Montel: John Slayton Reading
A missing man's daughter and granddaughter ask Sylvia Browne for help.
The Kansas or "Kaw" River (left) emptying into the Missouri River (loop on right).
On December 10 2002, 63-year-old independent jeweler John Slayton disappeared while making his rounds to various stores and pawn shops. Days later his SUV was found abandoned. Most of the jewelry Slayton had with him at the time was nowhere to be found.
A few months later, with Slayton still missing, his daughter Vicki and his granddaughter Brandi appeared on the Montel Williams show to ask Sylvia Browne's help.
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The episode was first broadcast on May 14, 2003.
Here is a transcript of the reading, interspersed with my comments (all emphasis mine):
(Montel) Williams: Absolutely. Well, you know, my first guest says that she's completely baffled by the strange disappearance of her grandfather. Take a look at this.
Brandi (Slayton's Granddaughter): On December 10th of last year, my grandfather disappeared without a trace. He is an independent jeweler, and at the time of his disappearance, he had a large amount of jewelry in his SUV. Three days later, the police found his vehicle abandoned with a few pieces of jewelry left inside. There are no leads or any suspects. My family misses him so much. Sylvia, can you give us any information as to what happened that day and where he is?
Williams: Please welcome Brandi and her--and Vicki to the show. Thank you both very much for being here. And--and, Brandi, if you can, sum it up. What happened to your grandfather? He was a jeweler who was out on the road, right? He--and he would go to various pawn shops, buying and exchanging jewelry?
Brandi: Correct, he was an independent jeweler, and he was out making his rounds, selling and trading, buying diamonds, buying watches. And he had the regular, normal jewelry business.
(Sylvia) Browne: Two--Can I?
Williams: Go right ahead.
Browne: Two--I don't know what--I don't know--the old word is hobos. Two men followed him because they knew he was a jeweler. He was also carrying diamonds on him. Are you aware of that?
Slayton was a jeweler. The video clip had already mentioned that he had a "large amount of jewelry" on him when he disappeared. Then Brandi herself had said that he had been on the road "buying diamonds." For Browne to state here that Slayton was carrying diamonds at the time of his disappearance was simply repeating back what she had already heard - twice.
Her question "Are you aware of that?" is a cold-reading trick, attempting to plant it in Vicki and Brandi's (and the audience's) heads that Browne herself had come up with this fact.
Williams: Yeah. Matter of fact, he had about $1 million worth of diamonds in jewelry on him.
Browne: Dollars worth of diamonds, yeah. They waylaid him, took--they--yeah, like it said in the film thing here--that they left a few. That was to show, you know, sort of like good faith, but they took everything he had. He had even diamonds in a little brown bag that he carried, with a little drawstring. Do you see what I mean? They took that. And then they literally loaded him and threw him in water.
Vicki (Slayton's Daughter): Do you know where?
Browne: I don't know where the water is close to there, but it's a big body of water.
Vicki: In Missouri, we do have a lot of rivers, a lot of...
Browne: But you have the Caw?
Browne: So it's right on the Caw.
Vicki: On--on the Caw?
Browne: Yeah, the Caw. The Caw meets the Missouri River.
Although the lexis-nexis transcript spells it "Caw," the actual spelling is "Kaw." The Kaw River is an old/local name for the Kansas River, which meets the Missouri River at Kansas City.
Vicki: Do you have any idea, like--it's been two months, but any idea when they will find his body, or...
Brandi: When will this case be solved?
Browne: Oh, honey, that is such a terrible--you know that even the Missouri River is such a terrible muddy, horrible river. I--I swear to God to you, there's no way.
Vicki: Any idea who these people are?
Browne: These were people--this--these were--were what you call...
Browne: Yeah, indigents, robbers, they were hobos.
Vicki: My dad didn't know them?
Browne: No. But they knew him. They had heard--because everybody knew your--knew him. Everybody knew what he did.
Vicki: Does somebody out there know something, but they just not come forward?
Browne: I don't think that these indigents are gonna tell anybody.
Williams: Would they--now those indigents would have to try to move that...
Browne: They would try to fence them. They would try to fence it.
Williams: Now would somebody could be--is there a place that maybe they can go looking at some pawn shops or--well, if it's a fence, then...
Browne: Do you know what I would do, though, if I were you? I would go to a place called h--or try to get a hold of a place called Helzbergs. Now they wouldn't deal in anything that was bad, but ask them if they haven't been approached. 'Cause these people are so stupid, they would go into a Zales or a reputable place--Do you see what I mean?--and try to fence it. And no reputable place, but--call a place called Helzbergs and see.
Williams: Go check on that name or anything--a derivation of that name in that city.
Vicki: One more thing. Do--will they ever be caught?
Browne: I think so, because I think if you go this jewelry store...
Browne: ...I think they will tell you that, 'Oh, yeah, these two guys came in,' you know, or maybe they might even have a camera--Do you see what I mean?--because sometimes these places date their tapes way back.
Brandi: At this store, is it gonna be in the Kansas City area, or the St. Louis area?
