The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California on March 12, 1939 · 84
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California · 84

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San Francisco, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 12, 1939
Page:
84
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v.. 1 ;f.5?T hi' Si i .- J .9 .: 1 i T J Here She Appears as a Country Woman, Just in for a Day in the City. .V .- 4 T . , v;-,tv In Calling on Fake Mediums, Miss Mackenberg Makes Up to Resemble the Various Types of Women Who "V mi .' Are Usually Victimized. This Is r?jszS' How She Looked to Medium Par-ker: Like a Widow With a Small Nest Egg, Innocent and Dumb. ( XXv ( M Widows, Like This, Impersonated by Miss Mackenberg, Are the Staples of the Crook's Diet. As An Ignorant Servant Girl on Iler Day Out, Fair Game for the Fako Medium. Miss Mackenberg as a Repressed and Love-starved Spinster, an Easy Mark for the Racketeer. C e 3 o s e "1 1 R) 1 Qlfifi y ULvllICyll I. R ) OSE MACKENBERG, the author of this article, was chief investigator for the late Harry Uoudini in his campaign against fraudulent mediums. Since Houdini's death, she has carried on his worfe in this field and also has won a reputation as an ace woman detective with many convictions to her credit in cases of murder, robbery, and blackmail. In this and in the second, concluding, article of the series, which will appear next Sunday, Miss Mackenberg describes some of her fascinating experiences in exposing the particularly vicious type of racketeers who pose as mediums.' She has taken part in more than 1,500 investigations of such people and not once has been suspected of being a detective. Miss Mackenberg Dressed as a Slightly Different Kind of Victim. By ROSE MACKENBERG 1939, by American Weekly, Inc. Great Britain Eights Reserved. A FTER ten years' experience as a private de- tective working with commercial agencies, ' lawyers and district attorneys, it is my considered opinion although I have worked on gambling, robbery, blackmail and murder cases that the most vicious criminals in America are the charlatans who betray and plunder their heartsick victims in the name of the dear, departed dead. These tricksters, who try to hide under the cloak of Spiritualism, are racketeers of a particularly mean and contemptible sort. The common gangster at least assaults his victims physically and in the open. These racketeers, to gratify their lust or greed, assault the very souls of their victims. They ply their unholy traffic in secret and in comparative security, as they are rarely publicly exposed, and even more rarely prosecuted. It has been my good fortune, however, to have been instrumental in sending many of these heartless racketeers to their rightful place behind the bars. I mean to tell readers of The American Weekly some of my most noteworthy and spectacular cases. My work has often led me into the squalid dens where the cheapest and most despicable of these criminals practice third-rate magicians whose skill in deception is so little that their prey, of necessity, must be the uninformed and unprotected poor. Just as often my work has taken me into the gilded establishments of the so-called "higher-type" practitioners, where incense-laden air and luxurious trappings mask ingenious devices for the creation of supposed occult phenomena. I have seen how bereaved widows were robbed of their all, how young girls were betrayed and honest men led into devious paths,' outwardly on the advice of supposed intelligence from another world, in reality through the remorseless machinations of conscienceless scoundrels devoid of even the most elementary feelings of decency and pity. But before I tell about the cases I have handled, I first want to rip from these charlatans their one claim to respectful attention: the claim that they represent genuine Spiritualism. They, none of them, have a right to the name of Spiritualists. Spiritualism, as a religion, has the belief of many honest, sincere folk. Among the more notable, one thinks first of the late Sir A. Conan Doyle and that eminent British scientist, Sir Oliver Lodge. Although I am sceptical of the claims advanced for Spiritualism, I have only the greatest respect for those who genuinely believe that communication with the dead is possible. The attempts I have seen to materialize spirits from the Great Beyond must be numbered in the thousands. But I have never been convinced that any message received was genuine. My attitude today is that of Hot spur in Shakespeare's King Henry IV. When mediums cry, as Glendower did in tfiat play, "I can call spirits from the vasty deep," my answer is the answer Hotspur made: "Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?" I think not. But I don't know. Yet although I am sceptical of the claims made even by genuine Spiritualists, let me confess now that I can find it in me to hope they are right. We, all of us, I believe, must share that hope in some measure. What a comfort it would be! That's why I have such a contempt for the frauds who pose as Spiritualists. That's why I call them mean, contemptible, and vicious. They catch their victims in moments of great grief and despair, when the universal hope that the dead survive and can make their presence known is ready to burst into a flame of belief beeause of the victim's very real need for guidance. It is at such moments that the charlatans and tricksters step in with the greatest assurance of success to play upon their victims' grief, and to exploit their victims' need. I have in mind, as an