Mysterious U.S. man was 'familiar' to family of missing Michael Dunahee
Victoria police were checking old files Wednesday to see whether a Wisconsin man who claimed to be a psychic and approached the families of abducted children in the United States also contacted the family of missing boy Michael Dunahee.
Michael was 4½ years old when he disappeared from a park near his home in Victoria in March 1991. He has never been found.
A "missing person" poster of Michael was found in the Wisconsin home of the late Vernon Seitz, 62, when local police searched it last month, Milwaukee police have said.
Crystal Dunahee, Michael's mother, told CBC News on Wednesday that she's not sure whether Seitz ever contacted her family after Michael disappeared, but that the name Vernon Seitz does seem "familiar" to her.
Seitz often offered his services to families of abducted children in the United States, affirming he was a psychic. His relative Susan Seitz said Wednesday he was only helping others.
"He was not an abductor. He was a person that counselled families who had children that were abducted, and he helped families find closure," she told CBC News from her Milwaukee home.
CBC News also contacted Victoria Fetter — Seitz's psychiatrist — who said Seitz had told her he wanted to help families of abducted children because he had been abducted and abused as a child.
"He could have become a social worker or he could have become a police detective," Fetter said of her evaluation of Seitz. "But instead he had this, as far as I'm concerned, delusional notion that he's a psychic."
In a statement issued Wednesday concerning the search conducted at Seitz's home, the Milwaukee Police Department said it had no evidence to suggest he was a factor in the disappearance of any children.
"We have no information to substantiate any allegation that the deceased was involved in any missing children cases or homicides of children," spokeswoman Anne Schwartz said.
"The search warrant yielded drawings by the deceased of children in sado-masochistic situations but absolutely no evidence that he was involved in any crimes," she said.
The search was undertaken after Seitz, in his dying days, asked his psychiatrist to tell police that he had killed a boy in 1959 and knew of another child killing.
Among the hundreds of items seized in Seitz's basement were scores of drawings of nude boys in bondage, a video tape reportedly showing the kidnapping of a four-year-boy and books on cannibalism, according to documents obtained by CBC News on Tuesday.
Victoria police said after almost 18 years of chasing dead ends in the Dunahee case, investigators have to be careful when treating any possible new link.
"It really could be nothing or it could be something," Sgt. Grant Hamilton said Wednesday. "But right now we're very cautious about the information."
People who claimed to be psychics and contacted the Dunahee family at the time were referred to Victoria police, but Hamilton said investigators cannot find any immediate reference to Seitz in their files.