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Stumped Police Turn to TV Psychics in '78 Slaying

An officer says the effort has "opened some doors" in the beating death of Patricia Ann Neufield.

July 20, 2006|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

Nearly 30 years ago, a mother of three was bludgeoned to death with a bowling pin in her west Garden Grove home.

Police scoured the house and yard for clues and interviewed relatives, friends, associates and neighbors. But they never found the killer. And for decades, the case stayed cold.

This month, Garden Grove police teamed up with a new reality television show that uses psychics to help solve crimes.

"A lot of police departments don't use them because people [are skeptics] and I'm a skeptic too," Garden Grove Police Lt. Mike Handfield said, "but it has opened some doors for us."

He said he couldn't reveal how the psychics had helped, citing the ongoing investigation and a confidentiality agreement with the Discovery Channel series "Sensing Murder."

The 90-minute show has been a hit in Australia. Each show reconstructs a decades-old murder using forensic evidence and interviews with those involved in the investigation. Psychics then try to come up with fresh clues.

A few days before Thanksgiving 1978, Patricia Ann Neufeld, 34, was found beaten to death in her Richmond Avenue home. She had been caring for her 5-year-old son and babysitting another child when someone bludgeoned her in a rear bedroom; the two children were not harmed. Her assailant fled without taking anything.

Terrie Integlia, 58, a vocational rehabilitation counselor who bought the home several years later, said that the TV series' psychics may have found some help from a spirit that roams the house. "It's like a children's mischievous energy that's tiring -- but it's not haunted," Integlia said. "If it was, I would've been gone."

She said she allowed psychics Pam Coronado and Laurie Campbell to spend more than 80 hours in her home.

"I feel really good about it. I think they'll solve it," Coronado said.

"These psychics were pretty right on as to what happened," Handfield said. "They have theories that we're going back to look at."

The episode is scheduled to be broadcast in the United States in the fall. Police investigators said the broadcast may be more valuable in solving the crime than the psychics.

"The publicity could put the murder in the forefront of people's minds," Handfield said. "Our hope is that someone watches for entertainment and remembers what happened and calls us."

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