example, one sanctimonious old hypocrite, who flourished a couple of years ago as pastor of what he called the People's First Spiritual Church. His name was Herman E. Parker, and he lived in Chicago. I must have seemed an easy prey when I first met him, both gullible and grief -stricken. For I had garbed myself as a recently bereaved widow a touch of onion at the eyes gave me the proper facial appearance and had warned myself to keep a humble tongue and to appear as dumb as could be at all times. A, commission to investigate his activities sent me to his "church," and at first I thought I had overdone my "poor widow" disguise because he was very off-hand in accepting my $1.00 fee and arranging the seance. I looked too poor to bother with. He sat me at a table, placed himself opposite me, and closed his eyes. After a moment he declared he was in touch with a man who seemed to be my husband. He flashed his fishy eyes on me at this, to see if he had hit the truth. I strangled a sob, dabbed at my eyes, and nodded my head. Satisfied, Parker went on: "Yes, it's your husband. He tells you not to worry, that he is with me all the time." "Where is he?" I asked. "Sitting right on the chair next to you," Parker responded, and did not smile as I put my arm around the back of the chair. "He says he is very happy but misses you," Parker went on. "I think he is leaving us now. Yes, he's gone. "Perhaps he'll come back another time," Parker assured me. He was eager to end the seance, but willing to have me return with another dollar. Then I flashed the bait! With a flood of tears, I cried : "Oh, I did so want to ask him one question. It's about the $3,000. I wanted to ask him should I accept that amount as they want to settle by the first of the month. Oh! why did he leave me; I know so little." It was laughable to me, but had I been watching a real widow in my spot it would have been tragic and frightening to see Parker's expression change. At the mention of $3,000 he was ready to produce shoals of visionary ghosts; Helen of Troy, had I wanted her. "There! There!" He attempted to comfort me. "Perhaps he will return." And he sank back in his chair with his eyes closed. This time, perhaps in consideration of what he hoped to gain from me, he gave me a couple of free groans and writhings before he spoke again. "Your husband says to settle," he pronounced. I gave a gasp of thanks. Parker then asked me if I had any money besides the $3,000 due from the settlement, and when I asked why, he replied: "Your husband wants to know." "Tell him I have about $1,500," I said, "and ask him what I should do with it." Parker closed his eyes again. "Your husband tells me he would like to have you invest this money in a sound investment and gives me the name of Wilcox. He says it is a very safe investment, and you can make lots of money through it." ' I asked how much, and Parker's eyes closed once more. "The spirit- says $1,000." Thanking him, I wondered how I could get in touch with this "Wilcox" and asked him to put the question quickly before my husband's spirit got away? Parker must have thought I was awfully dumb. He got up, walked into another room and returned with a booklet in his hand. Without much straining, I could see it was put out by a "Wilcox Transportation Company." Parker turned to the back of the book and apparently memorized the telephone number. Then he assumed his posture in the chair and said: "The spirit of your husband gives me this name. I don't know what it means. Wilcox Transportation Company. Maywood 1159-N." He continued: "Now the spirit of your husband says not to talk to anybody about this and don't say anything to your friends about this investment or tWsJ if X hi 7 - l. i - C1. c i l .. '':: yjj Mrs. Florence Majestic, Former Head of "The Spiritualistic Church of Sunshine," Conducting a Service in Her "Church" Before She Was Sent to Jail for Appropriating Money Belonging to One of Her Parishioners. that you are going to take money from the bank. mi . 11 mm t A . rne spirit also toia me tnai you snouia come to m. 1 il! . A 1. IL me again Dei ore getting m toucn wiui uns corn- an I pany." en I left him with effusive thanks, promising to W return the next day. That afternoon I opened a 1 .1 . - T 1 1 1 cnecKing account in tne name i naa assumed, se m r t- i i i- . l i j .-.JA-.X-.1-. mrs. nosauna lucnaras, ana arrangeu iu lane a ar colleague witn me wnen l saw ranter again. -- -WIS. 1 wnen we snowed up, i introduced my colleague m as Mrs. Harvey urey, a sister-in-iaw, and aitnougn ta he frowned at the intrusion ot a stranger he was . ,V courtesy itself to both of us. tic I told Parker at once that I had thought over be what my husband said and would like to invest m some money but had forgotten the name of the company. ur Parker pretended he could not remember, P? either. Perhaps he couldn't, because he went into te the other room again to consult his booklet. , When he returned ne took up his listening-to-the- or distant-voices" position, and said: "I get the name w; 'Maywood,' and some name like 'Wilcox.' " an I pretended mv memorv was ' refreshed, and after I repeated the full address he pretended to tei remember also. But I asked him to write it down. He Mid this for me, and on the back of one of his tif cards, too. mm n V V t tt A mm A . i nad exniDit a tor ms trial, it he had only van known. th Takmg up his pose again, Parker spoke as follows: "Your husband says 'it is a very good invest- th ment and wants you to place some money in it. pr ix you ouy $a,uuj wortn oi snares, your husband

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