When I called Nancy L. Fox and got her answering machine the other day, I considered not leaving my number or the reason I wanted to talk to her.
She's psychic, after all.
Fox is the psychic who tried to help police find Christine Ann Jarrett after the Elkridge woman disappeared in January 1991. At the time, according to news accounts, she said she "saw" the missing woman get into a light blue car, and that there may be some clues to her disappearance in southern Pennsylvania.
Whenever I hear of cases like this, of psychics working with police or family members solve a missing person case, I secretly hope there's something to it. It's not that I hold much stock in the paranormal — I have enough trouble figuring out the actual normal let alone whatever it is that goes on in astral pathways or Area 51 or all those blocked chakras.
But these missing-person cases are so heartbreaking — Jarrett's sons were 5 and 11 when she vanished — I guess I want to think that when all other trails have gone cold there's someone somewhere who might have a clue.
On Wednesday, though, the police found Jarrett's remains mere steps, not miles, from her house, buried under the floorboards of a shed in the backyard. Her since remarried husband, Robert Jarrett, 57, who until recently was still living in the same house, has been charged with her murder and is being held without bond.
We still, of course, don't know the details of what happened to Christine Jarrett, who Robert Jarrett said had vanished from their home on Claire Road on the night of Jan. 3, 1991.
But in the meantime, I thought I could at least sort out the psychic end of things and find out from Fox how her clairvoyant wires might have gotten crossed.
Unfortunately, that's something of a mystery too. When I talked to Fox, who lives in Linthicum, she didn't seem to remember all the details of the case, or perhaps had it mixed up with other cases she has worked on in the past.
She told me that she was asked to get involved in the case through a client — Fox does readings, healings and spiritual coaching — who told her that a family member had gone missing. Fox said she was taken to the house and immediately had a feeling.
"I knew she was dead," Fox said.
But that's not what she said at the time. In articles in The Sun and The Capital of Annapolis, Fox said that she got an image of Jarrett willingly getting into that blue car with some man and that she would be found within 50 miles of her home in mid-April.
To give Fox her due, you could argue that her last prediction is technically accurate: The backyard shed is indeed within 50 miles of the house — very well within it. And last week indeed counts as mid-April — albeit a mid-April that is 21 years later than what Fox seemed to indicate back then.
Fox said she didn't remember her image of a blue car, or southern Pennsylvania. She didn't remember a shed. "It's just been too long," she said.
Still, she defended her work, saying there are any number of reasons why whatever she picked up errant visions that at this point seem at odds with what police found this week.
"I don't know," she said of the apparent red herring of the blue car. "It could have been something in her past.
"It depends on the souls and the spirits," Fox continued. "The timing is always done by your soul and your spirit. … It depends on what the soul of the person who passed wants. They might not want to be found at the time. All of our souls have a choice."
Fox said she has "stepped back" from working on police cases, saying detectives tend to be "so not believing and critical." And, Fox said, if she actually does provide leads that help locate someone, police end up suspecting she is somehow involved in the crime.
In the end, the bigger mystery is not so much psychic as procedural. Still to be answered is the question of why police couldn't get permission to search the property until 21 years later.
As for Fox, I can't really fault her for at least trying to help. As she said, "I just did the best I could."