Psychic Reaction

She beleives in extraterrestrials and ESP, but some cops feel Kelly Roberts's mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Kelly Roberts lays on the blue eye shadow a bit too thick for anyone other than a fortune teller. But there are no crystal balls or tarot cards in the jumbled single-wide trailer where she lives with her children in a valley near Durango. Take away her mascara, and the slender blond would look more like a California beach girl than a famous psychic detective.

Roberts, who claims she can track murderers and other criminals by using her psychic powers, has worked as a consultant to numerous law enforcement agencies, tracking a missing child in Missouri and investigating the murder of a missing prostitute in San Diego. She recently sold the rights to her life story to a film company, and her exploits as a psychic bloodhound have been detailed in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Women's World and Trooper, the in-house magazine for Virginia state troopers. She's also gained the attention of the tabloid TV show Hard Copy--first for her psychic sleuthing, then later because she shot and killed her own husband when he attacked her with a baseball bat.

The 34-year-old Roberts moved to Colorado from California in 1991 in search of a lost secret she says was delivered by beings from another world and guarded by the now-vanished Anasazi Indians. It's a secret she believes will unlock the mysteries of mankind's past and future and allow for the materialization and dematerialization of matter (the "Beam me up, Scottie" technology of Star Trek).

She hasn't found it yet, says Roberts, who's kept such a low profile around Durango that the only people in town who know she's a psychic are her friends at the town's new-age bookstore. But in the meantime she's kept busy trying to rebuild her once-lucrative client base, which she says fell apart after her work for a police task force caused a scandal in San Diego.

Times are tough for Roberts. An old state law aimed at wandering gypsies that requires a $75-a-day fee for "fortune-tellers" prevents her from setting up an office in Durango. So most of her income comes from longtime clients who telephone or write, anxious to have someone divine the eternal questions of love, money and the future.

Roberts's crime-solving techniques are as unorthodox as her belief that the Anasazi held an extraterrestrial key to the cosmos. But among those who have faith in her psychic abilities are a bunch of guys with badges: cops from California to New Mexico who began as skeptics and, for want of a better expression, became true believers.

When she's working a case, her information comes to her in a variety of ways, says Roberts. Sometimes it's only sounds, like train whistles, or voices. Sometimes it's smells or even tastes. She recalls the flavor of rocks and soils from one experience in which she "descended" into the earth, searching for oil for a private client.

Arriving at a crime scene, she says, she often finds herself dragged back in time to see the incident through the eyes of the perpetrator or the victim. The worst experiences are reliving the last few moments of a murder victim--such as the San Diego prostitute whose body was discovered several days after she testified against two police officers. The woman's mouth had been crammed full of sand and rocks, apparently a not-so-subtle message about the benefits of keeping one's mouth shut. "I felt like I was suffocating," Roberts says. "I can still feel the rocks in my throat."

Roberts, who lived most of her life in California, recalls her first psychic experience as nearly being her last. She was fourteen years old and on vacation in Hawaii with her family and two other families. Left to their own devices one evening, the kids drove to a beach park near Honolulu.

One of the boys in the group announced that he was going body surfing and headed for the beach, unnoticed except by Roberts. Concerned when he didn't return after a few minutes, she says, she walked to the water's edge and called out his name. Suddenly, a wave bowled her over, pulling her down into deep water.

Then, as suddenly as she had been pulled under, she says, she found herself floating above the waves. Looking down, she at first didn't understand what she was seeing. Then it came to her. It was her body beneath the waves, and that could mean only one thing: She was dead. The next thing she knew, says Roberts, she was lying on the shore, just beyond the surf, vomiting sea water and gasping for air.

The incident, she says, seemed to release her psychic abilities. At first it was small things, like predicting when the telephone would ring and who would be on the other end of the line. But as she grew older, the incidents increased in number and scope. At stores, she says, she'd pick up thoughts of nearby shoppers in bits and pieces as if someone was toying with a radio dial in her mind. Her mom found her daughter's predictions "uncanny"; her father thought she watched too much television.

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