Browne: No, I'm pretty sure it's in the Kansas City area. That's why I was so convinced--see, that's why it hit me right between the eyes because, see, that's where I'm from. That's why it was so familiar to me.
Vicki: Oh. OK.
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All emphasis mine:
Tip Leads Police to Body in Jefferson County
TIP LEADS POLICE TO BODY IN JEFFERSON COUNTY;
REMAINS MAY BE THOSE OF MISSING JEWELER FROM OSAGE BEACH, MO.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
June 3, 2003 Tuesday Five Star Late Lift Edition
METRO; Pg. B1, 313 words
Tim Rowden Of The Post-Dispatch
The decomposed remains were found wrapped in plastic in a heavily wooded area near Highways 67 and V north of the St. Francois County line, about 40 miles from where Slayton's car was recovered.
The International Watch Jewelry Guild posted a $100,000 reward and the Missouri Pawn Brokers Association posted a $10,000 reward for tips leading to the conviction of anyone responsible for Slayton's disappearance.
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Jefferson County pawnbroker gets life plus 20 years in murder of jeweler
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
April 25, 2006 Tuesday
SECTION: METRO; Pg. B5
HEADLINE: Jefferson County pawnbroker gets life plus 20 years in murder of jeweler John Slayton was beaten to death in the back room of a pawnshop near Arnold.
BYLINE: By Tim Rowden ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Teddy Eugene Davison Jr. was sentenced to life plus 20 years behind bars Monday for the fatal beating and robbery of a mid-Missouri jeweler.
Prosecutors said Davison, 41, a pawnbroker, planned with his son to murder John R. Slayton and steal his inventory and then recruited his nephew, Michael Davison, to help them dispose of the body.
Slayton, 63, of Osage Beach, Mo., was reported missing Dec. 10, 2002, after he visited Davison's shop, near Arnold.
An independent jewelry dealer, Slayton regularly visited area pawnshops as part of his business. His remains were recovered June 1, 2003, in a shallow grave near Valles Mines, in far south-central Jefferson County.
Slayton had $750,000 to $1 million worth of jewelry and diamonds in his possession when he disappeared. Although police recovered most of the inventory, prosecutors said $50,000 worth of jewelry was melted down and sold and $250,000 worth of diamonds remained missing.
After a two-day trial last month in Hillsboro, a jury found Davison guilty of murdering Slayton.
At the trial, Davison's son, Eric Davison, who was 16 at the time of the killing, testified that he had struck Slayton in the head with a baseball bat. Eric Davison said his father then dragged Slayton into a back room, where Teddy Davison beat him with a flashlight before striking a fatal blow to Slayton's forehead with the butt of a shotgun.
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The 281 miles separating the "Kaw" River from the body's actual location..
So, how did Browne do? Let's compare the statements she made with what actually was found to have happened.
|Browne's Statement ||Reality ||Rating |
|Slayton was murdered. ||Slayton was murdered. Given the circumstances, this was the safe bet. ||Right |
|The killers were hobos/indigents. ||The killers were the owner of a pawnshop, and his sixteen-year-old son. ||Wrong |
|The killers followed and waylaid Slayton. ||Slayton was murdered in Davison's pawn shop, where he had come to do business. ||Wrong |
|Slayton was carrying diamonds. ||This was obvious from the man's job, and had already been mentioned by Brandi. ||Already known |
|The killers disposed of Slayton's body in a big body of water. ||They buried Slayton in a shallow grave in a heavily wooded area, more than ten miles away from the nearest river, the Mississippi River. ||Wrong |
|The body was "right on the Kaw." ||"The Kaw" is an old/local name for what is now known as the Kansas River, which meets the Missouri River near Kansas City, more than 250 miles away from Slayton's shallow grave near Valles Mines. ||Wrong |
|The body would not be found. ||The body was found. ||Wrong |
|The killers tried to fence the jewelry at Helzberg's. ||It is doubtful that a pawnbroker would try to "fence" stolen diamonds at Helzberg Diamonds, a reputable chain. ||Unknown. |
|The killers would be caught. ||They were caught. ||Right |
|The killers would not tell anyone. ||They told Michael Davison, who helped dispose of the body. ||Wrong |
All in all, a pretty poor reading. Two statements correct out of ten. Once again, nowhere near Browne's supposed 87% accuracy rating.
And note that the first thing she got right - that Slayton had been murdered - was a pretty safe bet, given the circumstances of his disappearance, and the other - that the killers would be caught - was something which would be of no help whatsoever to law enforcement agencies trying to solve the case.
It also seems obvious, from Browne's mention of the Kansas (Kaw) River and her insistence that the jewelry would be fenced in Kansas City, that she was under the impression that the crime took place in Kansas City, when everything (the murder, the finding of the body and the SUV) took place near St. Louis, all the way on the other side of the state, some 250 miles away.
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Yet another missing person case where Browne was of absolutely no help whatsoever.
My thanks to EMM for finding this case, and for obtaining the reading transcript and newspaper articles from LexisNexis.
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