A number of years ago my firm was contacted to represent the family of a lady who died and whose estate was being probated in Dallas. Her brother who came to us was a high administrator for Duke University. Her family was an old and well established one in the South. Before her death she had transferred virtually all her assets to a woman in Dallas who was most unusual to say the least. This woman was a leader of a group of followers who practiced a blend of weird philosophies and new age theories. They believed they could commune with the etheral spirits of the universe and reach a new level of understanding of the universe such that the normal laws of physics would not apply. This woman claimed for example to be able to levitate. She had written several pamphlets about her theories. Her ideas were a hodge podge of Kabbala and other eastern mystic theories and philosophies. She also was able to use hypnosis supposedly and was a poltergist. She could make objects move without touching them was the claim. She had been doing this for a number of years in Dallas and had a small but intensely loyal following. The deceased lady had met her through and acquaintance and had joined her group and had been a steady member for a couple of years prior to her death.
This woman had been involved with several others who had died under stranger or unusual circumstances. Our lady had driven off a mountain road in Colorado along with a nanny. They both died. On the surface not a particularly unusual event. Tragic but not strange in and of itself. But then we learned more. Her first husband had died of a drug overdose several years before. Again by itself not unheard of. Her second husband died in an industrial accident on the job by electrocution. An accident again. Normally it would just invoke sympathy. But wait, there’s more! Our lady had a daughter who was about 14 when she met the seer. Several months before the death of our lady she and the seer and a couple of others in the secret group had made a vacation trip to Hawaii. Our lady’s daughter drowned in the surf just off shore even though she was a member of her school swim team. So within a matter of a few years we now have 5 people close to this seer who had died from other than natural casuses. It was beginning to look stranger and stranger. But what could we prove?
Her group was a sophisticated bunch. It included a high level administrator for the Dallas School District, a professor at SMU, our lady who was well educated and many others who were not troglodytes. This seer did practice her hypnosis on a regular basis with the members of the group. It was a method they used to transcend the normal levels of human understanding was the theory. They held meetings every week in some of the nicest homes in town. They would wear robes with hoods, hold swords and scepters and chant invocations to the “Lords of the Universe” and other such supposed entities. They truly believed that they could transport their minds and spirits out of their bodies and make space travel into the far reaches of our galaxy and even beyond. I can’t explain what the “hold” was this seer had over these people except when we actually met them face to face later on they were all introverts and nerds even if well educated ones. There were like zoombies in my opinion.
After the death of our lady’s daughter she was naturally distraught and she turned even more to the seer for advice and comfort on everything in her life. The seer somehow persuaded her to give her everything even including naming her as the beneficiary on her life insurance policy. She also even transferred personal property, heirlooms that had been in the familhy for generations, to the seer. Needless to say the lady’s family back home knew about the seer and were all very concerned and upset but the lady was adamant and would not change her loyalties. This was all done quite legally with a real lawyer and everything. In fact that lawyer was one of the devotees of the seer although not an active follower. He even testified at the trial on behalf of the seer.
I remember when we finally went to trial that on opening argument my partner told the jury that if the seer could levitate out of her chair during the trial we would pack our bags and go home. She never did. The case was in probate court even though we weren’t challenging the will as such, we were challenging the transfers to the seer prior to the death on behalf of the estate. Most unusual legal proceeding. You can look but I guarantee you won’t find another like it anywhere. You might know the judge was very young and he had only been on the bench a couple of months when our case was ready for trial. He was out of his depth. But ultimatley ruled correctly in our favor to introduce some letters that outlined the bizarre nature of the relationship between our lady and the seer. All those well educated people did in fact come to testify for this seer at trial. We had a hard time getting into evidence the prior deaths of all the other people near her but we did. Almost every one of her witnesses cried on the stand and they all thought and said it was terribly unfair to challenge her righ to the property and her integrity. Our position was she had no integrity. We did introduce all her writings for the jury to see and read. They were literally gobble-di-gook. Incomprehensible. When the case was about over they offered to settle. Things were not going their way. We had an expert who testified about post hypnotic suggestions and it was our position that this seer had used her influence over these people to induce them to suicide. That was a pretty tall order to achieve that. We were getting on thin ice ourselves but I don’t believe in multi-coincidences. We got everything except we didn’t retrieve the money she had used to pay her lawyers who were very good ones. But we got everything else. Her family wanted those heirlooms back.
As a follow up the seer’s husband during our trial died also under weird circumstances about a year later. The local DA finally got more interested. He was interested when we did our case but there wasn’t enough proof to bring any charges. The seer filed for bankruptcy and had her discharge denied shortly thereafter and was finally convicted if memory serves for manslaughter in the death of her last husband. She was sentenced to several years in prison. No telling how many more she’s had since then. Well, I best stop here. So many more details but we move on. It was about the weirdest trial ever for me.