A woman’s psychic vision leads her to a murder victim.
Etta Smith, a psychic
Melanie Uribe, murder victim
On December 17, 1980, Etta Smith was working at an aerospace company in Burbank, California, when a news story triggered a frightening vision. Thirty-one year-old nurse Melanie Uribe hadn’t been seen for days and investigators feared the worst. Etta says her unusual episode began when she starting hearing a voice in her head:
“It was a mental thought, but it was as if someone were speaking to me. ‘She’s not in a house.’ After that thought registered, it was as if I saw a picture. I saw a canyon area. I saw a road. I saw it curving. I saw a dirt path. I saw shrubbery, and I saw white through the shrubbery. I could not clearly see what the white was, but it was something distinctively white. And, I thought, ‘Well, if what I’m experiencing is the possibility of where this person could be, maybe the white I see is her uniform,’ knowing that she was a nurse.”
Etta saw the location of the body in her head
For Etta, the vision was so powerful she felt compelled to report it to the police:
“I couldn’t just let it go because I kept wondering if this person needed help. And if their life depended on that help, it would be very wrong of me not to do something.”
Retired Los Angeles Police Detective Lee Ryan says he welcomed Etta’s information:
“I gave her a lot of credibility based on the fact that she came in on her own. She indicated her conscience was bothering her, which triggered a response in me that possibly her conscience was bothering her because maybe she knows more than she’s telling us. But then again, maybe she is, in fact, sincere and real. So let’s treat her in that light until we find out otherwise.”
Based on her psychic vision, Etta pinpointed the area in Los Angeles County where she thought the missing nurse might be found, a place called Lopez Canyon. Detective Ryan seemed willing to listen, but Etta worried that the police would not follow up. She decided to investigate on her own. With her daughter, Tina, Etta drove to Lopez Canyon.
When Etta stepped out of her car, she experienced an intense feeling of dread. She was sure Melanie had been there and that something horrible had happened to her:
Etta was jailed for murder
“I felt trauma and I felt scared. It was like an energy that was like tingling inside of me. It was sort of like you feel when you get an adrenaline rush.”
The feelings forced Etta to keep searching. Soon she spotted some fresh tire tracks:
“I stopped, and for reasons unknown to me, I wanted to look at these tire marks and I wanted to put my hands in them.”
Etta said she got the feeling from the tracks that the missing woman had been there:
“When we got back in the van, the only thing I could think about is, “I want to leave here. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
Further down the canyon, Etta stopped again when Tina saw something unusual in the brush. Etta says it was a body:
“The only thing I could truly distinguish, and know what this was, was that she had on white nurse’s shoes.”
Etta quickly contacted the police. An autopsy determined that the body was indeed Melanie Uribe. She had been robbed, raped, and beaten to death.
That evening, Etta was summoned to the police station. She was questioned by two detectives she’d never seen before:
“They wanted me to explain to them how the whole thing had unfolded. And that seemed very normal to me. But after I felt I had finished telling them everything and filled in the blanks, it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Tell us this again.’ So we go through the story again… and again… and again. This went on for hours, until about 10:00 that evening, when it becomes very obvious to me that now I’m a suspect.”
According to Det. Ryan, Etta seemed to know too much about the crime to not to be involved:
“The investigating officers, having no other leads or clues, didn’t have any other choice at that time but to presume she was, in fact, an accessory, either before or after the commission of the crime.”
Etta volunteered to take two polygraph exams. She passed both. But Etta says the detectives lied to her about the results and booked her as an accessory to murder:
“I wasn’t sure if it was a bluff or what. I was so tired that I don’t think I really cared anymore. I was either going to go home or to jail. I’m not sure I cared.”
Etta Smith was not going home. She was locked up in jail for several days, unaware of dramatic new developments on the outside: police had arrested two young men for the murder of Melanie Uribe. In the end, Etta was completely absolved. The two confessed killers were sent to prison. Det. Ryan credits Etta’s vision for helping to solve the case:
“I was quite amazed. And I think a lot of other people were, too, but I think a lot of them were reluctant to want to admit it. Had it not been for Etta Smith, I don’t think this case would have been solved as rapidly as it was or possibly not at all.”
Etta has no explanation for her sudden onset of psychic abilities:
“I sometimes wonder what it was that transpired, from this innocent person who was murdered, and how her death somehow reached out and touched me. I think it’s one of the mysteries in life that many things happen to us throughout our life that are unexplainable.”
Since helping to break this case, Etta has assisted several police departments and crime victims using her psychic abilities.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season seven with Robert Stack and in season three with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.