A former mayoral candidate and a man described as Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini’s adviser held a press conference today to tell the community they had consulted two psychics to assist in the search for the missing politician.
Vagnini was declared missing Jan. 27 and despite extensive local searches and national bulletin to police services to be on the lookout for him or his pickup truck, there have been no breaks in the case that have been made public.
Former mayoral candidate Bob Johnston and Tom Price, often described as Vagnini’s adviser, told media Feb. 12 they sought the help of two psychics to aid in the search for the missing city councillor.
Held at the parking lot at the corner of York Street and Paris Street, where Vagnini was photographed the day he went missing, Johnston and Price said they felt the information the two people shared should be shared with the community as well as with police, which they plan to do.
The primary claim from the people the men consulted is that Vagnini is “hiding” in a barn or vacant garage space in the Sudbury District, possibly in Ward 4, near a church with a bell ringing once a day.
The men did not share the names of the psychics, but told media the two weren’t paid, and completed their “predictions” at the behest of Johnston and Price.
One psychic provided a description of the place their “vision” showed them Vagnini to be, while Johnston and Price said the second offered a corroborating vision.
When asked why they decided to hold a press conference, especially in advance of speaking with police, Johnston said “we’re running out of time.”
He said police have enough to do, and they wanted to do their part, as he is “like a brother to us.”
“Are we gonna sit back and wait for the police?” Johnston said. “I mean, it's been two weeks, two days.”
To this, Price added, “We're not criticizing the police, or anybody else's work. We're just working along with them and helping where we think we can.”
When asked about claims from psychics, GSPS spokesperson Kaitlyn Dunn told Sudbury.com
“Any information related to this investigation that has come in through 9-1-1, our non-emergency number or the tip line has been followed up on by Detectives.”
Use of supposed ‘psychics’
The use of psychics in policing has a long and controversial history in policing.
Dr. Peter Collins is the operational forensic psychiatrist with the Ontario Provincial Police’s Criminal Behaviour Analysis Section. He is also a member of the crisis/hostage negotiation team of the Toronto Police Service Emergency Task Force.
In a 2021 article for Blue Line, a Canadian law enforcement magazine, he wrote, “Over the past three decades, whenever I’ve consulted on cases that are considered by the media to be a high-profile investigation, psychics start crawling out of the woodwork.”
In his experience, psychics aren’t helpful. But Johnston and Price told Sudbury.com they will continue, unabated.
“We all love Michael, let's give him 10 minutes of our time. Let's check our barns, let's check our garages,” said Johnston. “Let's think outside the box, let's think for Michael. This is the last resort. This is our week to find them. Let's do it.”
Vagnini, 62, was last seen Jan. 27 driving a black 2021 Ram 1500 truck with Ontario licence plate BK 22178. It has a broken passenger side tail light.
GSPS have released a residential video surveillance camera that captured Vagnini’s truck travelling westbound on McCharles Lake Road, between Whitefish and Naughton, at approximately 5:40 p.m. on Jan. 27.
This, Greater Sudbury Police Service noted in a media release issued at 4 p.m. on Jan. 31, is the last verified sighting of the Greater Sudbury city council member for Ward 2.
Last week, GSPS revealed that the Sirius XM system in Vagnini’s truck was accessed at 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 28, seven or eight hours after he was last seen.
Police said this suggests Vagnini may have left the region.
Vagnini was last seen wearing a bright yellow hooded sweater, green pants and black running shoes. Earlier in the day, he was seen wearing an Erie Otters jersey over top of the yellow hooded sweater. He does not have his phone with him.
Anyone who spoke with Michael in the days prior to Jan. 27, and who has not already spoken with police, is asked to call a dedicated tip line at 705-675-9171 Ext. 2320. Detectives are looking to gather additional information regarding conversations prior to Vagnini going missing.
Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with Sudbury.com