murder site and two days later saw blood in his car. A second witness confirmed that Coxe had purchased the ammunition for a .45, an unusual gun at the time and the same caliber as the murder weapon. And although the Cottonwood case is not formally closed, for Capt. Keith Wolverton and Annette Martin, it has been laid to rest.
*Names and places associated with the suspect have been changed to protect the innocent.